Friday, December 31, 2010

Elene XIV, just in time for the new year!

Happy New Year, my friends. Here is the penultimate part of Elene ready for your savor and delectation. We are almost finished with this one, folks, and getting excited about starting a new project. I'm pretty sure it's going to be Genesis A&B: I've been looking forward to the challenge of such a long poem for a while, and the voice of the new poet will be fun to explore and assume. Enough of the Cynewulfian verse--bring on the Caedmonian!

Next week, I'll be at the MLA conference in LA, interviewing for some jobs -- if you see me, say hello!


Then Elene sought sooth-fastness eagerly with the spiritual mysteries
within her heart, a way to glory. Indeed, God of Armies,
Father in Heaven, you helped her, Almighty King, so that the queen
achieved her desire in this world. That prophecy had seen sung before
by wise men of old, all after the beginning, just as it had happened
in each instance. Keenly and through grace of spirit the folk-queen
sought, closely and often, to what purpose might she apply those nails,
best and worthily, to be a comfort to the multitudes
and what might be the desire of the Lord. She ordered then
that fore-wise man be fetched quickly to converse, he who
knew full well his counsel through wise power, sage in his spirit,
and Elene asked him what seemed best to him in his heart
to perform, and approved his advice through precept.
Cyriacus boldly spoke unto her: (1147-66)

“It is appropriate that you keep the word of the Lord,
O best of queens, in your heart by holy secret,
and diligently observe the commandment of the King,
now that God has given you the victorious success of the soul
and the skill of wisdom, the Savior of Men.
Order those nails to be made into a bridle for the noblest
of earthen-kings and city-owners, for his horse as a bit.
It shall be famous throughout middle-earth among many peoples,
when at conflict he may overcome every enemy with it,
when host-strong, his sword-foes seek combat on both sides,
where they struggle for victory, wrathful versus wrathful.
He will have success at war, victory at strife, and peace everywhere,
protection in battle, he who leads before him the bridle on his steed,
when war-renowned at the spear-struggle, tested among warriors,
bearing shield-board and spear-point. This will be to any man
an indomitable weapon of war against wretchedness.
About this the prophet sang, wise in crafty thought—
his heart ran deep, the understanding of his wisdom—and he spoke a word:
‘It shall be known that the emperor’s horse
will be worthied among the battle-proud
for its bit and ringed-bridle.
It will be a sign, named “Holy unto God,”
and that fortunate one, he who that horse
bears shall be esteemed in war.’” (1167-95)

Then Elene swiftly achieved all this before her earls.
She ordered the bridle of the prince to be so adorned,
the ring-giving warrior, and sent it to her own son as a gift,
a noble offering across the ocean’s stream.
She then ordered together those she knew to be the best men among the Jews,
the kinsmen of heroes, to come unto that holy city, into the stronghold.
Then the queen taught the throng of the beloved so that they
should perform fixedly the love of the Lord and peace
amongst themselves likewise, friendship, sinless in their lifetime,
and they heed the precepts of their teacher and Christian customs,
such that Cyriacus bade them, wise of books. (1196-1211a)

So was the bishopric established fairly. Often from far away
came to him the lame, the limb-sick, the ill, the halt, the wound-sorry,
the leprous and the blind, the wretched, the heart-sad, and always there
they found cure and health at the hands of the bishop for ever afterwards. (1211b-17a)

Then Elene gave him yet again precious gifts, when she was ready
to journey again to her homeland, and she bid all the god-praising
in that man-realm, men and women, to honor with their mind and might
that renowned day, with heart and thought, in which the holy rood
was discovered, that most famous of trees which has grown up
from the earth, thriving under its leaves. Then was springtime
departed except for six nights before the arrival of summer,
on the kalends of May. (1217b-28a)

Let the doors of hell be shut up for all men,
and those of heaven be opened wide, and revealed
the eternal realm of angels, the timeless joy, and let their portion
be assigned with Mary, those who keep in their mind
the dearest of feast-day celebrations, of the cross under the heavens,
when he the most powerful, Over-Sovereign of All, covers them with his arms.
Finit. (1228b-35)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Elene XIII at long last!

Hello, after a long, unavoidable delay here is Elene part XIII. In this chapter Judas is baptized, renamed, and given a new task, to locate the nails that bound Jesus to the cross. This extra miracle is accomplished without a problem.

There are only two sections left after this, so I'll take suggestions as to what should be translated next (I have pages ready for The Phoenix and Genesis A&B so they seem likely candidates).

Happy Holidays!


Then Judas was baptized who was at many times before
prepared for the light—*
His heart was inspired into that better life, changed to glory.
Indeed, fate had found that he was so full of faith
and he must become so dear to God in the world-realm,
so pleasing to Christ. It became well known when Elene
ordered Eusebius, Rome’s bishop, to be brought to the holy city,
a fore-wise man, as an aid in the counsel debate with a troop of warriors,
so that Judas could be established in the priest-hood
in Jerusalem for his people, as the bishop within the city
through the gift of spirit to the temple of God,
chosen for his skills—and she renamed him “Cyriacus”
through wise thought. This man’s name was changed afresh
afterwards in the cities to that better one: “the Law of the Savior.” (1043-62a)

Then the mind of Elene was frequently mindful about the famous fate
of those nails that pierced the Savior’s feet and hands likewise,
by which upon the cross was the Sovereign of the Sky, the Mighty Prince
fastened. The Queen of Christians asked about them
and bade Cyriacus that, yet again, by the powers of his soul
he would fulfill her desire about that wonderful event,
revealing those glorious graces, and that word she spoke
to the bishop, boldly addressing him: (1062b-72)

