- Byrhtnoð maþelode, bord hafenode,
- wand wacne æsc, wordum mælde,
- yrre and anræd ageaf him andsware:
- ‘Gehyrst þu, sælida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
- Hi willað eow to gafole garas syllan,
- ættrynne ord and ealde swurd,
- þa heregeatu þe eow æt hilde ne deah.
- Brimmanna boda, abeod eft ongean,
- sege þinum leodum miccle laþre spell,
- þæt her stynt unforcuð eorl mid his werode,
- þe wile gealgean eþel þysne,
- Æþelredes eard, ealdres mines,
- folc and foldan. Feallan sceolon
- hæþene æt hilde. To heanlic me þinceð
- þæt ge mid urum sceattum to scype gangon
- unbefohtene, nu ge þus feor hider
- on urne eard in becomon.
- Ne sceole ge swa softe sinc gegangan;
- us sceal ord and ecg ær geseman,
- grim guðplega, ær we gofol syllon.’
Byrhtnoth made a speech, raised his shield,
waved his slender ash-spear, spoke in words,
angry and resolute gave him back an answer:
‘Do you hear, seafarer, what this people says?
They are willing to give you spears as tribute,
deadly point and tested swords,
a payment in war-gear that will do you no good in battle.
Report back again, sailors’ messenger,
tell your people a much more hateful account,
that an undaunted leader stands here with his troop,
one who desires to defend this land,
my lord Æthelred’s country,
the people and the ground. Heathens
must fall in battle. It seems to me too shameful
that you should go unfought to your ships with our money,
now that you have come so far
here into our country.
You ought not to win treasure so easily;
but spear-point and sword-edge, terrible battle-play,
must arbitrate between us before we give tribute.’