The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem


Original Text


Feoh by frofur fira gehwylcum;

sceal eah manna gehwylc miclun hyt dlan

gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan.


Ur by anmod ond oferhyrned,

felafrecne deor, feohte mid hornum

mre morstapa; t is modig wuht.


orn by earle scearp; egna gehwylcum

anfeng ys yfyl, ungemetum ree

manna gehwelcum, e him mid reste.


Os by ordfruma lere sprce,

wisdomes wrau ond witena frofur

and eorla gehwam eadnys ond tohiht.


Rad by on recyde rinca gehwylcum

sefte ond swihwt, ame sitte on ufan

meare mgenheardum ofer milpaas.


Cen by cwicera gehwam, cu on fyre

blac ond beorhtlic, byrne oftust

r hi elingas inne resta.


Gyfu gumena by gleng and herenys,

wrau and wyrscype and wrcna gehwam

ar and twist, e by ora leas.


Wenne bruce, e can weana lyt

sares and sorge and him sylfa hf

bld and blysse and eac byrga geniht.


Hgl by hwitust corna; hwyrft hit of heofones lyfte,

wealca hit windes scura; weore hit to wtere syan.

Nyd by nearu on breostan; weore hi eah oft nia bearnum

to helpe and to hle gehwre, gif hi his hlysta ror.


Is by ofereald, ungemetum slidor,

glisna glshluttur gimmum gelicust,

flor forste geworuht, fger ansyne.


Ger by gumena hiht, onne God lte,

halig heofones cyning, hrusan syllan

beorhte bleda beornum ond earfum.


Eoh by utan unsmee treow,

heard hrusan fst, hyrde fyres,

wyrtrumun underwreyd, wyn on ele.


Peor by symble plega and hlehter

wlancum [on middum], ar wigan sitta

on beorsele blie tsomne.


Eolh-secg eard hf oftust on fenne

wexe on wature, wunda grimme,

blode brene beorna gehwylcne

e him nigne onfeng gede.


Sigel semannum symble bi on hihte,

onne hi hine feria ofer fisces be,

o hi brimhengest bringe to lande.


Tir bi tacna sum, healde trywa wel

wi elingas; a bi on frylde

ofer nihta genipu, nfre swice.


Beorc by bleda leas, bere efne swa eah

tanas butan tudder, bi on telgum wlitig,

heah on helme hrysted fgere,

geloden leafum, lyfte getenge.


Eh by for eorlum elinga wyn,

hors hofum wlanc, r him hle ymb[e]

welege on wicgum wrixla sprce

and bi unstyllum fre frofur.


Man by on myrge his magan leof:

sceal eah anra gehwylc orum swican,

forum drihten wyle dome sine

t earme flsc eoran betcan.

Lagu by leodum langsum geuht,

gif hi sculun nean on nacan tealtum

and hi sya swye brega

and se brimhengest bridles ne gym[e].


Ing ws rest mid East-Denum

gesewen secgun, o he sian est

ofer wg gewat; wn fter ran;

us Heardingas one hle nemdun.


Eel by oferleof ghwylcum men,

gif he mot r rihtes and gerysena on

brucan on bolde bleadum oftast.


Dg by drihtnes sond, deore mannum,

mre metodes leoht, myrg and tohiht

eadgum and earmum, eallum brice.

Ac by on eoran elda bearnum

flsces fodor, fere gelome

ofer ganotes b; garsecg fanda

hwer ac hbbe ele treowe.


sc bi oferheah, eldum dyre

sti on staule, stede rihte hylt,

eah him feohtan on firas monige.


Yr by elinga and eorla gehws

wyn and wyrmynd, by on wicge fger,

fstlic on frelde, fyrdgeatewa sum.


Iar by eafix and eah a bruce

fodres on foldan, hafa fgerne eard

wtre beworpen, r he wynnum leofa.


Ear by egle eorla gehwylcun,

onn[e] fstlice flsc onginne,

hraw colian, hrusan ceosan

blac to gebeddan; bleda gedreosa,

wynna gewita, wera geswica.

Modern English Translation




(Feoh) Wealth is a comfort to all men;

yet must every man bestow it freely,

if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.


(Ur ) Aurochs is proud and has great horns;

it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;

a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.


(Thorn) is exceedingly sharp,

an evil thing for any knight to touch,

uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.


(Os) God is the source of all language,

a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men,

a blessing and a joy to every knight.


(Rad) Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors

and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads

on the back of a stout horse.


(Ken) Torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame;

it always burns where princes sit within.


(Gyfu) Gift brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity;

it furnishes help and subsistence

to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.


(Wynn) Bliss he enjoys who knows not suffering, sorrow nor anxiety,

and has prosperity and happiness and a good enough house.


(Hagal) Hail is the whitest of grain;

it is whirled from the vault of heaven

and is tossed about by gusts of wind

and then it melts into water.


(Nyd) Need is oppressive to the heart;

yet often it proves a source of help and salvation

to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.


(Is) Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;

it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;

it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.


(Ger) Year is a joy to men, when God, the holy King of Heaven,

suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits

for rich and poor alike.

(Eoh) Yew is a tree with rough bark,

hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,

a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.


(Peorth) Lot-box is a source of recreation and amusement to the great,

where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.


(Eolh-secg) Elk-sedge is mostly to be found in a marsh;

it grows in the water and makes a ghastly wound,

covering with blood every warrior who touches it.


(Sigel) Sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers

when they journey away over the fishes' bath,

until the courser of the deep bears them to land.


(Tir) is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes;

it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.


(Beorc) Birch bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers,

for it is generated from its leaves.

Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned

its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.


(Eh) Horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.

A steed in the pride of its hoofs,

when rich men on horseback bandy words about it;

and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.


(Man) is dear to his kinsmen;

yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow,

since the Lord by his decree will commit the vile carrion to the earth.


(Lagu) Sea seems interminable to men,

if they venture on the rolling bark

and the waves of the sea terrify them

and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle.


(Ing) was first seen by men among the East-Danes,

till, followed by his chariot,

he departed eastwards over the waves.

So the Heardingas named the hero.


(Ethel) Estate is dear to every man,

if he can enjoy there in his house

whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.


(Dag) Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord;

it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor,

and of service to all.


(Ac) Oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men.

Often it traverses the gannet's bath,

and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps faith

in honourable fashion.


(Aesc) Ash is exceedingly high and precious to men.

With its sturdy trunk it offers a stubborn resistance,

though attacked by many a man.


(Yr) Bow is a source of joy and honour to every prince and knight;

it looks well on a horse and is a reliable equipment for a journey.


(Iar) Serpent is a river fish and yet it always feeds on land;

it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.

(Ear) Dust is horrible to every knight,

when the corpse quickly begins to cool

and is laid in the bosom of the dark earth.

Prosperity declines, happiness passes away

and covenants are broken.


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