Selections from “Wulf ond Eadwacer”

EADWACER [ANGNES]

 

my ruler
*******as if one offers herself

We are different—
I, heavily-guarded

the other
slaughter-cruel

when the arms
embrace me
I think of wandering

*
those seldom
visits of joy

Listen: a fearful
mind

drives
a wolf from the woods

EAD, EDITED

 

surrounded
*******, sobbing—

the battle
brought misery

the mind
falls to threads

this cub was
the tale

of us
entwined.

E., DRAFT

 

as if
*
we are
that island
*
*
where the arms
*
*
*
*
*
**************listen

EADWACER [MĪNUM]

 

People are mine / Lēodum is mīnum

Island is mīnum,          fen is mīnum
& is mīnum.
Cub is mīnum.
Wulf is mīnum.
Sacrifice, violence & slaughter are mīnum.
The army is mīnum.
Difference is mīnum.
Joy is mīnum.
Rainy weather is mīnum.
Weather is mīnum.
Song is mīnum.
Mind, heart & spirit are mīnum.
Men are mīnum. Battle is mīnum. Injury is mīnum.
& is mīnum.
& is mīnum.
& is mīnum.
& is
Wulf Wulf Wulf is mīnum.

& [SWYLCE HIM MON LĀC GIFE]

 

**************as if one

gives himself

*********************swylce him mon lāc gife

****************************as if one

******gives herself

*************as gift
*************as offering
*************as lāc
*************as sacrifice

as if one gives only
*********************themselves

as if one gives

*************herself**********************as

herself

******as if the***************self

is given.

& [ON LOVE]

 

As I sat wailing

********************a wolf

embraced me.

WULF, MIN WULF

 

*******Wulf, the outlaw
*******the fierce heart

*******Wulf, wælrēowe
*******the animal spirit

*
A wolf will devour
*************gif þū cymest
*************if you approach

slaughter-wolf, min wulf

*******Wulf, beaducāfa
*******Wulf, the battle-strong

A wolf will kill
*************gif hē on þrēat cymeð
*************if he comes upon a threat.

war-wolf, my wolf

the beast of war
feeds

himself
to the battlefield.

& [ON EXILE]

 

A wolf

*****************must

wander far.

& [ON LONGING]

 

In these seldom visits

********************the island of Wulf’s heart

feels heavily-guarded.

EARGNE HWELP

 

*************************we bore

********eargne hwelp

*************************the wild
*************************the blessed
*************************the unprotected
***************************************cub,

*
***************the son of an outlaw’s
***************yelp

***************************************************can easily
***************************************************tear to shreds

****************************what never was

*

***************united:
***************the song

*

he and I
made together

SEOCE [A CHARM FOR THE UNWANTED]

 

Both the tyrant & the outlaw
have governed me.

As if one offers
her body to their battle.

They will kill
if I lean toward violence.

This is
a different breed.

Slaughter-quick
husbands on this island.

No doubt they’ll kill
if he looks like a wolf.

This one
is from a different breed.

I think of Wulf’s
far wanderings

when it was rainy weather
and I sat wailing

when the battle-weak
arms embraced me

that which bore me joy
now bears my misery.

& [UNCER GIEDD GEADOR]

 

What has the song of us

******together

*************uncer giedd geador

*******************become?

 

the song that tears apart
the song that brought wulf to wuda

*************uncer giedd Þæt tōslīteð
*************the song of the wretched

the song of sacrifice
the song of the battle-sick

*************the song of long journeys
*************giedd þætte nǣfre wæs

the song of two misfortunes
the song of one mind

*************giedd of rainy weather
*************giedd of Wulf wailing

the song of pleasure
giedd of pain

*************the song of Wulf
*************the song of Eadwacer

the song of listening
the song of &

*************What has become
*******of uncer giedd geador?

& [ON SACRIFICING A SON]

 

The angry skies

********************bellowed

for their blood-cursed cub.

& [ON FATE]

 

She who tries to resist

********************also gives birth

to suffering.

& [ĐONNE HIT WÆS RĒNIG WEDER]

 

*****************When it was one
********island

when battle-strong
********when battle-quick
*****************when battle-bold

******************************brings Wulf****to*******woods

when it was fixed / secure / enclosed

*****************when long journeys
************************when fen-surrounded

when Wulf / when Eadwacer

********þonne hit wæs******** thoughts
******************************expectations
******************************pain
******************************injury
******************************lað
******************************misfortune

********when they intend to / when he moves into violence

when*************secure
******************fixed
******************enclosed
************************island

********makes**********one*******seoce

when the mind is fearful / when the spirit mourns

********when the song
************************of us together

********tears***********so easily

þonne hit wæs rēnig weder

******************ond ic rēotugu sæt

Bios

An Anonymous pre-10th century Anglo-Saxon Feminist

What we know of the poet who composed the Anglo-Saxon text commonly referred to as “Wulf ond Eadwacer” is very limited. Though unnamed in the poem, we can discern from the feminine inflection on the words “rēotugu” and “sēoce” that the speaker is a woman. It is possible, though perhaps implausible, that the poet is male, but even so, because the poem describes and laments a forbidding set of circumstances foisted onto the female speaker by a patriarchal Anglo-Saxon culture, the poet—who may have been Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon and lived some time before the 10th c.—was undoubtedly a feminist, an outsider, and a radical poet, who mixed forms from both Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian, subverting the literary conventions of each language culture in sophisticated and surprising ways.

M.L. Martin

M.L. Martin is a prize-winning poet and translator whose experimental translations of Old English can be found in Anomaly (f.k.a. Drunken Boat), Arkansas International, The Literary Review, and Waxwing. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, The Fiddlehead, The Massachusetts Review, and PRISM international. She is the recipient of the Theresa A. Wilhoit Fellowship, the Bread Loaf Translators’ Fellowship, and the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry. She currently lives in Tulsa, where she is a 2018 Literary Arts Fellow with Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

Modern English translation copyright (c) M.L. Martin, 2018.