The Seafarer – Ezra Pound Translation of Old English Anglo-Saxon Poem


May I for my own self song’s truth reckon, Journey’s jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft. Bitter breast-cares have I abided, Known on my keel many a care’s hold, And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship’s head
While she tossed close to cliffs. Coldly afflicted, My feet were by frost benumbed. Chill its chains are; chafing sighs Hew my heart round and hunger begot
Mere-weary mood. Lest man know not That he on dry land loveliest liveth, List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea, weathered the winter wretched outcast deprived of my kinsman Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew, There I heard naught save the harsh sea
And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries, Did for my games the gannet’s clamour, Sea-fowls’ loudness was for me laughter, The mews’ singing all my mead-drink. Storms, on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed With spray on his pinion Mæg ic be me sylfum soðgied wrecan, siþas secgan, hu ic geswincdagum Earfoðhwile oft þrowade, bitre breostceare gebiden hæbbe, gecunnad in ceole cearselda fela,
atol yþa gewealc, þær mec oft bigeat nearo nihtwaco æt nacan stefnan, þonne he be clifum cnossað. Calde geþrungen wæron mine fet, forste gebunden, caldum clommum, þær þa ceare seofedun hat ymb heortan; hungor innan slat merewerges mod. þæt se mon ne wat þe him on foldan fægrost limpeð, hu ic earmcearig iscealdne sæ winter wunade wræccan lastum, Winemægum bidroren, bihongen hrimgicelum; hægl scurum fleag. þær ic ne gehyrde butan hlimman sæ, iscaldne wæg. Hwilum ylfete song dyde ic me to gomene, ganetes hleoþor ond huilpan sweg fore hleahtor wera, mæw singende fore medodrince. Stormas þær stanclifu beotan, þær him stearn oncwæð isigfeþera; ful oft þæt earn bigeal,

5 thoughts on “The Seafarer – Ezra Pound Translation of Old English Anglo-Saxon Poem

  1. I believe Pound also used this poem's metre in Canto I, in keeping with the 'seafaring' theme.

  2. Thank you, Survive the JiveI really enjoyed hearing this poem – great pictures in the video as well.When I think of how much English culture and history has been lost, much of it wilfully destroyed – especially by Henry VIII in his destruction of the monasteries and the burning of their great libraries of ancient books, and by Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans – all this loss of English history, writing, musical scores, and cultural artefacts just deeply saddens me.It was a rare pleasure to hear a translation and great reading of this wonderful old English poem.Keep up the great work, I love the content you place on YouTube.Liked and Subscribed! Northern Englander

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