THE WIFE'S LAMENT

[ The Wife's Lament is a monologue by a woman parted from her husband. Her husband has left his country, perhaps driven out by a feud. In his absence the wife has been persecuted and forced to dwell in the wilderness, apparently by her husband's enemies. She throws all the blame on the foe and calls down a curse on him, praying that he may know the wretchedness of exile and loneliness. It is possible that there is a connection between this poem and The Husband's Message.]

I MAKE this song of my deep sadness, of my own lot. I can say that since I grew up I have not endured miseries new or old more than now. Ever I suffer the torment of my exile. First my lord went hence from his people over the tossing waves. I had sorrow at dawn as to where in the land my lord might be. Then I set out, a friendless exile, to seek helpers in my woeful hard straits. The man's kinsmen began to plot in secret thought to part us, so that we should live most wretchedly, most widely sundered in the world, and a yearning came upon me. My lord bade me take up my dwelling here; few dear loyal friends had I in this place; and so my mind is sad, since I found the man most mated to me unhappy, sad in heart, cloaking his mind, plotting mischief with blithe manner. Full often we two pledged one another that naught but death should divide us; that is changed now. Our friendship now is as if it had not been. I must needs endure the hate of my dear one far and near. They bade me dwell in the forest grove under the oak-tree in the earth-cave. Old is this earth-hall; I am filled with yearning. Dim are the valleys, high the hills, harsh strongholds o'ergrown with briers, dwellings empty of joy. Full often the departure of my lord has seized cruelly upon me. There are loving friends alive on the earth; they have their bed; while alone at dawn I pass through this earth-cave to beneath the oak-tree, where I sit a long summer's day. There I can mourn my miseries, many hardships, for I can never calm my care of mind, nor all that longing which has come upon me in this life. Ever may that youth be sad of mood, grievous the thought of his heart; may he likewise be forced to wear a blithe air and also care in his breast, the affliction of constant sorrows. May all his joy in the

-79-

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Anglo-Saxon Poetry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents xiii
  • Beowulf 1
  • Finnesburh 63
  • Waldhere 65
  • Widsith 67
  • Deor 71
  • The Wanderer 73
  • The Seafarer 76
  • The Wife's Lament 79
  • The Husband's Message 81
  • Wulf and Eadwacer 83
  • The Ruin 84
  • Charms 85
  • Genesis 95
  • Exodus 112
  • Daniel 121
  • Christ and Satan 127
  • Juliana 165
  • The Fates of the Apostles 178
  • Andreas 181
  • Elene 211
  • The Dream of the Rood 235
  • The Phoenix 239
  • Physiologus 252
  • Guthlac 256
  • The Soul's Address to the Body 280
  • Doomsday 284
  • Riddles 289
  • Gnomic Poetry 309
  • The Arts of Men 316
  • The Fates of Men 318
  • Judith 320
  • The Battle of Brunanburh 327
  • The Battle of Maldon 329
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