“Thou rightly showed me, shelter of earls, the noble tree,
the cross of the King of the Heavens, upon which he was hanged
by heathen hands, the Aid of Spirits, God’s own Son,
the Savior of Men. Yet an anxiety for those nails reproaches me
in my spirit’s heart. I wish that you would find them
that are still buried deeply in the earth and hidden,
concealed by darkness. Ever my woeful heart sorrows
and laments, and never ceases before the Father Almighty
the Wielder of Armies fulfills my desire, the Savior of Men,
by the arrival of those nails holy from the heights.
Now you swiftly, with all humility, best of messengers,
send your prayers into that bright creation, in joy of glory.
ask the Majesty of Warriors that you be revealed, the Almighty King,
the treasure under the earth that still is buried,
it abides secretly, hidden to the multitudes.” (1073-92)

Then the holy one began to establish his mind, inspired
within his breast, the bishop of the people. Glad-minded
he went forth with a crowd of god-praising men,
and then Cyriacus upon Calvary eagerly bowed his face,
concealing not his heart-secrets, with the might of his soul he called out
to God with all humility, begged the Ward of Angels to reveal to him
that unknown event in his new constraint, where upon that plain
he most likely needed to turn his mind to find those nails. (1093-1103)

Then he caused a sign [to spring] forth, where they were gazing
the Father, the Spirit of Ease, through the hue of flame
exhaled upwards where those most noble nails
were hidden in the earth through the counsels of men and evil cunning.
Then came at once, brighter than the sun, a bouncing flame.
The people saw this miracle made known by their desire-giver,
then there from the darkness, just like a heavenly star
or golden gems, near to the ground, the nails from the closeness shining,
light from below. The people rejoiced, a force wish-exultant:
they said the glory was good, all one-minded, although they were
turned away from Christ before through the devil’s devastation—
for a long time in error. They spoke thus:
“Now we see the token of victory for ourselves, the true miracle
of God, even though we earlier renounced it amid these lyings.
Now is the coming of light revealed, the course of events.
Glory be to the God of Heaven-realm on the highness!” (1104-24)

Then was gladdened he who was turned unto the cure through the Child of God,
the bishop of that people, with a renewed voice. He took up those nails,
frightened by their terror, and reverently brought them to his queen.
Ciriacus had fulfilled all that woman’s desires, just as that noble woman
had commanded. Then there was a ring of cries, poured out the
hot head-welling over her face, (not at all for grief the tears fell over the
wire filigree. The queen's wishes were fulfilled gloriously.
She with illuminated faith set them upon her knee, honored the gift,
exultant in blissfulness, that was brought to her, as help to her grief.
She thanked God, the Lord of Victories, of whom she knew the truth
now present that was often foretold far since from before the world’s start,
as a comfort to mankind. Elene was fulfilled* with wisdom’s gift,
and the holy and heavenly spirit kept a dwelling in her noble heart,
guarded her breast just as the Almighty,
the Victory-child of God, protected her ever since. (1125-46)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My enforced translating hiatus has been de-enforced

So the great push to navigate the job market, complete the Diss, and get it defended has come to successful conclusion. I will be Dr. Secretguinea very soon, and go to LA in January with a few interviews.

The good news for you is that now I have time to finish up Elene. We're so close to the end too, only 200 lines or so. After that, I have a few ideas for a new project, either Genesis A&B (long overdue), or to move to a different language altogether.

I've been pondering the inception of the Anglo-Norman Narrative Poetry Project or to get going on a long-needed modern English translation of the 13th-century roman d'aventures Robert le Diable, but I think the new languages can wait for a bit. I've got lots of time to enter into these new tasks.

Stay tuned for more Elene!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Elene XII

Then was famous in that folk's borders through that human nation
widely brought, the renowned morning-news—it was a vexation
to many who wished to conceal the law of the Lord—
proclaimed through the cities, embraced by the seas, in every town,
that the Cross of Christ, long since buried in the earth, had been discovered,
the greatest sign of triumph was heaved up before or since
holy under the heavens—and it was the most wretched of sorrows
to the Jews, men accursed, most despised of fates, for they could not
turn it away for the world—a joy to all Christians. (967-79)

Then throughout her noble forces the queen commanded messengers
to hasten quickly to the journey. They must seek the lord of the Rome-dwellers
themselves across the low-bottomed seas and speak to that warrior
of the greatest of joyous news, that that victory’s token was found
through the grace of the Maker, discovered in the earth,
that had been hidden many seasons, to teen blessed Christian folk. (980-88a)

Then the mind of that king was elated by that famous word,
rejoicing in spirit. There was no lack in the cities
of questioning men in gold-shirts carried from afar.
For Constantine the greatest of comforts in the world was his
at that joyous news, which the war-counselors, the messengers
had brought across the east-ways—how they had made safe journey
over the swan-road, the warriors with their triumphant queen into Grecian lands.
The Caesar ordered them to ready themselves for the journey again
with great haste. The men delayed not after hearing his prompt answer,
the word of the noble man. (988b-1002a)

He ordered that greeting be offered to war-renowned Elene,
if they survived the ocean and were allowed to make safe passage,
those heroes active-minded, to that holy city.
Constantine also commanded the messengers to order her
to build a church there on that hilly slope on the advice of them both,
the temple of the Lord on Calvary for Christ’s sake,
as an assistance to men where the holy cross was discovered,
the most famous of trees which ground-dwellers had asked about upon the earth-way.
Elene performed such, after her kinsmen brought these glad tidings
from the west across the fastness of the waves. (1002b-16)

Then the queen ordered them separately to seek out those best
schooled in their craft, those that knew how to work most wondrously
in the stone-cutter’s art, to build the temple of God in that place,
just as the Ward of Souls had spoken to her from the heavens.
She then commanded the cross to be adorned with gold
and the kindred of gems, with the most noble of precious jewels
surrounded with crafty skill and locked up with a clasp
inside a silver vessel. That Tree of Life, best of the Victory-beams,
afterwards it abode there inviolable* in its excellence.
There it will be always a ready support for the weak of health,
for all torments, conflict and sorrow. Immediately they there
through that holy creation will find help and the divine grace. (1017-32a)

