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A Song for Audelwyn: A Bowman's Farewell



The last words of Eorland the Bowman, sung to Audelwyn of Harwick in the alliterative style traditional to the Rohirrim. Along with his parting words, he leaves her the worldly possessions not buried with him, including his horse, hauberk, horn, and cloak. Of more personal value, he gives her two tokens: a small wooden figurine carved in the likeness of Helm Hammerhand, King of Rohan, and a horn pendant, bearing the symbol of Béma, the Great Rider. In his last moments, he holds his seax in one hand and her hand in the other, eyes gazing upon the horizon and the setting sun.


A BOWMAN'S FAREWELL

Heed the words now, Harwick's daughter,
of a dying Eorling before his doom.
Better had I fallen by warrior's brand
than peaceful ruin! That wrathful bowman
who walked along the ways of exile
Slumbers at last! Give me my seax
so I might die a manful death.
Eala! Déorling, I long to dance
with fairest Wynn, my long-gone woman,
and laugh with Offa, the friend I loved
the most before he met his doom.

Forefathers high shall find me lacking
and cast away this cruel hunter
who broke his faith with foreign chief
and Eorling lord. But loyal ever
was Aldbeorn's son to all his friends
who in turn were true. Should they be taken,
at last be judged by the Lord Unknown,
the Highest King in the highest hall,
the Weaver of Fate, then flung from his home,
or if they drink now where Déor drinks,
with warriors famed like Fram, like Walda,
or Helm who smote a thousand Hill-men,
I'll keep them all in good company.

The rabbit sits with the sore-wounded.
Still young, her fate is not yet fixed.
At last the man offers his mind
for final words, the last of wisdom:
When bonds are broken,
                         you must do it boldly,
for a noble purpose.

                         Put no person,
even athelings,

                         even captains,
even elders,

                         even children,
even husbands,

                         even heroes
above your own;

                         to your dear ones
and to your heart

                         be wholly true.
And sing no dirges

                         for the dead today,
for sorrow and youth

                         are a pair ill-suited.
Live now for exiles

                         who lost their youths
in wealish lands.

                         You should not weep!

And last: I yet live;
                         if you seek love
or this bowman's words,

                         I am nearby.
for the long-dead

                         will live forever
though flesh may rot;

                         our fame outlasts
the breaking of bodies

                         by burning still
in the depths of hearts

                         and sleeping dreams.