. . .
He ordered the young men to abandon their horses,
to drive them far, and to go forth
to consider what was at hand, and to be of good mind.
When Offa's kinsman first perceived
that the earl wouldn't allow cowardice,
he let his beloved hawk fly from his hand
hawk toward the forest, and he stepped toward the combat;
by this, one was able to understand that the youth wouldn't
flinch at the strife, when he grasped his weapon.
Besides him, Eadric followed his chieftain,
his lord, to the fight; then he began to carry
his spear to the battle. He had a good purpose,
while with his hands, he was able to keep
his shield and broadsword; he followed the command
that he should fight before his lord.
Then Byrhtnoth began to prepare his heroes there;
he rode and advised; he instructed the fighters
how they should stand and to keep which position,
and he asked that their shields should be held correctly,
steadfast, with their hands, and they should not be afraid at all.
When he had that army well prepared,
then he dismounted with his people where it was most agreeable to him,
where he knew his most loyal body of retainers to be.
Then a messenger of the Vikings stood on the shore,
he called violently, spoke with words,
he boastfully proclaimed the pirates'
message to the earl, where he stood on the riverbank.
"The bold seamen sent me to you,
they ordered me to say to you that you are allowed to send quickly
rings for protection; and it is better for you
that you pay for this battle with tribute,
rather than we share such hard combat.
We needn't destroy ourselves, if you are so prosperous.
We are willing to secure peace with the gold.
If you advise that, you who is here most powerful,
that you will deliver your people,
to give to the seamen on their own judgment,
riches for peace, and to make peace with us,
we will take ourselves to our ship with the coins,
to depart to the sea, and to keep peace with you."
Byrhtnoth spoke, lifting his shield,
brandishing his slender spear, spoke with words,
angry and resolute, gave his answer.
"Do you hear, sailor, what this people says?
They will give to you spears as tribute,
a deadly spear and an old sword,
the war-gear that avails you not in combat.
Herald of pirates, proclaim back again,
say to your people this very hostile message,
that here stands a brave earl with his company,
who is willing to defend this country,
my king Athelred's land,
his army and soil, who should attack
heathens in combat. It seems too abject to me
that you might go to your ship with our coins,
unopposed, now that you thus far hither
have entered into our land.
Neither shall you so quietly get treasure;
spear and sword shall sooner pacify us,
fierce war-play, before we give tribute."
He ordered the heroes to carry shields and advance,
so that they all stood on the riverbank.
The company was not able to go to the other for the water there;
there came the flowing flood after low tide,
the waters enclosed. It seemed too long to them,
until they might carry spears together.
They surrounded the Blackwater River with pomp,
the East Saxons ' vanguard and the naval force.
None of them was able to damage others,
but who might take his death through an arrow's flight.
The flood departed out; the sailors stood prepared,
many Vikings, eager for strife.
Then the protector of the heroes ordered to hold the bridge
a battle-hardened warrior, who was called Wulfstan,
brave in his rank; that was Ceola's son,
he who first killed with his javelin,
who there most boldly stepped onto the bridge.
There stood with Wulfstan, bold warriors,
Ælfhere and Maccus, the two brave ones;
they wouldn't take flight at the ford,
but they steadfastly defended against the enemies,
while they were allowed to rule their weapons.
When the hostile guests understood that and quickly saw
that they found angry guardians of the bridge there,
then they endeavored to deceive;
they asked that they be allowed to come inland,
to travel over the ford, to bring their foot-soldiers.
Then the earl, because of his over-confidence,
began to give too much land to the hostile people.
Then over the cold water began to call
Byrhthelm's son. The heroes listened.
Now that it is cleared for you, come quickly to us,
men to battle; God alone knows
who will be allowed to rule the battlefield."
Then the savages advanced, (they didn't care about the water),
that company of Vikings, west over the Blackwater,
carried their shields over clear water,
sailors onto land, carrying linden shields.
There facing the cruel men stood prepared
Byrhtnoth with his heroes; he ordered them to make a shield-wall
with their shields, and that company to hold
steadfastly against the enemy. The fight was near,
glory at battle. The time was come
that doomed men should fall there.
There was a cry was lifted up. The ravens whirled;
the eagle was eager for carrion. An outcry was on earth.
They let from their hands file-hard spears;
sharpened spears flew.
