The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

Feoh byth frofur fira gehwylcum —
sceal theah manna gehwylc miclun hyt daelan
gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan.

(Wealth is a joy to every man —
but every man must share it well
if he wish to gain glory in the sight of the Lord.)

Ur byth anmod & oferhyrned,
felafrecne deor, feohteth mid hornum,
maere morstapa: thaet is modiy wuht!

(Aurochs is fierce, with gigantic horns,
a very savage animal, it fights with horns,
a well-known moor-stepper: it is a creature of courage!)

Thorn byth thearle scearp, thegna gehwylcum
anfeng ys yfyl, ungemetun rethe
manna gehwylcun the him mid resteth.

(Thorn is very sharp, harmful to every man
who seizes it, unsuitably severe
to every man who rests on it.)

Os byth ordfruma aelcre spraece,
wisdomes wrathu and witena frofur
and eorla gehwam eadnys and tohiht.

(Os is the creator of all speech,
a supporter of wisdom and comfort of wise men,
and a blessing and hope to every man.)

Rad byth on recyde rinca gehwylcum
sefte, and swithhwaet tham the sitteth onufan
meare maegenheardum ofer milpathas.

(Journey is to every warrior in the hall
pleasant, and bitingly tough to him who sits
on a might steed over the mile-paths.)

Cen byth cwicera gehwam cuth on fyre,
blac and beorhtlic, byrneth oftust
thaer hi aethelingas inne restath.

(Torch is to every living thing known by its fire;
bright and brilliant, it burns most often
where the princes take their rest within.)

Gyfu gumena byth gleng and herenys,
wrathu & wyrthscype, & wraecna gehwam
ar and aetwist the byth othra leas.

(Generosity of men is an ornament and praise,
support and dignity, magnificence and existence
to every suffering man, who is otherwise destitute.)

Wenne bruceth the can weana lyt,
sares and sorge, and him sylfa haefth
blaed & blysse and eac byrga geniht.

(Joy he possesses who knows few woes,
pain and sorrow, and has for himself
prosperity and bliss, and also the abundance found in the fortified
dwellings of men.)

Haegl byth hwitust corna, hwyrft hit of heofones lyfte,
wealcath hit windes scura, weortheth hit to waetere syththan.

(Hail is the whitest of seeds, it comes down from the air of heaven, the gusts of
wind toss it about, afterward it turns to water.)

Nyd byth nearu on breostan: weortheth hi theah oft nitha bearnum
to helpe and to haele gehwaethre, gif hi his hlystath aeror.

(Necessity is oppressive to the heart: yet it often becomes for the children of men
a help and salvation for each, if they have hearkened unto it.)

Is byth oferceald, ungemetum slidor,
glisnath glaeshluttur gimmum gelicust,
flor forste geworuht, faeger ansyne.

(Ice is extremely cold, excessively slippery,
it glistens glass-clear, most like to gems,
it is a floor wrought by frost, fair of sight.)

Ger byth gumena hiht, thon God laeteth,
halig heofones cyning, hrusan syllan
beorhte bleda beornum and thearfum.

(Year (the growing season) is the hope of men, when God,
holy king of heaven, causes the earth to give forth
shining fruits to wealthy and to needy.)

Eoh byth utan unsmethe treow,
heard hrusan faest, hyrde fyres,
wyrtrumun underwrethyd, wynn on ethle.

(Yew is a tree with unsmooth bark,
hard and fast in the earth, keeper of fire,
supported by roots, a joy in the land.)

Peorth byth symble plega and hlehter
Wlancum (and wisum), thar wigan sittath
on beorsele blithe aetsomne.

(Peorth is always sport and laughter
to the noble (and the wise), where men sit
together in merriment in the mead-hall.)

Eolhx secg eard haefth oftust on fenne,
wexeth on wature, wundath grimme,
blode breneth beorna gehwylcne
the him aenigne onfeng gedeth.

(Eolhx-sedge has its home most often in the marsh,
it grows in the water, wounds cruelly,
darkens with blood every man
who touches it in any way.)

Sigel semannum symble bith on hihte,
thonn hi hine feriath ofer fisces beth,
oth hi brimhengest bringeth to lande.

(Sun is always a hope to seamen,
when they guide the sea-steed over the fish's bath
until it carries them to land.)

