Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Wulf and Eadwacer - Tuesday Poem

The translation of this poem I prefer - through familiarity, perhaps - is the one in Molly Peacock's book and is still in copyright. It's translated by Michael Alexander. There is also a translation in dear old Wiki and this is the translation I'm posting below:
It is to my people as if someone gave them a gift.
They want to kill him, if he comes with a troop.
It is different for us.
Wulf is on one island I on another.
That island, surrounded by fens, is secure.
There on the island are bloodthirsty men.
They want to kill him, if he comes with a troop.
It is different for us.
I thought of my Wulf with far-wandering hopes,
Whenever it was rainy weather, and I sat tearfully,
Whenever the warrior bold in battle encompassed me with his arms.
To me it was pleasure in that, it was also painful.
Wulf, my Wulf, my hopes for you have caused
My sickness, your infrequent visits,
A mourning spirit, not at all a lack of food.
Do you hear, Eadwacer? A wolf is carrying
our wretched whelp to the forest,
that one easily sunders which was never united:
our song together.
 There's a lot of information about this poem and its ambiguities on the 'net and if you're interested, I suggest you start here. I am actually up to about the eleventh century in Peter Ackroyd's Foundation, the History of England from its earliest time to the Tudors, but what is a hundred years or so between friends and poets. Clearly not much for this poem, with all it's yearning, speaks to us still.

Hop across to the Tuesday Poem blog! More poems! More poets! Lovely.

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