Translation: The Battle of Maldon (repost)

Another translation from Anglo-Saxon, circa 1991.  Of the translations I produced, I think this one is probably my best (as well as being my favorite).  At 325 lines, it is also the longest. Like the “Dream of the Rood” and “Widsith” translations, I occasionally hear that it too has been used as classroom material — something which still astonishes me, since I worked on it 21 years ago.

Unlike most Anglo-Saxon poetry, we can actually date this work with a fair degree of certainty to the last decade of the 10th Century AD or very soon thereafter.  This is because the battle it commemorates occurred on August 10, 991 between the English earl Byrhtnoth and Viking marauders, and the poem itself seems to have been written soon after.  However, both the very beginning and the very end of the work have been lost, though it is generally believed that the missing material is not much more substantial than that which has survived.  Author is unknown, but it seems probable that the author himself was a witness to the events (though that too is debated). Sadly, the only surviving manuscript of the work was destroyed by fire in 1731. All texts and translations of the work are based upon two transcriptions, both of which were made about 1725. This translation is based upon the Elphinston (Elph.) transcription, as edited by E.V. Gordon, “The Battle of Maldon” (Methuen, London, 1937). The Wikipedia discussion of the poem can be found here; the discussion on the battle itself can be found here.

PERMISSION IS HEREBY GRANTED to reproduce this translation, so long as the following conditions are met: 1) It is to be used for classroom or other educational purposes; 2) That it is not to be reproduced for profit; and 3) That the translation be properly credited to its translator, namely me (Douglas B. Killings). If you have any questions about reproducing this work, you may contact me at DeTroyes@sbcglobal.net. Thank you!

–DBK

*****

The Battle of Maldon

 

