Poem of Judith

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Poem of Judith
by Unknown
Usually referred to simply as "Judith". Written in Anglo-Saxon, with the oldest manuscript dating c. 1000. The poem is at least partially incomplete in the original Old English.

   tweode
gifena in ðys ginnan grunde.    Heo ðar ða gearwe funde
mundbyrd æt ðam mæran þeodne,    þa heo ahte mæste þearfe,
hyldo þæs hehstan deman,    þæt he hie wið þæs hehstan brogan

gefriðode, frymða waldend.    Hyre ðæs fæder on roderum
torhtmod tiðe gefremede,    þe heo ahte trumne geleafan
a to ðam ælmihtigan.    Gefrægen ic ða Holofernus
winhatan wyrcean georne    ond eallum wundrum þrymlic
girwan up swæsendo.    To ðam het se gumena baldor

ealle ða yldestan ðegnas;    hie ðæt ofstum miclum
ræfndon, rondwiggende,    comon to ðam rican þeodne
feran, folces ræswan.    þæt wæs þy feorðan dogore
þæs ðe Iudith hyne,    gleaw on geðonce,
ides ælfscinu,    ærest gesohte.

Hie ða to ðam symle    sittan eodon,
wlance to wingedrince,    ealle his weagesiðas,
bealde byrnwiggende.    þær wæron bollan steape
boren æfter bencum gelome,    swylce eac bunan ond orcas
fulle fletsittendum;    hie þæt fæge þegon,

rofe rondwiggende,    þeah ðæs se rica ne wende,
egesful eorla dryhten.    ða wearð Holofernus,
goldwine gumena,    on gytesalum,
hloh ond hlydde,    hlynede ond dynede,
þæt mihten fira bearn    feorran gehyran

hu se stiðmoda    styrmde ond gylede,
modig ond medugal,    manode geneahhe
bencsittende    þæt hi gebærdon wel.
Swa se inwidda    ofer ealne dæg
dryhtguman sine    drencte mid wine,

swiðmod sinces brytta,    oðþæt hie on swiman lagon,
oferdrencte his duguðe ealle,    swylce hie wæron deaðe geslegene,
agotene goda gehwylces.    Swa het se gumena aldor
fylgan fletsittendum,    oðþæt fira bearnum
nealæhte niht seo þystre.    Het ða niða geblonden

þa eadigan mægð    ofstum fetigan
to his bedreste    beagum gehlæste,
hringum gehrodene.    Hie hraðe fremedon,
anbyhtscealcas,    swa him heora ealdor bebead,
byrnwigena brego,    bearhtme stopon

to ðam gysterne,    þær hie Iudithðe
fundon ferhðgleawe,    ond ða fromlice
lindwiggende    lædan ongunnon
þa torhtan mægð    to træfe þam hean,
þær se rica hyne    reste on symbel

nihtes inne,    nergende lað,
Holofernus.    þær wæs eallgylden
fleohnet fæger    ymbe þæs folctogan
bed ahongen,    þæt se bealofulla
mihte wlitan þurh,    wigena baldor,

on æghwylcne    þe ðær inne com
hæleða bearna,    ond on hyne nænig
monna cynnes,    nymðe se modiga hwæne
niðe rofra    him þe near hete
rinca to rune gegangan.    Hie ða on reste gebrohton

snude ða snoteran idese;    eodon ða stercedferhðe,
hæleð heora hearran cyðan    þæt wæs seo halige meowle
gebroht on his burgetelde.    þa wearð se brema on mode
bliðe, burga ealdor,    þohte ða beorhtan idese
mid widle ond mid womme besmitan.    Ne wolde þæt wuldres dema

geðafian, þrymmes hyrde,    ac he him þæs ðinges gestyrde,
dryhten, dugeða waldend.    Gewat ða se deofulcunda,
galferhð gumena ðreate   
bealofull his beddes neosan,    þær he sceolde his blæd forleosan
ædre binnan anre nihte;    hæfde ða his ende gebidenne

on eorðan unswæslicne,    swylcne he ær æfter worhte,
þearlmod ðeoden gumena,    þenden he on ðysse worulde
wunode under wolcna hrofe.    Gefeol ða wine swa druncen
se rica on his reste middan,    swa he nyste ræda nanne
on gewitlocan.    Wiggend stopon

ut of ðam inne    ofstum miclum,
weras winsade,    þe ðone wærlogan,
laðne leodhatan,    læddon to bedde
nehstan siðe.    þa wæs nergendes
þeowen þrymful,    þearle gemyndig

hu heo þone atolan    eaðost mihte
ealdre benæman    ær se unsyfra,
womfull, onwoce.    Genam ða wundenlocc
scyppendes mægð    scearpne mece,
scurum heardne,    ond of sceaðe abræd

