We present for your delectation the stunning Raging Wolf episode from Solomon and Saturn II, complete with glossary, translation and a note on the meaning of “gescæned”.
Update: See my post emending line 219 to give a name to the warrior character.
(from Solomon and Saturn lines 213 – 238)
........ Wat ic ðæt wæron Caldeas guðe ðæs gielpne and ðæs goldwlonce, mærða ðæs modige, ðær to ðam moning gelomp suð ymbe Sanere feld. Sæge me from ðam lande ðær nænig fyra ne mæg fotum gestæppan." Saturnus cuæð: "Se mæra was haten sæliðende weallende Wulf, werðeodum cuð Filistina, freond Nebrondes. He on ðam felda ofslog fif ond twentig dracena on dægred, and hine ða deað offeoll; forðan ða foldan ne mæg fira ænig, ðone mercstede, mon gesecan, fugol gefleogan, ne ðon ma foldan neat. ðanon atercynn ærest gewurdon wide onwæcned, ða ðe nu weallende ðurh attres oroð ingang rymað. Git his sweord scineð swiðe gescæned, and ofer ða byrgenna blicað ða hieltas." Salomon cwæð: "Dol bið se ðe gæð on deop wæter, se ðe sund nafað ne gesegled scip ne fugles flyht, ne he mid fotum ne mæg grund geræcan; huru se godes cunnað full dyslice, dryhtnes meahta."
atercynn poisonous breed
Caldeas Chaldeans (Bible)
Filistina Philistines (Bible)
fyra men (gen.)
gescæned broken (see note below)
gesegled provided with sails
goldwlonce proud of wealth
mærða glory (gen.)
Nebrondes Nimrod (Bible)
rymað clears out
Salomon Solomon (Bible)
sanere Shinor (Bible, home of Nimrod)
Saturnus Saturn (a wise Chaldean)
Note: This translation is partly based on a translation of the whole poem by Dr. Aaron K. Hostetter (http://anglosaxonpoetry.camden.rutgers.edu/solomon-saturn/) Dr. Hostetter’s translation, while far from accurate and in places erroneous, is nevertheless pretty good poetry and worthy of respect.
…………… I know that the Chaldeans
were once boastful at war and gold-proud,
glorious in their arrogance, until they received
a warning, southward on Shinar field.
Tell me of this land where no man may set foot.
There was once a great man named Raging Wolf,
a sea-voyager, known to the tribal nation
of the Philistines, a friend of Nimrod.
On that field he slew five and twenty
dragons at dawn, and then fell dead himself.
Because it is permitted to no human to seek out
that space of earth, that border-land—
birds cannot fly over it, nor the beasts of the earth.
There a venomous race first woke in numbers
which now with poisonous breath
swarms forth through a widening entrance.
His sword is yet clear to see, bent and broken,
and the hilt still shines forth over the graves.
Foolish is he who tries to cross deep water
not knowing how to swim, without a sailed ship,
unable to fly like the birds, and cannot touch
the bottom with his feet. Indeed, he tempts
the Lord God’s might most unwisely
A note on gescæned:
This is the perfect participle of gescænan, which means ‘break to pieces’. In an unfortunate case of failure of poetic imagination, both Grein and Kemble decided that this couldn’t be the meaning of the word here, so they invented other meanings – Grein “made shiny”, Kemble “sheathed”, both hapax legomena. This nonsense continues to be accepted uncritically even by the most recent editor (Anlezark, Daniel: The Old English dialogues of Solomon and Saturn, D.S.Brewer, 2009). I translate it as “broken”, which makes perfect sense in the context. The sword is broken, and the hilt remains, shining across the graves.