Likewise Judas took on after an appointed period of time
the bath of baptism, and was cleansed, faithful to Christ,
the beloved Life-Guardian. His belief grew fast in his heart,
after the Spirit of Comfort inhabited the house within that man’s breast,
encouraging him to repentance. He chose the better, the joy of glory,
and forsook the worse, the worship of idols, and gave over heresy,
the unrighteous law. For him was the eternal Rex,*
the mild Creator, God, the Wielder of Might. (1032b-42)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elene XI

Then were those miracles, which the Lord of Armies, the Teacher of Life,
had wrought as a soul-saving for the kindred of humans, for the folk
remembering in their spirit, as they ever must do.* Then there the deceitful
fiend rose hovering on the wind. Then this hell-devil began to cry out,
a terrible demon, mindful of evil things: (894-901)

“What man is this, huh—who again destroys my retinue
through this ancient conflict, increasing the old enmity,
robbing me of my possessions? This is a perpetual strife—
evil-doing souls are not allowed to dwell in my keeping for long.
Now comes this stranger, who I had accounted before fixed in his sins—
now he has deprived me of all of my rights and my rents. This is no fair journey. (902-10)

“The Savior has done me many harms, many grievous grudges,
him who was reared in Nazareth. As soon as he grew from childhood,
he always turned my possessions over to them. Nor may any now
succeed by right. His realm is broad across middle-earth.
Mine is reduced, my authority under the heavens.
I don’t need that cross to be praised in exultation. (911-19a)

“Harumph! The Savior has often closed me in a narrow house,
as miserable pain! I had been hopeful through a Judas before, and
now I am humbled, lacking my goods also through this Judas,
flecked and friendless. Immediately I know how to find
redress afterwards through slanderous words—
from the houses of the accursed I will awake against you
another king, who will persecute your people,
and he will abandon your teachings and follow my wicked practices
and then he will send you into the darkest and worst of terrible torments,
so that you, afflicted with pains, renounce firmly
the Hanged King, whom you once obeyed.” (919b-33)

Wise-minded Judas answered him then, a warrior bold for battle
—the Holy Ghost was firmly commended to him, his fire-hot love
wisdom welling through the wisdom of prophets—
and spoke with a word, filled with wisdom:
“You need not so strongly renew your wounds and raise a conflict,
evil lord of murders, mindful of your sins, so that the Mighty King
he who wakens many of the dead with one word, hurls you,
sin-working and reft of glory, down into the abyss, into the ground of torment.
Know more readily that you have relinquished unwisely
the brightest light and the love of the Lord, that joy more fair
and afterwards dwelled in a flaming bath encircled with torments
and burnt with fire and there you must always, contrary-thinking,
endure damnation, a misery without an end.” (934-52a)

Elene heard how the fiend and her friend raised battle,
on two sides, the glory-blessed and the wicked,
the sinning and the innocent. Her heart was gladder
because she heard that hell-harmer overcome, the dispenser of crimes,
and then she marveled at the wisdom of Judas,
how he was so full of faith in such a short time,
and formerly so ignorant, now endowed with such wisdom.
She thanked God the Glory-King, because her desire
had come to pass through the Child of God in each of two ways
both in the sight of that victory-tree and of the faith that she knew
so clearly, a glory-fast gift in the breast of that man. (952b-66)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Elene X (completed)

Here is the full translation of part ten. I have reorganized the posts on the full translation of Elene in order to accommodate the full number of text divisions in the poem. I'm really happy with how the translation is coming now that work upon it is proceeding steadily.


Then from that very spot a vapor arose,
such a smoke beneath the heavens.
There was lifted the man’s breast-heart.
With both hands raised high, he clapped, blessed and law-wise.
Judas spoke, astute in thought: “Now I have perceived
in my obstinate mind that you are truly the Healer of Middle-earth.
Let there be, God of Powers sitting in majesty, praises without end
that you have revealed to me through your glory,
so miserable and sin-wrought, the mysteries of fate. (802-12)

“Now I wish to ask you, Child of God, Joy-Giver to Armies,
now that I know that you were revealed and conceived
the Majesty of all Kings, to be mindful of my faults no more,
O Creator, which I have done no few times against you.
Allow me, God of Might, to abide amid some portion of the blessed
among the reckoned number of your kingdom,
in their bright city where my brother is honored in glory,
Stephen, who held a pledge with you, and though he was killed by stoning,
he has the reward of warriors, the profit without cease.
There is revealed in books of scripture the wonders that he wrought.” (813-26)

Then joyful Judas dug into the earth, resolute in his courage,
after that Tree of Glory under the covering of turf,
so that at a depth of twenty feet he found the hidden treasure
deep below the abyss, hidden beneath its dark coffer.
He discovered there three crosses together in that sorrowful home,
buried in the dirt just as they had been covered over with earth
in days gone by, by a impious band, the kin of Judea.
They heaved up their malice against God's child—they never would have
unless they had heeded the lessons of Author of Crimes. (827-38)

Then was Judas’s heart-thoughts greatly elated,
his mind strengthened, his inner heart inspired by that holy tree,
after seeing that symbol holy beneath the earth.
He grasped with his hands the joy-beam of glory,
and heaved it up among the army from its earthen grave.
The strangers went forth on foot, nobles into the city. (839-45)

Then they set down the three victory-beams, apparent to see,
before the knee of Elene, warriors resolute and courageous.
The queen rejoiced in her heart’s mind and inquired of them
upon which of those crosses it was that the Wielder’s Son,
the holy Giver of Hope was hanged.
“So,we have heard it through blessed books, revealed by signs,
that two others suffered with him, and he was the third himself
upon the rood tree. All the heavens darkened at that cruel moment.
Say, if you know, upon which of these three the Prince of Angels,
suffered, the Guardian of Majesty.” (846-58)