Bows were busy; shields caught spear-points.
Bitter was the battle; heroes fell,
on either side young men lay dead.
Wulfmær, Byrthnoth's kinsman, was wounded,
chose a bed of slaughter; Byrthnoth's sister's son
was fiercely hacked with blades.
Compensation was given to the Vikings there.
I heard that Edward slew one
fiercely with his sword; he did not withhold the blow,
so that a doomed champion fell at his feet;
for this his lord said thanks to him,
to his chamberlain, when he had an opportunity.
So the determined young men stood
firm at battle; they thought eagerly
who there might first with spear-point
win the life of a doomed man,
a warrior with weapons. Slaughter fell on earth.
They stood steadfast; Byrhtnoth directed them,
ordered that each young men who would gain
honor fighting among the Danes, think about the fight.
Then a man stern in battle advanced, raised up his weapon,
his shield as protection, and stepped toward the warrior.
Just as resolute, the earl went to the man;
each of them thought to harm to the other.
Then the sailor sent a southern spear,
so that the warriors' lord was wounded.
Then he pushed with the shield, so that the shaft was burst
and the spear split, so that it sprang back.
The soldier was provoked; with his spear he stabbed
the proud Viking who had given him the wound.
The fyrdsman was wise; he let his spear advance
through the young man's neck; his hand directed it
so that he seized enemy's life.
Then he quickly shot another,
so that the byrnie burst; he was wounded in the breast
through his chain-mail, the deadly point
stood in his heart. The earl was the happier,
the brave man laughed, said thanks to the Creator
for the day's work that the Lord gave him.
Then one of the young warriors let his spear from his hand,
fly from his grasp, so that it went forth
through the noble thane of Athelred.
By his side stood a young man,
a boy not experienced in battle, who very boldly
pulled the bloody spear out of the hero;
Wulfstan's son, Wulfmær the younger,
let the hard spear go back again.
The point went in, so that he lay on the ground,
he who had earlier struck his lord.
Then an armed warrior went to the earl;
he wanted to take the hero's treasures,
plunder and rings and an adorned sword.
Then Byrhtnoth pulled his sword from its sheath,
broad and bright-edged, and struck the armored man.
Very quickly, one of the sailors hindered him,
when he injured the earl's arm.
Then the gold-hilted sword fell to the earth;
he could not hold the hard sword,
wield the weapon. Yet he spoke this word,
that hoary warrior encouraged the young men,
ordered the good companions to go forth.
Then he wasn't able to stand steadfast on his feet any longer.
He gazed to heaven:
"I thank you, Ruler of hosts,
For all the joys that I attained in this world.
Now, merciful Creator, I possess the greatest need
that you grant that which is good to my ghost,
so that my soul may journey to you,
into your control, Lord of angels,
go with peace. I entreat from you
that devils may not injure it."
Then a heathen crewmember hacked him,
and both the heroes that stood by him,
Ælfnoth and Wulfmær both lay dead,
who gave their life beside their lord.
They fled then from the battle, those who wish not to be there.
There Odda's son was first in flight,
Godric went from the battle, and left the good man
who often gave him many steeds;
he leapt upon the horse that was his lord's,
in those trappings to which he had no right,
and both his brothers ran with him,
Godwin and Godwy; they took no notice of the battle,
but turned from the strife and sought the woods,
fled into that fastness and protected their own lives,
and more men than was fitting,
if they remembered all of the rewards
that he had given to them as a gift.
So Offa on an earlier day said to him
in the meeting-place, when he was had a gathering,
that many spoke bravely there
who would not endure at need later.
Then the elder of the army, was felled,
Athelred's earl; all saw,
those hearth-companions, that their lord lay dead.
Then proud thanes there went forth;
dauntless men hurried eagerly.
Then they all wished for one of two things,
to lose life or to avenge their dear lord.
So Ælfric's son encouraged them,
a warrior, young in years, spoke with words,
Ælfwine then said, he spoke with courage:
"Remember the times that we often spoke at mead,
when on the bench we raised up our boast,
saviors in hall, about hard battle;
Now may he who would be bold be tested.
I wish to proclaim my lineage to all,
that I was from a great family of Mercians;
my grandfather was called Ealhhelm,
wise ealdorman, prosperous.
