The Wife’s Lament
I this song utter, by me full of sadness,
this song which is myself. I will tell what I am able
about the hardships I have faced—since I grew up,
recently or long ago, never more than now.
Always I suffer my misery of exile.
First my lord departed from my people,
over waves rolling; I had grief before dawn
thinking of the lands which held him,* my people’s lord.
Then I set out, a friendless stranger, searching
for the retinue, because of my grievous need.
Relatives of this man began to plan
through secret thought that they would separate us,
that we as far apart as possible in the kingdom of the world
would live, most wretchedly, and me longing.
My lord commanded me to take a grove for a house:
little of what is beloved to me did I possess in this country,
no loyal friends; for that is my mind’s sadness.
When I found the man who was my complete match,
he was* unfortunate, sad of mind and heart,*
thoughts concealed, violence planning,
behind joyful demeanour. Very often we vowed
that we would never be separated, not by death
or anything else; what was before is now changed,
is now as if it never were, that friendship
between us. Must I who desires* you near
suffer, my dearly loved, this feud.
Commanded was I to dwell in a forest grove
under an oak tree in a cave, the earth’s chest.*
Old is this cave, and* I am filled with longing;
is here a gloomy valley, trecherous hills,
bitter hedges, briars growing up over,
this house without joy. Very often here my cruel departure
takes hold of me. Friends are on earth,
living beloved, they occupy a bed,
that I in the time before dawn alone walk
under oak tree through the cave, the earth’s chest.*
There I sit many long summer days;
There I am able to weep for my misery of exile,
my* many hardships; there I am never able
to rest from the grief of mind that is mine,
nor from all the longing that in this life takes hold of me.
It may be that the young man is always sorrowful,
his heart’s thoughts stern; likewise must he* have
joyful demeanour, besides grief of heart,
constant sorrowful tumult. Whether he is on himself dependent
for all of his worldly joy, or whether he is outcast, very far
from his distant country, so* that my lover sits
under stone cliff, storming and frost rimmed,
friend desolate, water flowing before
echoing home, my lover suffering
much grief of the mind. Too often he remembers
a house full of joy. Woe to those that must
of longing in life abide.