The wife's lament

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The Wife’s Lament
I make this song of myself, deeply sorrowing, my own life’s journey. I am able to tell all the hardships I’ve suffered since I grew up, but new or old, never worse than now – everI suffer the torment of my exile. First my lord left his people for the tumbling waves; I worried at dawn where on earth my leader of men might be. When I set out myself in my sorrow, a friendlessexile, to find his retainers, that man’s kinsmen began to think in secret that they would separate us, so we would live far apart in the world, most miserably, and longing seized me. My lord commanded meto live with him here;1 I had few loved ones or loyal friends in this country, which causes me grief. Then I found that my most fitting man was unfortunate, filled with grief, concealing his mind,plotting murder with a smiling face. So often we swore that only death could ever divide us, nothing else – all that is changed now; it is now as if it had never been, our friendship. Far and near, Imust endure the hatred of my dearest one. They forced me to live in a forest grove, under an oak tree in an earthen cave.2 This earth-hall is old, and I ache with longing; the dales are dark, the hillstoo high, harsh hedges overhung with briars, a home without joy. Here my lord’s leaving often fiercely seized me. There are friends on earth, lovers living who lie in their bed,






Or, “take up a dwelling in a grove” or “live in a (pagan) shrine.” The precise meaning of the line, like the general meaning of the poem, is a matter of dispute and conjecture. 2 Oreven “an earthen grave” or barrow.





while I walk alone in the light of dawn under the oak-tree and through this earth-cave, where I must sit the summer-long day; there Ican weep for all my exiles, my many troubles; and so I may never escape from the cares of my sorrowful mind, nor all the longings that have seized my life. May the young man be sad-minded3 with hard...
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