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Beowulf - the start

I wanted to try to perform a little bit of Beowulf in the original, because it sounds so lovely. But I was coming at it knowing no Old English, and I knew the intended audience wouldn't understand a word and had a short attention span for things they did understand. So, a translation: I would read a line, my accomplice would read the translation. I read a few "official" translations, and none did quite what I wanted: this wasn't meant to stand alone, it was meant to bring out the meaning of the original words. So, this is me... I had a couple of weeks. I learnt enough Old English to get by, and did my own translation. Found a recording I liked, and played it in the car on repeat for the second week. Performed my part from memory.

1 Hwæt!
Hark! (Or, "Oi, you! Sit up and listen!")

1 Wé Gárdena      in géardagum
We Gar-dane-a in yar-dagum
We spear-Danes in days of yore

2 þéodcyninga      þrym gefrúnon
Theod-coo-ninga  thrim (ge) –froonon
Of nation-kings       glory we heard

3 hú ðá æþelingas      ellen fremedon
huu da aethelingas  ellen fremedon
how the nobles                did valourous deeds

4 Oft Scyld Scéfing      sceaþena þréatum
oft Scild Scefing               sceald-ena threatum
often Scild, Scef’s son        from enemy shields

5 monegum maégþum      meodosetla oftéah
monegum maegth-um       meodo-setla of-te-ah
of many clans                   took their mead-throne

6 egsode Eorle      syððan aérest wearð
eg-sode eorle          si-than aer-rest wearth
He terrorised earls   since he earliest was

7 féasceaft funden      hé þæs frófre gebád
fea-sceaft fun-den   he thaes fro-fre (ge)baad
destitute found:                he experienced consolation for that.

8 wéox under wolcnum·      weorðmyndum þáh
wax under wolcn-um         weorth-mynd-um thah
He waxed under the sky,   his worth in people’s minds throve

9 oð þæt him aéghwylc      þára ymbsittendra
oth thaet him aeg-thuch    thara imb-sitten-dra
until that each                   of those that surrounded him

10 ofer hronráde      hýran scolde
over hron-rade        hi-ran scol-de
over the whale-road had to submit

11 gomban gyldan·      þæt wæs gód cyning
gomban gildan        that was good cyning
and pay tribute:      that was a good king!

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