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Old 10-16-2013, 03:37 AM
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Default Three Translations of "Wulf and Eadwacer"

"Wulf and Eadwacer" is an extremely ambiguous and complex work from the Old English poetic corpus that has withstood understanding for centuries. Over the past few weeks, I've written three translations of the poem: one straight translation, one formalist translation and one contemporary translation. I present them here for your consideration:


The Wolf and the Watchdog

It is as though my people were given a gift.
They will wish to slay him if he comes in arms.
We are unlike.
The wolf is on one isle, I am on another.
Firm lies that island, set among the fens,
savagery rules the men who dwell there.
They will wish to slay him if he comes in arms.
We are unlike.
I thought with hope of my wolf’s wanderings.
It rained that day, and I sat mournful,
when the bold warrior laid me in his arms,
I found pleasure in that, but also pain.
O wolf, my wolf,
your hopes have sickened me, your rare comings,
my grieving heart, not lack of nourishment.
Do you hear me, watchdog? A wolf
takes our wretched whelp into the woods.
Man may easily break what was never joined,
our story together.

---

Faolán the Protector

It will be as a matter of fate for my kin,
They will wish to kill him, when he comes with his brothers.
It is different for me than it is for him.
Faolán is on one island, I on another.
That island is steadfast, hidden in fen,
its native folk are the fiercest of men.

They will wish to kill him, when he comes with his brothers.
It is different for me than it is for him.
I thought of my Faolán and the hopes he smothered,
and I sat in tears, whenever it rained,
yet when I was in his bold arms engirdled,
I dwelled in pleasure, and drowned in pain.

O Faolán, my Faolán, my hopes have curdled
into a sickness, how rarely you stay,
my anxious spirit, not hunger for food.
Do you hear me, protector? A wolf steals away
into the woods with our wretched brood.
What was unjoined may easily sever,
our song, our poem, our story together.

---

Exile of the Wolves

Such things bring strife amongst my folk.

They will destroy him
if he comes in threat.

We are not the same.

Wulf is on one island,
I the other.

That island is anchored
deep in the marsh,
a nation of cruel killers.
They will destroy him
if he comes in threat.

We are not the same.

I brooded and pined for wandering Wulf,
ensconced in my grief,
steeped in the rain,
yet when the bold one pulled me close,
I perished in pleasure,
but lived in pain.

O Wulf, my Wulf,

my sickness is longing
your seldom-coming,
my spirit’s mourning,
not mere lack of food.

Do you hear, Eadwacer?

Wulf bears the wretched
thing
we made into the woods.

He tears what was never seamed,
the tapestry of our story together.
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