Nor could Judas clearly reveal to her, for he knew not readily,
upon which of those Triumph-trees the Savior had been hanged,
the Victorious Child of God—not before he ordered them
to be set up in the middle of that famous city, trees amid the tumult,
and there waited until the King Almighty should unveil
a miracle before the multitude, about the Tree of Glory. (859-66)

They sat down, the counsel-deliberators triumph-famous,
and lifted up a song about the three crosses until the ninth hour,
when they felt a fresh joy, an encounter with glory.
Then there came no small crowd of people, a throng of men,
bringing a young man upon a bier recently without spirit,
having had traveled onwards. It was the ninth hour. (867-74a)

Then was Judas greatly elated in his mind. He ordered that they
set down the soulless man, the body deprived of life and unstirring,
upon the ground and, deep-thinking, heaved up two of those crosses,
the revealer of right spirit-wise, in his embrace over that fated house.
The body was still dead, just as before, a corpse fast upon its couch.
His limbs cooled, covered over by that cruel necessity. (874b-83a)

Then the third cross was raised, blessed. The corpse was waiting
until the beam of that Noble was areared over him, the Heaven-King’s,
the true Symbol of Victory. The man immediately arose,
equipped with his soul—together both together—body and soul.
There were praises sent high fair amid the folk.
The Father was worthied and the True Son of the Sovereign
was praised wordfully. Let glory and thanks be his
eternally without end from all of creation! (883b-93)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Elene IX

When Elene, wielding power over her warriors,
heard of Judas’s bearing, she quickly ordered that he
be allowed up from the nearness and from the constraining chasm,
up from that cruel house. This her men immediately carried out,
and they mercifully let him up from his imprisonment,
just as the queen had commanded. Then they stepped
stiff-hearted to that place upon the hill that the Lord
had before been hanged, Heaven-realm’s Warden,
the God-Child, on the gallows. However, he knew not
readily, humbled through hunger, where that Holy Rood,
through the fiend’s wiles was covered by the earth,
it remained in its bed, its death-rest, for a long time,
secreted fast from the people. Judas lofted up a word,
revealing his courage, and he spoke in Hebrew: (709-24)

“Redeeming Lord, you that owns power over all judgment,
and you that worked through the might of your glory
heaven and earth and the tempestuous waves,
the embrace of the broad sea, together with all creation.
And you measure out with your hands the entire firmament
and the high-heavens, and you yourself sit, Wielder of Victories,
over the most noble of angel-kin, who fare throughout
the skies wound in light—great is their power and majesty.
Nor can the kindred of men climb up there from the earth-ways
in their body-house amid the illuminated host, the heralds of glory.
You have created them and set them into your service,
holy and heavenly. (725-42)

“Among them there are six orders named in perpetual joy,
those who are surrounded by and adorned with six wings,
shining in fairness. Among them there are four who in flight
eternally observe the majestic service before the face of the Eternal Deemer,
singing forevermore in glory with a clear voice the praises
of the Heaven-king, the lovely spirit of songs, and they speak
these words with voices unstained—their name is the Cherubim:
‘Blessed is the holy
God of the High-angels,
the Wielder of Armies!
Filled with glory
is the heaven and earth
and the high-majesty
is revealed in glory!’
There are two more among them, victory-kin in the sky,
that men call Seraphim by name. One must hold Paradise-plain
and the holy Tree of Life with a fiery sword. The hardened edge
quakes, the patterned blade shivers, and it alters its shade
in his terrifying grip. (743-59a)

“These things you, Lord God, will wield forever—and you cast out
the foolish, the guilt-working, the sinful wretches from the heavens.
Then that accursed shoal beneath the shadow-house must be
felled to the earth, in a damnation of torments, where they now endure
within the welling flame, the killing pain in the embrace of dragons,
encased in the darkness. He withsook your judging sovereignty—
therefore he must suffer in miseries, foulest of all foulness,
and stained endure a slave’s bondage. There he cannot, cast away
your word, the author of all sin, fastened in tortures, bound in pain. (759b-71)

“Should it be your will, Ruler of Angels, that he shall govern
who was hung upon the cross, who through Mary was conceived
in middle-earth in the form of a child, the Prince of Angels—
and if he were not your sinless son, he never would have performed
so many true miracles in this world’s realm during the count of his days;
nor would you have awakened him from death so gloriously,
Wielder of Peoples, before the masses, if he were not the child of your glory
through that illuminated woman—do it now, Father of Angels,
show forth your sign. Just as you obeyed that blessed man,
Moses at prayer, so that you, God of Might, revealed unto that noble man
at that seasonable time under the mountainous slope the bones of Joseph,
so I wish to entreat you, Joy of Hosts, should it be your will,
through that bright creation, so that gold-hoard be revealed,
that was hidden long ago. (772-92a)

“Let there rise up now, First of Life, a breeze-bouncing smoke
from this blessed spot of land beneath the orbit of the heavens.
I will believe in you the better the more firmly I establish my spirit,
my hope unwavering upon the crucified Christ, so that he might
truly be the Savior of my soul, Eternal Almighty, the King of Israel,
who will rule perpetual mansions of Glory in the heavens
for ever and ever without end.” (792b-801)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Elene VIII (after a long delay)

Then blessed Elene plainly gave him answer before her earls:
“If you wish to have a home in heaven-realm with the angels
as well as a life here on earth, victory’s recompense in the sky,
say to me quickly where that cross of the Heaven-King abides,
holy under the soil, that you all have concealed for some time,
through men of murder with evil deeds. (?) (619-26)

