Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader/The Battle of Maldon

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Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader by James W. Bright
The Battle of Maldon

[This poem was preserved in but one MS., Cotton Otho A xii, which was destroyed in the fire of 1731; fortunately, Thomas Hearne had copied and published it in 1726. The variants therefore refer to Hearne's text.]

     brocen wurde;
hēt þā hyssa hwæne    hors forlǣtan,
feorr āfȳsan,    and forð gangan,
hicgan tō handum,    and tō hige gōdum.
Þā þæt Offan mǣg    ǣrest onfunde,
þæt sē eorl nolde    yrhðo geþolian:
hē lēt him þā of handon    lēofne flēogan
hafoc wið þæs holtes,    and tō þǣre hilde stōp:
be þām man mihte oncnāwan    þæt sē cniht nolde
wācian æt þām wīge,    þā hē tō wǣpnum fēng.
Ēac him wolde Ēadrīc    his ealdre gelǣstan,
frēan tō gefeohte;    ongan þā forð beran
gār tō gūþe:    hē hæfde gōd geþanc,
þā hwīle þe hē mid handum    healdan mihte
bord and brād swurd;    bēot hē gelǣste,
þā hē ætforan his frēan    feohtan sceolde.

Ðā þǣr Byrhtnōð ongan    beornas trymian,
rād and rǣdde,    rincum tǣhte
hū hī sceoldon standan    and þone stede healdan,
and bæd þæt hyra randas    rihte hēoldon
fæste mid folman,    and ne forhtedon nā.
Þā hē hæfde þæt folc    fægere getrymmed,
hē lihte þā mid lēodon    þǣr him lēofost wæs,
þǣr hē his heorðwerod    holdost wiste.

Þā stōd on stæðe,    stīðlīce clypode
wīcinga ār,    wordum mǣlde,
sē on bēot ābēad    brimlīþendra
ǣrende tō þām eorle,    þǣr hē on ōfre stōd:

'Me sendon tō þē    sǣmen snelle;
hēton ðē secgan    þæt þū mōst sendan raðe
bēagas wið gebeorge;    and ēow betere is
þæt gē þisne gārrǣs    mid gafole forgyldon,
þonne wē swā hearde    hilde dǣlon.
Ne þurfe wē ūs spillan,    if gē spedaþ tō þām:
wē willað wið þām golde    grið fæstnian.
Gyf þū þat gerǣdest,    þe hēr rīcost eart,
þæt þū þīne lēoda    lȳsan wille,
syllan sǣmannum    on hyra sylfra dōm
feoh wið frēode,    and niman frið æt ūs,
wē willaþ mid þām sceattum    ūs tō scype gangan,
on flot fēran,    and ēow frīþes healdan.'

Byrhtnōð maþelode,    bord hafenode,
wand wācne æsc,    wordum mǣlde,
yrre and anrǣd    āgeaf him andsware:

'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida,    hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole    gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord    and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu    þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.
Brimmanna boda,    ābēod eft ongēan,

sege þīnum lēodum    miccle lāþre spell, [50]
þæt hēr stynt unforcuð    eorl mid his werode,
þe wile gealgean    ēþel þysne,
Æþelrēdes eard,    ealdres mīnes,
folc and foldan;    feallan sceolon
hǣþene æt hilde.    Tō hēanlīc mē þinceð
þæt gē mid ūrum sceattum    tō scype gangon
unbefohtene,    nū gē þus feor hider
on ūrne eard    in becōmon.
Ne sceole gē swā sōfte    sinc gegangan;
ūs sceal ord and ecg    ǣr geseman,
grim gūðplega,    ǣr wē gofol syllon.'

Hēt þā bord beran,    beornas gangan,
þæt hī on þām ēasteðe    ealle stōdon.
Ne mihte þǣr for wætere    werod tō þām ōðrum;
þǣr cōm flōwende    flōd æfter ebban,
lucon lagustrēamas;    tō lang hit him þūhte,
hwænne hī tōgædere    gāras bēron.
Hī þǣr Pantan strēam    mid prasse bestōdon,
Ēastseaxena ord    and sē æschere;
ne mihte hyra ǣnig    ōðrum derian,
būton hwā þurh flānes flyht    fyl genāme.
Sē flōd ūt gewāt;    þā flotan stōdon gearowe,
wīcinga fela,    wīges georne.
Hēt þā hæleða hlēo    healdan þā bricge

wigan wīgheardne,    sē wæs hāten Wulfstān,
cāfne mid his cynne,    þæt wæs Cēolan sunu,
þe ðone forman man    mid his francan ofscēat
þe þǣr baldlīcost    on þā bricge stop.