Verse Translation

…would be broken.
Then he ordered a warrior each horse be let free,
driven afar and advance onward,
giving thought to deeds of arms and to steadfast courage.
Then it was that Offa’s kinsman first perceived,
that the Earl would not endure cowardice,
for he let then from his hand flee his beloved
falcon towards the woods and there to battle went forth.
By this a man might understand that this youth would not
prove soft at the coming battle, when he takes up arms.
Further Eadric desired his chief to serve,
his lord to fight with; and so he advanced forward
his spear to battle. He had a dauntless spirit
as long as he with hands might be able to grasp
shield and broad sword: the vow he would carry out
that he had made before his lord saying he would fight.
Then Byrhtnoth marshalled his soldiers,
riding and instructing, directing his warriors
how they should stand and the positions they should keep,
and ordering that their shields properly stand firm
with steady hands and be not 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.
Then stood on the shore, stoutly calling out
a Viking messenger, making speech,
menacingly delivering the sea-pirate’s
message to this Earl on the opposite shore standing:
“I send to you from the bold seamen,
a command to tell that you must quickly send
treasures to us, and it would be better to you if
this conflict of spears with tribute buy off
than with us bitter battle share.
No need to slaughter each other if you be generous with us;
we would be willing for gold 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 towards peace and receive peace from us,
for we with this tribute will take to our ships,
depart on the sea and keep peace with you.”
Byrhtnoth spoke, his shield raised aloft,
brandishing a slender ash-wood spear, speaking words,
wrathful and resolute did he give his answer:
“Hear now you, pirate, what this people say?
They desire to you a tribute of spears to pay,
poisoned spears and old swords,
the war-gear which you in battle will not profit from.
Sea-thieves messenger, deliver back in reply,
tell your people this spiteful message,
that here stands undaunted an Earl with his band of men
who will defend our homeland,
Aethelred’s country, the lord of my
people and land. Fall shall you
heathen in battle! To us it would be shameful
that you with our coin to your ships should get away
without a fight, now you thus far
into our homeland have come.
You shall not so easily carry off our treasure:
with us must spear and blade first decide the terms,
fierce conflict, is the tribute we will hand over.”
He then ordered their shields taken up, his soldiers advancing
until they on the river-bank they all stood.
Because of the river they were not able this band of men to fight the other:
there came flowing the flood after the tide;
joining in the tidal stream. Too long it seemed to him
until the time when they together with spears join in battle.
There they on the Pante stream with pride lined the banks,
East Saxon spears and the sea-raider army;
nor might any harm the other
unless through an arrow’s flight death receive.
Then the tide went out. The seamen stood ready,
many Vikings eager for battle.
Then the heroes’ protector ordered that the causeway be held
by a warrior stern — Wulfstan was his name —
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,
Aelfere and Maccus, two great in courage,
who would not at this fjord take to flight,
but stoutly against the enemy defended themselves
while with their weapons they might wield.
Then they understood and clearly saw,
that this guarding of the causeway was a fierce encounter,
and so began to use guile, the hateful strangers,
asked that passage to land they might have,
to the shore and pass the fjord would this force lead.
Then the Earl permitted in his great pride
to allow land many of these hateful people;
and so then shouted on the shore of the cold water
Byrhtelm’s child — and the warriors listened:
“Now the way is open to you: come quickly to us
you men to battle. God alone knows
who on this field of honor may be allowed to be the master of.”
Then advanced the wolves of slaughter, for water they cared not for,
this band of Vikings; west over the Pante’s
shining water shore they carried their shields,
these men of the fleet towards land advanced their linden shields.
There against the enemy stood ready
Byrhtnoth with his soldiers. He with his shield commanded
to form the battle ranks and that force of men to hold fast
firmly towards the enemy. Then was the fight near,
Glory in battle. The time was come
that these doomed men would fall in battle.
There came the loud clamor. Ravens circled around,
eagles eager for carrion. On Earth was the battlecry.
They then sent forth from their hands shafts hard as file,
murderously sharpened spears flew.
Bows were busily at work, shields received spears.
Fierce was that onslaught. Warriors fell in battle
on either side, young men lay slain.
Wounded was Wulfmaer, meeting death on the battlefield,
Byrhtnoth’s kinsman: he with sword was,
his sister’s son, cruelly hewn down.
There were the Vikings given requital:
I hear that Eadweard smote one
fiercely with his sword, withholding not in his blow,
so that at his feet fell a doomed warrior;
for this he of his people gave thanks for,
this chamber-thane, when the opportunity arose.
So stood firm of purpose
these young men in battle, eagerly giving thought
to who there with spear-points was first able
of doomed men’s life destroy,
warriors with weapons. The slain in battle fell to Earth.
Steadfast and unyielding, Byrhtnoth exhorted them,
bidding that each young warrior’s purpose to this battle,
against the Danes a desire to win glory in war.
Advanced again to fierce battle, weapons raised up,
shields to defense, and towards these warriors they stepped.
Resolute they approached Earl to the lowest Yeoman:
each of them intent on harm for the enemy.
Sent then a sea-warrior a spear of southern make
that wounded the warrior lord.
He thrust then with his shield such that the spear shaft burst,
and that spear-head shattered as it sprang in reply.
Enraged became that warrior: with anger he stabbed
that proud Viking who had given him that wound.
Experienced was that warrior; he thrust his spear forward
through the warrior’s neck, his hand guiding
so that he this ravager’s life would fatally pierce.
Then he with another stab speedily pierced the ravager
so that the chainmail coat broke: this man had a breast wound
cut through the linked rings; through his heart stuck
a deadly spear. The Earl was the better pleased:
laughed then this great man of spirit, thanking the Creator
for the day’s work which the Lord had given him.
And so then another warrior a spear from the other side
flew out of hand, which deeply struck
through the noble Aethelred’s retainer.
To him by his side stood a young man not fully grown,
a youth on the battlefield, who valiantly
pulled out of this warrior the bloody spear,
Wulfstan’s child, Wulfmaer the younger;
and so with blinding speed came the shaft in reply.
The spear penetrated, for that who on the Earth now lay
among his people, the one who had sorely pierced.
Went then armed a man to this Earl;
he desirous of this warrior’s belongings to take off with,
booty and rings and an ornamental 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-scavenger,
and then the Earl’s arm was wounded.
