Seamus Heaney reads

Deor

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Weland the blade-winder      suffered woe,
That steadfast man      knew misery.
Sorrow and longing      walked beside him,
wintered in him,      kept wearing him down
after Nithad      hampered and restrained him,
lithe sinew-bonds      on the better man.
      That passed over,       this can too.

For Beadohilde      her brother’s death
weighed less heavily      than her own heartsoreness
once it was clearly      understood
she was bearing a child.      Her ability
to think and decide      deserted her then.
      That passed over,      this can too.

We have heard tell      of Mathilde’s laments,
the grief that afflicted      Geat’s wife.
Her love was her bane,      it banished sleep.
      That passed over,      this can too.

For thirty winters—      it was common knowledge—
Theodric held      the Maerings’ fort.
      That passed over,      this can too.

Earmonric      had the mind of a wolf,
by all accounts      a cruel king,
lord of the far flung      Gothic outlands.
Everywhere men sat      shackled in sorrow,
expecting the worst,      wishing often
he and his kingdom      would be conquered.
      That passed over,      this can too.

A man sits mournful,      his mind in darkness,
so daunted in spirit      he deems himself
ever after      fated to endure.
He may think then      how throughout this world
the Lord in his wisdom      often works change—
meting out honor,      ongoing fame
to many, to others      only their distress.
Of myself, this much      I have to say:
for a time I was poet      of the Heoden people,
dear to my lord.      Deor was my name.
For years I enjoyed      my duties as minstrel
and that lord’s favor,      but now the freehold
and land titles      he bestowed upon me once
he has vested in Heorrenda,      master of verse-craft.
      That passed over,      this can too.

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