The Battle of Maldon

Het a hyssa hwne      hors forltan,

feor afysan,      and for gangan,

hicgan to handum      and to hige godum.

a t Offan mg      rest onfunde,

t se eorl nolde      yrho geolian,

he let him a of handon      leofne fleogan

hafoc wi s holtes,      and to re hilde stop;

be am man mihte oncnawan      t se cniht nolde

wacian t am wige,      a he to wpnum feng.

(My paraphrase of E.T. Donaldson's prose translation with changes to suggest the embedding of phrases of the Old English: "Then [Byrtno] commanded each warrior to leave his horse, to drive it far away, and to go forth with trust in his hands and his good courage.  When Offa's kinsman realized that the earl would no cowardice tolerate, he let from off his hand fly his beloved hawk to the forest, and to the battle stepped; by this men might know that this young warrior would not weaken in the fight, once he weapons took up.")

N.B.: The depiction of nobles in tapestries and manuscript illustrations of this period typically show them mounted on their war horses and holding falcons on their outstretched arms.  When Byrtnoth forces his men to strip themselves of these symbols of their wealth and status, he concentrates their identity in what they have left, their weapons and their courage, the latter made concrete in their names which would be shamed forever if they fled.  Notice the strategy of naming by one's kin; they all would share your shame if you fled.  See also the poem's treatment of Godric, Godwine, and Godwig (74)--these men are now "outlaw" or outside the law, and they may be killed without compensation by any man who meets them.  That's why the poet is so careful to rule out any confusion with the other Godric who was present that day, "the son of thelgar" who "encouraged them all to the battle . . . until he died in the fighting: he was not that Godric who fled the battle" (75).  This poem is the first Godric's death-warrant.