Old English
Literal Translation
Tennyson's translation
1 Her Aethelstan cyning,
In this year King Aethelstan,
Athelstan King
eorla dryhten,
Lord of earls,
Lord among earls
beorna beag-giefa,
ring-giver to men,
Bracelet-bestower and
Baron of Barons
and his brothor eac,
and his brother also,
He with his Brother,
Eadmund aetheling,
Prince Eadmund,
Eadmund Atheling
ealdor-lange tir
eternal glory
Gaining a lifelong
Glory in battle
geslogon aet saecce
they won in battle
sweorda ecgum
with sword edges
Slew with the sword edge
5 ymbe Brunanburh.
around Brunanburh.
There by Brunanburh,
Bord-weall clufon
Shield-wall they split
Brake the shield-wall,
heowon heathu-linde
they hewed battle shields (of linden)
Hew'd the linden-wood
Hack'd the battle-shield,
hamora lafum,
with the leavings of hammers
Sons of Edward with hammer'd brands
eaforan Eadweardes,
the sons of Eadweard,
swa him ge-aethele waes
it was only befitting their noble descent
Theirs was a greatness
fram cneo-magum,
from their ancestors
Got from their grand-sires —
thaet hie aet campe oft
that they in battle often
Theirs that so often in
with lathra gehwone
against hostile ones
Strife with their enemies
land ealgodon,
their land defended
Struck for their hoards and their hearths
and their homes.
10 hord and hamas.
treasure (horde) and home.
Hettend crungon,
The enemy perished,
Bow'd the spoiler,
Scotta leode
Scots men
Bent the Scotsman
and scip-flotan,
and seamen
Fell the ship-crews
faege feollon.
fated they fell.
Doom'd to the death.
Feld dennode
The field flowed
All the field with the blood of fighters
secga swate
with blood of warriors,
siththan sunne upp
from sun up
Flow'd from the first great
on morgen-tid,
in the morning,
Sun-star of morning-tide
maere tungol,
glorious star
15 glad ofer grundas,
glided over the earth,
Lamp of the Lord God
Lord Everlasting
Glode over the earth till the glorious creature
Godes candel beorht,
God's bright candle,
eces Dryhtnes,
eternal lord,
oth seo aethele gesceaft
till that noble creation
sag to setle.
sank to [its] seat.
Sank to his setting.
Thaer laeg secg manig
There lay many a warrior
There lay many a man
garum agieted,
by spears destroyed
Marr'd by the javelin,
guma Northerna
Northern men
Men of the Northland
ofer scield scoten,
shot over shield
Shot over shield
swelce Scyttisc eac,
likewise Scottish as well,
There was the Scotsman
20 werig, wiges saed.
weary, war sated.
Weary of war.
West-Seaxe forth
West-Saxons went forth
We the West-Saxons
andlange daeg
the entire day
Long as the daylight
eorod-cystum
in troops
Lasted, in companies
on last legdon
they pursued the track of
Troubled the track of
lathum theodum,
the hostile people.
The host that we hated;
heowon here-flieman
they hewed the fugitive
Grimly with swords that were sharp
from the grindstone
Fiercely we hack'd at the flyers before us.
hindan thearle
from behind grievously
mecum mylen-scearpum.
with swords sharp from the grinding
Mierce ne wierndon
The Mercians did not refuse
Mighty the Mercian
25 heardes hand-plegan
hard hand-to-hand combat
Hard was his hand-play,
haeletha nanum
to any warrior
Sparind not any of
thara-the mid Anlafe
They who with Anlafe
Those that with Anlaf
ofer ear-gebland
over the sea-surge
Warriors over the
Weltering waters
on lides bosme
in the bosom of a ship
Borne in the bark's-bosom
land gesohton,
sought land,
Drew to this island —
faege to gefeohte.
fated to fight.
Doom'd to the death.
Fife lagon
Five lay dead
Five young kings put asleep by the sword-stroke,
on tham camp-stede
on the battle-field
cyningas geonge,
young kings
30 sweordum answefede,
by swords put to sleep,
swelce seofone eac
likewise also seven
Seven strong earls of the army of Anlaf
eorlas Anlafes,
of Anlafe's earls,
unrim herges,
countless of the army,
Fell on the war-field, numberless numbers, Shipmen and Scotsmen
flotena and Scotta.
sailors and Scots.
Thaere gefliemed wearth
There took to flight
Then the Norse leader —
Dire was his need of it,
Few were his following —
Fled to his war-ship;
North-manna brego,
the North-men's chief,
niede gebaeded,
by need constrained
to lides stefne
to prow of ship
lytle weorode;
with a little troop:
35 cread cnear on flot,
he pressed the ship afloat,
Fleeted his vessel to sea with the king in it,
cyning ut gewat
the king went out
on fealone flod,
on the dusky flood-tide,
Saving his life on the fallow flood.
feorh generede.
he saved his life.
