Wondrously wrought and fair its wall of stone,
Shattered by Fate! The castles rent asunder,
The work of giants moldered away!
Its roofs are breaking and falling; its towers crumble
In ruin. Plundered those walls with grated doors —
Their mortar white with frost. Its battered ramparts
are shorn away and ruined, all undermined
By eating age. The mighty men that built it,
Departed hence, undone by death, are held
Fast in the earthâs embrace. Tight is the clutch
Of the grave, while overhead of living men
A hundred generations pass away.
Long this red wall, now mossy gray, withstood,
While kingdom followed kingdom in the land,
Unshaken âneath the storms of heaven — yet now
Its towering gate hath fallen. . . .
Radiant the mead-halls in that city bright,
Yea, many were its baths. High rose its wealth
Of hornèd pinnacles, while loud within
Was heard the joyous revelry of men —
Till mighty Fate came with her sudden change!
Wide-wasting was the battle where they fell.
Plague-laden days upon the city came;
Death snatched away that mighty host of men. . . .
There in the olden time full many a thane,
Shining with gold, all gloriously adorned,
Haughty in heart, rejoiced when hot with wine;
Upon him gleamed his armor, and he gazed
On gold and silver and all precious gems;
On riches and on wealth and treasured jewels,
A radiant city in a kingdom wide.
There stood the courts of stone. Hot within,
The stream flowed with its mighty surge. The wall
Surrounded all with its bright bosom; there
The baths stood, hot within its heart. . . .
From Cook and Tinker, Translations from Old English Poetry, pp. 56-57; trans. by Chauncey B.Tinker.