I keep the track of a song true of me:
I’ll tell of trials, struggling times,
hard days, and how I endured.
I have borne such bitter cares,
held on ships whole houses of cares.
Awful sea-waves tossed where I kept
narrowed watches on the stern at night
and the ship beat cliffs.
Thronged in cold
were my feet, bound in frost
with chains of cold, while hunger slit
my ocean-weary mood. They do not know,
whom fair things befall on land,
how, care-worn wretch, I stayed at sea
and wintered an exile’s icy tracks,
shorn of kin,
hung with icicles.
There I heard only the whirring sea,
ice-cold wave, or else the call
of swans for a game, gannet’s laughter
and curlew’s song for human laughter,
mew’s singing for mead to drink.
Storms beat the stone cliffs; the tern answered,
icy-feathered. No strong kinfolk
could help my heart, which hollowness held.
And they hardly know, who have life’s joy
by staying in towns, they of few hardships,
lustful and flushed, how often I, weary,
was forced to stay out on the salty sea.
Night’s shadow darkened, snow from the north,
ground bound by frost; hail fell on earth,
coldest corn. . .
And now! there beats
a thought in my heart that I should try
the high waves, the salty sea;
my heart’s need always urges
my spirit out away from here
seeking only another place.
And there is no person so bold on the earth,
nor so good in gifts, nor so quick in youth,
nor so eager in acts, nor with friends so kind,
So as not to sorrow at sea always,
about what Heaven might finally bring.
Our minds are not on harping, nor on rings,
nor on joy in love, nor on bliss in this world,
nor on anything else— but on that tossing.
We are always longing, we who move over water. . .
Groves take blossom, towns are adorned,
fields brighten; the world moves on;
then all urges the pressing mood
to journey out, in those who crave
to move far on flood ways.
And the cuckoo urges, calling sad;
the guard of summer sings, boding
a horde of sorrow. They do not know,
the soft easy folks, what some undergo
who lay these wide exile’s tracks. . .
Now my heart turns high over hemming breast,
my mood moves out with the sea-flood,
It turns wide, high over whale-paths—
sweeps of the earth— and swoops back to me
the stretch of the seas. . .
and to me they are hotter,
the delights of Heaven, than this dead life
loaned us on land. I do not believe
that earth’s ways stand eternal for Heaven.
One of three things brings each noble servant,
down to doubt before the last day.
Sick or old or hated by a sword,
doomed and wrecked, our lives are wrenched.
For each noble, therefore, the praise of the living,
of after-speakers— word-tracks—are best. . .
So here let us work, before we have to go,
good deeds on earth against demons’ evil,
brave deeds to the harm of the devil,
so all our children will extol us,
and our praise then live with the angels
for long ages, eternal life’s glory,
delight of that host. . .
Days have departed,
carrying the pomp of earth’s countries;
now quiet are the crowns and caesars
the gold-givers who’ve gone before,
with mighty deeds made among themselves,
and lives known for the noblest renown. . .
All that host has fallen. Delights have faded;
the worst are still here and they hold the world,
busily share in it.
Glory is bowed;
earth’s dignity ages and ends,
as each of us does throughout our world.
Age gains on us, our faces pale,
grizzzle-headed we grieve; our friends have gone,
royal children changed into earth.
Nor can the house of flesh, when life has failed us so,
taste the sweet nor feel the sore
nor stir a hand nor hold a thought.
And though on the graves of our great dead
we strew gold, bury with death
various gifts, they do not go along;
nor may the soul that is full of sin
find strength in treasure from the terror of Heaven,
if we’ve hoarded before, while we dwelled here.
Great is the terror of the Measurer, and the world moves aside;
The Measurer made the massive ground,
the sweeps of earth, the arching sky.
They are foolish who do not dread the Maker; death comes to them unforeseen.
They are blessed who live in gentle mood; grace comes to them from heaven.
The Measurer marks in us that mood, so we’ll believe in the Measuring strength.
We should steer strong moods and hold them steady,
wise in pledges, pure in ways.
Each person should in measure hold
love towards beloved and malice towards foes,
even though we see, singed with fire
and with anger, the burning death
of a friend we love. Fate is stronger,
the Measurer mightier, than any of our ideas.
Let us think where our home is
and then consider how we came here,
and then try always so we can enter
on that eternal easiness
where life is held in the love of the Maker,
bliss in the Heavens. Let the Sacred One be thanked,
that we’ve been made worthy— by the world’s Elder,
always, for all time. So Must it Be.