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Michael R Burch Feb 2020
Wulf and Eadwacer
anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem, circa 960 AD
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My clan’s curs pursue him like crippled game.
They’ll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf’s on one island; we’re on another.
His island’s a fortress fastened by fens.
Here, bloodthirsty curs howl for carnage.
They’ll rip him apart if he approaches their pack.
It is otherwise with us.

My thoughts pursued Wulf like panting hounds.
Whenever it rained—how I wept!—
the boldest cur grasped me in his paws.
Good feelings for him, but for me, loathsome!
Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your infrequent visits
have left me famished, deprived of real meat!
Do you hear, Eadwacer? Watchdog!
A wolf has borne our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sever what never was one:
our song together.

Originally published by Measure

"Wulf and Eadwacer" may be the oldest poem in the English language written by a female poet. It has been classified as an elegy, a lament, an early ballad or villanelle, a riddle, a charm, and a frauenlieder or "woman's song." This famously ambiguous poem is hard to pin down!

Keywords/Tags: Wulf, Eadwacer, Anglo-Saxon, Old English, translation, wolf, pack, ****, whelp, baby, child, dogs, curs, hounds, island, fens, woods, sacrifice, song, sever, severed

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