Sarah De Bank: The Seafarer 80b-110
       (EN2009, Pre-Conquest English II, 2000)

Translation policy:  To present the text in good modern English prose. I have attempted to translate the text closely both in meaning and content. Conversion to modern prose has meant I have sometimes been led to adapt word orders and tenses to allow for clarity of meaning and the fluidity of the text. My translation of the words was aided by B. Mitchell and F. C. Robinson's A Guide to Old English, 5th ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997).

All the splendours of the kingdom of earth are disappearing with the days. There are now no kings, or emperors, nor gold-givers like there were before, when they performed the most magnificent deeds among themselves and lived with lordly reputation. This troop of seasoned retainers has entirely perished and its joys have gone with it. [It is] the weaker [who] occupy and hold this world, living in it by toil. Nobility on earth grows old and fades--just as each man throughout middle-earth does now. Old age overtakes him, his face grows pale; grey-haired, he grieves knowing that his friends of former days, the sons of princes, have been transferred to the earth.

Then, when life is escaping him, his body will not be able to savour sweetness, nor feel pain, nor raise a hand, nor think with the mind. Although a brother wishes to spread the grave for his brother with gold, to bury him among the dead with various treasures which he wants to go with him, gold, which he hides beforehand while still alive here, can be of no help in the presence of God to the soul that is full of sin.

The awe of the creator, before which the earth will change direction, is great. He established the firm groundings--the earth's surfaces and the heaven above. he who is not afraid of his Lord is foolish; death will come for him when he is unprepared for it. He who lives humbly is blessed; the mercy of heaven will come to him. God makes his spirit unwavering because he believes in His power. A man must control his strong spirit and hold it in place and be trustworthy in his pledges, pure in his ways...

Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 24 May 2000