Wiglaf’s Wordy and Wrathful Rant: A Translation

 However, on land,     meager men 

of might remain      (to the most of my mere knowledge)

who, after boldly battling     brawling beasts and

daring dangerous deeds,     would be doubly daring when

faced with the fetid fangs     of the fire-breather.

Nor are there men       not timid enough to twine 

their thieving fingers      through the treasure trove untroubled

by the watching        awakened wyrm-warden.

Gallant Beowulf gave    grim and gruesome gore

for glories of guarded     golden dragon horde.

Crowned head and creature     both carved

each others fated      final flesh wound,  

delivering them both     to deeply deserving death.  

   A pithy  pause then    proceeded to determine that 

the dreadful tomb-defender      was indeed deceased. 

Then the cowardly comitatus crept      forward from the cover of the copse.

Ten treasonous traitors        that had unfaithfully fled

when their courageous captain     required reinforcements.

Now not unabashedly      they braved the burnt and bloody battlefield   

bearing pristine protection and     mint mail shirts. They came  

to where their leader lay and woefully      watched and waited for Wiglaf to speak.

    Resting wearily by           his ruined ruler’s shoulder

he availed in vain to rouse      the valiant warrior.

Dozens of drops he dripped and dribbled     upon the departed hero’s face, 

but they fell falsely for the Ruler     above felt the ruler below should fall.

The almighty’s fated grasp gripped     the mortal man never to be shaken.

As it is now,          so it was then.  

   Shortly strong words       were swiftly spoken;

grimly given to those      timorous turncoats. 

Declared Wiglaf,       Weohstan’s kin,

with heavy eyes         and heavier heart

“ Any man, being not false-minded,       may freely divulge

 that your doughty prince         did pile plentiful treasure upon you,

wonderous weaponry       you wrongfully wear now. 

Seated steadfast          on the mead-hall stools,

you didn’t deign to object        the objects and arms openly given;

specially selected for           the strongest and surest supporters. 

For when the fight came,       you floundered and fearfully fled,

forgetting your oath          and abandoning your armaments.  

Our lordly leader lauded you,        his lackeys who lacked loyalty, 

all for this low and poorly         wrought recompense. 

But brave Beowulf was granted       glory in battle by the Great One

in the gloom of betrayal           his bright blade bested the beast.

I, myself, used my might,           meager though it may be,

to come to my kinsman’s aide         when he called.

I rose above my prior prowess         and when we wielded our swords as one, 

the enemy waned and           the fiery flames fizzled.

Not enough nobles did dare to dart forth         and fight for their beloved lord in his need.

Now none shall share          in the swords and stores.

Any holdings once held by you,          who failed to hold courage, 

shall be striven from you forever         and you and your folk will be forced out,

 homeless and clanless,          and foreign kings,

 on finding out your shame,       shall not shelter you there.   

For death is a fairer fate,        a worthier waste,    

 than the sorry shame         you shall be brought to bear!”

 

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