Fall then to the ground with his gold-hilted sword:
his grip unable to hold the heavy sword,
or wield the weapon. Then still uttered those words
of the grey-haired warrior, encouraging the younger warriors,
bidding to advance stoutly together.
Not could he on his feet any longer stand firmly up,
and so he looked to heaven:
“I thank you, Lord of my people,
all the joys which I on this world have experienced.
“Now I ask, oh 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,
with peace I depart. I only beseech that
the fiends of hell shall not be permitted to harm me.”
Then he was slain by the heathen warriors;
and both of those warriors which by him stood,
Aelfnoth and Wulmaer were each slain,
close by their lord did they give up their lives.
Then turned away from battle those that would not stay:
there went Odda’s child first to flight,
Godric fled from the battle, and the noble abandoned
the one which had often many a horse given him.
He leapt upon the mount of the steed which had once been his lord’s,
on those trappings of which he was not fit,
he and with his brothers both galloped away,
Godwine and Godwig not caring for battle,
but turned away from this battlefield and to the forest fled,
seeking a place of safety and to protect their lives,
and many more men than what is right were there,
then if they had acted deservingly and all remembered
he who had to them all benefits did make.
Thus had Offa on that day first said
at the meeting place, there at the council,
that there would be boldly many a boastful speech
which at the time of stress would not endure.
So now was laid low the Chief of this army,
Aethelred’s Earl. All saw those
sharers of the hearth that their lord lay slain.
But then there advanced onward those splendid retainers,
undaunted men hastening eagerly:
they desired all one of two things,
to leave life or else to avenge their dear lord.
And so exhorting them to advance was the child Aelfrices,
a warrior young in winters whose words spoke,
Aelfwine then said, he in valiant talk:
“Remember the speeches which we had often at mead spoken,
that we on the bench had loudly uttered vows,
warriors in the hall, concerning bitter strife:
Now may we prove who is truly valiant!
I am willing that my royal descent be made known to all men,
that I was of Mercian blood greatly kindred;
my grandfather was named Ealhelm,
a wise alderman and very prosperous.
Not shall me these people’s liegeman reproach
that I of this army am willing to depart from,
a homeland seek, now that my lord lies slain
and hewn down in battle. Mine is that sorrow greatest:
he was both my kinsman and my lord.”
Then he advanced onward, remembering with hostility,
then he with spear-point pierced one
pirate in their host, and to the ground lie slain
killed with the weapon. He began then to exhorted his comrades,
friends and compatriots, that they advance onward.
Offa spoke, shaking his ashen spear:
“Lo, thou Aelfwine, have your words thus reminded
us liegemen to our allegiance. Now our people’s protector lies slain,
the Earl is on the Earth, and to us all is our need
that one another encourage each other
warriors to battle, while with weapons we are able
to have and grasp, the hard blade,
the spear and the good sword. To us has Godric,
that cowardly sun of Odda, all betrayed.
Many men believed, then when he rode on the horse,
on that splendid steed, that it was our lord.
Because of that happening here on the battlefield the people scattered,
the wall of shields breaking asunder. Shame on that action,
for because of him thus many a man was caused to flee!”
Leofsunu spoke and his linden shield was raised,
the board to defense; this warrior replied:
“I that swear, that from here I will not
flee a foot’s space, as my desire is to advance further,
avenge in battle-strife my lord and friend.
I have no desire among Sturmere’s unyielding heroes
to reproach my word, now that my patron has perished,
that I now lordless go on a homeward journey,
having turned away from battle, but rather I shall be taken by weapons,
either spear or iron.” Wrathfully he advanced,
fighting resolutely, for he despised flight.
Dunnere then said brandishing his spear,
a simple yeoman calling out to the entire shore,
exhorting that each warrior avenge Byrhtnoth:
“One cannot retreat who intends vengeance
for our lord of the host, if their lives they care not for.”
So then they pressed forward, caring not about their lives.
Then began these retainers to fiercely fight,
ferocious warriors armed with spears, and praying to God
that they might avenge their lord and patron
and on their enemy death make.
Thus the hostage himself willingly helped;
he was a Northumbrian of a brave family,
Ecglaf’s child; he was named Aescferth.
He hesitated not at the play of battle,
but shot forward many arrows;
here striking a shield, there cutting down a warrior,
at almost every moment giving out some wound,
all the while with his weapon he would wield.
Yet still at the battle front stood Eadweard the tall
ready and eager, speaking vaunting words
that he would not flee a foot’s ground,
or turn away back to the bank, than leave his superior where he lay.
He broke through that wall of shields and among the warriors fought,
until his bounteous lord upon those sea-men
did worthily avenge, and he on the battlefield lie slain.
So did Aetheric, noble comrade,
press forward and eager to advance fight resolutely,
Sibyrht’s brother and very many others;
splitting the enemy’s shields, valiantly they defended themselves.
Rang the shield rims, and sang the corselets of mail
a certain terrible dirge. Then at the battle’s height
Offa a sea-farer sent to the Earth dead,
and there Gadd’s kinsman was laid low to the ground:
soon it was at battle that Offa was hewn down.
He had however accomplished that vow to his lord
that he had uttered before to his giver of rings,
that either they both ride to the fortified
home unhurt or else perish fighting
on the battlefield and die of their wounds.
He lay slain nobly near the lord of his people.
Then it happened that the shields broke through. The sea-warriors advanced
to battle enraged. Spear often pierced
the doomed houses of life. Onward then advanced Wistan,
Thurhstan’s son, to these warriors fought.
He was among the throng and slew three,
before Wigelm’s child lay slain in battle.
There was severe combat. Stood firm
did these warriors in battle. Warriors perished
exhausted by their wounds. The slain fell dead to the Earth.
Oswold and Eadwold all this time,
both of these brothers encouraged the soldiers,
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 —
he was an old loyal retainer — and brandished his spear;
he very boldly commanded the warriors:
“Our hearts must grow resolute, our courage more valiant,
our spirits must be greater, though our strength grows less.
Here lies our Lord all hewn down,
goodly he lies in the dust. A kinsman mourns
that who now from this battle-play thinks to turn away.
I am advanced in years. I do not desire to be taken away,
but I by my liege Lord,
by that favorite of men I intend to lie.”
So then did Aethelgar’s child enbolden them all,
Godric to battle. Often he sent forth spears,
deadly shaft sped away onto the Vikings;
thus he on this people went out in front of battle,
cutting down and smiting, until he too on the battlefield perished.
This was not that Godric who from the battle had flown away…