Judas’s soul was sadder, hot about his heart, and woe at both ends,
whether he relinquished both hope for heaven’s realm in his mind
and this present rule under the skies, or whether he did not
then reveal the Cross, as he spoke: “How can I find what has been so long
since missing in the course of winters? It is now a great number;
two hundred years or more reckoned by count have hastened away.
I can not relate it nor do I know that exact number.
There is now many wise and good counselors that have come before us,
keen-witted men. I was born in my youth in a later time afterwards,
a boy-young man. I know not what I know not, nor may I find
in my spirit what occurred so long ago.” (627-41)

Elene spoke to him in reply: “How does it happen that among
this human nation that you know so fully in your memory
all the individual deeds of the Trojans done through battle?
That was much further ago, the open ancient struggle,
than was this noble occurrence, by the course of years.
You readily know how to relate it quickly, what slaughters
there were in body count, what spear-playing warriors
were fallen in death, under the shelter of shields.
You have set it in writing the tombs beneath the stone cliffs
and their location as well, and the count of winters.” (642-54)

Judas spoke, bearing his sorrow-sadness: “We remember,
my lady, those army-works clearly out of necessity,
and we have committed that warrior-strife to writing, the bearing of nations,
but we have never heard of this cross through the mouth of any man,
to be revealed to men except here and now.” (655-61)

The noble queen gave him answer: “You deny too strongly
the truth and the right concerning that Tree of Life,
and you said just a little while ago truly about the victory-tree
among your people, and now you turn to a lie.” (662-66)

Judas replied to her, saying that he spoke about it in sorrow
and in the greatest doubt, believing that humiliating affliction
awaited him. Quickly Caesar’s kinswoman spoke to him:
“So, we have heard it, through the holy books revealed to men
of the Prince-Child of the King who was hanged on Calvary,
God’s own Spirit-son. You must wholly inform this wisdom,
just as the writings tell, concerning that place where the location
of Calvary may be found, before a killing seize you,
a death for your sins, so that I can cleanse that place afterwards,
by the desire of Christ and as a service to men, so that Holy God
may fulfill, the Mighty Prince, the purpose of my heart
and my only desire, the Glory-Giver of Armies, the Comforter of Souls.” (667-82a)

To her Judas spoke, stiff-hearted: “I don’t know anything
about that place, and of neither the field
nor the matter know I one whit.” (682b-84)

Elene responded with an angry heart:
“I swear by the Son of the Maker, the Hanged God,
that you must be killed by hunger before your kinsmen,
unless you abandon these lyings
and patently reveal to me the truth!” (685-90)

Then she ordered her companions to lead him still living
and shove him in his guilt—her servants made no delay—
into a dry well, where he, lacking support, dwelt
for the space of seven nights in his sorrow under the harm-closure,
tortured by hunger, clung to with chains. Upon the seventh day,
he began to call out, exhausted with hurts, miserable and meat-lacking;
his strength was sapped: “I beseech you by the God of the Heavens,
that you allow me up from these torments, humbled from the pains of hunger.
I will eagerly reveal that Holy Tree, now I can conceal it no longer
out of hunger. This imprisoning is too much, this cruel compulsion
so severe and this pain too harsh in my count of days.
I can no longer withstand it, nor hide that Tree of Life,
although I was before driven through with foolishness—
now I realize the truth myself too late.” (691-708)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Elene, part VII

Here is the seventh part of Elene for your Old E delectation. This section features Judas's great metaphor of the man confronted by a loaf and a stone in the desert. This stanza felt very complicated and difficult: I had to render its idioms into more modern ones, perhaps choosing the stone of my own. I'll only know until I have chewed on it for a bit. Please let me know how you like it...



The words of speeches multiplied, and men counseled
about either half, some hither, some thither, deliberating
and pondering. Then came a company of thanes
to that warlike assembly. The heralds called out,
the messengers of Caesar: “The queen invites you
warriors to the hall, so that you may rightly relate
your assembly’s judgment. There is need of your advice
at the moot-hall, your heart’s wisdom.”
They were ready, sad-souled princes of the people,
when they were invited by hard commandment;
to go to the house, to prove the power of their craft. (547-58a)

Then the queen began to address the Hebrew men with words,
asking the soul-weary about their ancient writings, how in the world
their prophets sang before, ghost-holy men, about the Child of God,
where the Prince suffered, the True Son of the Maker, for the souls’ love.
They were stiff, harder than stone—they did not wish to make known
that mystery nor speak any answer to her, her bitter enemies,
of anything she asked them, yet they gave exception to every word,
fixed in their purpose, which she asked them. They said that they
had never heard, early or late, any whit of such things in their lives. (558b-72)

Elene spoke and said to them in wrath: “I wish to speak a truth
unto you all, and this will never become a lie upon my life:
if you who stand before me persist longer in these lies,
with shameful untruths, a blazing pyre will grasp you on the hilltop,
the hottest of battle-flames, and the bouncing fires will destroy
your raw flesh. Your lies must lead you unto a world’s-parting.
Nor can you prove these words that you have for a while now
unrightly covered beneath an unclean corner, nor can you
conceal these deeds, nor obscure their deep power.” (573-84a)

Then they were anticipating their deaths, their pyre and their life’s-end,
and there they handed over one of them ready-witted of lore—
he was named Judas by his kinsmen— him they gave unto the queen,
saying that he was exceptionally wise: “He can make known the truth
to you, draw back the mystery of events, just as you wordfully ask him,
the law from its beginning forth unto the end.
He is on earth of noble kindred, wise of word-craft
and a prophet’s son, bold in assembly. It is innate to him
that he has keen answers and skill in his breast.
He will reveal to you before this mingling of men,
the gift of wisdom, through great power, just as your mind desires.” (584b-97)

