Dominik Dengler: The Seafarer 39-67 
       (EN2009, Pre-Conquest English II, 2000)

With this translation I have tried to stay as close to the original text and attempted to preserve the grammar, as far as possible. However I took great liberty in applying punctuation, rearranging the word order, repeating and replacing words and parts of sentences and changing occasionally singular nouns into the plural. My main concern was to emphasise recurring patterns and structures of the poem, producing a certain rhythmic effect. This helped me to blend kennings and appositions into a fluent language, as well as creating the tone of a solemn and forceful speech of the Seafarer.




For indeed there is

no one on earth


no one on earth

so proud


so proud of spirit,



so generous

of his gifts,



so bold

in his youth,



so daring

in his deeds,


Nor his lord

so loyal

to him,


That he has no worries about his seafaring,


his seafaring, which his lord will make him do.


His thought is


about the harp,



about the ring-receiving,



about the joy of woman,



about his worldly hopes,



about anything else,



about the rolling of the waves,


For which he


must ever yearn


For which he, who goes to sea,

must ever yearn.


The groves take on blossoms,

The groves make cities more beautiful,
The groves make meadows brighter,

The world hastens on,


All this urges the eager spirit

to the journey,


All this urges the heart

to the journey,


By which he desires

to travel far


to travel far in the flood ways


The cuckoo too reminds us


reminds us with his mourning cry


Summer’s guardian sings,


Announces bitter sorrow in the heart.


That man


does not know,


That man,

blessed with comfort,

does not know,


does not know,

what some men suffer,


Who travel

most widely


most widely on the path of exile.


For indeed

my thought



journeys beyond the confines of my heart,


my mind



journeys widely with the ocean,


Over the whale’s domains,


Over the earth’s regions,



comes back to me,


comes back to me greedy,


comes back to me grasping,


The solitary flyer calls out,


Whets the heart irresistibly


on the whale-paths


on the whale-paths over the seas


on the whale-paths over the seas of the ocean.


For indeed the joys of the lord

mean more to me


mean more to me than

this dead life


this dead life loan on land.


I do not believe


I do not believe that earthly wealth lasts eternally


I do not believe that earthly wealth lasts eternally for him.



Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 20 April 2001