So the earth-stepper spoke, mindful of hardships,
of fierce slaughter, the fall of kin:
Oft must I, alone, the hour before dawn
lament my care. Among the living
none now remains to whom I dare
my inmost thought clearly reveal.
I know it for truth: it is in a warrior
noble strength to bind fast his spirit,
guard his wealth-chamber, think what he will.
Weary mind never withstands fate,
nor does troubled thought bring help.
Therefore, glory-seekers oft bind fast
in breast-chamber a dreary mind.
So must I my heart--
often wretched with cares, deprived of homeland,
far from kin--fasten with fetters,
since long ago earth covered
my lord in darkness, and I, wretched,
thence, mad and desolate as winter,
over the wave's binding sought, hall-dreary,
a giver of treasure, where far or near
I might find one who in mead-hall
might accept my affection, or on me, friendless,
might wish consolation, offer me joy.
He knows who tries it how cruel is sorrow,
a bitter companion, to the one who has few
concealers of secrets, beloved friends.
The exile-track claims him, not twisted gold,
his soul-chamber frozen, not fold's renown.
He remembers hall-warriors and treasure-taking,
how among youth his gold-friend
received him at the feast. Joy has all perished!
So he knows, who must of his lord-friend,
of loved one, lore-sayings long time forgo.
When sorrow and sleep at once together
a wretched lone-dweller often bind,
it seems in his mind that he his man-lord
clasps and kisses, and on knee lays
hands and head, as when sometimes before
in yore-days he received gifts from the gift-throne.
When the friendless man awakens again,
he sees before him fallow waves,
sea-birds bathing, wings spreading,
rime and snow falling mingled with hail.
Then are the heart's wounds ever more heavy,
sore after sweet--sorrow is renewed--
when memory of kin turns through the mind;
he greets with glee-staves, eagerly surveys
companions of men. Again they swim away!
Spirits of seafarers bring but seldom
known speech and song. Care is renewed
to the one who frequently sends
over the wave's binding, weary, his thought.
Therefore, I know not, throughout this world,
why thought in my mind does not grow dark
when the life of men I fully think through,
how they suddenly abandoned the hall,
headstrong retainers. This Middle-Earth
each of all days so fails and falls
that a man gains no wisdom before he is dealt
his winters in the world. The wise man is patient,
not too hot-hearted, nor too quick tongued,
nor a warrior too weak, nor too foolhardy,
neither frightened nor fain, nor yet too wealth-greedy,
nor ever of boasts too eager, before he knows enough.
A warrior should wait when he speaks a vow,
until, bold in mind, he clearly knows
whither mind's thought after will turn.
A wise man perceives how ghastly it will be
when all this world's weal desolate stands,
as now here and there across this Middle-Earth
blown on by wind walls stand
covered with rime, the buildings storm-shaken.
The wine-halls molder, the wielder lies down
deprived of rejoicing, warband all fallen,
proud by the wall. Some war took utterly,
carried on forth-way; one a bird bore off
over the high holm ; one the hoar wolf
dealt over to death, one a warrior,
drear-faced, hid in an earth-cave.
Thus the Shaper of men destroyed this earth-yard,
until, lacking the cries, the revels of men,
old giants' work stood worthless.
When he with wise mind this wall-stone
and this dark life deeply thinks through,
the wise one in mind oft remembers afar
many a carnage, and this word he speaks:
Where is the horse? Where the young warrior? Where now the gift-giver?
Where are the feast-seats? Where all the hall-joys?
Alas for the bright cup! Alas byrnied warrior!
Alas the lord's glory! How this time hastens,
grows dark under night-helm, as it were not!
Stands now behind the dear warband
a wondrous high wall, varied with snake-shapes,
warriors fortaken by might of the ash-spears,
corpse-hungry weapons--famous that fate--
and this stone-cliff storms dash on;
snowstorm, attacking, binds all the ground,
tumult of winter, when the dark one comes,
night-shadow blackens, sends from the north
rough hailstorm in anger toward men.
All is the earth-realm laden with hardship,
fate of creation turns world under heaven.
Here goldhoard passes, here friendship passes,
here mankind passes, here kinsman passes:
all does this earth-frame turn worthless!
So said the one wise in mind, at secret conclaves sat him apart.
Good, he who keeps faith, nor too quickly his grief
from his breast makes known, except he, noble, knows how beforehand
to do cure with courage. Well will it be
to him who seeks favor, refuge and comfort,
from the Father in heaven, where all fastness stands.
A second translation can be found here.