Prose Translation

(Line 1) …would be broken.

(Line 2 – 16) Then he ordered each warrior their horses be let free, driven away and prepare to advance onward, giving thought to deeds of arms and to steadfast courage. Then it was that Offa’s kinsman first knew that the Earl would not endure cowardice, for then from his hand he let flee his beloved falcon towards the woods, and there to battle went forth. By this act a man might understand that this youth would not prove soft in battle, when he takes up arms. In addition Eadric desired to serve his chief, his lord to fight with; and so he advanced forward his spear to battle. He had a dauntless spirit as long as he might be able to grasp shield and broad sword with his hands: a pledge that he had made before his lord vowing to fight he would carry out.

(Line 17 – 24) Then Byrhtnoth marshalled his soldiers, riding and instructing, directing his warriors how they should stand and the positions they should keep, and ordering that their shields properly stand firm with steady hands and to be not afraid. Then when he beheld those people in suitable array, he dismounted with the people whom he was most pleased to be — amid his retainers, knowing of their devotion.

(Lines 25 – 41) Then stood on the shore a Viking messenger, stoutly calling out and making speech, menacingly delivering a sea-pirate’s message to this Earl standing on the opposite shore: “I send to you from the bold seamen, a command to say that you must quickly send treasures to us, and it would be better to you if you with tribute buy off this conflict of spears than share bitter battle with us. No need to slaughter each other if you be generous to us; we would be willing to bring a truce for gold. If you believe which of these is the noblest path, and if your people are desirous of assurance, then pay the sea-farers on their own terms money towards peace and receive peace from us, for this tribute we will take to our ships, depart on the sea, and keep peace with you.”

