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F.P.Magoun, Jr. & J.A.Walker: 1948-1950

from An Old English Anthology
Wm.C.Brown Company 1950, Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa

Copyright 1948, 1950



A seafaring man reflects on the hardships of his profession

Concerning myself I can recite a true lay, relate my journeys, how during laborious days I often suffered times of hardship, have experienced bitter anguish of heart, known on shipboard many a sorrowful journey (cear-síða vs. -selda "abodes" ?), terrible rolling of the waves, when the anxious night-watch at the bow of the vessel often caught me (), when it (the ship) is (on the verge of ?) striking against the cliffs. My feet were pinched with cold, locked by frost (l.10) with cold fetters, when those anxieties moaned fierce about (my) heart; hunger within gnawed at the spirit of sea-weary (me). That (experience) no man knows for whom on shore there is a very happy lot (namely,) how I, wretchedly anxious, for a winter frequented the ice-cold sea as an exile (lit. on the paths of exile) ... bereft of friendly kinsmen, draped in frosty icicles; the sleet flew in gusts. There I heard only the sea roaring, the ice-cold wave(s). Sometimes I made an amusement for myself (out of) the song of the swan (l.20), the voice of the gannet, and (made an amusement out of) the sound of the godwit instead of the laughter of men, the singing sea-gull instead of mead drinking (p.170). There storms beat on the rocky cliffs, where the (black) tern answered them (the storms), icy-feathered; very often the eagle screamed with (its) wet feathers (lit. dewy-feathered); (there) was no (ne ænig) protecting kinsman able to console (fréfran) (my) wretched spirit.

Indeed, little will he believe, one who has experienced in towns the joy of life, few adversities, proud and flushed with wine, how I, weary, often (l.30) was fated to remain on the tracks of the sea. The shadow of night grew dark, it snowed from the north, frost bound (i.e. froze) the ground, sleet fell on the earth, coldest of grains (i.e. seeds). Now, indeed, thoughts urge (lit. beat on) my heart to (lit. that I myself should) try out the high seas, the tumult of the salt waves; the desire of (my) mind at every opportunity exhorts (my) spirit to travel (or, exhorts me to journey: mé forth féran), that I far hence should visit an alien land (lit. land of foreigners). Indeed, there is no man on earth so haughty (l.40) or so liberal in his gifts or so youthfully active (lit. active in youth) or so bold in his deeds or (having) a lord so gracious to him, that he does not always feel anxiety about his sea-voyaging, (feel anxiety to learn) to what (condition) the Lord will bring him. He will have (lit. there will be to him) no thought of the harp nor of the receiving of rings nor of the delight in woman nor of worldly joy (lit. joy of the world) or of anything else but about the tossing of the waves.

Signs of early summer arouse a desire for seafaring

Yet one who is (in the habit of) setting out on the sea ever feels (lit. has) a longing (for it). (Ashore) groves flourish with blossoms, manor-houses become fair, plains become beautiful, the world (of men) hastens on (l. 50). All things then incite to a journey the eager spirit of (lit. to) him who is so minded to journey (gewítan) far on the paths (= wigas "waves" ?) of the sea (p.171) . Likewise the cuckoo warns with sad voice, the attendant of summer sings, bitter in heart proclaims sorrow. This that man does not know, a man favoured by fortune (namely,) what then some men endure who journey very widely the paths of exile.

Indeed, now my imagination ranges through (lit. over) (my) breast, my mind ranges with the sea (l.60), far and wide over the home of the whale, (over) the surface of the earth; back to me comes (that thought), ravenous and greedy (for a voyage), the solitary soaring one (thought ? bird ?) screams, incites my mind irresistably on to the whale-path, over the expanse of the seas (p.198) ...

The underlined page numbers refer to Bright-Hulbert's An Anglo-Saxon Reader 1933, (New York & Chicago, of course).
"Irresistably" retains the Magoun-Walker spelling.
This is one of the downright weirdest, if not outright silliest, of interpretative translation texts.

 

                                  

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