The Rhymed Poem by Anonymous

He granted me life, who revealed this sun
and graciously revealed that radiant engine.
I was glad with glee, adorned with hues,
with the colours of joy, with the hues of blossoms.
Men gazed upon me — banquets were not lacking —,
rejoiced in the gift of life. Caparisoned horses
carried me joyfully in journeys over the plains,
delightfully with long strides of the limbs.
Then was the world quickened and kindled with growth,
expanded under the skies, covered with a troop of advisers.
Guests came and went, mingled chatter,
lingered over delight, joyfully embellished it.
The appointed ship glided through the distance into the broad sea;
there was a path upon the ocean stream, where I was not without guidance.
I had high rank; I lacked nothing in the hall,
so a brave company rode there. There it often befel the warrior
that he saw in the hall weighty treasure,
serviceable to thanes. I was puffed up with power;
wise men praised me, saved me in battle,
conducted me well, protected me from foes.
So joy dwelt within me, a family troop encompassed me,
I possessed estates, where I stepped I had command over
whatever the earth brought forth, I had a princely throne,
I sang with charmed words, old friendship did not grow less.
Moreover, there was a year rich in gifts, a resounding harp-string,
lasting peace cut short the river of sorrow.
The servants were active, the harp was resonant,
loudly rang; sound pealed,
music made melody, did not greatly abate;
the castle hall trembled, it towered bright.
Courage increased, wealth attracted;
I gave wise counsel to the lords, enriched the valiant.
Mind became mighty, heart rejoiced,
good faith flourished, glory abounded,
abundance smiled.
I furnished gold, the gem passed round,
treasure did treachery, the bond of friendship narrowed.
Bold I was in my array, noble in my equipment,
my joy was lordly, my way of life happy.
I protected the land, I was leader to the folk;
for a long time my life among the people was
familiar with glory, well devoted to it.

Now my heart is troubled, fearful owing to various disasters,
nigh to unavoidable distresses. There departs into flight by night
he who in the day had been bold. There wanders now deep and far
a burning secret disease in full growth, developed within the breast,
spread in different directions. Evil has blossomed
greatly in the mind. The mind’s nature
bottomless grief, too much penned in, attacks,
burns eager for calamity, runs fiercely to and fro.
The weary man suffers, begins a far journey,
his pain is pitiless, he adds to his sorrows,
his glory ceases, he loses his happiness,
he loses his skill, he does not burn with desires.

In the same way here joys perish, lordships fall;
here men lose life, often choose sins;
too evil is the time of good faith that feebly declined;
it went badly with the high seat and every hour went to the worse.
So now the world changes, brings death,
and pursues hate, brings men to shame.
The race of men perishes, the slaughtering spear rends,
the deceitful evildoer brawls, wickedness polishes the arrow,
debt-anxiety bites, old age cuts short courage,
the time of misery binds, anger desecrates the oath,
constant grief spreads widely, the indirect path is treacherous.
Fierce anger digs wrinkles, …………………. engraves,
artificial beauty grows foul, summer heat becomes cool,
the wealth of the earth perishes, enmity rages,
the might of the world ages, courage grows cold.

Fate wove it me and my deserts brought it upon me
that I should dig a grave, and that grim cavern
I cannot avoid with my flesh, when death, arrow-swift,
seizes my life in his inevitable grasp, when the night comes,
that dispossesses me of my home and deprives me of my abode here.
Then the body lies low, the worm devours the limbs,
nay, has delight and takes sustenance,
until the bones are …………………. one,
and finally there is nothing, except that the lot of necessity
is here appointed for evil deeds. Good fame will not be destroyed;
all the sooner the good man thinks of that, he chastens himself the more often,
avoids the bitter sins, has hope of the better joy,
remembers the delight of the heavenly rewards. Here are the blisses of the mercies of God
joyous in the kingdom of heaven. Let us now, like the saints,
freed from sins, hasten saved,
defended from vices, gloriously saved,
where mankind, happy before the Judge, may
see the true God and for ever rejoice in peace.

From: Mackie, W. S., “The Old English “Rhymed Poem”” in The Journal of English and Germanic Philogy, Volume 21, 1922, pp. 507-519.

Date: 10th Century (original in Old English); 1922 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: William Souter Mackie (1884-19??)

Alternative Titles: The Rhyming Poem, The Riming Poem

3 Comments to “The Rhymed Poem by Anonymous”

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