Tir bith tacna sum: healdeth trywa wel
with aethelingas, a bith on faerylde
ofer nihta genipu, naefre swiceth.

(Tir is a sign to remember: it holds faith well
with princes, is always on course
above the mists of the nights, it never wanders or deceives.)

Beorc byth bleda leas, bereth efne swa theah
tanas butan tudder, bith on telgum wlitig,
heah on helme hrysted faegere,
geloden leafum, lyfte getenge.

(Birch (referring to the poplar?) is seedless, yet without fruit it nevertheless
puts forth sprouts; it is beautiful with its branches,
lofty in its crown, fairly adorned,
sprung from shoots, pressing aloft.)

Eh byth for eorlum aethelinga wyn,
hors hofum wlanc, thar him haelethe ymb
welege on wicgum wrixlath spraece,
& bith unstyllum aefre frofur.

(Horse in the presence of warriors is a joy to princes,
a steed proud of its hoofs, where mounted men
and wealthy exchange speech about him,
and is ever a joy to the restless.)

Man byth on myrgthe his magan leof —
sceal theah anra gehwylc othrum swican;
fortham Dryhten wyle dome sine
thaet earme flaesc eorthan betaecan.

(Man in merriment is beloved of his fellow —
yet shall every one betray the other;
for this reason God wills by his decree
that the unhappy flesh be committed to the earth.)

Lagu byth leodum langsum gethuht,
gif hi sculun nethan on nacan tealtum
&hi saeytha swythe bregath
and se brimhengest bridles ne gymeth.

(Sea is to men a thing which seems everlasting,
if they must dare to venture on the unsteady and untrustworthy ship
and the sea-waves greatly terrify them
and the sea-steed cares not for its bridle.)

Ing waes aerest mid Eastdenum
gesewen secgun, oth he siththan est
ofer waeg gewat; waen aefter ran.
Thus Heardingas thone haele nemdun.

(Ing was first among the East-Danes
visible to men, until he later eastward
departed over the sea; his chariot followed him.
Thus did the Heardings invoke that hero.)

Aethel byth oferleof aeghwylcum men,
gif he mot thaer rigtes and gerysena on
brucan on bolde bleadum oftast.

(Homeland is most precious to every man,
if he may therein enjoy justice and courtesies
in his house, in frequent and abundant prosperity.)

Daeg byth Drihtnes sond, deore mannum,
maere Metodes leoht, myrgth and tohiht
eadgum and earmum, eallum brice.

(Day is the envoy of the Lord, dear to men,
the great light of God, happiness and hope
to blessed and to miserable, an enjoyment for all.)

Ac byth on eorthan elda bearnum
flaesces fodor, fereth gelome
ofer ganotes baeth: garsecg fandath
hwaether ac haebbe aethele treowe.

(Oak is for the children of men on earth
a provider of meat (acorns are food for swine); it journeys continually
over the bath of the gannet: Neptune the spearman proves
if the oak keep faith in honorable fashion.)

Aesc bith oferheah, eldum dyre,
stith on stathule, stede rihte hylt
theah him feohtan on firas monige.

(Ash (used for spears) is very tall, precious to men,
stubborn in standing, holds its place well
even though many men attack it.)

— Yr byth aethelinga & eorla gehwaes
wyn and wyrthmynd, byth on wicge faeger,
faestlic on faerelde, fyrdgeatewa sum.

(— Yr is for every prince and noble
a joy and an honor, it is fair on a horse,
dependable on an expedition, a fine piece of military equipage.)

Ior byth eafixa, and theah a bruceth
fodres on foldan; hafath faegerne eard,
waetre beworpen, thaer he wynnum leofath.

(Ior is of the river-fish, and yet always partakes
of food on land; it has a fair home,
surrounded by water, where it dwells in joy.)

Ear byth egle eorla gehwylcun
thonn faestlice flaesc onginneth
hraw colian, hrusan ceosan
blac to gebeddan: bleda gedreosath,
wynna gewitath, wera geswicath.

(Earth is loathsome to every man
when relentlessly the flesh, the carrion body,
begins to cool, lividly to accept marriage
to its fellow dust: blossoms fall,
joys pass away, friendships fail.)

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