Elene allowed everyone to seek their own homes in peace,
and held Judas alone as a hostage, and then eagerly commanded
him to rightfully teach her about that cross that had been long secreted
in its grave, and she called him apart on his own. Elene spoke
to that lone man, the glory-blessed queen: “There are two ways ready for you,
either life or death, just as whichever you prefer to choose.*
Now quickly reveal to which condition do you wish to consent.” (598-608)

Judas spoke with her—he could not avoid that sorrow
nor avert the lady’s malice, for he was in the queen’s power—
“How can it be for one treading the wilderness,
miserable and meat-lacking in the wasteland,
pressed by hunger, and then he happens upon a loaf
and a stone both together in his sight, hard and soft,
so that he grabs the stone to be a comfort against his hunger,
heeding not the bread, turning toward starvation,
and renouncing the meal, scorning the better of the two,
when he has both at hand?” (609-18)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Elene VI online

“Then I gave answer boldly unto my father, the old law-counselor:
‘How could it happen in this worldly realm that our fathers
would wish to send by their hands upon that Holy One
unto the soul-fire through wrathful understanding
if they knew beforehand that he was the Christ, the King in the heavens,
the true Son of the Maker, the Savior of Souls?” (454-61)

“Then my elder replied to me, wise of spirit, my father speaking:
‘Think, young man, about the high-power of God, the name of the Redeemer.
That word is unspeakable by any mortal man, nor can man
discover it by oneself upon the mould-way. Never did I seek those counsels
that those people wished to seek, but always did I hold myself
aloof from those sins, working no shame at all in my spirit.
I, often and eagerly, made contest against the unrighteous,
when the wise elders held debate, seeking in their souls
how they might hang up the Son of the Maker, the Helm of Men,
The Lord of All, of angel and man, the Child Most Noble.
Nor could they so foolish afflict him with death,
men accursed, as they had intended before, to beset
him with wounds, although he after awhile on the gallows
sent forth his soul, the Victorious Son of God. (462-81a)

“‘Then from the cross the Wielder of the Heavens was lifted,
the Majesty of All Majesties, and three nights later
he was waiting in his tomb under the close of darkness,
and upon the third day, the Light of All Lights arose,
Princes of Angels, and before his thanes, the True Lord of Victories,
revealed himself, bright of joy. (481b-89a)

“‘Then your brother took on after a time the bath of baptism,
the radiant belief. Then for the love of the Lord,
Stephen was stoned to death; he yielded not evil for evil,
but trouble-strong spoke for his olden enemies,
begging the Triumph-King that he not set those woe-deeds
upon the Jews as their punishment—that they out of envy
deprived a unguilted man of his life, free from sin, by Saul’s lesson,
just as he through fiend-ship judged many of Christ’s folk
to death. Yet again the Lord showed mercy to him, so that he became
a comfort to many people, afterward the God of Creation
The Savior of Men, changed his name and he after that was called
Saint Paul by name, and there was never another better law-learned man
than him under the shelter of the skies ever since,
born of woman or man in this world, although he bade
Stephen to be killed with stones upon the hill, your own brother. (489b-510)

“‘Now you can hear, my dear man, how honor-fast is the Sovereign of All,
though we often make crime against him by the wound of sins,
if we soon make remedy for our harmful deeds and desist
from transgressions again. Therefore I truly and my dear father
since believe that the God of All Majesties suffered,
the Teacher of Life, with hateful torments for the over-need of men.
Therefore I will teach you through mystery-songs, my dearest boy,
so that you will never do blasphemy, envy nor wicked accusations,
grim responses against God’s Child. Then you will merit the eternal life
that will be given to you in heaven, the best victory-prize.’ (511-27)

“Thus my father in former-days taught me wordfully, ungrown,
instructing me with true sayings—his name was Simon,
a man wise through anxiety. Now you all know readily
what seems best to you to reveal, if this queen of ours
inquires about that tree, now you know my
soul’s understanding and my heart-thoughts.” (528-35)

Then the wisest among that group of men spoke in reply
to Judas, wordfully: “Never have we heard of any warrior
among this nation, no other thane except you who now
makes it known about such a secret event.
Do what seems best, you wise in ancient-songs,
if you are asked in that company of men. That man needs wisdom,
sly words, and the perspicuity of a prophet, who must give answer
to that noble woman before such an army at council.” (536-46)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

That's it for Elene V!

Then they went away from the council, just as the mighty queen,
bold among the cities, had commanded them do. Sorrow-minded,
eagerly considering, they sought with the crafty thinkers what sin
it might be that, in that people, they might have done against the Caesar,
of which that queen accused them. Then there before the nobles,
one spoke up, ready-wise in his songs, crafty of words—
his name was Judas: “I know readily that she wishes to ask
about that victory-tree upon which the Wielder of Nations suffered,
lacking of all sins, God’s own son, who guiltless of any crime,
through hate our fathers was hanged on a high beam in former-days.
That was a terrible thought! (411-26a)

“Now there is much need that we firmly establish our spirits,
that we do not become an informer to that murder, nor
to where that holy tree was buried after the battle-strife,
unless we should destroy the wise and ancient writings
and forsake the teaching of our fathers. It will not be long
after that that the lineage of Israel or the belief of our earls
will be possible to reign any longer across middle-earth
if this become known. So said my grandfather,
victory-strong, he was called Sachius, a wise and aged prophet,
to my own father and my father unto his son,*
when he departed from this world, he spoke to me this word: (426b-440)

‘If it happens to you in the days of your life that you hear
wise men asking about the holy tree, rearing up strife
about that victory-tree upon which the True King was hanged,
the Warden of Heaven’s realm, Warrior of All Peace,
then you must reveal it quickly, my dear son, before killing
seizes you. Never after that can the Hebrew people,
deliberating counsel, hold reign or rule over the multitude,
except that they shall live forever and ever filled with joy
of the majesty and the lordship—*
they will praise and love the hanging king.’” (441-53)

Friday, June 4, 2010

"þurh hwæt," l. 400

I am having trouble getting a good translation out of the following lines:

“Hwæt, we Ebreisce æ leornedon,
þa on fyrn-dagum fæderas cuðon
æt godes earce, ne we geare cunnon
þurh hwæt ðu ðus hearde, hlæfdige, us
eorre wurde.

