1 ............ brocen wurde.
Hēt þā hyssa hwæne · hors forlætan,
feor afysan, · and forð gangan,
hicgan tō handum · and tō hige gōdum.,
5 Þā þæt Offan mæg · ærest onfunde,
þæt se eorl nolde · yrhðo geþolian,
hē lēt him þā of handon · lēofne flēogan
hafoc wið þæs holtes, · and tō þære hilde stōp;
Be þām man mihte oncnāwan · þæt se cniht nolde
10 wācian æt þam wige, · þā hē tō wæpnum fēng.
Eac him wolde Eadric · his ealdre gelæstan,
frēan tō gefeohte, · ongan þā forð beran
gar tō guþe. · Hē hæfde god geþanc
þā hwile þe hē mid handum · healdan mihte
15 bord and brādswurd; · bēot hē gelæste
þā hē ætforan his frean · feohtan sceolde.
Ðā þær Byrhtnōð ongan · beornas trymian,
rād and rædde, · rincum tæhte
hū hī sceoldon standan · and þone stede healdan,
20 and bæd þæt hyra randas · rihte hēoldon
fæste mid folman, · and ne forhtedon nā.
Þā hē hæfde þæt folc · fægere getrymmed,
hē lihte þā mid lēodon · þær him lēofost wæs,
þær hē his heorðwerod · holdost wiste.
25 þā stōd on stæðe, · stiðlice clypode
wicinga ār, · wordum mælde,
se on beot abead · brimliþendra
ærænde tō þām eorle, · þær hē on ōfre stōd:
“Mē sendon tō þe · sæmen snelle,
30 hēton ðē secgan · þæt þu most sendan raðe
beagas wið gebeorge; · and ēow betere is
þæt gē þisne garræs · mid gafole forgyldon,
þon wē swā hearde · hilde dælon.
Ne þurfe wē ūs spillan, · gif gē spēdaþ tō þām;
35 we willað wið þam golde · grið fæstnian.
Gyf þu þat gerædest, · þe hēr ricost eart,
þæt þu þine leoda · lysan wille,
syllan sæmannum · on hyra sylfra dom
feoh wið freode, · and niman frið æt ūs,
40 we willaþ mid þam sceattum ūs tō scype gangan,
on flot feran, and ēow friþes healdan.”
Byrhtnoð maþelode, bord hafenode,
wand wacne æsc, wordum mælde,
yrre and anræd ageaf him andsware:
45 “Gehyrst þu, sæliða, hwæt þis folc segeð?
Hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ættrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.
Brimmanna boda, ābēod eft ongēan,
50 sege þinum leodum miccle laþre spell,
þæt hēr stynt unforcuð eorl mid his werode,
þe wile gealgean ēþel þysne,
æþelredes eard, ealdres mines,
folc and foldan. Feallan sceolon
55 hæþene æt hilde. Tō heanlic mē þinceð
þæt gē mid ūrum sceattum tō scype gangon
unbefohtene, nū gē þus feor hider
on urne eard in becomon.
Ne sceole gē swā sōfte sinc gegangan;
60 ūs sceal ord and ecg ær gesēman,
grim guðplega, ær wē gofol syllon.”
hēt þā bord beran, beornas gangan,
þæt hī on þam ēasteðe ealle stōdon.
Ne mihte þær for wætere werod tō þām ōðrum;
65 þær cōm flōwende flōd æfter ebban,
lucon lagustrēsamas. Tō lang hit him þūhte,
hwænne hī tōgædere gāras bēron.
Hī þær Pantan strēam mid prasse bestōdon,
Eastseaxena ord and se æschere.
70 Ne mihte hyra ænig ōþrum derian,
būton hwā þurh flānes flyht fyl genāme.
Se flōd ūt gewāt; þā flotan stōdon gearowe,
wicinga fela, wiges georne.
hēt þā hæleða hlēo healdan þā bricge
75 wigan wigheardne, se wæs hāten Wulfstān,
cāfne mid his cynne, þæt wæs Ceolan sunu,
þe ðone forman man mid his francan ofscēat
þe þær baldlicost on þā bricge stōp.
Þær stōdon mid Wulfstāne wigan unforhte,
80 ælfere and Maccus, mōdige twēgen,
þā noldon æt þam forda flēam gewyrcan,
ac hī fæstlice wið ðā fynd weredon,
þā hwile þe hī wæpna wealdan mōston.
