Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Yfele yer hert me to-teneth
It doeth me rye
Waylaway . . .

Evilly I tore your heart to pieces
And now I deeply regret it
Oh woe . . .

But it ne shall him underfynde
Thus to be shent
Waylaway . . .

But you will not understand
To be deceived in such a shameful way
Oh woe . . .

It in wode by fleme
Evere . . .

You have banished me into the woods
For ever.

* * *

I got this from the libretto of a CD; I have no idea where the original words come from. The translation is doubtful; I don't think it's very exact at all, but not knowing Middle English very well, I don't dare try to mend it.

The song begins saying that the speaker has hurt someone, someone who does not understand. But it ends with the speaker himself suffering.

What this reveals is that it can be much more painful to know we have hurt someone we love than to be hurt ourselves. We can always forgive those who have hurt us, but how can we forgive ourselves? How can we live with the fact that we have injured our friends?

Think of Túrin and Beleg in the Silmarillion. Túrin, I am certain, would a thousand times have rather died than done wrong to his friend. Instead he had to live with the guilt of what he had done forever.

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