More than two days and nights they fled,
The five sons of the grim king dead,
Fearing the wrath of many foes,
Dreading their thoughts and deepest woes.
Over the plains, along the shore,
They fled two days and two nights more.
Beyond the pass between the sea
And mountains gray, sheer and lofty,
They came at last to a safe place
And hoped their foes forgot the chase.
In the southeast they camped at last,
In that woodland where in days past
Many of the Eohfolc dwelt
(Until that day when cruel fate dealt
To them an end, in flame and smoke,
The grief of which three only spoke).
But now beside the glowing flame
Men spoke at last their dead king’s name.
The princes five with gray blades drawn
Stood midmost of the vengeful throng.
The night was dark and stars were cold
When the five swore an oath so bold.
The eldest spoke with brandished sword,
And the fears of his heart ignored.
“Upon myself this oath I take,
This vow that none should ever break;
Upon myself this oath I swear,
Never in my life to forbear;
Upon my soul, I swear this thing:
To take vengeance for my slain king!”
Then said the five brothers most grim,
Beneath the light of stars so dim,
“Upon ourselves this oath we swear,
Never to in our lives forbear;
Upon our souls, we vow this thing:
To take vengeance for our slain king!
And this also we now would say,
So let our foes at last dismay:
To the farthest lands shall we go
In pursuit of our wary foe.”
To his brothers the eldest said,
“Revenge we’ll have for our king dead,
Upon the one who struck him down,
Upon him who has won renown
In his own lands, among his kin,
For committing this dreadful sin.
But he’s akin to my own wife,
And doubtless she would fret at strife.
Wherefore I shall on my return
Confine her to fetters iron.”
“Henceforth we’ll take the friendship of
Only those who have little love
For our foes and all their allies,
All those who we greatly despise,”
Said the five sons of fallen lord,
Each standing with his own drawn sword.
Their faces shone in glowing light
Of golden flame in starry night.
But their own oath would be their bane,
Doomed to suffer in endless pain.
By Colin R. Claymore.