The line itself is not too difficult, and I think I've toggled everything into place except the prepositional phrase "þurh hwæt" --assuming that it is a prepositional phrase-- Where do these words go? The problem seems to be that the final part of this sentence is already modified within an inch of its syntax, bearing the weight of both "geare" (readily) and "hearde" (sternly, severely).

Checking in with older translations was not very helpful either. Kennedy, my preferred translator (love love his edition of the Cynewulf poems), provides this as a translation:

Lo, we have learned the Hebraic law, which in the days of old our fathers knew, at the ark of the convenant of God, nor know we well (geare) wherefore thus heavily (hearde), O Lady, thou art become wrathful against us (p. 99)

And Bradley gives it like this:

But we have learned the Hebrew law which in days long since our fathers knew at the ark of God, and we do not readily (geare) understand why you, lady, have been so sternly (hearde) angry with us.

In neither case does "þurh hwæt" seem to appear (unless Kennedy's "wherefore" translates it, which I guess could be a possibility). What's more aggravating is that the adjective "hwæt" (meaning "Quick, active, vigorous, stout, bold, brave") does not seem to be declined. If it is prepositional phrase, it means something like "through, or by means of active, quick, or bold men," or could be translated roughly as "quickly, boldly."

I really don't know. Perhaps you have a solution you'd like to share with me?

* Update: Thanks to Paul for pointing me in the right direction *

* And silly me for not remembering that hwæt is a declined form of hwa! *

Elene V has tumbled out

Below please find the lion's share of Elene's fifth part. Today I just kept going and going with the translation and ended up with a whole pile of lines. Some I am allowing to cool before posting them, others I have posted prematurely and have had to make some corrections or changes. Read below and see what you think...


“So—we have heard this through the holy books that the Lord
gave you renown not-ignoble,* the Maker gave you plenty of power.
He said unto Moses how you must heed the Heaven-King,
and perform his teachings. Soon this vexed you,
and you had opposed the Righteous One, rejecting the Radiant
shaper of us all, the Lord of Lords, and persisting in error
over the rightness of God. Now you go swiftly and find again
those men that best know the ancient books by craft of wisdom,
your law-rights, that know how to say answers to me
through their broad spirits.” (364-76)

Then the proud-hearted went back in a band, mind-sorrowing,
just as the queen ordered them to. They found five hundred
prescient men, selected from among their companions,
who held the most learning-craft through heart’s memory,
in the wisdom of their spirits. They were invited to the hall again
in very little time, the wardens of the city. The queen began
to address them wordfully, looking over them all. (377-85)

“Often you have performed foolish deeds, cursed wrack-kin,
and despised the writing, the teaching of your fathers,
but never more than now when you rejected the cure
for your blindness, and you withsake the truth and the right,
that the son of the Wielder was born in Bethlehem,
the only Son and King, the Greatest of Nobles.
Although you know the law, the words of the prophets,
you do not wish to recognize, sin-working, the truth.” (386-95)

The wise Jews then answered her with one heart:
“Listen, we have learned the Hebrew law, which in days past
our fathers have known at the Ark of God. We do not readily know
so far why you are severely wrathful with us, lady.
We know not what sin that we have performed in this folk-share,
nor any great evil we have made against you.”

Elene spoke and before those earl said, the woman addressed
them plainly, loud before the multitude:
“Go away quickly now, and apart seek out the wise among you,
who has the most power and mind-craft, bold enough to reveal
honestly every thing that I ask them. (404-10)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Elene IV finished

Elene spoke and before those nobles said: “Listen, wise-minded men,
to holy secrets, both words and wisdom. So, you all have assumed
the teaching of your prophets, how he, the Life-First,
would be born in the shape of a child, the Wielder of Might.
Concerning that Moses sang, and spoke that word, Israel’s guard:
‘Born among you shall be a boy in secret, famous of might,
so his mother with fruiting will not be conceived through men’s love.’ (332-41)

“Of him David king, of that noble lineage, sang forth,
wise prophet of old and the father of Solomon, and spoke
that word, the prince of warriors: ‘I have looked upon
the God of Beginnings before, the Lord of Victories.
He was in my sight, Sovereign of Powers, upon my right hand,
the Herdsman of Majesty. I will never turn my face thence forever.’ (342-49)

“So also Isaiah the prophet spoke wordfully concerning you all,
before the multitude, deep-thinking through the spirit of the Lord:
‘I raised up my young children and gave birth to sons,
to whom I gave prosperity, holy comfort of mind, but they despised me,
hating me by fiend-ship, having no forethought, no wit of wisdom;
and the wretched cattle, that one drives and goads every day,
understand their benefactor, not at all by the grief-wrack
do they hate their friend that gives them their fodder,
and never have the folk of Israel wished to acknowledge me
though I have done many wonders for them in this world.’” (350-63)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Elene IV

“You doomed him to death who himself wakened from death
the world in bands of men in the olden life of your own kin.
So you began, heart-blind, to mix up lies for truth,
light with darkness, envy with honor, with guileful thoughts
wove yourselves a wrong. For that damnation harms you guiltfully.
You judged that radiant power and lived that error in dark thoughts,
until this day. Now go forth quickly, consider your counselors,
skillful and wise-fast men, crafty in their words, those that have
your law first in their noble hearts, they know how to say to me truly,
to reveal an answer on your behalf for every token that I will seek of them.” (302b-19)

Then they went away sorrow-minded, earls skilled in the law,
tormented with terror, with anxiety of sorrow, eager to seek out
those wisest in wordy mysteries, so that they could answer the queen
whether good or evil, just as she sought from them.
Then they found one thousand men in a band, wise-souled,
those among the Jews that knew most completely
the olden memories. Then they gathered in a group where
the Caesar’s kinswoman awaited in majesty upon her throne,
the magnificent war-queen adorned in gold. (320-31)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Elene IV

More Elene for your discerning pleasure. We begin the occupation of Jerusalem by Helena's Roman army and the queen's challenge to the Jewish wise men.


