The Husband’s Message

This poem is found near the end of the Exeter Book, whose final folios have been badly damaged by fire. Despite the damage to the text, the situation it describes is clear: a husband has had to leave his country and his wife because of a feud; this poem is spoken by the rune staff he sends to his wife pledging his fidelity and asking her to join him. The poem seems to supply a happy ending to the darker narratives implied by Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament.

Damaged places in the text are signalled with square brackets. These gaps are filled in where scholars have offered plausible reconstructions; however, a complete reconstruction of this poem is not possible.

  onsundran þē     secgan wille
  [......] trēocyn     tūdre āwēox
  in mec æld[a ....     .....] sceal
  ellor londes setta[n     ........]c
5 sealte strēamas     [.......]sse.
  Ful oft on bātes [....     ......] ġesōhte,
  þǣr mec mondryhten     mīn [onsende
  o]fer hēah hafu;     eom hēr cumen
  on ċēolþele,     ond cunnan scealt
10 þū ymb mōdlufun     mīnes frēan
  on hyġe hycge.     ġehātan dear
  þæt þū þǣr tīrfæste     trēowe findest.
  Hwæt, þec þonne biddan hēt     se þisne bēam āgrōf
  þæt þū sinchroden     sylf ġemunde
15 on ġewitlocan     wordbēotunga
  þe ġit on ǣrdagum     oft ġesprǣcon,
  þenden ġit mōston     on meoduburgum
  eard weardiġan,     ān lond būgan,
  frēondscype fremman.     Hine fǣhþo ādrāf
20 of siġeþēode;     heht sylfa þē
  lustum lǣran     þæt þū lagu drēfde
  siþþan þū ġehȳrde     on hliþes ōran
  galan ġeōmorne     ġēac on bearwe.
  Ne lǣt þū þec siþþan     sīþes ġetwǣfan,
25 lāde ġelettan     lifġendne monn.

  Onġin mere sēċan,     mǣwes ēþel,
  onsite sǣnacan     þæt þū sūð heonan
  ofer merelāde     monnan findest
  þǣr se þēoden is     þīn on wēnum.
30 Ne mæġ him worulde     willa ġelimpan
  māra on ġemyndum,     þæs þe sæġde,
  þonne inc ġeunne     alwaldend God
  [þæt ġit] ætsomne     siþþan mōtan
  secgum ond ġesīþum     s[inc brytnian]
35 næġlede bēagas.     ġenōh hafað
  fǣttan goldes,     [feohġestrēona
  þæt mi]d elþēode     ēþel healde,
  fæġre foldan     [..........
  ....]ra hæleþa,     þēah þe hēr mīn wine
40 [....................]
  nȳde ġebǣded,     nacan ūt āþrong
  ond on ȳþa ġelagu     [āna] sceolde
  faran on flotweġ,     forðsīþes ġeorn,
  menġan merestrēamas.     se mon hafað
45 wēan oferwunnen;     nis him wilna gād,
  ne mēara ne māðma     ne meododrēama,
  ǣnġes ofer eorþan     eorlġestrēona,
  þēodnes dohtor,     ġif þīn beneah.
  Ofer eald ġebēot     incer twēġa
50 ġehȳre ætsomne     .ᛋ.ᚱ. ġeador
  .ᛠ.ᚹ., ond .ᛗ.     āþe benemnan
  þæt þā wǣre     ond þā winetrēowe
  be him lifġendum     lǣstan wolde
  þe ġit on ǣrdagum     oft ġesprǣconn.