THE FATES OF MEN

FULL often it comes to pass by God's power that man and woman bring forth a child into the world and deck him with many-coloured garments, train him and caress him, till the time comes and it happens in the course of years that the young limbs and members are grown strong. Thus the father and mother foster and feed him, bestow gifts on him, and adorn him. Only God knows what the years will bring to him when he grows up.

To one unhappy man it chances that his death comes with sorrow in youth; the wolf shall eat him, the grey heath-stepper. Then the mother mourns his death; such things are not in man's power. Hunger shall destroy one; tempest shall drive one afar; the spear shall slay one; war shall kill one. One shall pass through life blinded, grope with his hands; one, lame in foot, sick with sinew wounds, shall lament his pain, mourn his fate, heavy in heart. One in the forest shall fall, wingless, from a high tree; yet does it fly, sports in the air, till the growth of the tree is no longer there. Then, reft of life, sad in mind, it sinks down to its roots, falls on the earth; its life has departed. One shall perforce go on foot on far paths and bear his needs with him, and on a dewy track tread the perilous land of alien people. He has few of living men to entertain him; the friendless man is everywhere hated because of his miseries. One shall swing on the broad gallows, hang in death, until the body, the frame, is bloodily destroyed. There the raven pecks his eyes, the darkcoated one rends the corpse, nor can he keep the hateful flying foe from that malice with his hands; his life is gone, and, powerless to feel, past hope of life, he endures his fate, pale on the tree, surrounded with a deadly mist. His name is accursed. Fire shall destroy one on the pyre, the fierce flame, the cruel glowing blaze, shall devour the fated man, then his parting from life comes swiftly. The woman weeps who sees the flames cover her child. The sword's edge takes the life of one on the mead bench, a drunkard in his wrath, a man sated with wine; too hasty were his words before. One at the beer-drinking by the cup-bearer's hand shall become excited with mead; then he knows not how to check his mouth with his mind, but full

-318-

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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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