(Lines 42 – 61) Byrhtnoth spoke, his shield raised aloft, brandishing a slender ash-wood spear, speaking words, wrathful and resolute did he give his answer: “Hear now you, pirate, what say this people? They desire to pay you a tribute of spears, poisoned spears and old swords, the war-gear which you in battle will not profit from. Sea-thieves messenger, deliver back this reply, tell your people this spiteful message: that here stands undaunted an Earl with his band of men who will defend their homeland, Aethelred’s country, the lord of my people and land. Fall shall you heathen in battle! To us it would be shameful that you should get away with our coin to your ships without a fight, seeing now thus far into our homeland you have come. You shall not so easily carry off our treasure: with us must spear and blade first decide the terms — fierce conflict is the tribute we will hand over!”

(Lines 62 – 67) He then ordered their shields taken up, his soldiers advancing until they on the river-bank all stood. Because of the river this band of men was not able to fight the other: then there came flowing the flood after the tide, joining in the tidal stream. Too long it seemed to him until the time when together with spears they would join in battle.

(Lines 68 – 71) There on the Pante stream with pride they lined the banks, East Saxon spears and the sea-raider army; nor might any harm the other unless through an arrow’s flight receive death.

(Lines 72 – 88) Then the tide went out. The seamen stood ready, many Vikings eager for battle. Then the heroes’ protector ordered that the causeway be held by a warrior stern — Wulfstan was his name — valiant with his people: that was Ceola’s son, who with his spear slew the first one who boldly stood on the causeway. There fought with Wulfstan warriors fearless, Aelfere and Maccus, two great in courage, who would not take to flight at this fjord, but stoutly defended themselves against the enemy while wielding their weapons. Then the sea-ravagers understood and clearly saw that this guarding of the causeway was a fierce encounter and so began to use guile, those hateful strangers, and asked that they might have passage to land, to lead this force to the shore and pass the fjord.

(Lines 89 – 95) Then the Earl permitted in his great pride to allow land many of these hateful people; and so then shouted on the shore of the cold water Byrhtelm’s child — and the warriors listened: “Now the way is open to you: come quickly to us you men to battle. God alone knows who on this field may be allowed to be the master of it.”

(Lines 96 – 107) Then advanced the wolves of slaughter, for water they cared not to fight in, this band of Vikings; west over the Pante’s shining water shore they carried their shields, these men of the fleet, and towards land advanced their linden shields. There against the enemy stood ready Byrhtnoth with his soldiers. He with his shield commanded to form the battle ranks and with that force of men to hold fast firmly against the enemy. Then was the fight near, glory in battle. The time was come that these doomed men would fall in battle. There came the loud clamor. Ravens circled around, eagles eager for carrion. On Earth there was the battle cry.

(Lines 108 – 112) They then sent forth from their hands shafts hard as file, and murderously sharpened spears flew. Bows were busily at work, shields received spears. Fierce was that onslaught. Warriors fell in battle on either side, young men lay slain.

(Lines 113 – 121) Wounded was Wulfmaer, meeting death on the battlefield, Byrhtnoth’s kinsman, his sister’s son: he with sword was cruelly hewn down. Then were the Vikings given requital: I hear that Eadweard smote one fiercely with his sword, withholding not in his blow, so that at his feet fell a doomed warrior; for this he of this people gave thanks for, that chamber-thane, when the opportunity arose.

(Lines 122 – 129) So stood firm of purpose these young men in battle, eagerly giving thought to who there with spear-points was first able to make doomed men’s life destroy, warriors with weapons. The slain in battle fell to Earth. Steadfast and unyielding, Byrhtnoth exhorted them, bidding each young warrior’s purpose in this battle against the Danes, a desire to win glory in war.