swiðran folme;    ongan ða swegles weard
be naman nemnan,    nergend ealra
woruldbuendra,    ond þæt word acwæð:
"Ic ðe, frymða god    ond frofre gæst,
bearn alwaldan,    biddan wylle

miltse þinre    me þearfendre,
ðrynesse ðrym.    þearle ys me nu ða
heorte onhæted    ond hige geomor,
swyðe mid sorgum gedrefed.    Forgif me, swegles ealdor,
sigor ond soðne geleafan,    þæt ic mid þys sweorde mote

geheawan þysne morðres bryttan;    geunne me minra gesynta,
þearlmod þeoden gumena.    Nahte ic þinre næfre
miltse þon maran þearfe.    Gewrec nu, mihtig dryhten,
torhtmod tires brytta,    þæt me ys þus torne on mode,
hate on hreðre minum."    Hi ða se hehsta dema

ædre mid elne onbryrde,    swa he deð anra gehwylcne
herbuendra    þe hyne him to helpe seceð
mid ræde ond mid rihte geleafan.    þa wearð hyre rume on mode,
haligre hyht geniwod;    genam ða þone hæðenan mannan
fæste be feaxe sinum,    teah hyne folmum wið hyre weard

bysmerlice,    ond þone bealofullan
listum alede,    laðne mannan,
swa heo ðæs unlædan    eaðost mihte
wel gewealdan.    Sloh ða wundenlocc
þone feondsceaðan    fagum mece,

heteþoncolne,    þæt heo healfne forcearf
þone sweoran him,    þæt he on swiman læg,
druncen ond dolhwund.    Næs ða dead þa gyt,
ealles orsawle;    sloh ða eornoste
ides ellenrof    oðre siðe

þone hæðenan hund,    þæt him þæt heafod wand
forð on ða flore.    Læg se fula leap
gesne beæftan,    gæst ellor hwearf
under neowelne næs    ond ðær genyðerad wæs,
susle gesæled    syððan æfre,

wyrmum bewunden,    witum gebunden,
hearde gehæfted    in hellebryne
æfter hinsiðe.    Ne ðearf he hopian no,
þystrum forðylmed,    þæt he ðonan mote
of ðam wyrmsele,    ac ðær wunian sceal

awa to aldre    butan ende forð
in ðam heolstran ham,    hyhtwynna leas.
Hæfde ða gefohten    foremærne blæd
Iudith æt guðe,    swa hyre god uðe,
swegles ealdor,    þe hyre sigores onleah.

þa seo snotere mægð    snude gebrohte
þæs herewæðan    heafod swa blodig
on ðam fætelse    þe hyre foregenga,
blachleor ides,    hyra begea nest,
ðeawum geðungen,    þyder on lædde,

ond hit þa swa heolfrig    hyre on hond ageaf,
higeðoncolre,    ham to berenne,
Iudith gingran sinre.    Eodon ða gegnum þanonne
þa idesa ba    ellenþriste,
oðþæt hie becomon,    collenferhðe,

eadhreðige mægð,    ut of ðam herige,
þæt hie sweotollice    geseon mihten
þære wlitegan byrig    weallas blican,
Bethuliam.    Hie ða beahhrodene
feðelaste    forð onettan,

oð hie glædmode    gegan hæfdon
to ðam wealgate.    Wiggend sæton,
weras wæccende    wearde heoldon
in ðam fæstenne,    swa ðam folce ær
geomormodum    Iudith bebead,

searoðoncol mægð,    þa heo on sið gewat,
ides ellenrof.    Wæs ða eft cumen
leof to leodum,    ond ða lungre het
gleawhydig wif    gumena sumne
of ðære ginnan byrig    hyre togeanes gan,

ond hi ofostlice    in forleton
þurh ðæs wealles geat,    ond þæt word acwæð
to ðam sigefolce:    "Ic eow secgan mæg
þoncwyrðe þing,    þæt ge ne þyrfen leng
murnan on mode.    Eow ys metod bliðe,

cyninga wuldor;    þæt gecyðed wearð
geond woruld wide,    þæt eow ys wuldorblæd
torhtlic toweard    ond tir gifeðe
þara læðða    þe ge lange drugon."
þa wurdon bliðe    burhsittende,

syððan hi gehyrdon    hu seo halige spræc
ofer heanne weall.    Here wæs on lustum.
Wið þæs fæstengeates    folc onette,
weras wif somod,    wornum ond heapum,
ðreatum ond ðrymmum    þrungon ond urnon

ongean ða þeodnes mægð    þusendmælum,
ealde ge geonge.    æghwylcum wearð
men on ðære medobyrig    mod areted,
syððan hie ongeaton    þæt wæs Iudith cumen
eft to eðle,    ond ða ofostlice

hie mid eaðmedum    in forleton.
þa seo gleawe het,    golde gefrætewod,
hyre ðinenne    þancolmode
þæs herewæðan    heafod onwriðan
ond hyt to behðe    blodig ætywan

