Old English - The Battle of Maldon: Passage 2

The Battle of Maldon: Byrhtwold stirs the troops

  1. Byrhtwold maþelode,    bord hafenode
  2. (se wæs eald geneat),    æsc acwehte.
  3. He ful baldlice    beornas lærde:
  4. ‘Hige sceal þe heardra,    heorte þe cenre,
  5. mod sceal þe mare,    þe ure mægen lytlað.
  6. Her lið ure ealdor    eall forheawen,
  7. god on greote.    A mæg gnornian
  8. se ðe nu fram þis wigplegan    wendan þenceð.
  9. Ic eom frod feores;    fram ic ne wille,
  10. ac ic me be healfe    minum hlaforde,
  11. be swa leofan men,    licgan þence.’
  12. Swa hi Æþelgares bearn    ealle bylde,
  13. Godric to guþe.    Oft he gar forlet,
  14. wælspere windan    on þa wicingas,
  15. swa he on þam folce    fyrmest eode,
  16. heow and hynde —    oðþæt he on hilde gecranc.
  17. Næs þæt na se Godric    þe ða guðe forbeah.
Byrhtwold made a speech, raised his shield 
(he was an old retainer), shook his ash-spear.  
He exhorted the warriors very boldly: 
‘Mind must be harder, heart keener, 
spirit must be greater as our strength diminishes.  
Here our leader lies all cut down, 
a good man in the dirt.  He who thinks to 
turn away from this battle-play now will always be able to lament it.  
I am experienced in life; I do not desire to go, 
but I intend to lay myself down by the side of my lord, 
by so dear a man.’  
In the same way the child of Æthelgar, 
Godric, encouraged them all in fighting.  Frequently he let a spear fly, 
a deadly dart against the vikings, 
and so too he advanced at the front of the army, 
he slashed and cut them down – until he fell in the battle.  
That was not the Godric who fled from the fight.

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