Þǣr stōdon mid Wulfstāne    wigan unforhte,
Ælfere and Maccus,    mōdige twēgen,
þā noldon æt þām forda    flēam gewyrcan,
ac hī fæstlīce    wið ðā fȳnd weredon,
þā hwīle þe hī wǣpna    wealdan mōston.
Þā hī þæt ongēaton    and georne gesāwon
þæt hī þǣr bricgweardas    bitere fundon,
ongunnon lytegian þā    lāðe gystas,
bǣdon þæt hī ūpgang    āgan mōston,
ofer þone ford faran,    feþan lǣdan.
Ðā sē eorl ongan    for his ofermōde
ālȳfan landes tō fela    lāþere ðēode.
Ongan ceallian þā    ofer cald wæter
Byrhtelmes bearn    (beornas gehlyston):

'Nū ēow is gerȳmed,    gāð ricene tō ūs,
guman tō gūþe;    God āna wāt
hwā þǣre wælstōwe    wealdan mōte.'

Wōdon þā wælwulfas    (for wætere ne murnon),
wīcinga werod,    west ofer Pantan,
ofer scīr wæter    scyldas wǣgon,
lidmen tō lande    linde bǣron.
Þǣr ongēan gramum    gearowe stōdon [100]
Byrhtnōð mid beornum;    hē mid bordum hēt
wyrcan þone wīhagan,    and þæt werod healdan
fæste wið fēondum.    Þā wæs feohte nēh,
tīr æt getohte;    wæs sēo tīd cumen
þæt þǣr fǣge men    feallan sceoldon.
Þǣr wearð hrēam āhafen,    hremmas wundon,
earn ǣses georn;    wæs on eorþan cyrm.
Hī lēton þā of folman    fēolhearde speru,
gegrundene    gāras flēogan;
bogan wǣron bysige,    bord ord onfēng.
biter wæs sē beadurǣs,    beornas fēollon
on gehwæðere hand,    hyssas lāgon.
Wund wearð Wulfmǣr,    wælræste gecēas,
Byrhtnōðes mǣg;    hē mid billum wearð,
his swuster sunu,    swīðe forhēawen.
Þǣr wearð wīcingum    wiþerlean āgyfen:
gehȳrde ic þæt Ēadweard    ānne slōge
swīðe mid his swurde,    swenges ne wyrnde,
þæt him æt fōtum feoll    fǣge cempa;
þæs him his ðēoden    þanc gesǣde,
þām būrþēne,    þā hē byre hæfde.
Swā stemnetton    stīðhicgende
hyssas æt hilde;    hogodon georne
hwā þǣr mid orde    ǣrost mihte
on fǣgean men    feorh gewinnan,
wigan mid wǣpnum;    wæl fēol on eorðan.
Stōdon stædefæste;    stihte hī Byrhtnōð,
bæd þæt hyssa gehwylc    hogode tō wīge
þe on Denon wolde    dōm gefeohtan.
Wōd þā wīges heard,    wǣpen ūp āhōf,
bord tō gebeorge,    and wið þæs beornes stōp;
ēode swā anrǣd    eorl tō þām ceorle:
ǣgþer hyra ōðrum    yfeles hogode.
Sende ðā sē sǣrinc    sūþerne gār,
þæt gewundod wearð    wigena hlāford;
hē scēaf þā mid ðām scylde,    þæt sē sceaft tobærst,
and þæt spere sprengde,    þæt hit sprang ongēan.
Gegremod wearð sē gūðrinc;    hē mid gāre stang
wlancne wīcing,    þe him þā wunde forgeaf.

