Open main menu
32 (k-d 21)

My beak is downward     and low I move
and dig in the ground.     The hoar foe of the forest
directs my movements;     and so my master
goes bent over,     the guide at my tail,
drives across the field,     pushes me and crowds me,
and sows in my swath.     I go sniffing along,
brought from the woodland,     stoutly fastened,
borne on a wagon.     I have many strange ways.
I leave green on one side     and black on the other.
Driven through my back     there hangs beneath
a well-sharpened point;     on my head another,
firm and forward-moving.     What I tear with my teeth
falls to the side,     if he serves me well,
my lord who behind me     heeds me and guides me.


Neb is min niþerweard     neol ic fere
be grunde græfe     geonge swa me wisað
har holtes feond     hlaford min ·
woh færeð     weard æt steorte
wrigaþ on wonge     wegeð mec þyð
saweþ ōn swæð mīn     ic snyþige forð
brungen of bearme     bunden cræfte
wegen on wægne     hæbbe wundra fela
me biþ gongendre     grene on healfe
min swæð sweotol     sweart on oþre
me þurh hrycg wrecen     hongaþ under
ān orþoncpil     oþer on heafde
fæst forðweard     fealleþ on sidan
ic toþum tere     gif me teala þenaþ
hindeweardre     þæt biþ hlaford min

Plow, as would be easily recognized by those familiar with its structure. The “hoar foe of the forest” may mean the man who clears the woodland for his field, the plowman, or the plowshare (“the iron which, in the shape of an axe, bears ill-will to the tree”). See B. Colgrave, MLR xxxii (1937), 281–83. The beak or nose is the plowshare; the wagon is the fore-carriage; the sharp point underneath is the coulter.