þā hī þæt ongeaton and georne gesāwon
85 þæt hī þær bricgweardas bitere fundon,
ongunnon lytegian þā lāðe gystas,
bædon þæt hī ūpgang āgan mōston,
ofer þone ford faran, fēþan lædan.
Ðā se eorl ongan for his ofermōde
90 ālyfan landes tō fela lāþere ðēode.
Ongan ceallian þā ofer cald wæter
Byrhtelmes bearn (beornas gehlyston):
“Nū ēow is gerymed, gāð ricene tō ūs,
guman tō guþe; god āna wāt
95 hwā þære wælstōwe wealdan mōte.”
Wōdon þā wælwulfas (for wætere ne murnon),
wicinga werod, west ofer Pantan,
ofer scir wæter scyldas wēgon,
lidmen tō lande linde bæron.
100 Þær ongean gramum gearowe stōdon
Byrhtnoð mid beornum; hē mid bordum hēt
wyrcan þone wihagan, and þæt werod healdan
fæste wið feondum. þā wæs feohte neh,
tir æt getohte. Wæs seo tid cumen
105 þæt þær fæge men feallan sceoldon.
Þær wearð hrēam āhafen, hremmas wundon,
earn æses georn; wæs on eorþan cyrm.
Hī lēton þā of folman fēolhearde speru,
gegrundene gāras flēogan;
110 bogan wæron bysige, bord ord onfeng.
Biter wæs se beaduræs, beornas fēollon
on gehwæðere hand, hyssas lāgon.
Wund wearð Wulfmær, wælræste gecēas,
Byrhtnoðes mæg; hē mid billum wearð,
115 his swuster sunu, swiðe forhēawen.
Þær wearð wicingum wiþerlēan āgyfen.
Gehyrde ic þæt Eadweard ānne slōge
swiðe mid his swurde, swenges ne wyrnde,
þæt him æt fōtum feoll fæge cempa;
120 Þæs him his ðēoden þanc gesæde,
þām burþēne, þā hē byre hæfde.
Swā stemnetton stiðhicgende
hysas æt hilde, hogodon georne
hwā þær mid orde ærost mihte
125 on fægean men feorh gewinnan,
wigan mid wæpnum; wæl fēol on eorðan.
Stōdon stædefæste; stihte hī Byrhtnoð,
bæd þæt hyssa gehwylc hogode tō wige
þe on Denon wolde dōm gefeohtan.
130 Wōd þā wiges heard, wæpen ūp ahōf,
bord tō gebeorge, and wið þæs beornes stōp.
Eode swā anræd eorl tō þam ceorle,
ægþer hyra ōðrum yfeles hogode.
Sende ðā se særinc sūþerne gar,
135 þæt gewundod wearð wigena hlāford;
hē scēaf þā mid ðām scylde, þæt se sceaft tōbærst,
and þæt spere sprengde, þæt hit sprang ongēan.
Gegremod wearð se gūðrinc; hē mid gāre stang
wlancne wicing, þe him þā wunde forgeaf.
140 Frōd wæs se fyrdrinc; hē lēt his francan wadan
þurh ðæs hysses hals, hand wisode
þæt hē on þam færsceaðan feorh geræhte.
ða hē ōþerne ofstlice scēat,
þæt sēo byrne tōbærst; hē wæs on brēostum wund
145 þurh ðā hringlocan, him æt heortan stōd
ætterne ord. Se eorl wæs þe bliþra,
hlōh þā, mōdi man, sæde metode þanc
Ðæs dægweorces þe him drihten forgeaf.
Forlet þā drenga sum daroð of handa,
150 flēogan of folman, þæt se tō forð gewāt
þurh ðone æþelan æþelredes þegen.
Him be healfe stōd hyse unweaxen,
cniht on gecampe, se full caflice
bræd of þam beorne blodigne gar,
155 Wulfstanes bearn, Wulfmær se geonga,
forlet forheardne faran eft ongean;
ord in gewod, þæt se on eorþan læg
þe his þeoden ær þearle geræhte.
Eode þā gesyrwed secg tō þam eorle;
160 hē wolde þæs beornes beagas gefecgan,
rēaf and hringas and gerēnod swurd.
Þā Byrhtnōð bræd bill of scēðe,
brād and brūneccg, and on þā byrnan slōh.
Tō raþe hine gelette lidmanna sum,
165 þā hē þæs eorles earm āmyrde.
Fēoll þā tō foldan fealohilte swurd;
ne mihte hē gehealdan heardne mece,
wæpnes wealdan. þā gyt þæt word gecwæð
hār hilderinc, hyssas bylde,
170 bæd gangan forð gōde gēfēran;
ne mihte þā on fōtum leng fæste gestandan.
Hē tō heofenum wlāt:
“Geþancie þē, ðēoda Waldend,
ealra þæra wynna þe ic on worulde gebād.
175 Nu ic āh, milde metod, mæste þearfe
þæt þu minum gāste gōdes geunne,
þæt min sāwul tō ðē siðian mōte
on þin geweald, þeoden engla,
mid friþe fēran. Ic eom frymdi tō þē
180 þæt hī helsceaðan hynan ne mōton.”
Ða hine hēowon hæðene scealcas
and bēgen þā beornas þe him big stōdon,
ælfnoð and Wulmær bēgen lāgon,
ða onemn hyra frēan feorh gesealdon.
185 Hī bugon þā fram beaduwe þe þær bēon noldon.
Þær wearð Oddan bearn ærest on flēame,
Godric fram gūþe, and þone gōdan forlēt
þe him mænigne oft mear gesealde;
hē gehlēop þone eoh þe āhte his hlāford,
190 on þām gerædum þe hit riht ne wæs,
and his brōðru mid him bēgen ærndon,
Godwine and Godwig, gūþe ne gymdon,
ac wendon fram þām wige and þone wudu sōhton,
flugon on þæt fæsten and hyra fēore burgon,
195 and manna mā þonne hit ænig mæð wære,
gyf hī þā geearnunga ealle gemundon
þe hē him tō duguþe gedōn hæfde.
Swā him Offa on dæg ær asæde
on þām meþelstede, þā hē gemōt hæfde,
200 þæt þær mōdiglice manega spræcon
þe eft æt þearfe þolian noldon.
Þā wearð afeallen þæs folces ealdor,
æþelrēdes eorl; ealle gesāwon
heorðgenēatas þæt hyra heorra læg.
205 Þā ðær wendon forð wlance þegenas,
unearge men efston georne;
hī woldon þā ealle oðer twēga,
lif forlætan oððe leofne gewrecan.
Swā hī bylde forð bearn ælfrices,
210 wiga wintrum geong, wordum mælde,
ælfwine þā cwæð, hē on ellen spræc:
“Gemunan þā mæla þe wē oft æt meodo spræcon,
þonne wē on bence bēot āhōfon,
hæleð on healle, ymbe heard gewinn;
215 nū mæg cunnian hwā cēne sy.
Ic wylle mine æþelo eallum gecyþan,
þæt ic wæs on Myrcon miccles cynnes;
wæs min ealda fæder Ealhelm hāten,
wis ealdorman, woruldgesælig.
220 Ne sceolon me on þære þeode þegenas ætwitan
þæt ic of ðisse fyrde fēran wille,
eard gesēcan, nū min ealdor ligeð
forhēawen æt hilde. Mē is þæt hearma mæst;
hē wæs ægðer min mæg and min hlāford.”
225 Þā hē forð eode, fæhðe gemunde,
þæt hē mid orde anne geræhte
flotan on þam folce, þæt se on foldan læg
forwegen mid his wæpne. Ongan þā winas manian,
frynd and gefēran, þæt hī forð ēodon.
230 Offa gemælde, æscholt āsceoc:
“Hwæt þū, ælfwine, hafast ealle gemanode
þegenas tō þearfe, nū ūre þēoden lið,
eorl on eorðan. Ūs is eallum þearf
þæt ūre æghwylc ōþerne bylde
235 wigan tō wige, þā hwile þe hē wæpen mæge
habban and healdan, heardne mēce,
gār and gōdswurd. Ūs Godric hæfð,
earh Oddan bearn, ealle beswicene.
Wende þæs formoni man, þā hē on mēare rād,
240 on wlancan þam wicge, þæt wære hit ūre hlāford;
forþan wearð hēr on felda folc totwæmed,
scyldburh tōbrocen. Abrēoðe his angin,
þæt hē hēr swā manigne man aflymde!”
Lēofsunu gemælde and his linde āhof,
245 bord tō gebeorge; hē þām beorne oncwæð:
“Ic þæt gehate, þæt ic heonon nelle
flēon fōtes trym, ac wille furðor gān,
wrecan on gewinne minne winedrihten.
