The Ruin

Well-wrought this wall: Wierds broke it.
The stronghold burst.... 

Snapped rooftrees, towers fallen,
the work of the Giants, the stonesmiths,

    Rime scoureth gatetowers
    rime on mortar. 

Shattered the showershields, roofs ruined,
age under-ate them.
    And the wielders & wrights?
Earthgrip holds them — gone, long gone,
fast in gravesgrasp while fifty fathers
and sons have passed. 

    Wall stood,
grey lichen, red stone, kings fell often,
stood under storms, high arch crashed —
stands yet the wallstone, hacked by weapons,
by files grim-ground...
...shone the old skilled work
...sank to loam-crust. 

Mood quickened mind, and a man of wit,
cunning in rings, bound bravely the wallbase
with iron, a wonder. 

Bright were the buildings, halls where springs ran,
high, horngabled, much throng-noise;
these many meadhalls men filled
with loud cheerfulness: Wierd changed that. 

Came days of pestilence, on all sides men fell dead,
death fetched off the flower of the people;
where they stood to fight, waste places
and on acropolis, ruins.
    Hosts who would build again
shrank to the earth. Therefore are these courts dreary
and that red arch twisteth tiles.
wryeth from roof-ridge, reacheth groundwards....
Broken blocks.... 

    There once many a man
mood-glad, goldbright, of gleams garnished,
flushed with wine-pride, flashing war-gear,
gazed on wrought gemstones, on gold, on silver,
on wealth held and hoarded, on light-filled amber,
on this bright burg of broad domination. 

Stood stone houses; wide streams welled
hot from source, and a wall all caught
in his bright bosom, that the baths were
hot at hall’s hearth, that was fitting...

Thence hot streams, loosed, ran over hoar stone
unto the ring-tank....
    ...It is a kingly thing 

Fragments of an anonymous Anglo Saxon poem translated by Michael Alexander