Wulf

 

This is just my own translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem usually known as Wulf and Eadwacer.  It is famously ambiguous, with much debate about the identity of Eadwacer.  In this version, I treat Eadwacer as a term of endearment for Wulf.   ‘Ead’ can mean riches, joy, happiness.  ‘Wace’ is related to watching, guarding, keeping.  The original poem is in the West Saxon literary dialect.  I always imagine it being composed, sung, by a woman on the Somerset Levels, when they were islands.

To my people it as if they were given a gift.

They will do for him, if he comes with force.
We are apart.
Wulf is on one island, I on another.

Fast is this island, fen surrounded,

There are bloodthirsty men here on the island;
They will do for him, if he comes with force.

We are apart.
I thought of my Wulf with far-wandering hopes,

When it was rainy weather, and I sat tearfully,

When the battle-strong warrior surrounded me with his arms.
For me that was pleasure, for me it was however also pain.
Wulf, my Wulf, my dreams of you

Have made me sick, your seldom coming,

My mourning mood, not lack of food.

Do you hear, holder of happiness? Our wretched whelp

Is born by the wolf to the woods.

Men easily tear apart  that which was never joined,

our song together.

Leodum is minum   swylce him mon lac gife;
willað hy hine
aþecgan,   gif he on þreat cymeð.
Ungelic is us.
Wulf is on iege,   ic on oþerre.
Fæst is þæt eglond,   fenne biworpen.
Sindon wælreowe   weras þær on ige;
willað hy hine aþecgan,   gif he on þreat cymeð.
Ungelice is us.
Wulfes ic mines widlastum   wenum hogode;

þonne hit wæs renig weder   ond ic reotugu sæt,
þonne mec se beaducafa   bogum bilegde,
wæs me wyn to þon,   wæs me hwæþre eac lað.
Wulf, min Wulf,   wena me þine
seoce gedydon,   þine seldcymas,

murnende mod,   nales meteliste.
Gehyrest þu, Eadwacer?   Unc
erne earne hwelp
bireð Wulf to wuda.
þæt mon eaþe tosliteð   þætte næfre gesomnad wæs,
uncer giedd geador.

 

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