I can recite a true tale about myself, tell of my adventures, how I often suffered a time of hardship during my toilsome existence on earth, how I have endured bitter care in my mind, known in my life's bark many abodes of suffering, wild raging of the waves.
There often fell to my lot the close night watch at the prow of the ship when tossing by the cliffs.
My feet were pierced with cold, bound by the frost with cold fetters.
There the cares of life lamented, hot about my heart, hunger within tore the spirit of the one weary with roaming the sea.
The man with whom everything goes well in the world does not realize how miserably I plied in winter the ice-cold sea, leading the life of an exile, deprived of my dear kinsmen ...., hung about with icicles, the hail flying in showers.
I heard nothing but the sea, the ice-cold wave roaring; sometimes the song of the swan.
I had for my entertainment the screech of the gannet and the cry of the curlew instead of men's laughter, the screaming sea-mew instead of mead.
Storms there beat the cliffs: there the icy-feathered tern gave them answer, and the dewy-feathered eagle very often cried out in resentment against that.
None of my protecting kinsmen could comfort the bereaved heart.
Hence he who possesses the delight of life, who, high-spirited and flushed with wine, endures few hardships in his castle, can little believe in what weariness I had often to dwell on the path of the sea.
Night fell, snow came from the north, hoar-frost bound the soil, hail fell on the earth, coldest of seeds.
Therefore my thoughts are now urging my mind to try the high seas, the tumult of the salt waves for myself. My heart's desire incessantly calls on my spirit to set forth in search of the land of another people far from here.
For there is no man on earth so high-minded, or so free with his gifts, or so valiant in his youth, or so daring in his deeds, nor can his Lord be so gracious to him that he should be spared all anxiety, in regard to his last voyage, as to what God has in store for him.
He has no mind for the harp, nor for the receiving of rings, nor any pleasure in woman, nor any delight in the world, nor in anything else, save in the tumult of the waves, but he has always longing who is eager to sail out on the sea.
The groves cover themselves with blossom, the cities grow beautiful, the fields adorn themselves, the world is moved with new life: all these things urge him who is eager in his mind to depart, incite to the voyage the spirit of him who has this wish to travel far on the ways of the flood.
The cuckoo also urges him on with its mournful note: the herald of summer with his cry announces bitter grief to the heart.
The hero, the prosperous warrior, little knows what some of those have to endure who wander far in exile.
Therefore my mind is now soaring beyond the stronghold of my bosom, my spirit is moving over the sea-flood, travelling far and wide over the whale's domain, over the surface of the earth.
It returns to me ardent and eager: the lone flier yells, impelling my soul irresistibly to set forth on the road of the whale, out over the expanse of the seas.
Therefore the joys of the Lord are more living to me than this dead and transient life on earth. I can never believe that earthly prosperity will last for ever.
One of three things, illness, old age, or war, always, in all circumstances, is a menace to us before our days on earth are done: they deprive the man fated for death of his life.
Therefore this is greatly to the credit of any man with those who survive and speak about him afterwards, and the best possible fame after death, namely that, before he must depart from here, he tries to bring about here on earth, against the spite of fiends, by heroic deeds against the devil, not only that the children of men commend him after he is gone, but that his praise may live among the angels for ever and ever: that he tries to earn the glory of life eternal, bliss among the hosts of heaven.
Its days have passed, all the glory of the earth is gone. Now neither kings, emperors, nor generous princes are as they were of old when, most of all men, they performed great deeds, and lived in the most lordly splendour.
All this noble host has fallen, their joys have passed away. A feebler generation remain and occupy this world, enjoying it through their toil.
Splendour is humbled; the glory of the earth grows old and withers, as now every man does all through the world: old age assails him, his face grows pallid, the grey-haired one laments, knowing his former friends, sons of princes, given to the earth.
When life deserts him, then his carcase can neither devour what is sweet, nor feel pain, nor stir a hand, nor think with the mind.
Even though a brother will scatter his brother's grave with gold, burying with the deceased in various treasures that which is going with him, yet gold will not do as a help for the sinful soul against the terror of God, when he hoards it while he lives here.
Great is the fear of God, from which the earth turns away in panic. He created the firm ground, the face of the earth, and the sky above.
A fool is he who does not fear his Lord: death will take him unawares.
Blessed is he who lives humbly: grace will come to him from heaven. God will sustain his soul, because he believes in his power.
A strong mind must be curbed and kept in check, kept faithful to men and pure in its ways.
Every man should in due measure keep friendship with him whom he loves, and fight against his enemy, even though he shall heap with fire the friend he has made, and burn him on the funeral pyre.
Fate is stronger, the Lord mightier, than any man can think. Let us consider where we have our home, and then think of how we are to get there: and let us then also endeavour to arrive there, in the eternal bliss where life is found in the love of God, joy in heaven!
For this be thanks to the Holy One that he exalted us, the Prince of glory, the Lord everlasting, world without end.