24 January 2012

Eowyn's Lament (Funeral of Theodred)

In the film The Two Towers (that is, in the extended DVD edition of that film), the Lady Eowyn sings a dirge at a funeral that made my hairs stand on end. You can listen to it here.

Since the song is in Old English, I have an excuse to include it here.  Here's what I found on the 'net on this useful page: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Title: "Funeral of Theodred," also called "Lament for Theodred"
Music by Plan 9
Words by Philippa Boyens
Translated into Old English by David Salo
Sung by choir and Miranda Otto.  

The Lyrics are found in The Annotated Score of the Two Towers.


Old English (Rohirric)
Nú on théostrum licgeth Théodred se léofa 
hæ´letha holdost.
ne sceal hearpan sweg wigend weccean;
ne winfæ´t gylden guma sceal healdan,
ne god hafoc geond sæ´l swingan,
ne se swifta mearh burhstede beatan.
Bealocwealm hafað fréone frecan forth onsended
giedd sculon singan gléomenn sorgiende
on Meduselde thæt he ma no wære
his dryhtne dyrest and maga deorost.   
 
The text in green indicates the portion of the lyrics used in the film. She concludes the singing with an extra "bealo" (evil death).

In modern English.
Now dear Théodred lies in darkness,
most loyal of fighters.
The sound of the harp shall not wake the warrior;
nor shall the man hold a golden wine-cup,
nor good hawk swing through the hall,
nor the swift horse stamp in the courtyard.
An evil death has set forth the noble warrior 
A song shall sing sorrowing minstrels 
in Meduseld that he is no more,
to his lord dearest and kinsmen most beloved.
The inspiration is said to be line 2265 of Beowulf:

    Bealocwelm hafað fela feorhcynna forð onsended...
    'Baleful death has many of my living kin sent forth...'

However, the "good hawk" and "swift horse" lines are also in the same section of Beowulf, "The Lay of the Last Survivor." Here are lines 2262 ff.

                                    No harp delights
    with glad music, no good hawk now
    soars through the hall, nor swift horses
    clatter in courtyards. Cruel destruction
    has killed what little was left of my kin. 

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