(Lines 130 – 142) Advancing again to fierce battle, weapons raised up, shields to defense, and towards these warriors they stepped. Resolute they approached from the Earl to the lowest Yeoman: each of them intent on harm for the enemy. Sent then one sea-warrior a spear of southern make that wounded the warrior lord. He thrust then with his shield such that the spear shaft burst, and that spear-head shattered as it sprang in reply. Enraged became that warrior: with anger he stabbed the proud Viking who had given him that wound. Experienced was that soldier; he thrust his spear forward through the warrior’s neck, his hand guiding so that he would fatally pierce this ravager’s life.

(Lines 143 – 148) Then with another stab he speedily pierced the ravager so that the chainmail coat broke: this man received a breast wound cut through the linked rings; through his heart stuck a deadly spear. The Earl was the better pleased: laughed then this great man of spirit, thanking the Creator for the day’s work which the Lord had given him.

(Lines 149 – 161) And so then another warrior a spear from the other side flew out of hand, which deeply struck through the noble Aethelred’s retainer. To him by his side stood a young man not fully grown, a youth on the battlefield, who valiantly pulled out of this warrior the bloody spear, Wulfstan’s child, Wulfmaer the younger; and so with blinding speed came the shaft in reply. The spear penetrated, for that who on the Earth now lay among his people, the one who had sorely pierced. Went then armed a man to this Earl; he desirous of this warrior’s belongings to take off with, booty and rings and an ornamental sword.

(Lines 162 – 174) 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-scavenger, and then the Earl’s arm was wounded. Fall then to the ground with his gold-hilted sword: his grip unable to hold the heavy sword, or wield the weapon. Then still uttered those words of the grey-haired warrior, encouraging the younger warriors, bidding to advance stoutly together. Not could he on his feet any longer stand firmly up, and so he looked to heaven: “I thank you, Lord of my people, all the joys which I on this world have experienced.

(Lines 175 – 180) “Now I ask, oh merciful Creator, the greatest hope that my spirit shall be granted salvation and that my soul to thee be permitted to journey and into your power. Oh King of Angels, with peace I depart. I only beseech that the fiends of hell shall not be permitted to harm me.”

(Lines 181 – 184) Then he was slain by the heathen warriors; and both of those warriors which by him stood, Aelfnoth and Wulmaer, were each slain, close by their lord did they give up their lives.

(Lines 185 – 202) Then turned away from battle those that would not stay: there went Odda’s child first to flight, Godric fled from the battle, and the noble abandoned the one which had given him often many a horse. He leapt upon the mount of the steed which had once been his lord’s, on those trappings of which he was not fit, and he with his brothers galloped away. Godwine and Godwig, not caring for war, turned away from this battlefield and to the forest fled, seeking a place of safety and to protect their lives, and many more men than what is right were there, than if they had acted deserving and all remembered he who had to them all benefits did make. Thus had Offa on that day first said at the meeting place, there at the council, that there would be many a boastful speech which would not endure under a time of stress.

(Lines 202 – 208) So now was laid low the Chief of this army, Aethelred’s Earl. All saw those sharers of the hearth that their lord lay slain. But then there advanced onward those splendid retainers, undaunted men hastening eagerly: they desired all one of two things, to leave life or else to avenge their dear lord.

(Lines 209 – 245) And so exhorting them to advance was the child of Aelfrices, Aelfwine, a warrior young in winters, then said in valiant talk: “Remember the speeches which we had often at mead spoken, that on the bench had loudly uttered vows, warriors in the hall, concerning bitter strife: Now may we prove who is truly valiant! I am willing that my royal descent be made known to all men, that I was of Mercian blood greatly kindred; my grandfather was named Ealhelm, a wise alderman and very prosperous. I shall not these people’s liegeman reproach nor this army am willing to depart from and seek my homeland, now that my lord lies slain and hewn down in battle. Mine is that sorrow greatest: he was both my kinsman and my lord.” Then he advanced onward, remembering with hostility, then with spear-point pierced one pirate in their host, to the ground lie slain with the weapon. He began then to exhorted his comrades, friends and compatriots, that they advance onward. Offa spoke, shaking his ashen spear: “Lo, thou Aelfwine, your words have thus reminded us liegemen of our allegiance. Now our people’s protector lies slain, the Earl is on the Earth, and to us all our need is that one another encourage each other’s warriors to battle, while with weapons we are still able to have and grasp, the hard blade, the spear and the good sword. To us has Godric, that cowardly sun of Odda, all betrayed. Many men believed, then when he rode on the horse, on that splendid steed, that it was our lord. Because of that happening here on the battlefield the people scattered, the wall of shields breaking asunder. Shame on that action, for because of him thus many a man was caused to flee!” Leofsunu spoke and his linden shield was raised, the board to defense; this warrior replied:

