THE HUSBAND'S MESSAGE

[ The Husband's Message is spoken by the letter itself which comes to assur the faithful, waiting wife of her husband's faith. He has prepared a new home for her abroad and calls on her to sail thither in the spring when the cuckoo's song is heard.

The poem resembles the Riddles in its device of making inanimate objects speak. The runic letters at the end of the poem are perhaps a kind of secret sign from the husband understood by the wife.]

Now I will tell thee apart my lineage as a tree. I grew up in my youth elsewhere in the land; a voyage took me over the salt streams. Very often in the boat's bosom I sought high dwellings where my master sent me. Now I have come here in the ship, and now thou shalt know how thou mayest think in thy mind of my lord's love. I dare promise that thou wilt find there firm faith.

Lo! he who engraved this wood bade me pray thee that thou, treasure-adorned, shouldst call to thy mind the promises which you two often spoke in earlier days, while yet you might have your abode in the mead castles, live in the same land, enjoy friendship. A feud drove him away from the victorious people; now he himself has bidden me tell thee joyfully, that thou shouldst cross the sea, when on the edge of the mountain thou hast heard the sad cuckoo cry in the grove. After that let no living man hold thee from the journey or hinder thy going. Go seek the sea, the home of the gull! Board the ship, so that south from here thou mayest find thy husband over the path of the sea, where thy lord lives in hopes of thee. Nor may a wish in the world come more to his mind, from what he said to me, than that Almighty God should grant you two that together you may afterwards give treasure, studded armlets, to warriors and companions. He has enough treasures of beaten gold, though in a foreign land he holds his dwelling, in a fair country. Many proud heroes wait upon him, though here my friendly lord, driven by necessity, launched his boat and was forced to go forth alone on the stretch of the waves, on the way of the flood, to furrow the ocean streams, eager for departure. Now the man has overcome woe; he lacks not his desires, nor horses, nor treasures, nor mead joys, none of the precious stores of earls on

-81-

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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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