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51 (k-d 20)


I‘m a wonderful thing     shaped for fighting,
beautifully dressed,     dear to my master.
Gay colored is my byrnie;     bright wire that my wielder
who guides me gave me,     embraces the death-gem,
who sometimes to strife     directs my wanderings.
Then I bring home treasure     through the shining day,
handiwork of smiths,     gold to the dwellings.
Often I slay     living warriors
with weapons of war.     A king adorns me
with jewels and silver     and honors me in the hall,
nor withholds my praise,     publicly proclaims
my merits before men,     when they drink their mead;
sometimes holds me back     or frees me when weary
with going into battle.     I have often hurt another
at the hands of his friend.     I am far and wide hated,
accursed among weapons.     I must never hope
that a son will avenge me     on the life of my slayer
if ever an enemy     assails me in battle;
nor will my kin be increased,     the breed whence I sprang—
unless bereft of my lord     I might change to a new,
turn from the owner     who first rewarded me.
Henceforth I am fated     if I follow a (new) lord
to do battle for him     as I did for the other,
for my prince’s pleasure,     that I must forego
the wealth of children     and know no woman;
for he who held me     of yore in thrall
denies me that bliss.     I must therefore enjoy
single, alone,     the wealth of heroes.
Often foolish in my finery     I enrage a woman,
diminish her desire;     her tongue abuses me;
she hits me with her hands,     reviles me with words,
intones a curse.     I like not this contest.…













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Ic eom wunderlicu wiht     on gewin sceapen
frean minū · leof     fægre gegyrwed
byrne is min bleofag     swylce beorht seo mað
wīr ymb þone wælgim     þe me waldend geaf
se me widgalum     wisað hwilum
sylfum to sace     þōn ic sinc wege
þurh hlutterne dæg     hondweorc smiþa
gold ofer geardas     oft ic gæstberend
cwelle compwæpnū     cyning mec gyrweð
since seolfre     mec on sele weorþað
ne wyrneð wordlofes     wisan mæneð
mine for mengo     þær hy meodu drincað
healdeð mec on heaþore     hwilum læteð eft
radwerigne     on gerūm sceacan
orlegfromne     oft ic oþrum scod
frecne æt his freonde     fah eom ic wide
wæpnum awyrged     ic me wenan ne þearf
þæt me bearn wræce     on bonan feore
gif me gromra hwylc     guþe genægeð
ne weorþeð sio mægburg     gemicledu
eaforan minum     þe ic æfter woc ·
nymþe ic hlafordleas     hweorfan mote
from þā healdende     þe me hringas geaf
me bið forð witod     gif ic frean hyre
guþe fremme     swa ic gien dyde
minū þeodne on þonc     þæt ic þolian sceal
bearngestreona     ic wiþ bryde ne mot
hæmed habban     ac me þæs hyhtplegan
geno wyrneð     se mec gearo ōn ·
bende legde     forþon ic brucan sceal
on hagostealde     hæleþa gestreona ·
oft ic wirum dol     wife abelge
wonie hyre willan     heo me wom spreceð
floceð hyre folmum     firenaþ mec wordum
ungod gæleð     ic ne gyme þæs
compes     . . . . .

The solution is certainly, at first, a Sword, as is doubtless intentionally obvious. Then about midway the sword seems to be personified and obscurities set in. The piece is thus one half a transparent riddle and then a kind of heroic lay in the best tradition, in which the sword speaks as a follower who has somehow killed a friend of his master (or so I understand it) and is banished. He cannot marry, but he involves himself with a scolding woman. There is some disorder in the manuscript, the gatherings indicating the loss of a whole folio, which contained the conclusion of this riddle and perhaps other riddles. Compare 41 (k-d 60).