Ne þurfon mē embe Stūrmere stedefæste hælæð
250 wordum ætwitan, nū min wine gecranc,
þæt ic hlafordleas hām siðie,
wende fram wige, ac mē sceal wæpen niman,
ord and iren.” Hē ful yrre wōd,
feaht fæstlice, fleam hē forhogode.
255 Dunnere þā cwæð, daroð ācwehte,
unorne ceorl, ofer eall clypode,
bæd þæt beorna gehwylc Byrhtnoð wræce:
“Ne mæg nā wandian se þe wrecan þenceð
frēan on folce, ne for fēore murnan.”
260 Þā hī forð eodon, fēores hī ne rohton;
ongunnon þā hiredmen heardlice feohtan,
grame gārberend, and god bædon
þæt hī mōston gewrecan hyra winedrihten
and on hyra fēondum fyl gewyrcan.
265 Him se gysel ongan geornlice fylstan;
hē wæs on Norðhymbron heardes cynnes,
Ecglafes bearn, him wæs æscferð nama.
Hē ne wandode na æt þam wigplegan,
ac hē fysde forð flān genehe.
270 Hwilon hē on bord scēat, hwilon beorn tæsde,
æfre embe stunde hē sealde sume wunde,
þā hwile ðe hē wæpna wealdan mōste.
Þā gyt on orde stōd Eadweard se langa,
gearo and geornful, gylpwordum spræc
275 þæt hē nolde flēogan fōtmæl landes,
ofer bæc būgan, þā his betera leg.
Hē bræc þone bordweall and wið þā beornas feaht,
oðþæt hē his sincgyfan on þam sæmannum
wurðlice wrec, ær hē on wæle læge.
280 Swā dyde æþeric, æþele gefēra,
fūs and forðgeorn, feaht eornoste.
Sibyrhtes broðor and swiðe mænig ōþer
clufon cellod bord, cene hī weredon;
bærst bordes lærig, and sēo byrne sang
285 gryrelēoða sum. þā æt guðe slōh
Offa þone sælidan, þæt hē on eorðan feoll,
and ðær Gaddes mæg grund gesōhte.
Raðe wearð æt hilde Offa forhēawen;
hē hæfde ðeah geforþod þæt hē his frēan gehēt,
290 swā hē bēotode ær wið his bēahgifan
þæt hī sceoldon bēgen on burh ridan,
hāle tō hāme, oððe on here crincgan,
on wælstowe wundum sweltan;
hē læg ðegenlice ðēodne gehende.
295 Ðā wearð borda gebræc. Brimmen wōdon,
guðe gegremode; gar oft þurhwōd
fæges feorhhūs. Forð þā eode Wistān,
þurstānes sunu, wið þas secgas feaht;
hē wæs on geþrange hyra þreora bana,
300 ær him Wigelines bearn · on þam wæle læge.
Þær wæs stið gemot; · Stōdon fæste
wigan on gewinne, · wigend cruncon,
wundum werige. · Wæl fēol on eorþan.
Oswold and Eadwold · ealle hwile,
305 bēgen þā gebroþru, · beornas trymedon,
hyra winemāgas · wordon bædon
þæt hī þær æt ðearfe · þolian sceoldon,
unwāclice · wæpna nēotan.
Byrhtwold maþelode · bord hafenode
310 (se wæs eald genēat), · æsc ācwehte;
hē ful baldlice · beornas lærde:
“Hige sceal þē heardra, · heorte þē cēnre,
mod sceal þē māre, · þē ūre mægen lytlað.
hēr lið ure ealdor · eall forheawen,
315 god on grēote. · A mæg gnornian
se ðe nu fram þis wigplegan · wendan þenceð.
Ic eom frōd fēores; · fram ic ne wille,
ac ic mē be healfe · minum hlāforde,
be swā lēofan men, · licgan þence.”
320 Swā hī æþelgares bearn ealle bylde,
Godric tō guþe. · Oft hē gār forlēt,
wælspere windan · on þā wicingas,
swā hē on þam folce · fyrmest ēode,
hēow and hynde, · oðþæt hē on hilde gecranc.
325 Næs þæt nā se Godric · þe ðā gūðe forbēah
1 ...would be broken.
Then he ordered a warrior to free each horse,
driven far away and advance onward,
giving thought to deeds of arms and to steadfast courage.
5 Then Offa’s kinsman first understood,
that the Earl would not endure cowardice,
for he let then from his hand fly his beloved
hawk towards its home and went forth to battle.
By this a man might understand that this young man would not
10 prove weak at the coming battle, when he takes up arms.
And for himself, Eadric followed his chief,
his lord to fight with, and so he moved forward with
his spear to the battle. He had a dauntless spirit
as long as he with hands might hold
15 shield and broadsword; His vow he would carry out
that he had made before his lord saying he would fight.
Then Byrhtnoth began to marshall his men there,
riding and instructing, directing his warriors
how they should stand and the positions they should keep,
20 and ordering that their round shields be held firm
with steady hands and not to be afraid.
Then when he beheld that people in suitable array,
he dismounted amid his people, where he was most pleased to be,
there amid his retainers knowing their devotion.
25 Then stood on the shore, stoutly calling out
a Viking messenger, spoke words,
threatening, delivering the sea-pirate’s
message to this Earl where he stood on shore:
“I am sent to you from bold sea-men,
30 ordered to tell you that you must quickly send
treasures to us, it would be better for you
if with tribute, you forego this conflict
than with us bitter warfare share.
No need to slaughter each other if you do it;
35 For gold we would be willing to bring a truce.
If you believe which of these is the noblest path,
and that your people are desirous of assurance,
then pay the sea-farers on their own terms
money for a truce and receive peace from us,
40 for we with this tribute will to our ships,
depart on the sea and hold peace with you.”
Byrhtnoth spoke, his shield raised up,
shook his slender ash-wood spear, speaking words,
wrathful and resolute gave his answer:
45 “Hear now you, pirate, what this people say?
Spears to pay, ash-spears as a tribute,
poisoned spears and old swords,
the war-gear which you in battle will not profit from.
Sea-thieves messenger, carry word back,
50 tell your people this spiteful message,
that here stands an honourable Earl with his war-band
who will defend our homeland,
Aethelred’s earth, my lord’s
people and land. Fall shall you
55 heathen in battle. To us it would be shameful
that you, without a fight, would go to your ships
carrying our wealth, now you thus far
have come into our homeland.
Not so easily shall you carry away treasure:
60 spearpoint and blade must first decide the terms,
fierce conflict, before we hand over tribute.”
He then ordered their shields taken up, his soldiers advancing
until on the river-bank they all stood.
Because of the water neither band of men could reach the other:
65 there came flowing the flood after the ebb-tide;
Joining together in the stream. Too long it seemed to him
until spears might join in battle.
Arrayed on the Panta stream with pride they stood,
East Saxon ranks and the raiders from the ships.;
70 nor might any harm the other
unless through an arrow’s flight death receive.
Then the flood went out. The sea-men stood ready,
many Vikings eager for battle.
Then the heroes’ protector ordered that the causeway be held
75 by a warrior stern, his name was Wulfstan,
valiant with his people: that was Ceola’s son,
who the first man with his spear slain
was one who boldly on the causeway stood.
There fought with Wulfstan warriors fearless,
80 Aelfere and Maccus, two great in courage,
who would not at this ford take to flight,
but stoutly against the enemy defended themselves
while their weapons they might wield.
When they understood and clearly saw,
85 that this guarding of the bridge was a fierce encounter,
and so began to use guile, the hateful strangers,
asked that passage to land they might be given,
to gain the shore and lead the foot-soldiers.
Then the Earl permitted in his great pride
90 to allow to much land to the hostile people.
Then shouted from the shore over the cold water
Byrhtelm’s child (and the men listened):
“Now the way is open: come quickly to us
you men to battle. God alone knows
95 who on this field of battle may be the master.”
The wolves of slaughter waded then, not heeding the water,
this band of Vikings, west over the Panta,
over the shining water they carried their shields,
sea-men towards land bore their linden shields.
100 There against the enemy stood ready
Byrhtnoth with his men. He had them with shields
form battle ranks and that army hold
fast against the enemy. Then was the fight near,
glory in battle. The time was come
105 that doomed men must fall in battle.
There came the loud clamour. Ravens circled,
eagles eager for carrion; On earth was the battlecry.
They sent forth from their hands shafts file-hard,
murderously sharpened spears flew;
110 Bows were busily at work, shields took spears.
Fierce was the onslaught, warriors fell
on either hand, young men lay dead.
Wounded was Wulfmaer, dead on the battlefield,
Byrhtnoth’s kinsman; He with sword was,
115 his sister’s son, cruelly hewn down.
There were the Vikings given requital.
I hear that Eadweard slew one
fiercely with his sword, withholding not his blow,
so that at his feet fell a doomed warrior;
120 For this he of his people gave thanks for,
this chamber-thane, when the opportunity arose.
So resolute men stood firm
young men in battle, eagerly vying
whom there with spear-points might be soonest
125 the doomed man’s life conquer,
warriors with weapons. The slain in battle fell to earth.
Steadfast they stood, Byrhtnoth exhorted them,
bid each young warrior think of the battle,
who against the Danes would win glory in war.
130 Advanced again, battle-hardened, weapons upraised,
shields to defence, and towards these men stepped forward.
Resolute they advanced from the Earl to the humble churl:
each of them intent on harm for the enemy.
Sent then a sea-warrior a spear of southern make
135 that wounded the warrior’s lord.
He thrust then with his shield so that the spear shaft burst,
and that spear shattered as it sprang back.
Enraged became that warrior: with anger he stabbed
that proud Viking who had given him the wound.
140 Experienced was that warrior; He thrust his spear forward
through the invader’s neck, his hand guiding
so that he this ravager’s life would fatally pierce.
Then he quickly stabbed again,
so that the chainmail coat broke; The man had a breast wound
145 cut through the linked mail-rings, through his heart stuck
a deadly spear. The Earl was the better pleased,
laughed then this brave man, thanking the Creator for
the day’s work which the Lord had given him.
And then another threw a hand-spear,
150 flying forward, which deeply struck
through the noble Aethelred’s theign.
With him at his side stood a young man not fully grown,
a youth on the battlefield, who full valiantly
pulled out from this man the bloody spear,
155 Wulfstan’s child, Wulfmaer the younger,
and let the tempered shaft fly back again;
The point penetrated, so that he on the earth now lay
who had his lord so sorely pierced.
Went then an armed man to the Earl;
160 He wished this warrior’s belongings to take off with,
booty and rings and an ornamented sword.
Then Byrhtnoth drew his sword from its sheath
broad and bright of blade, and then struck the man’s coat of mail.
But too soon he was prevented by a certain sea-warrior,
165 when he wounded the Earl’s arm.
Fell then to the ground his gold-hilted sword:
his grip unable to hold the heavy blade,
or wield the weapon. Then still uttered those words
the seasoned warrior, encouraging the younger warriors,
170 bidding them to advance stoutly together.
Not could he on his feet any longer stand firmly.
He looked to the heavens: (note)
“I thank you, Lord of my people,
all the joys which I in this world have experienced.
175 Now I ask, merciful Creator, the greatest hope
that to you my spirit shall be granted salvation
that my soul to thee be permitted to journey
and into your power, King of Angels,
in peace I depart. I only entreat you
180 that the hell-fiends shall not harm me.”
Then he was slain by the heathen warriors
and both of the men which by him stood,
Aelfnoth and Wulmaer were both slain,
close by their lord they gave up their lives.
185 Then turned away from battle those that would not stay.
There went Odda’s son first to flight;
Godric fled from the battle, and abandoned the good man
who had often given him many a horse;
He leapt upon the steed which had been owned by his lord,
190 on those trappings of which he had no right,
and his brothers with him both galloped away,
Godwine and Godwig, not caring for battle,
turned away from the battlefield and sought the woods,
fled to that wilderness and saved their lives,
195 and many more men than is fitting were there,
if they had acted deservingly and all remembered
he, who had to them all benefits given.
Thus had Offa on that day first said
at the meeting place, there at the council,
200 that there would be boldly many a boastful speech
which, after at the time of need, would not endure.
So now was laid low the Chief of the people,
Aethelred’s Earl; All saw those
hearth-companions that their lord lay slain.
205 But then advanced onward those valiant retainers,
undaunted men hastening eagerly:
they alll wished one of two things,
to leave life or else to avenge their dear lord.
And so urging them forward was the child of Aelfrices,
210 a warrior young in winters whose words spoke,
Aelfwine then spoke, in valiant speech:
“Remember the speeches which we had often at mead spoken,
that we on the bench had loudly uttered vows,
heroes in the hall, concerning bitter strife;
215 Now may we prove who is truly brave.
I am willing that my royal descent be known to all,
that I was of Mercian blood great kindred;
My grandfather Ealhelm was called,
a wise ealdorman and world-happy.