Frōd wæs sē fyrdrinc;    hē lēt his francan wadan
þurh ðæs hysses hals;    hand wīsode
þæt hē on þām fǣrsceaðan    feorh gerǣhte.
Ða hē ōþerne    ofstlīce scēat,
þæt sēo byrne tōbærst;    hē wæs on brēostum wund
þurh ðā hringlocan,    him æt heortan stōd
ǣtterne ord.    Se ēorl wæs þē blīþra,
hlōh þā mōdi man,    sǣde Metode þanc
ðæs dægweorces    þe him Drihten forgeaf.
Forlēt þā drenga sum    daroð of handa,
flēogan of folman,    þæt sē tō forð gewāt [150]
þurh ðone æþelan    Æþelrēdes þegen.
Him be healfe stōd    hyse unweaxen,
cniht on gecampe,    se full cāflīce
brǣd of þām beorne    blōdigne gār,
Wulfstānes bearn,    Wulfmǣr sē geonga,
forlēt forheardne    faran eft ongēan;
ord in gewōd,    þæt sē on eorþan læg
þe his þēoden ǣr    þearle gerǣhte.
Ēode þā gesyrwed    secg tō þām eorle;
hē wolde þæs beornes    bēagas gefecgan,
rēaf and hringas    and gerēnod swurd.
Ðā Byrhtnōð brǣd    bill of scēaðe,
brād and brūneccg,    and on þā byrnan slōh:
tō raþe hine gelette    lidmanna sum,
þā hē þæs eorles    earm āmyrde;
fēoll þā tō foldan    fealohilte swurd,
ne mihte hē gehealdan    heardne mēce,
wǣpnes wealdan.    Þā gȳt þæt word gecwæð
hār hilderinc,    hyssas bylde,
bæd gangan forð    gōde gefēran;
ne mihte þā on fōtum leng    fæste gestandan;
hē tō heofenum wlāt:
'Ic geþancie þē,    ðēoda Waldend,
ealra þǣra wynna    þe ic on worulde gebād.
Nū ic āh, milde metod,    mǣste þearfe
þæt þū mīnum gāste    gōdes geunne,
þæt mīn sāwul tō ðē    sīðian mōte
on þīn geweald,    Þeoden engla,
mid friþe ferian;    ic eom frymdi tō þē
þæt hī helsceaðan    hynan ne mōton.'
Ðā hine hēowon    hǣðene scealcas
and bēgen þā beornas    þe him big stōdon,
Ælfnōð and Wulmǣr    bēgen lāgon,
ðā onemn hyra frēan    feorh gesealdon.
Hī bugon þā fram beaduwe    þe þǣr bēon noldon.
Þǣr wurdon Oddan bearn    ǣrest on flēame,
Godrīc fram gūþe,    and þone gōdan forlēt
þe him mænigne oft    mēar gesealde;
hē gehlēop þone eoh    þe āhte his hlāford,
on þām gerǣdum    þe hit riht ne wæs,
and his brōðru mid him,    bēgen ærndon,
Godrinc and Godwīg,    gūþe ne gȳmdon,
ac wendon fram þām wīge    and þone wudu sōhton,
flugon on þæt fæsten,    and hyra fēore burgon,
and manna mā    þonne hit ǣnig mǣð wǣre,
gyf hī þā geearnunga    ealle gemundon,
þe hē him tō duguþe    gedōn hæfde.
Swā him Offa on dæg    ǣr āsǣde,
on þām mæþelstede,    þā hē gemōt hæfde,
þæt þǣr mōdiglīce    manega sprǣcon, [200]
þe eft æt þearfe    þolian noldon.
Ðā wearð āfeallen    þæs folces ealdor,
Æþelrēdes eorl;    ealle gesāwon
heorðgenēatas    þæt hyra heorra læg.
Þā ðǣr wendon forð    wlance þegenas,
unearge men    efston georne:
hī woldon þā ealle    ōðer twēga,
līf forlǣtan    oððe leofne gewrecan.
Swā hī bylde forð    bearn Ælfrīces,
wiga wintrum geong,    wordum mǣlde,
Ælfwine þā cwæð,    hē on ellen spræc:

'Gemunað þā mǣla,    þe wē oft æt meodo sprǣcon,
þonne wē on bence    bēot āhōfon,
hæleð on healle,    ymbe heard gewinn;
nū mæg cunnian    hwā cēne sȳ.
Ic wylle mīne æþelo    eallum gecȳþan,
þæt ic wæs on Myrcon    miccles cynnes;
wæs mīn ealda fæder    Ealhelm hāten,
wīs ealdorman,    woruldgesǣlig.
Ne sceolon mē on þǣre þēode    þegenas ætwītan
þæt ic of ðisse fyrde    fēran wille,
eard gesēcan,    nū mīn ealdor ligeð
forhēawan æt hilde;    mē is þæt hearma mǣst:
hē wæs ǣgðer mīn mǣg    and mīn hlāford.'

Þā hē forð ēode,    fǣhðe gemunde,
þæt hē mid orde    ānne gerǣhte
flotan on þām folce,    þæt sē on foldan læg
forwegen mid his wǣpne.    Ongan þā winas manian,
frȳnd and gefēran,    þæt hī forð ēodon.

Offa gemǣlde,    æscholt āscēoc:
'Hwæt þū, Ælfwine,    hafast ealle gemanode,
þegenas tō þearfe:    nū ūre þēoden līð,
eorl on eorðan,    us_ is eallum þearf
þæt ūre ǣghwylc    ōþerne bylde
wigan tō wīge,    þā hwīle þe hē wǣpen mæge
habban and healdan,    heardne mēce,
gār and gōd swurd.    Ūs Godrīc hæfð,
earh Oddan bearn,    ealle beswicene:
wēnde þæs formoni man,    þā hē on mēare rād,
on wlancan þām wicge,    þæt wǣre hit ūre hlāford;
for þan wearð hēr on felda    folc tōtwǣmed,
scyldburh tōbrocen:    ābrēoðe his angin,
þæt hē hēr swā manigne    man āflȳmde!'

