Thursday, February 3, 2011

No man's wise without his share of winters in the world

from "The Wanderer"; translated by Greg Delanty

The loner holds out for grace
--the Maker's mercy--though full of care
he steers a course, forced to row
the freezing, fierce sea with bare hands,
take the exile's way; fate dictates.
The earth-stepper spoke, heedful of hardship,
of brutal battle, the death of kith and kin:
"Often at first lick of light
I lament my sole way--no one left
to open my self up to wholly,
heart and soul. Sure, I know
it's the noble custom for an earl
to bind fast what's in his breast,
hoard inmost thoughts, think what he will.

For sure, no man's wise without his share
of winters in the world. He must be patient,
not too keen, not hot tongued,
not easily led, not foolhardy,
not timid, not all gusto, not greedy
not too cocky till he knows life.
A man should take stock before a vow,
brace for action, be mindful
of the mind's twists and turns."

So spoke the wise man from his heart, musing apart.
Blest is he who holds true. No man should openly bare
his heart's hardships unless he knows the cure,
that is his great feat. It's well to seek solace
from the Maker, out only security.

I had a different poem lined up for today, but H/T to Davey for blowing me away with this translation of the olde epic classic. Here's audio of Michael D.C. Drout of Wheaton College reading The Wanderer out-loud in the Anglo Saxon, which is pretty cool. Here's a comparison of the Old English and modern English versions-- the poem is only 115 lines and is important in poetry canon.

Happy Thursday!