The Ruin

Since our visit to Northumberland I've been reading lots of Anglo-Saxon poetry and prose. I've revisited, and rather enjoyed, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles this time. It's been quite a surprise!

I've enjoyed Kevin Crossley-Holland's translations in The Anglo-Saxon World, especially the wonderful poem: The Ruin:

Wondrous is this stone-wall, wrecked by fate;
the city-buildings crumble, the works of the giants fall.
Roofs have caved in, towers collapsed,
barred gates are broken, hoar frost clings to stone,
houses are gaping, tottering and fallen,
eaten away by age. The earth’s embrace,
its fierce grip, holds the mighty craftsmen;
they are dead and gone. A hundred generations
have passed away since then. This wall, grey with lichen
and red of stone, outlives kingdom after kingdom,
stood against storms; its tall gate fallen.
The city still moulders, gashed by storms…
A man’s mind grew lively with a plan;
sharp and strong-willed, he bound
the foundations with metal rods – a marvel.
Bright were the city halls, many the bath-houses,
high all the gables, great the soldiers’ clamour,
many a mead hall was full of delights
until fate the mighty changed it. Slaughtered men
fell far and wide, the plague-days came,
death removed every brave man.
Their ramparts became abandoned places,
the city decayed; warriors and builders
fell to the earth. So these courts crumble,
and this red stone arch sheds tiles.
The place falls to ruin, shattered
into mounds of stone, where once many a man,
joyous and gold-bright, dressed in splendour,
proud and flushed with wine, gleamed in his armour;
he gazed on his treasure – silver, precious stones,
jewellery and wealth, all that he owned –
and on this bright city in the wide kingdom.
Stone houses stood here; a hot spring
gushed in a wide stream; a stone wall
enclosed the bright rooms; the baths
were there, the heated water; that was convenient.
They allowed the steaming water to pour
over the grey stone into the circular pool.
Hot. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . where the baths were.

This poem describes so many of the ruins we visit, in pursuit of our Ruin Lust!