Swelce thaere eac se froda
Likewise, there also the aged one
Also the crafty one,
mid fleame com
through flight came
Constantinus,
Crept to his north again,
on his cyththe north,
to his own region in the north,
Constantinus,
Constantine,
har hilde-rinc.
hoary warrior.
Hoar-headed hero!
Hreman ne thorfte
He had no reason to exult
Slender warrant had
he to be proud of
40 meca gemanan;
the great meeting;
The welcome of war-knives
he waes his maga sceard,
he was of his kinsmen bereft
He that was reft of his
freonda gefielled
friends fell
Folk and friends that had
on folc-stede,
on the battle-field
Fallen in conflict
beslaegen aet saecce,
killed as strife,
and his sunu forlet
and [even] his son he left
Leaving his son too
on wael-stowe
in the place of slaughter
Lost in the carnage,
wundum forgrunden,
with wounds ground to pieces,
Mangled to morsels,
geongne aet guthe.
young in battle.
A youngster in war!
Gielpan ne thorfte
To boast he had no need,
Slender reason had
He to be glad of
45 beorn blanden-feax
the grizzle-haired warrior,
bill-gesliehtes,
of sword-slaughter,
The clash of the war-glaive —
eald inwitta,
old deceitful one,
Traitor and trickster
And spurner of treaties —
ne Anlaf thy ma;
no more did Anlaf;
He nor had Anlaf
mid hira here-lafum
with their remnant of an army
With armies so broken
hliehhan ne thorfton
to laugh they had no reason,
A reason for bragging
thaet hie beadu-weorca
that they in deed of war
That they had the better
In perils of battle
beteran wurdon
were better
on camp-stede
in battle field
On places of slaughter —
cumbol-gehnastes,
collision of banners,
The struggle of standards
50 gar-mittunge,
encounter of spears,
The rush of the javelins
gumena gemotes,
encounter of men,
The crash of the charges
waepen-gewrixles,
exchange of weapons,
The wielding of weapons —
thaes hie on wael-felda
when on the battle-field
with Eadweardes
with Edweard's
The play that they play'd with
The children of Edward.
eaforan plegodon.
sons they played.
Gewiton him tha North-menn
Departed then the Northmen
Then with their nail'd prow
Parted the Norsemen, a
naegled-cnearrum,
in nailed ships.
dreorig darotha laf,
Dejected survivors of the battle,
Blood redden'd relic of
Javelins over
on Dinges mere
on the Sea of Storm
55 ofer deop waeter
over deep water
The jarring breaker, the deep-sea billow,
Dyflin secan,
Dublin they sought,
Shaping their way toward Dyflen again,
and eft Ira land,
back to Ireland,
aewisc-mode.
ashamed in spirit.
Shamed in their souls.
Swelce tha gebrothor
Likewise the brothers
Also the brethren,
begen aetsamne,
both together,
King and Atheling
Each in his glory
cyning and aetheling,
King and Prince
cyththe sohton,
home sought,
Went to his own West-Saxonland
West Seaxna lang,
West-Saxon land,
wiges hremge.
from battle exultant.
Glad of the war.
60 Leton him behindan
They left behind them the
Many a carcase they left to be carrion
hraew bryttian
corpses to enjoy
sealwig-padan,
the dark coated one,
thone sweartan hraefn
the dark raven
Left for the white-tail'd eagle to tear it, and
Left for the horny-nibb'd raven to rend it, and
hyrned-nebban,
horny-beaked,
and thone hasu-padan,
and the dusky-coated one
earn aeftan hwit, aeses brucan, —
the eagle white from behind,
aeses brucan —
to partake of carrion, —
Gave to the garbaging war-hawk to gorge it, and
graedigne guth-hafoc,
greedy war-hawk,
and thaet graege deor,
and that gray animal
That gray beast, the wolf of the weald.
65 wulf on wealda.
the wolf in the forest.
Ne wearth wael mare
Never was there more slaughter
Never had huger
Slaughter of heroes
Slain by the sword-edge —
Such as old writers
Have writ of in histories —
Hapt in this isle, since
on thys ig-lande
on this island,
aefre gieta
never yet as many
folces gefielled
people killed
beforan thissum
before this
sweordes ecgum,
with sword's edge,
thaes-the us secgath bec,
those who tell us from books,
eald uthwitan,
old wisemen,
siththan eastan hider
since hither from the east
Up from the east hither
70 Engle and Seaxe
Angles and Saxons
Saxon and Angle from
upp becomon,
came up
ofer brad brimu
over the broad sea
Over the broad billow
Britene sohton,
Britain they sought,
Broke into Britain with
wlance wig-smithas,
Proud war-smiths
Haughty war-workers who
Wealas ofercomon,
the Welsh they overcame,
Harried the Welshman, when
eorlas ar-hwaete
glorious warriors
Earls that were lured by the
Hunger of glory gat
eard begeaton.
they took hold of the land.
Hold of the land.
Back to Brunanburh Overview
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Last modified 1992