The Wife's Lament

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The Wife's Lament
by Unknown
The Wife's Lament is a short Old English poem of 53 lines found in the Exeter Book and generally treated as an elegy in the manner of the Old English frauenlied, or woman's song. The poem has been relatively well-preserved and requires few if any emendations in order to be properly read and understood. Thematically, the poem is primarily concerned with the evocation of the grief of the female speaker and with the representation of her state of despair. The tribulations she suffers leading to her state of lamentation, however, are cryptically described and have been subject to a wide array of interpretations.
Excerpted from The Wife's Lament on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Ic þis giedd wrece  bī mē ful gēomorre,
mīnre sylfre sīð.  Ic þæt secgan mæg,
hwæt ic yrmþa gebād,  siþþan ic ūp āwēox,[1]
nīwes oþþe ealdes,  nō mā þonne nū.
Ā ic wite wonn  mīnra wræcsīþa.  5

Ǣrest mīn hlāford gewāt  heonan of lēodum
ofer ȳþa gelāc;  hæfde ic ūhtceare
hwǣr mīn lēodfruma  londes wǣre.
Ðā ic mē fēran gewāt  folgað sēcan,
winelēas wræcca,  for mīnre wēaþearfe.  10
Ongunnon þæt þæs monnes  māgas hycgan
þurh dyrne geþōht,  þæt hȳ tōdǣlden unc,
þæt wit gewīdost  in woruldrīce
lifdon lāðlicost,  ond mec longade.
Hēt mec hlāford mīn  herheard niman,  15
āhte ic lēofra lȳt  on þissum londstede,
holdra frēonda.  Forþon is mīn hyge gēomor.
Ðā ic mē ful gemæcne  monnan funde,
heardsǣligne,  hygegēomorne,
mōd mīþendne,  morþor hycgendne[2]  20
blīþe gebǣro.  Ful oft wit bēotedan
þæt unc ne gedǣlde  nemne dēað āna
ōwiht elles;  eft is þæt onhworfen,
is nū swa hit   nǣfre[3] wǣre
frēondscipe uncer.  Sceal[4] ic feor ge nēah  25
mīnes felalēofan  fǣhðu drēogan.

Heht mec mon wunian  on wuda bearwe,
under āctrēo  in þām eorðscræfe.
Eald is þes eorðsele,  eal ic eom oflongad,
sindon dena dimme,  dūna ūphēa,  30
bitre burgtūnas,  brērum beweaxne,
wīc wynna lēas.  Ful oft mec hēr wrāþe begeat
fromsīþ frēan.  Frȳnd sind on eorþan,
lēofe lifgende,  leger weardiað,
þonne ic on uhtan  āna gonge  35
under āctrēo  geond þās eorðscrafu.
Þǣr ic sittan[5] mōt  sumorlangne dæg,
þǣr ic wēpan mæg  mīne wræcsīþas,
earfoþa fela;  forþon ic ǣfre ne mæg
þǣre mōdceare  mīnre gerestan,  40
ne ealles þæs longaþes  þe mec on þissum līfe begeat.

Ā scyle geong mon  wesan gēomormōd,
heard heortan geþōht,  swylce habban sceal
blīþe gebǣro,  ēac þon brēostceare,
sinsorgna gedreag.  Sȳ æt him sylfum gelong  45
eal his worulde wyn,  sȳ ful wīde fāh
feorres folclondes,  þæt mīn frēond siteð
under stānhliþe  storme behrīmed,
wine wērigmōd,  wætre beflōwen
on drēorsele,  drēogeð se mīn wine  50
micle mōdceare;  hē gemon tō oft
wynlicran wīc.  Wā bið þām þe sceal
of langoþe  lēofes ābīdan.

Notes[edit]

  1. MS weox
  2. MS hycgende
  3. MS no
  4. MS seal
  5. MS sittam