The Battle of Maldon

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The Battle of Maldon (c.1000) is an Old English poem describing a Danish incursion into Essex from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxon force vainly attempting to defeat it.

  • Hige sceal þē heardra,      heorte þē cēnre,
    mōd sceal þē māre,      þē ūre mægen lytlað.
    • Thought shall be harder, heart the keener,
      Mood the more, as our might lessens.
    • Line 312; translation from Michael Alexander The Earliest English Poems (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975) p. 112.
    • High German equivalents of Old English vocabulary: Hige=Denken; sceal=sollen; þe=der, die, das (definite article); heardra=härter (comparitive of hart); cenre=kühner (comparative of kühn); heorte=Herz; mod=Mut; mare=mehr; ure=unser; mægen=Macht; lytlað=kleinern
    • Variant translation:
      Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener,
      Courage the greater, as our might lessens.

      Here lies our leader, all hewn down,
      The brave man in the dust. May he mourn for ever
      Who now thinks to turn from the warplay!
      Old in age am I; I will not hence.
      By my lord will I die, our lord dearly loved.
      • The National Review, Vol. 93 (1929), p. 911.
    • Variant:
      Will shall be the sterner, heart the bolder,
      Spirit the greater as our strength lessens.
      • The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, "I. Beorhtnoth's Death" (introduction), lines translated by J. R. R. Tolkien.
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