Language: Old English

Translation Tuesday: “The Seafarer,” from the Book of Exodus

Translated from the Old English by Spenser Santos

The Seafarer 

 

May I utter truth for myself,

to say of trials, how in the times of toil

I often withstood wearisome times,

bitter breastcare, how I have bided,

come to know on a ship, abode of much care,

the terrible seawave’s rolling often held me there,

anxious nightwatch at the boat’s prow,

when it pitched against cliffs. Pinched by cold

were my feet, frostbound

with cold fetters, there the sighs of care

were hot around the heart; hunger tore from within

the mereweary mood. That the man,

to whom the most pleasant on earth befalls, knows not

how I, wretched and sorrowful, on the ice-cold sea

dwelled in winter in the paths of an exile,

bereft of beloved kinsmen and

hung with icicles; hail flew in showers.

There I heard naught but the sea to roar,

the frigid wave. Sometimes the swan’s song

did I take for entertainment, the gannet’s cry

and curlew’s sound for men’s laughter,

the seagull’s singing for mead.

Storms there beat the stony cliffs, where

the tern, the icy-feathered one, answers him,

very often the eagle screamed round about,

the dewy-feathered one; not any protecting kinsmen

could comfort the wretched spirit. READ MORE…