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Hildeburh’s Lament X

Long the battle lasted,
Loud the weapons clashed.
The Danes stood firm
At the doors on both ends.
Many a Frisian tried
To take the doorkeepers,
But for five long days
They fought in vain.
Then one night, off guard
After gruelling battle,
The Frisians broke in
Bursting the halldoors.
My brother bore
The brunt of swords.
He fell holding fast,
Fearless in death,
Brandishing his bill.
But the bold Danish
Were not cowed by fear.
Far more they kindled
Their anger at losing
Their beloved prince,
No longer the love
Of that lord of men
Would give them joy
In gold gabled hall.
The skirmish raged,
Scouring Finnesburg.
Many of Finn’s thanes
Fought their last,
And still both sides
Sought no trucepledge.
I stood beholding
The hellish scene;
The blood of battlemen
Bursting forth and
The curdling cries
Of the corpselike dying.
Then I saw my son,
Still but a boy,
Borne down by arrows.
Cruellest sight to me,
That stabbed my heart
And robbed me of all
My rightful joy.


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Hildeburh’s Lament IX

Then one night the Jutes
Near the high hall
In the dim morning
Mustered their strength
Gathered in goldlust,
Those griefbringers!
Attack, then take
The treasure of the Danes —
Thus was their plan
But the prince of Friesland,
Finn the fearless
Fenland ruler,
Heard their council
And helmed and armed
Went forth to stop
Their false stealing.
Silently I watched
The storm clouds brewing,
With heart afraid
As friendship turned to hate,
While Fróda sought
His sword and fine net
Of rings wrought into
A rippling mailshirt.
Then the Danes seeing
The death tipped spears
And fearing the worst
Woke their young king.
He too saw the glint
Of greedy steel.
I heard much later,
he had laughed bitterly,
ʻʻThis is not the daylight in the East
Nor do dragons fly here
Nor are this here hall’s
Horns a-burning.
But war is upon us.
The warbirds sing,
Greycloaked they yell,
The grimwoods resound.
Shields shall be shaken
And shafts riven.
Now come weeks of mourning,
A moon of woe,
Because of this people’s
Petty greediness.
But awake now, my warriors,
Wake up and fight.
Uphold your spears,
Hold on to courage,
Be single minded
And seek the meed
Of great warriors,
The glory of war!ʼʼ
I hastened to stop
Most hateful war
But my voice was drowned
By drunken battle din.
The peaceweaver’s
Work and purpose
Torn to rags and
Robbed of splendour.

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