Don Wellman: 1995

F i e l d s
Light & Dust, Kenosha Wisconsin


I want to speak the truth, to tell about my travels and the hardships which I have endured, the feelings in my breast when I heard the keel groan, terrible heaving of the sea Nights I had to keep a close watch clinging to the prow when the boat plunged, seas breaking over ledges Chains of ice, held me fast by the legs, iron fetters of frost Sorrow sighing hot in the heart like fire I fought hunger and mind sea weary from watchfulness. You who have it all so easy on land don't know how poorly I fared on the cruel winter sea, loneliness, longing for close friends Rime, icicles in my beard Hail-scur flew I heard naught but hammering seas Gannets sang to me The ducks played games to amuse me Cormorant song and mews skittering were all my mead Gulls screaming when seas beat against cliffs The dusky-feathered eagle screeching a reply No glee nor any comfort had I from those ice-winged companions Believe me! You gallant city-folk Wine-flushed, sitting in yr houses The path over the swelling seas is baleful travelling a shadowy night with snow from the north and frost vaulting the sky Hail stones, the coldest seed, falling Yet I want to set out once more upon the wind ing salt streams & seek a land far far away from here No rewards are so good No pleasures of youth or deeds so worthwhile No leaders so deserving of respect that they can hold me back frm doing what I must Harp, gold ring, a smiling wife No thing of what you have suits me as does the onward flowing waves Tho once at sea, I will long for those joys Orchards blossom, walls are fair, meadows bright, earth speeds well All urges my mind & heart to set out upon the far flooding seas The cuckoo, fairweather friend, w/ taunting stirs the bitter thoughts I keep close to my breast How can someone living in luxury know what it feels like to choose the way of renunciation And so my soul takes wing, flies frm my breast My mood with the flood tide visits regions where none but whales dwell Above the sheeting waves, coming back to me, the lone-flyer yells, whets my spirit to follow, it greedily over the water Dearer to me my maker's glory than dead life, loan of land    

A Working of the Old English (Ll.1-65a)

Don Wellman's website is at:

back to other versions