þam burhleodum,    hu hyre æt beaduwe gespeow.
Spræc ða seo æðele    to eallum þam folce:
"Her ge magon sweotole,    sigerofe hæleð,
leoda ræswan,    on ðæs laðestan
hæðenes heaðorinces    heafod starian,

Holofernus    unlyfigendes,
þe us monna mæst    morðra gefremede,
sarra sorga,    ond þæt swyðor gyt
ycan wolde,    ac him ne uðe god
lengran lifes,    þæt he mid læððum us

eglan moste;    ic him ealdor oðþrong
þurh godes fultum.    Nu ic gumena gehwæne
þyssa burgleoda    biddan wylle,
randwiggendra,    þæt ge recene eow
fysan to gefeohte.    Syððan frymða god,

arfæst cyning,    eastan sende
leohtne leoman,    berað linde forð,
bord for breostum    ond byrnhomas,
scire helmas    in sceaðena gemong,
fyllan folctogan    fagum sweordum,

fæge frumgaras.    Fynd syndon eowere
gedemed to deaðe,    ond ge dom agon,
tir æt tohtan,    swa eow getacnod hafað
mihtig dryhten    þurh mine hand."
þa wearð snelra werod    snude gegearewod,

cenra to campe.    Stopon cynerofe
secgas ond gesiðas,    bæron sigeþufas,
foron to gefeohte    forð on gerihte,
hæleð under helmum,    of ðære haligan byrig
on ðæt dægred sylf.    Dynedan scildas,

hlude hlummon.    þæs se hlanca gefeah
wulf in walde,    ond se wanna hrefn,
wælgifre fugel.    Wistan begen
þæt him ða þeodguman    þohton tilian
fylle on fægum;    ac him fleah on last

earn ætes georn,    urigfeðera,
salowigpada    sang hildeleoð,
hyrnednebba.    Stopon heaðorincas,
beornas to beadowe,    bordum beðeahte,
hwealfum lindum,    þa ðe hwile ær

elðeodigra    edwit þoledon,
hæðenra hosp.    Him þæt hearde wearð
æt ðam æscplegan    eallum forgolden,
Assyrium,    syððan Ebreas
under guðfanum    gegan hæfdon

to ðam fyrdwicum.    Hie ða fromlice
leton forð fleogan    flana scuras,
hildenædran,    of hornbogan,
strælas stedehearde;    styrmdon hlude
grame guðfrecan,    garas sendon

in heardra gemang.    Hæleð wæron yrre,
landbuende,    laðum cynne,
stopon styrnmode,    stercedferhðe,
wrehton unsofte    ealdgeniðlan
medowerige;    mundum brugdon

scealcas of sceaðum    scirmæled swyrd,
ecgum gecoste,    slogon eornoste
Assiria    oretmæcgas,
niðhycgende,    nanne ne sparedon
þæs herefolces,    heanne ne ricne,

cwicera manna    þe hie ofercuman mihton.
Swa ða magoþegnas    on ða morgentid
ehton elðeoda    ealle þrage,
oðþæt ongeaton    ða ðe grame wæron,
ðæs herefolces    heafodweardas,

þæt him swyrdgeswing    swiðlic eowdon
weras Ebrisce.    Hie wordum þæt
þam yldestan    ealdorþegnum
cyðan eodon,    wrehton cumbolwigan
ond him forhtlice    færspel bodedon,

medowerigum    morgencollan,
atolne ecgplegan.    þa ic ædre gefrægn
slegefæge hæleð    slæpe tobredon
ond wið þæs bealofullan    burgeteldes
werigferhðe    hwearfum þringan,

Holofernus.    Hogedon aninga
hyra hlaforde    hilde bodian,
ærðon ðe him se egesa    on ufan sæte,
mægen Ebrea.    Mynton ealle
þæt se beorna brego    ond seo beorhte mægð

in ðam wlitegan træfe    wæron ætsomne,
Iudith seo æðele    ond se galmoda,
egesfull ond afor.    Næs ðeah eorla nan
þe ðone wiggend    aweccan dorste
oððe gecunnian    hu ðone cumbolwigan

wið ða halgan mægð    hæfde geworden,
metodes meowlan.    Mægen nealæhte,
folc Ebrea,    fuhton þearle
heardum heoruwæpnum,    hæfte guldon
hyra fyrngeflitu,    fagum swyrdum,

ealde æfðoncan;    Assyria wearð
on ðam dægeweorce    dom geswiðrod,
bælc forbiged.    Beornas stodon
ymbe hyra þeodnes træf    þearle gebylde,
sweorcendferhðe.    Hi ða somod ealle

ongunnon cohhetan,    cirman hlude
ond gristbitian,    gode orfeorme,
mid toðon torn þoligende.    þa wæs hyra tires æt ende,
eades ond ellendæda.    Hogedon þa eorlas aweccan
hyra winedryhten;    him wiht ne speow.

