Siân Echard, University of British Columbia
The Ruin is a fragmentary poem found in Exeter, Cathedral Chapter Library, MS 3501, the Exeter Book. The poem’s state makes it difficult to translate; the working translation below is suggestive (even speculative) rather than definitive, intended simply to allow you to work through the text with some sense of its meaning and flavour. If you have stumbled on this page from outside the world of my class, be warned — there are doubtless errors and infelicities below!
The Old English text is taken from the electronic version of the poems of the Exeter Book available at the Labyrinth, now (February 2015) apparently offline.
|Wrætlic is þes wealstan, wyrde gebræcon;
burgstede burston, brosnað enta geweorc.
Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras,
hrungeat berofen, hrim on lime,
scearde scurbeorge scorene, gedrorene,
ræghar ond readfah rice æfter oþrum,
weallwalan wirum wundrum togædre.
Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas,
ond þæs teaforgeapa tigelum sceadeð
seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas,
beorhtan bosme, þær þa baþu wæron,
...þþæt hringmere hate
|Wondrous is this wall-stead, wasted by fate.
Battlements broken, giant’s work shattered.
Roofs are in ruin, towers destroyed,
Broken the barred gate, rime on the plaster,
walls gape, torn up, destroyed,
hoary with lichen, red-stained, withstanding the storm,
The wall-stone still stands, hacked by weapons,
Mood quickened mind, and the mason,
wondrously with iron.
Slaughter spread wide, pestilence arose,
and the curved arch sheds its tiles,
looked on a treasure of silver, on precious gems,
in its bright bosom, there where the baths were,
into the ring