Collaborative Translation of The Wife's Lament
(by Susan Crook, Mel Heyworth, Pirkko Koppinen, Jennifer Neville, Jane Page, and Hilary Thorn)

I proclaim this story: it's about me, my own journey's great sorrow.

What scars I've born since I grew up! I can tell you about fresh or ancient ones, but never worse than now! I have struggled forever with the torment of my journeys into exile. First of all, my lord departed over the tossing waves from his people. I grieved at dawn over the whereabouts of my prince.

Then I, a friendless exile, went to seek his following because of my woeful need. The man's kin began to plot secretly that they would divide us so that we two should live most hatefully, at opposite ends of the world, and that pained me. My cruel lord commanded me to be taken here. I possessed few loved ones or loyal friends in this settlement. Therefore my mind mourns.

Then I found a man fully matched to me: unfortunate, mournful, duplicitous, plotting murder. With happy faces we two very often vowed that nothing but death itself should divide us. That has been reversed; now our friendship is as if it had never been.

Far and near I must endure my beloved's feud. Someone commanded me to dwell in a forest-grove in an earth-cave under an oak tree. this earth-hall is ancient. I am entirely consumed with longing. The valleys are dark, the hills are towering, the fortified enclosures are harsh, overgrown with briars-a joyless dwelling. The lord's departure very often gripped me fiercely. There are beloved friends living on earth; they occupy their beds while I alone at dawn under the oak tree wander through this earth-cave.

There I am allowed to sit through a long summer day; there I can bewail my wretched journeys and my many hardships. Therefore I can never rest from my heart's anguish, nor from all the longing which has seized me in this life. Let that young man - cruel in his heart's thoughts - for ever be mournful. While he should have a happy demeanour, he also has heartache and a throng of immense sorrows. Let all his worldly joy be dependent on himself alone. Let him be exiled to the farthest of far-away lands, so that (like me) my lover, my companion sad-in-mind, will sit in a dreary hall under a stony cliff, frosted by storm and flooded by water. That lover of mine will endure great anguish of mind as he too often reminds himself of a more joyful dwelling.

There is always woe for one who must wait for love to come out of longing.

Completed May 2004.

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Last updated 26 May, 2009 13:36