(From the early Anglo-Saxon text)

May I for my own self song’s truth reckon,

Journey’s jargon, how I in harsh days

Hardship endured oft.

Bitter breast-cares have I abided,

Known on my keel many a care’s hold,

And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent

Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship’s head

While she tossed close to cliffs. Coldly afflicted,

My feet were by frost benumbed.

Chill its chains are; chafing sighs

Hew my heart round and hunger begot

Mere-weary mood. Lest man know not

That he on dry land loveliest liveth,

List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea,

Weathered the winter, wretched outcast

Deprived of my kinsmen;

Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew,

There I heard naught save the harsh sea

And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries,

Did for my games the gannet’s clamour,

Sea-fowls, loudness was for me laughter,

The mews’ singing all my mead-drink.

Storms, on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern

In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed

With spray on his pinion.

Not any protector

May make merry man faring needy.

This he little believes, who aye in winsome life

Abides ‘mid burghers some heavy business,

Wealthy and wine-flushed, how I weary oft

Must bide above brine.

Neareth nightshade, snoweth from north,

Frost froze the land, hail fell on earth then

Corn of the coldest. Nathless there knocketh now

The heart’s thought that I on high streams

The salt-wavy tumult traverse alone.

Moaneth alway my mind’s lust

That I fare forth, that I afar hence

Seek out a foreign fastness.

For this there’s no mood-lofty man over earth’s midst,

Not though he be given his good, but will have in his youth greed;

Nor his deed to the daring, nor his king to the faithful

But shall have his sorrow for sea-fare

Whatever his lord will.

He hath not heart for harping, nor in ring-having

Nor winsomeness to wife, nor world’s delight

Nor any whit else save the wave’s slash,

Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.

Bosque taketh blossom, cometh beauty of berries,

Fields to fairness, land fares brisker,

All this admonisheth man eager of mood,

The heart turns to travel so that he then thinks

On flood-ways to be far departing.

Cuckoo calleth with gloomy crying,

He singeth summerward, bodeth sorrow,

The bitter heart’s blood. Burgher knows not —

He the prosperous man — what some perform

Where wandering them widest draweth.

So that but now my heart burst from my breast-lock,

My mood ‘mid the mere-flood,

Over the whale’s acre, would wander wide.

On earth’s shelter cometh oft to me,

Eager and ready, the crying lone-flyer,

Whets for the whale-path the heart irresistibly,

O’er tracks of ocean; seeing that anyhow

My lord deems to me this dead life

On loan and on land, I believe not

That any earth-weal eternal standeth

Save there be somewhat calamitous

That, ere a man’s tide go, turn it to twain.

Disease or oldness or sword-hate

Beats out the breath from doom-gripped body.

And for this, every earl whatever, for those speaking after —

Laud of the living, boasteth some last word,

That he will work ere he pass onward,

Frame on the fair earth ‘gainst foes his malice,

Daring ado, …

So that all men shall honour him after

And his laud beyond them remain ‘mid the English,

Aye, for ever, a lasting life’s-blast,

Delight mid the doughty.

Days little durable,

And all arrogance of earthen riches,

There come now no kings nor Cæsars

Nor gold-giving lords like those gone.

Howe’er in mirth most magnified,

Whoe’er lived in life most lordliest,

Drear all this excellence, delights undurable!

Waneth the watch, but the world holdeth.

Tomb hideth trouble. The blade is layed low.

Earthly glory ageth and seareth.

No man at all going the earth’s gait,

But age fares against him, his face paleth,

Grey-haired he groaneth, knows gone companions,

Lordly men are to earth o’ergiven,

Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth,

Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry,

Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart,

And though he strew the grave with gold,

His born brothers, their buried bodies

Be an unlikely treasure hoard.




Ezra Pound

Poems by Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound