The Ruin




















This poem is thought to be describing the old Roman baths in Bath. On the surface, it appears to be simply describing the physical state of decaying ruins. It may be that the author, who is not known, is describing the ruin of a Romano-British structure as a metaphor for the decline of Roman Britain and the rise of the Saxons. It may even be a rebuke to those Romano-Britons who allowed such a fine building to fall into ruins.

At a deeper level, it can be interpreted as describing the frail human condition itself, subject to the inevitable ravages of time and wyrd.





Anglo Saxon English Modern English



Wrtlic is es wealstan, wyrde gebrcon; burgstede burston, brosna enta geweorc.




Wondrous is this monument, broken by Wyrd; the stronghold wasted, the work of giants lies decaying.


Hrofas sind gehrorene, hreorge torras, hrimgeat berofen, hrim on lime, scearde scurbeorge scorene, gedrorene, ldo undereotone. Eorgrap hafa waldend wyrhtan forweorone, geleorene, heardgripe hrusan, o hund cnea wereoda gewitan. Oft s wag gebad rghar ond readfah rice fter orum, ofstonden under stormum; steap geap gedreas.




Its roofs are in ruins, towers collapsed, the frost covered gateway crumbled, rime eating the cement between stones, the sure walls torn, destroyed, decayed through old age. Earth-grip holds the mighty builders; long lost, departed, in the hard grip of the grave until a hundred generations have passed. For so long this wall, standing firm against storms, red stained and grey with lichen, its high arch collapsed, watched as one kingdom rose and fell after another.


Wuna giet se wealstan, wederum geheawen, fel on grimme gegrunden scan heo... ...g oronc rsceaft ...g lamrindum beag mod monade... ...yne swiftne gebrgd
hwtred in hringas, hygerof gebond weallwalan wirum wundrum togdre.




Yet, the stone wall still stands, worn down by the weather, fiercely ground down, it shines, an ancient work of skill, a priceless treasure caked in mud. Thoughtfully, the mason ingeniously and swiftly wove together a quick design in rings, cleverly bound the wall together with wire braces most wondrously.


Beorht wron burgrced, burnsele monige, heah horngestreon, heresweg micel, meodoheall monig mondreama full, ot t onwende wyrd seo swie.




Bright were the fortress buildings, many the bath houses, high gables, meadhalls full of festive cheer, until mighty Wyrd overturned it all.


Crungon walo wide, cwoman woldagas, swylt eall fornom secgrofra wera; wurdon hyra wigsteal westen staolas, brosnade burgsteall.




Far and wide the brave were slain, then came days of pestilence, the mighty swordsmen carried away by death, their strongholds became deserted, their Cities fell into decay.


Betend crungon hergas to hrusan. Foron as hofu dreorgia, ond s teaforgeapa tigelum sceade hrostbeages hrof. Hryre wong gecrong gebrocen to beorgum, r iu beorn monig gldmod ond goldbeorht gleoma gefrtwed, wlonc ond wingal wighyrstum scan; seah on sinc, on sylfor, on searogimmas, on ead, on ht, on eorcanstan, on as beorhtan burg bradan rices.




The rebuilders perished, the armies to earth. And so these buildings grow desolate, and this red-curved roof parts from its tiles of the ceiling-vault. The ruin has fallen to the ground broken into mounds, where at one time many a warrior, joyous and ornamented with gold-bright splendour, proud and flushed with wine shone in war-trappings; looked at treasure, at silver, at precious stones, at wealth, at prosperity, at jewellery, at this bright castle of a broad kingdom.


Stanhofu stodan, stream hate wearp widan wylme; weal eall befeng beorhtan bosme, r a bau wron, hat on hrere. t ws hyelic.




The stone buildings stood, a stream threw up heat in wide surge; the wall enclosed all in its bright bosom, where the baths were, hot in the heart. That was convenient.


Leton onne geotan ofer harne stan hate streamas un... ...t hringmere hate r a bau wron. onne is; t is cynelic ing, huse ...... burg....


Then they let pour_______________ hot streams over grey stone. un___________ _____________ until the round sea hot
_____________where the baths were. Then is_______________________
__________re, that is a noble thing, to the house__________ castle_______









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