Deor

Simon Armitage

Weland the goldsmith      knew grief’s weight.
That strong-minded man      was no stranger to misery,
his loyal soul-mates      were sorrow and longing,
a hurt like winter      weathered his heart
once Niðhad had hamstrung      and hobbled his hopes,
fettering the feet      of the worthier fellow.
As that passed over      may this pass also.

Beadohilde was bereft      at the death of her brothers
but distressed more deeply      by difficulties of her own.
Once the unthinkable      thought had occurred,
that a child grew inside her,      then her sanity dissolved,
and imagined misfortunes      muddled her mind.
As that passed over      may this pass also.

We are told the tale      of troubled Mæðhilde,
Geat’s much-loved      lovesick lady;
disturbing dreams      dispossessed her of sleep.
As that passed over      may this pass also.

For thirty long winters      the warlord Đeodric
held the fort of the Mærings,      his fame known to many.
As that passed over      may this pass also.

Word reaches our ears      of Eormanric,
lupine-minded,      a merciless lord,
ruler of the Goths      in remote regions.
Many a man      sat manacled by sorrow,
awaiting the end      but wishing always
for that fearful tyrant      to fall in defeat.
As that passed over      may this pass also.

Pitiful he sits,      deprived of all pleasure,
his soul diminished,      his spirit dimmed,
believing ill-luck      limitless.
Then a man’s mind      might muse awhile
on the ways of our Lord      in this wide world,
how He favours many      with fame or fortune,
sends sweetness to some,      suffering to others.
And a little of myself      I should like to say now:
honoured skald      in the House of Heodening,
I was dear to my master,      and my name was Deor.
Through several seasons      I was proud to serve him,
my loyal protector.      But the title and lease
I once held as my own      he has handed on
to Heorrender, poet      of a higher order.
As that passed over      may this pass also.