220 Not shall these people’s theigns blame me
that I from this army wish to flee,
a homeland seeking, now that my lord lies dead
and hewn down in battle. Mine is that sorrow greatest;
He was both my kinsman and my lord.”
225 Then he went forward, fierce in memory,
then he with spear-point pierced one
seaman in their host, that he to the ground fell slain
destroyed with his weapon. He began to exhort his comrades,
friends and compatriots, that they advance.
230 Offa spoke, shaking his ashen spear:
“Indeed you, Aelfwine, have from all men
exhorted our allegiance. Now our protector lies slain,
the Earl on the earth. To us all our need is
that each one encourages the other
235 warriors to battle, while with weapons we are able
to have yet and grasp, the hard blade,
the spear and the good sword. To us has Godric,
that cowardly son of Odda, all betrayed.
Many men believed, when he rode on the horse,
240 on that splendid steed, that it was our lord;
Because of this on the battlefield the people scattered,
the shield-defence breaking apart. Shame on that action,
for because of him so many men were caused to flee!”
Leofsunu spoke and his linden shield raised,
245 a shield for defence; This warrior replied to him:
“I swear this, that from here I will not
flee a foot’s pace, as my wish is to advance,
avenging in battle my lord-friend.
I have no wish that Sturmere’s steadfast heroes
250 reproach me with words, now that my friend has perished,
that I now lordless homeward journey,
having turned away from battle, but I shall be taken by weapons,
either spear or iron.” Full of anger he went,
fighting resolutely, for he despised flight.
255 Dunnere then spoke, brandishing his spear,
a humble churl, calling over all,
exhorting that each man avenge Byrhtnoth:
“He cannot retreat who intends vengeance
for our lord of the host, if he fears not for his life.”
260 Then they pressed forward, fearing not about their lives;
These retainers began to fiercely fight,
ferocious spear-bearers, and prayed to God
that they might avenge their lord-friend
and on their enemy death bring.
265 The hostage himself began willingly to help;
He was a Northumbrian of a brave family,
Ecglaf’s child; He was named Aescferth.
He hesitated not at the battle-play,
but shot forth many arrows.
270 Here striking a shield, there cutting down a man,
at almost every moment inflicting some wound,
the while his weapon he could wield.
Still at the battle front stood Eadweard the Tall,
ready and eager, speaking vaunting words
275 that he would not flee a foot’s space,
or turn away back to the bank, when his better lay slain.
He broke through that shield-wall and with the warriors fought,
until his bounteous lord upon those sea-men
did worthily avenge, and he on the battlefield lay slain.
280 So did Aetheric, noble comrade,
press forward eagererly and fought resolutely,
Sibyrht’s brother and very many others;
Splitting the enemy’s shields, valiantly they defended themselves.
Shield rims rang, and the mail-coats sang
285 a terrible dirge. Then at the battle’s height
Offa, this sea-farer sent him to the Earth dead,
and there Gadda’s kinsman fell to the ground.
Soon it was at battle that Offa was hewn down;
He had though accomplished that vow to his lord,
290 that he had spoken before to his ring-giver,
that they should both into the fortified town ride,
hale home or in battle fall,
on the corpse-field with wounds perish;
He lay nobly his lord nearby.
295 Then it happened that the shields broke through. The sea-men advanced,
to battle enraged. Spear often pierced
the doomed soul-houses. Onward then advanced Wistan,
Thurhstan’s son, to these warriors fought.
He was among the throng and killed three,
300 before Wigelm’s child lay slain in battle.
There was harsh combat; They stood firm
did these warriors in battle, warriors perished,
exhausted by their wounds. The slain fell dead to earth.
Oswold and Eadwold all this time,
305 both of these brothers, encouraged the men,
their beloved kinsman they would exhort through words
that they needed to endure
without weakening and make use of their weapons.
Byrhtwold spoke, shield raised aloft
310 (he was an old retainer) and shook his spear;
He full boldly commanded the warriors:
“Resolution must be the stronger, heart the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.
Here lies our lord all hewn down,
315 good man he lies in the dust. A kinsman grieves
that who now from this battle-play thinks to turn away.
I am advanced in years. I do not wish to leave,
but I by my liege Lord,
by so loved a man I intend to lie.”
320 So then did Aethelgar’s son embolden them all,
even Godric to the battle. Often he sent forth spears,
deadly shaft sped away onto the Vikings;
Thus he on this people went out in front,
striking down and humbling, until he too on the battlefield fell.
325 This was not that Godric who from the battle had fled ...