The Wanderer (poem)

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The ways of exileWeird is set fast.

The Wanderer is an anonymous elegiac Old English poem that could date to the early 7th century, preserved in the Exeter Book (c. 960 to 990). The narrator of the poem laments his fate as an unprotected man who, having lost both his lord and his family, faces a hostile world alone.

Quotes[edit]

No weary mind may stand against Weird
Nor may a wrecked will work new hope
The translations used here include those by Michael Alexander in The Earliest English Poems (1975).
Where is the horse gone? Where the rider?
Where the giver of treasure?
Wealth is lent us, friends are lent us,
Man is lent, kin is lent;
All this earth's frame shall stand empty.
  • Oft him anhaga      are gebideð,
    metudes miltse,       þeah þe he modcearig
    geond lagulade      longe sceolde
    hreran mid hondum      hrimcealde sæ,
    wadan wræclastas.       Wyrd bið ful aræd!
    • Who liveth alone longeth for mercy,
      Maker's mercy.
      Though he must traverse
      Tracts of sea, sick at heart,
      – Trouble with oars ice-cold waters,
      The ways of exileWeird is set fast.
    • Line 1


  • Ne mæg werig mod      wyrde wiðstondan,
    ne se hreo hyge      helpe gefremman.
    Forðon domgeorne      dreorigne oft
    in hyra breostcofan      bindað fæste.
    • No weary mind may stand against Weird
      Nor may a wrecked will work new hope;
      Wherefore, most often, those eager for fame
      Bind the dark mood fast in their breasts.
    • Line 15


  • Wat se þe cunnað,
    hu sliþen bið      sorg to geferan,
    þam þe him lyt hafað      leofra geholena.
    • He knows who makes trial
      How harsh and bitter is care for companion
      To him who hath few friends to shield him.
    • Line 29


  • Ongietan sceal gleaw hæle      hu gæstlic bið,
    þonne ealre þisse worulde wela      weste stondeð.
    • A wise man may grasp how ghastly it shall be
      When all this world's wealth standeth waste.
    • Line 73


  • Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?      Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
    Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?      Hwær sindon seledreamas?
    Eala beorht bune!      Eala byrnwiga!
    Eala þeodnes þrym!      Hu seo þrag gewat,
    genap under nihthelm,      swa heo no wære.
    • Where is that horse now? Where are those men? Where is the hoard-sharer?
      Where is the house of the feast? Where is the hall's uproar?
      Alas, bright cup! Alas, burnished fighter!
      Alas, proud prince! How that time has passed,
      Dark under night’s helm, as though it never had been!
    • Line 92
    • Variant translation:
Where is the horse gone? Where the rider?
Where the giver of treasure?
Where are the seats at the feast?
Where are the revels in the hall?
Alas for the bright cup!
Alas for the mailed warrior!
Alas for the splendour of the prince!
How that time has passed away,
dark under the cover of night,
as if it had never been!


  • Her bið feoh læne,      her bið freond læne,
    her bið mon læne,      her bið mæg læne,
    eal þis eorþan gesteal      idel weorþeð!
    • Wealth is lent us, friends are lent us,
      Man is lent, kin is lent
      ;
      All this earth's frame shall stand empty.
    • Line 108

External links[edit]

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