Thus Widsith spoke, revealing a treasury of words,
he to the greatest degree of the tribes over the Earth,
and its peoples have traveled through; often he in the hall
valuable treasures. He from the Myrgings
5 his noble blood sprang. He with Ealhhilde,
the beloved peace-weaver, was on a journey,
the Victory King's village they sought
to the East of Angle, Eormanric,
the angry and traitorous. Thus he spoke these many words:
10 "Many people have I talked to, rulers mighty in power!
Obliged these people are in virtuous conduct to live,
one earl after another their country to rule,
he who his throne wishes it to prosper!
There was Hwala for a while the most noble,
15 and Alexander's entire kingdom
as well as his kin, and he was the most that thrived
which I have often on this Earth have heard reports of.
Attila ruled the Huns, Eormanric the Goths,
Becca the Banings, the Burgundians by Gifica.
20 Casere ruled the Creeks and Caelic the Finns,
Hagena the Holm-Riggs and Heoden the Gloms.
Witta ruled the Swaefe, Wada the Halsings,
Meaca the Myrgings, Mearchealf the Hundings.
Theodric ruled the Franks, Thyle the Rondings,
25 Breoca the Brondings, Billing the Werns.
Oswine ruled the Eow and the Eats by Getwulf,
Finn Folcwalding the Frisian-kin.
Sigehere the longest of the Sea-Danes ruled,
Hnaef the Hocings, Helm the Wulfings,
30 Wald the Woings, Wod the Thurings,
Saeferth the Sycgs, the Swedes by Ongendtheow,
Sceafthere the Ymbers, Sceafa the Longbeards,
Hun the Haetwars and Holen the Wrosns.
Hringweald was called the war-chief King.
35 Offa ruled the Angle, Alewih the Danes;
he was that man who was the bravest of all;
however he over Offa in valor did not pass,
for Offa forged first among men,
when he was but a boy, most of his nation.
40 No one of his time was in valor mightier
on the battlefield. Once with his sword
he gained the mark of excellence with Myrgings
by Fifeldor; his ground held afterwards
by Angles and Swaefe, so Offa could strike.
45 Hrothwulf and Hrothgar held the longest
peace together, uncle and nephew,
after they repulsed the Viking-kin
and Ingeldes to the spear-point bowed down,
hewn to pieces at Heorot the Heatho-Beard's army.
50 Therefore I passed through many foreign lands
and through spacious ground. Good and evil
there I became acquainted with while my native country was
tho my kinsman's spirit followed from afar.
Forwith that I may sing and to tell my tale,
55 before this illustrious host in the Mead-hall,
how my noble patrons chose to reward me.
I was with the Huns and with Hreth-Goths,
with Swedes and with Geats and with South-Danes.
With the Ven I was and with Vendels and with Vikings.
60 With the Gepids I was and with Wends and with Gefflegs.
With the Angles I was and with Swaefe and with Aenenes.
With the Saxons I was and with Sycgs and with swordsmen.
With the whalemen I was and with Deans and with Heatho-Reams.
With the Thyring I was and with the Throwen,
65 and with Burgundy, for there I received a ring:
there Guthere gave to me a bright treasure,
to reward my songs. No paltry King was he!
With the Franks I was and with Frisians and with Frumtings.
With the Rugians I was and with Gloms and with Rome-Welsh.
70 So too I was in Italy with Aelfwine,
he had of all mankind, to my knowledge,
the easiest hand for praise to strive after,
encouraging generously the giving out of rings,
and a brilliant ring I was given, the child of Eadwin!
75 With the Saracens I was and with Serings.
With the Creeks I was and with Finns and with Ceaser,
he who a festive city of powerful might possessed,
riches and female slaves and Rome the great.
With the Scots I was and with Picts and with Scride-Finns.
80 With the Lidwicings I was and with Leons and with Longbeards,
with heathens and with heroes and with Hundings.
With the Isrealites I was and with Exsyringians,
with Hebrews and with Indians and with Egyptians.
With the Moides I was and with Persians and with Myrgings
85 and with Mofdings against the Myrgings,
and with Amothings. With the East-Thyrings I was
and with Eols and with Ists and Idumings.
And I was with Eormanrice for some time,
there to me the Goth king strove to be good;
90 he to me an ornament passed over, that founder of cities,
which therein was worth six-hundred in pure refined gold,
were the treasure portioned in a count of shillings;
this I to Eadgils the possession gave,
my protecting lord, when I to my dear home approached
95 with the reward, and there he to me some land passed over
in my father's native country, this ruler of the Myrginga.
And to me then Ealhhild another ring was given,
that noble queen, daughter of Eadwin.
So that her pleasant praise would extend through many lands,
100 I in song sang the praises of her,
wherein I under the brilliant [sky?] knew this great
woman ornamented with gold and dispensing gifts.
This with Scilling I declared in a clear voice
for the benefit of my noble lord and in great song,
105 loud and noisy was the harp that made me sound melodious,
and afterwards many men of spirits that were splendid
spoke words, that of all they were acquainted with,
it was never in song better proclaimed.
After that I passed through the entire realm of the Goths,
110 seeking I companions that were of the best variety;
such was the household of Eormanric.
Hethca sought I and Beadeca and the Herelings,
Emerca sought I and Fridla and the East Gotans,
wise and good, the father of Unwen.
115 Secca sought I and Becca, Seafola and Theodric,
Heathoric and Sifeca Hlithe and Incgentheow.
Eadwin sought I and Elsa, Aegelmund and Hungar,
and that stately company of the With-Myrgings.
Wulfhere sought I and Wyrmhere; often there foul conflict was
not given up,
120 for that quick army was harsh with sword
around Vistula-wood where wearily they shielded
their old country from Attila's people.
Raedhere sought I and Rondhere, Rumstan and Gislhere,
Withergield and Freotheric, Wudga and Hama;
125 not that these comrades were the worst,
though I in the last place name in this song.
Often from that group hissing in flight
yelled the spear at fierce people;
pressing their rule to the gilded gold
130 of men and women, where Wudga and Hama.
So therefore I found at festivals out there on the cart,
that he who is the most beloved to country-dwellers
is one who is good to his heroes strong
whilst he posses his land, as long as he there lives."
135 Thus it is the course of bards to shape and to change into
the splendor of men through-out the many lands,
profiting from what they say, and speaking words of glory,
traveling South or North they meet
recounting wisdom and giving praise,
140 before the retainers set up before authority,
their fame grows, until all departs,
light and life together; he works for this glory,
for beneath the heavens this glory is permanent.
A Verse Translation by Douglas B. Killings.
Copyright 1991, 1996 by Douglas B. Killings. All Rights Reserved.