þa wearð sið ond late    sum to ðam arod
þara beadorinca,    þæt he in þæt burgeteld
niðheard neðde,    swa hyne nyd fordraf.
Funde ða on bedde    blacne licgan
his goldgifan    gæstes gesne,

lifes belidenne.    He þa lungre gefeoll
freorig to foldan,    ongan his feax teran,
hreoh on mode,    ond his hrægl somod,
ond þæt word acwæð    to ðam wiggendum
þe ðær unrote    ute wæron:

"Her ys geswutelod    ure sylfra forwyrd,
toweard getacnod    þæt þære tide ys
mid niðum neah geðrungen,    þe we sculon nyde losian,
somod æt sæcce forweorðan.    Her lið sweorde geheawen,
beheafdod healdend ure."    Hi ða hreowigmode

wurpon hyra wæpen of dune,    gewitan him werigferhðe
on fleam sceacan.    Him mon feaht on last,
mægeneacen folc,    oð se mæsta dæl
þæs heriges læg    hilde gesæged
on ðam sigewonge,    sweordum geheawen,

wulfum to willan    ond eac wælgifrum
fuglum to frofre.    Flugon ða ðe lyfdon,
laðra lindwerod.    Him on laste for
sweot Ebrea    sigore geweorðod,
dome gedyrsod;    him feng dryhten god

fægre on fultum,    frea ælmihtig.
Hi ða fromlice    fagum swyrdum,
hæleð higerofe,    herpað worhton
þurh laðra gemong,    linde heowon,
scildburh scæron.    Sceotend wæron

guðe gegremede,    guman Ebrisce;
þegnas on ða tid    þearle gelyste
gargewinnes.    þær on greot gefeoll
se hyhsta dæl    heafodgerimes
Assiria    ealdorduguðe,

laðan cynnes.    Lythwon becom
cwicera to cyððe.    Cirdon cynerofe,
wiggend on wiðertrod,    wælscel on innan,
reocende hræw.    Rum wæs to nimanne
londbuendum    on ðam laðestan,

hyra ealdfeondum    unlyfigendum
heolfrig herereaf,    hyrsta scyne,
bord ond bradswyrd,    brune helmas,
dyre madmas.    Hæfdon domlice
on ðam folcstede    fynd oferwunnen

eðelweardas,    ealdhettende
swyrdum aswefede.    Hie on swaðe reston,
þa ðe him to life    laðost wæron
cwicera cynna.    þa seo cneoris eall,
mægða mærost,    anes monðes fyrst,

wlanc, wundenlocc,    wagon ond læddon
to ðære beorhtan byrig,    Bethuliam,
helmas ond hupseax,    hare byrnan,
guðsceorp gumena    golde gefrætewod,
mærra madma    þonne mon ænig

asecgan mæge    searoþoncelra;
eal þæt ða ðeodguman    þrymme geeodon,
cene under cumblum    on compwige
þurh Iudithe    gleawe lare,
mægð modigre.    Hi to mede hyre

of ðam siðfate    sylfre brohton,
eorlas æscrofe,    Holofernes
sweord ond swatigne helm,    swylce eac side byrnan
gerenode readum golde,    ond eal þæt se rinca baldor
swiðmod sinces ahte    oððe sundoryrfes,

beaga ond beorhtra maðma,    hi þæt þære beorhtan idese
ageafon gearoþoncolre.    Ealles ðæs Iudith sægde
wuldor weroda dryhtne,    þe hyre weorðmynde geaf,
mærðe on moldan rice,    swylce eac mede on heofonum,
sigorlean in swegles wuldre,    þæs þe heo ahte soðne geleafan

to ðam ælmihtigan;    huru æt þam ende ne tweode
þæs leanes þe heo lange gyrnde.    ðæs sy ðam leofan drihtne
wuldor to widan aldre,    þe gesceop wind ond lyfte,
roderas ond rume grundas,    swylce eac reðe streamas
ond swegles dreamas,    ðurh his sylfes miltse.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.