Lēofsunu gemǣlde    and his linde āhōf,
bord tō gebeorge,    hē þām beorne oncwæð:
'Ic þæt gehāte,    þæt ic heonon nelle
flēon fōtes trym,    ac wille furðor gān,
wrecan on gewinne    mīnne winedrihten.
Ne þurfon mē embe Stūrmere    stedefæste hælæð
wordum ætwītan,    nū mīn wine gecranc, [250]
þæt ic hlāfordlēas    hām sīðie,
wende fram wīge,    ac mē sceal wǣpen niman,
ord and īren.\'    Hē ful yrre wōd,
feaht fæstlīce,    flēam hē forhogode.

Dunnere þā cwæð,    daroð ācwehte,
unorne ceorl,    ofer eall clypode,
bæd þæt beorna gehwylc    Byrhtnōð wrǣce:
'Ne mæg nā wandian    sē þe wrecan þenceð
frēan on folce,    nē for feore murnan.'

Þā hī forð ēodon,    feores hī ne rōhton;
ongunnon þā hīredmen    heardlīce feohtan,
grame gārberend,    and God bǣdon
þæt hī moston gewrecan    hyra winedrihten,
and on hyra fēondum    fyl gewyrcan.

Him sē gȳsel ongan    geornlīce fylstan;
hē wæs on Norðhymbron    heardes cynnes,
Ecglāfes bearn,    him wæs Æscferð nama:
hē ne wandode nā    æt þām wīgplegan,
ac hē fȳsde forð    flān genehe;

hwīlon hē on bord scēat,    hwīlon beorn tǣsde;
ǣfre embe stunde    hē sealde sume wunde,
þā hwīle ðe hē wǣpna    wealdan mōste.
Ðā gȳt on orde stōd    Ēadweard sē langa,
gearo and geornful;    gylpwordum spræc,
þæt hē nolde flēogan    fōtmǣl landes,
ofer bæc būgan,    þā his betera læg:
hē bræc þone bordweall,    and wið þā beornas feaht,
oð þæt hē his sincgyfan    on þām sǣmannum
wurðlīce wrec,    ǣr hē on wæle lǣge.

Swā dyde Æþerīc,    æþele gefēra,
fūs and forðgeorn,    feaht eornoste,
Sībyrhtes brōðor    and swīðe mænig ōþer
clufon cellod bord,    cēne hī weredon;
bærst bordes lǣrig,    and sēo byrne sang
gryreleoða sum.    Þā æt gūðe slōh
Offa þone sǣlidan,    þæt hē on eorðan feoll,
and ðǣr Gaddes mǣg    grund gesōhte:
raðe wearð æt hilde    Offa forhēawen;
hē hæfde ðēah geforþod    þæt hē his frēan gehet,
swā hē bēotode ǣr    wið his bēahgifan
þæt hī sceoldon bēgen    on burh rīdan,
hāle tō hāme,    oððe on here crincgan,
on wælstōwe    wundum sweltan;
hē læg ðegenlīce    ðēodne gehende.

Ðā wearð borda gebræc;    brimmen wōdon,
gūðe gegremode;    gār oft þurhwōd
fǣges feorhhūs.    Forð þā ēode Wīstān,
Þurstānes sunu,    wið þās secgas feaht;
hē wæs on geþrange    hyra þrēora bana,
ǣr him Wīgelīnes bearn    on þām wæle lǣge. [300]
Þǣr wæs stīð gemōt;    stōdon fæste
wigan on gewinne,    wīgend cruncon,
wundum wērige;    wæl fēol on eorþan.
Oswold and Ealdwold    ealle hwīle,
bēgen þā gebrōþru,    beornas trymedon,
hyra winemāgas    wordon bǣdon
þæt hī þǣr æt ðearfe    þolian sceoldon,
unwāclīce    wǣpna nēotan.
Byrhtwold maþelode,    bord hafenode,
(sē wæs eald genēat),    æsc ācwehte;
hē ful baldlīce    beornas lǣrde:

'Hige sceal þē heardra,    heorte þē cēnre,
mōd sceal þē māre,    þē ūre mægen lȳtlað.
hēr līð ūre ealdor    eall forhēawen,
gōd on grēote;    ā mæg gnornian
sē ðe nū fram þīs wīgplegan    wendan þenceð.
Ic eom frōd fēores;    fram ic ne wille,
ac ic mē be healfe    mīnum hlāforde
be swā lēofan men,    licgan þence.'

Swā hī Æþelgāres bearn    ealle bylde, [320]
Godrīc tō gūþe;    oft hē gār forlēt
wælspere windan    on þā wīcingas,
swā hē on þām folce    fyrmest ēode,
hēow and hȳnde,    oð þæt hē on hilde gecranc.
Næs þæt nā sē Godrīc    þe ðā gūðe forbēah