(Lines 246 – 273) “I swear, that from here I will not flee a foot’s space, as my desire is to advance further, avenge in battle-strife my lord and friend. I have no desire among Sturmere’s unyielding heroes to reproach my word, now that my patron has perished, that I now lordless go on a homeward journey, having turned away from battle, but rather I shall be taken by weapons, either spear or iron.” Wrathfully he advanced, fighting resolutely, for he despised flight. Dunnere then said brandishing his spear, a simple yeoman calling out to the entire shore, exhorting that each warrior avenge Byrhtnoth: “One cannot retreat who intends vengeance for our lord of the host, if they care not for their lives.” So then they pressed forward, caring not about their lives. Then began these retainers to fight fiercely, ferocious warriors armed with spears, and praying to God that they might avenge their lord and patron and on their enemy make death. Thus the hostage himself willingly helped; he was a Northumbrian of a brave family, Ecglaf’s child; he was named Aescferth. He hesitated not at the play of battle, but shot forward many arrows; here striking a shield, there cutting down a warrior, at almost every moment giving out some wound, all the while with his weapon he wield.

(Lines 273 – 279) Yet still at the battle front stood Eadweard the tall ready and eager, speaking vaunting words that he would not flee a foot’s ground, or turn away back to the bank, then leave his superior where he lay. He broke through that wall of shields and among the warriors fought, until upon those sea-men his bounteous lord he did worthily avenge, and on the battlefield lie slain.

(Lines 280 – 303) So did Aetheric, noble comrade, press forward and eager to advance the fight resolutely, Sibyrht’s brother and very many others; splitting the enemy’s shields, valiantly they defended themselves. Rang the shield rims, and sang the corselets of mail a certain terrible dirge. Then at the battle’s height Offa sent a sea-farer to the Earth dead, and there Gadd’s kinsman was laid low to the ground: soon it was at battle that Offa was hewn down. He had however accomplished that vow to his lord, his giver of rings, that he had uttered before, that either they both ride to the fortified home unhurt or else perish fighting on the battlefield and die of their wounds. He lay slain nobly near the lord of his people. Then it happened that the shields broke through. The sea-warriors advanced to battle enraged. Spear often pierced the doomed houses of life. Onward then advanced Wistan, Thurhstan’s son, to fight these warriors. He was among the throng and slew three, before Wigelm’s child lay slain in battle. There was severe combat. Stood firm did these warriors in battle. Warriors perished exhausted by their wounds. The slain fell dead to the Earth.

(Lines 304 – 308) Oswold and Eadwold, both of these brothers all this time, encouraged the soldiers, their beloved kinsman they exhorted through words that they needed to endure without weakening and make use of their weapons.

(Lines 309 – 325) Byrhtwold spoke, shield raised aloft –he was an old loyal retainer — and brandished his spear; he very boldly commanded the warriors: “Our hearts must grow resolute, our courage more valiant, our spirits must be greater, though our strength grows less. Here lies our Lord all hewn down, goodly he lies in the dust. A kinsman mourns that who now from this battle-play thinks to turn away. I am advanced in years. I do not desire to be taken away, but I by my liege Lord, by that favorite of men, I intend to lie.” So then did Aethelgar’s child, Godric, enbolden them all to battle. Often he sent forth spears, deadly shafts sped away onto the Vikings; thus he on this people went out in front of battle, cutting down and smiting, until he too on the battlefield perished. This was not that Godric who from the battle had flown away…

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