Poetry Translation for Master Eldred Ælfwald Þegn’s Scroll

In early 2019, Master Eldred Ælfwald requested that Lady Kaaren Valravn create his court baron scroll (scroll information here). In turn, she asked Lord Ishmael Reed to write an original poem and me to translate the poem into Old English. Ishmael wrote the poem in the style of the 14th-century alliterative revival, which I then translated into Old English alliterative verse.

Original Text by Lord Ishmael Reed

Old English Translation by Ela

Winding the wild paths are, and where they lead
None can know, for night is silent upon them.
Rarer still are Roman roads, rutted and worn,
Whose trodden remnants tire, as trailing speech.
A clear-voiced clarion calls, cutting new track
Through time’s thickets, a true thegn to be thanked.
Lo! Where Eldred Ælfwald leads, light pilgrimage it is,
A highway wrought of his wisdom, on which Highnesses march.
Atlantia’s way is wide and clear, so well-proved Eldred
Is raised to rank befitting by King Ragnarr and Queen Lynette:
Baron.
Our Heirs now you will serve,
Theirs after will you guide,
From straight paths if e’er they swerve
May your voice regain their stride.
Bestowed on the 6th day of April in the year 2019, Anno Societatis LIII, upon the Coronation of Christoph II and Adelhait II, and conferring upon him the privilege of the use and display of a Baronial Coronet.
Þa wilde wegas gewindende, ond hwider hie wandriaþ
nan nat. Se nihternnes swigaþ on him.
Romanisca rada mara runa beoð – stiþwegas
Fornæmaþ ond fot-wergaþ, gelic forwenednes scopa.
Heafodwoþ ond hleoþorcyme holiaþ niwe swaðe
Þurh þrahe þiccettu: wit sculon þancian treowlicne þegn.
Eala! Eldred Ælfwald alihtaþ wegas!
His ræd rihtlæceþ rada for cynescipum;
Wide ond wuldortorhte wegas Atlanties beoð.
Ragnarr cyning ond Lynette cwene oncnæweþ weorþlicnesse
Swa hie stepaþ Eldred sceadwisne to
þegne.
Uncer Irfenuman þu geambihte; æfter Heora Irfan þu wisse.
Gif cyne-stræte Hie framacyrren, þonne crafe hie, Eldred, edwendan.
Ragnarr V ond Lynette II unnon Eldrede þegnes on þæm sixtaum dæge Aprelises on þæm geare 2019, Anno Societatis LIII, be þæm Ealdordome Christophes II ond Adelheite II, ond tiðaþ him þæs rihtes gebrycgan ond iewan Þegnes Heafodbend.

Because poetic translations are never one-for-one literal translations of the original, I also gave Kaaren the literal meaning of my translation.

Old English Translation by Ela

Literal Translation of Old English

Þa wilde wegas gewindende, ond hwider hie wandriaþ
nan nat. Se nihternnes swigaþ on him.
Romanisca rada mara runa beoð – stiþwegas
Fornæmaþ ond fot-wergaþ, gelic forwenednes scopa.
Heafodwoþ ond hleoþorcyme holiaþ niwe swaðe
Þurh þrahe þiccettu: wit sculon þancian treowlicne þegn.
Eala! Eldred Ælfwald alihtaþ wegas!
His ræd rihtlæceþ rada for cynescipum;
Wide ond wuldortorhte wegas Atlanties beoð.
Ragnarr cyning ond Lynette cwene oncnæweþ weorþlicnesse
Swa hie stepaþ Eldred sceadwisne to
þegne.
Uncer Irfenuman þu geambihte; æfter Heora Irfan þu wisse.
Gif cyne-stræte Hie framacyrren, þonne crafe hie, Eldred, edwendan.
Ragnarr V ond Lynette II unnon Eldrede þegnes on þæm sixtaum dæge Aprelises on þæm geare 2019, Anno Societatis LIII, be þæm Ealdordome Christophes II ond Adelheite II, ond tiðaþ him þæs rihtes gebrycgan ond iewan Þegnes Heafodbend.
The wild ways are winding, and where they wander
None know not. The nighttime is silent upon them.
Roman roads greater secrets be – rough ways
Worn out (by grief) and foot-weary (my cognate), like the novelty of poets
A voice and a coming heralded by trumpets hollow out a new pathway
Through a season’s thickets: we (dual) must thank a truthful/faithful thegn (baron)
Lo (recognize)! Eldred Ælfwald enlightens ways!
His wise counsel makes right roads for royalties;
Atlantia’s ways are wide and gloriously bright.
King Ragnarr and Queen Lynette recognize worthiness
So they raise sagacious Eldred to
baron.
You will serve our heirs; afterwards Theirs you will guide.
If they turn away from the king’s road, then implore them, Eldred, to return.
Ragnarr V and Lynette II bestow to Eldred a baronage on the sixth day of April in the year 2019, A.S. LIII, at Beginning of the Reign of Christoph II and Adelheit II, and they grant him the privilege to use and display a Baron’s Coronet.

I was honored to be included in such a fantastic collaboration. Translating Ishmael’s words was greatly enjoyable, and challenged me to retain his meaning while keeping true to Old English verse.

I would happily do it again!

Close-up of the beautiful calligraphy by Kaaren. You’ll hav to go to her site to see the beauty of the full piece!

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