Thanes among those people shall not reproach me
saying that I wished go from this army,
seek my home, now that my lord lies dead,
cut down in battle. To me that is the greatest injury;
he was both my kinsman and my lord."
Then he went forth, mindful of the vendetta,
that he gave one man his spear-point,
a sailor of that army, so that he lay dead on the ground,
killed by his weapon. He began to remind his friends,
friends and companions, that they should go forth.
Offa spoke, shook his ash spear:
"Hey, you, Ælfwine, have reminded all
the thanes strongly. Now that our lord lies dead,
the earl on the ground, there is a need for us all
that we should encourage each other
warriors to battle, as long as he a weapon
may have and hold a hard blade,
spear and good sword. Godric has
deceived us all, that vile son of Odda.
Many a man thought this, when he rode on that steed,
on that proud horse, that it was our lord.
Therefore the army was divided here on this field,
the shield-wall was broken. May his intentions deteriorate,
because he scattered so many men here."
Leofsunu spoke and raised up his linden shield
as a protection; he answered to the hero:
"I vow this, that I will not go forth from here,
that I will not fly a foot's length, but I will go further
to avenge in battle my dear lord.
There is no need for steadfast saviors to reproach me
about the Strurmer with words, now that my friend has fallen,
that I journeyed home lordless,
turned from strife, but a weapon shall take me,
spear-point and iron." He advanced very angrily,
fought steadfastly, he disdained flight.
Then Dunnere spoke, shaking his spear,
the simple man called out over all,
he ordered that each of the heroes should avenge Byrhtnoth:
"May none in this army hesitate who thinks
to avenge his lord, nor mourn for his life."
Then they went forth; they did not care for life.
Then the huscarls began to fight fiercely,
grim spear-bearers, and they prayed to God
that they might avenge their dear lord
and work destruction upon their enemies.
The hostage began to help them earnestly;
he was from a strong family in Northumbria ,
Ecglaf's son; his name was Æscferth.
He did not hesitate at that war-play,
but he often sent forth arrows abundantly.
sometimes he shot into a shield, sometimes he injured a hero,
throughout the hour, he gave some wounds,
as long as he was able to wield weapons.
Still in the vanguard stood Edward the tall,
ready and eager, spoke boasts,
that he would not flee a foot's span of land,
nor retreat when his better lay dead.
He broke the shield-wall and fought against the soldiers,
until he fittingly avenged his treasure-giver
on the seamen before he lay dead in the slaughter.
So did Ætheric, a noble companion,
eager and willing, he fought earnestly.
Sigbyrht's brother and very many others
cleaved the curved shields; they defended fiercely.
Shield edge burst and the byrnie sang
a terrible song. Then at battle Offa
struck a sailor, so that he fell to the earth,
and there Gadd's kinsman sought the ground.
Quickly Offa was cut down at battle.
He had carried out that which he had promised his lord, though,
as he had earlier promised his ring-giver,
that they should both ride into town,
safely to home, or fall in battle,
on the battlefield, perish with wounds.
He lay thanely near his lord.
Then there was the noise of shields. The sailors advanced,
provoked by the fight; a spear often penetrated
the body of the doomed. Then Wigstan went forth,
Thurstan's son, fought against the soldiers.
He was the slayer of three of them in the throng,
before Wigline's son lay dead in the slaughter.
There was a fierce gathering; warriors stood fast
in the fight, warriors fell,
weary with wounds. Slaughter fell on earth.
Oswald and Edwald, all the while,
both of the brothers, exhorted the heroes;
their kinsmen, entreated with words,
that they should endure there at need,
steadfastly use their weapons.
Byrhtwald spoke, lifting up his shield;
he was an old companion, shaking his ash spear.
He very boldly advised the warriors:
"Thought must be the stronger, heart the bolder,
courage must be the greater, as our strength lessens.
Here lies our elder all hewed,
the good man, on sand. A kinsman thinks
to lament who now turns from war-play.
I am old of life; from here I will not go,
but I think to lie myself down
beside my lord, by so dear a man.
So, too, Æthelgar's son, Godric,
exhorted them all to battle. Often he let his spear fly,
a war-spear, to whirl into the Vikings,
as he went first into that army,
hacked and crushed, until he fell in battle.
He was not the Godric who fled the battle.
. . .