Widsith

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Widsith is an anonymous Old English poem, consisting for the most part of the eponymous narrator's boasts of his travels among the Germanic peoples of the Heroic Age. It is often dated to the 7th century, and may therefore be the oldest poem in the English language, or indeed any Germanic language.


The translations used here are by Michael Alexander, and are taken from his The Earliest English Poems (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975).



  • Fela ic monna gefrægn      mægþum wealdan!
    Sceal þeodna gehwylc      þeawum lifgan,
    eorl æfter oþrum      eðle rædan,
    se þe his þeodenstol      geþeon wile.
    • Of the master-rulers the most part have been known to me
      And I say that any leader, any lord whosoever,
      Must live right, and rule his lands the same
      If he wishes to come to a king's chair.
    • Line 10


  • Ac Offa geslog      ærest monna,
    cnihtwesende,      cynerica mæst.
    Nænig efeneald him      eorlscipe maran
    on orette.      Ane sweorde
    merce gemærde      wið Myrgingum
    bi Fifeldore.
    • Before all men Offa stands,
      Having in boyhood won the broadest of kingdoms;
      No youngster did work worthier of an earl.
      With single sword he struck the boundary
      Against the Myrgings where it marches now,
      fixed it at Fifeldor.
    • Line 38


  • Swa scriþende      gesceapum hweorfað.


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