Before beginning a line-by-line summary of "The Wife's Lament," it should be noted that it is very difficult to determine the exact circumstances the wife in this poem is lamenting. She has in some way, for some reason, been separated from her husband and forced to live in some kind of "den in the earth."
I make this song sadly. I am a woman who will tell the griefs that I have had since I grew up.
I am now in exile. My husband went away over the sea. Each day I grieved and wondered where he might be.
My husband's family plotted to divide us as far from each other as possible. I suffer from longing from my man.
I was commanded to move my residence to a land where I had few friends or family members.
My heart grieves that the man who was so well-matched to me should now think of murder. We used to vow that only death would do us part, but now this has changed.
I now must bear the anger of my beloved, who has sent me to live in an earthen den in the forest. It is a joyless dwelling. I have friends who are lying in bed while I must walk alone at dawn.
I will never rest from my "care of heart." I hope that my beloved is always sad-minded.
Woe is to those people who must wait while longing for their beloved.