Widsith came to talk, unlocking his wordy hoard,
he who had travelled furthest across the earth
among men and tribes and peoples—
often he had prospered on the hall-floor
with agreeable treasures. From among the Myrgingas
his lineage sprung. He with Ealhild,
an unfailing peace-weaver, for the first time
seeking the home of Hreth-king,
east of the Angle, of Eormanric,
the angry breaker of covenant. He began to speak many words: (1-9)
“I have heard tell of many men ruling their tribes!
Every prince must live according to his customs,
one earl after another must govern his homeland,
he who wishes to prosper upon his princely seat.
Hwala was one of these, best of his time,
and Alexander, most powerful of them all,
of all mankind, and he thrived the most
of those who I have heard of across this earth. (10-17)
“Attila ruled over the Huns, Eormanric the Goths,
Becca the Baningas, Gifica the Burgundians.
Caesar ruled the Greeks and Celic the Finns,
Hagena the Holmrigs and Heoden the Glomms.
Wita ruled the Swæfings, Wade the Hælsings,
Meaca the Myrgingas, Mearchealf the Hundings.
Theodric ruled the Franks, Thyle the Rondings,
Breoca the Brondings, Billing the Werns.
Oswine ruled the Eows, and Gefwulf the Yta,
Finn Folcwalding, the kindred of the Frisians.
Sigehere ruled the Sea-Danes for the longest time,
Hnæf the Hockings, Helm the Wulfings,
Wald the Wohings, Wod the Thyrings,
Sæferth the Sicga, Ongendtheow the Swedes,
Sceafthere the Ymbra, Sceafa the Lombards,
Hun the Hætwera and Holly the Wrosna.
Hringweald was called the king of the Herefara. (18-34)
“Offa ruled the Angles, Alewih the Danes—
he was the proudest of all men,
yet never did he manage to effect supremacy over Offa,
but he slew him nonetheless first of men,
while still a boy, greatest of kingdoms.
No one his age had ever exerted himself
in such great deeds. With a single sword
he extended his borders towards the Myrgingas
beside the Eider River—ruling over from them on
afterwards the Angles and the Swæfings, as he slew Offa. (35-44)
“Hrothulf and Hrothgar ruled the longest
at peace together, uncle and nephew,
after they drove away the kindred of Vikings
and humiliated the spear-tips of Ingeld,
chopping down at Heorot the majesty of the Heathobards. (45-49)
“So I have travelled among many alien lands
throughout this spacious ground. There I have experienced
aught of good and wickedness, deprived of my kinsfolk,
far from my free people, following them widely.
Therefore I can sing and speak of tidings,
base things on account of the multitude in the mead-hall,
how made myself useful among the chosen and the excellent. (50-56)
I was among the Huns and the Hreth-Goths,
among the Sweoma and among the Geatas and among the South-Danes.
I was among Wenlas and among the Wærnas and among the Vikings.
I was among Gepthae and among Winedas and among the Gefflas.
I was among the Saxons and the Sycgas and among the Sword-men.
I was among the Hronas and among the Danes and among the Heathoreams.
I was among the Thyringas and among the Throndas,
and among the Burgundians, where I received a ring—
there Guthhere gave to me a resplendent treasure,
as requital for my song. That was no sluggish king! (57-67)
“I was among the Franks and among the Frisians and among the Frumtingas.
I was among the Rugas and among the Glommas and among the Rumwala.
Likewise I was among the Eatula with Ælfwine,
he had the lightest hand of all mankind, as I have heard,
to perform his praises, the most generous in the sharing of rings,
the bright bracelets, the child of Eadwine. (68-74)
“I was among the Serkingas and among the Seringas—
I was among the Greeks and among the Finns and with Caesar,
he who owned authority of the wine-fortresses,
of the wealth and his desires, and over the realm of the Wælas.
I was among the Scots and among the Peohta and among the Scrid-Finns,
I was among the Lidingas and among the Leona and among the Lombards,
among the heathens and among the heroes and among the Hundingas.
I was among the Israelites and among the Assyrians,
among the Hebrews and among the Indians and among the Egyptians.
I was among the Medes and among the Persians and among the Myrgingas
and the Mofdingas and even against the Myrgingas,
and among the Amothingas. I was among the East-Thyringas
and among the Eola and among the Ista and Idumingas. (75-87)
“And I was with Eormanric for a long time,
there the king of Goths availed me well—
he gave me a ring, the origin of the city-dwellers,
in that was six hundred counts of coins,
battered gold, reckoning the wealth—
I gave this to Eadgils into his possession,
my sheltering lord, when I came back home,
as reward to my dear one, after that he gave me lands,
the homestead of my father, the lord of the Myrgingas. (88-96)
“And then Ealhild gave to me another gift,
the lordly queen of glory, the daughter of Eadwine.
Her praises I extended throughout many lands,
when I had to speak through songs
where I knew best beneath the heavens
the gold-adorned queen was sharing out gifts. (97-102)
“Then we two Scillingas heaved up a song for our victory-lord
with shining speech, loud by the harp, voices chiming,
when many men, with proud minds,
spoke wordfully, those that knew how to well,
so that never was a better song heard. (103-108)
From there I wandered all throughout the homeland of the Goths,
seeking always the best companions—
that was within the horde of Eormanric.
I sought Hethca and Beadeca and the Herelingas,
I sought Emerca and Fridla and the East-Goths,
aged and excellent, the father of Unwena.
I sought Secca and Becca, Seafola and Theodric,
Heathoric and Sifeca, Hlithe and Ingentheow.
I sought Eadwine and Elsa, Ægelmund and Hungar,
and those proud companies of the With-Myrgingas.
I sought Wulfhere and Wyrmhere—very often the war did not end there,
when the forces of Hræda with hardened swords
must defend their old home-seat
around the Wistla Woods against the folk of Attila. (109-122)
“I sought Rædhere and Rondhere, Rumstan and Gislhere,
Withergeld and Freotheric, Wudga and Hama—
those companions were never the worst,
though I must name them last.
Very often from the band flew whistling
the shrieking spear into the ferocious nation—
rousing where they wielded the wound gold
for men and women, Wudga and Hama.
So I always discovered that in that venturing,
that he is most cherished among the land-dwellers
he who God gives the realm of men
to hold onto, so long as he lives.” (123-134)
So the minstrels of men turned to leave wandering
among the created world, throughout many lands,
talking at need, speaking grateful words,
always to the south or north, measuring out
a certain wise song, unstingy of their gifts—
he who wishes to rear up glory among the multitude
to execute his authority, until everything hurries away,
the light and life together—he works praise,
having under the heavens an enduring reputation. (135-143)