There was clearly visible upon an earl the linked mail
and the tested sword, the magnificent battle equipment,
many visored helmets, the peerless boar-crest.
The ash-warriors were soldiers about their victory-queen,
eager for the journey. Bold warband warriors, the heralds
of the emperor had desired to fare into the Greek lands,
the men of battle, adorned in ornaments.
There was seen many a worthy gem set upon that army-throng
the gift of their lord. Triumph-blessed Elene was mindful,
bold in her thought, of the desire of the prince eager in her heart
so that she, across the army-fields should seek the Jewish land
with her band of proven shield-warriors, her group of men.
Just as it since happened in a little time that the people’s force
the war-bold heroes came unto Jerusalem into that city
in the greatest of armies, earls spear-brave,
amid those nobles their queen (256-75)


Elene ordered then the city-sitters to be commanded,
the wisest among them, broad and wide throughout Israel,
every one among the men, council-talking, to come unto a moot,
those that knew the deepest mysteries of the Lord
through expounding correctly the Law.
Then was gathered from the far-ways no small force,
those that knew how to expound the law of Moses.
There by number were selected three thousand of those nation
to teach. Then the dear woman wordfully spoke to Hebrew men: (276-87)

“I have understood fully through the cryptic words of the prophets
in the books of God that you all in years past were precious
to the Glory-King, dear to the Lord and deed-bold.
Listen! Unwisely you spurned all wisdom in wrath,
then you cursed him so that he through his glorious power
thought to free you all from damnation, from a flaming death,
and a close custody. You all with spittle spewed into the face
of him that made the light of your eyes and made
a cure for blindness with his own noble sputum,
and who often saved you all from the unclean spirits of devils. (288-302a)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A word-flood continues

Maybe it's because I have other things to do, but Elene is simply overflowing its banks. Included below is the really lovely sea-preparation stanza (225-42):



Then was the dispender of treasure joyful, the battle-bold king.
A new elation was granted his spirit; the Warden of Heaven’s Realm
was become his greatest of comforts and nearest of hopes.
He began then make the Lord’s law known by day and by night
eagerly by ghostly grace, and the gold-friend of men applied himself
truly in the service of God, quick and famed with the spear.
Then the nobleman found, the protector of the people, war-stern,
spear-bold, in God’s books by lore-smiths where the Wielder
of the Heavens through guile in envy was hanged upon the rood tree,
amid the tumult of the crowd, just as the old fiend had seduced them
with his lying wiles, led astray the Jewish kind, so that they crucified
God himself, the First of Armies. Afterwards, in shame
they must endure damnation to the width of their lives. (194-211)

Then was the praise of Christ in the heart of the emperor, henceforth
mindful of that famous tree, and he ordered his mother then to fare
the earth-ways with a throng of his people unto Judea,
to eagerly seek out with a force of warriors where that tree of glory,
holy under the earth, was hidden, the noble king's cross.
Elene did not wish to be reluctant to this journey,
nor did she despise the word of the will-giver,
her own son, but was ready immediately, a woman on the good journey,
just as the helm of armies, of armored warriors, had bidden her. (212-24)

Then speedily began the multitude of nobles to hurry to the sea.
The billow-horses stood ready about the bank of the ocean,
the sea-steeds moored, near to the water. Then was the woman’s journey
well evident, since the army’s defender sought out the waves.
There many proud men stood on the shores of the Mare Nostrum.*
At times, they pressed on across the marked path, one force
after another, and then they loaded the wave-stallions
with battle-serks,* shields and spears, byrnied warriors,
both men and women. Then they caused the brim-ship to glide
across the giant’s foamy wave. The deck often took on
the blows of the waves across the blending of oars; the sea thundered.
Never have I heard before or since that a woman led a fairer force
upon the water’s current, over the sea’s street. (225-42)

There one could have seen, that looked upon that journey,
the breaking over the bath-way, the hurrying salt-wood
under the swelling sail,* the playing of the sea-horses,
the wading wave-floaters. The warriors were blithe,
courage-hearted—the queen rejoiced of her journey.
Afterwards to harbor the whorled prows had sailed
across the water’s fastness into the Greek lands.
They stepped off their keeled ships at the sea-shore,
beaten by the sand, old wave-houses fastened by their anchors
to wait upon the ocean the fate of warriors, when she,
that queen of warfare with her throng of men,
might seek to journey again over the east-ways.* (243-55)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Elene continues

Here is more from the Elene translation, which is literally pouring out onto the page.


Likewise the shelter of noblemen ordered then, the ring-giver
of warriors, just as he saw that sign, the battle-first of his armies,
that had been revealed to him, Constantine, the glory-blessed king,
that token, the cross of Christ, to be wrought with the greatest haste.
He commanded then in the dawning at the first of day
the warriors to be roused and the weapon-clash,
to heave up the sword-banners, and that holy tree
to be carried before them into the crowd of their enemies,
to bear the symbol of God. The trumpets sang loud
before the army. The raven rejoiced these works,
dewy-feathered, the eagle observed this journeying,
the slaughter-cruel warriors. The wolf hove his song up,
the companion of the woods. The terror of battle stood tall. (99-113)

There was the crack of shields and the pack of warriors,
the harsh hand-swing and the armies’ slaughtering,
after they met first the spraying of missiles.
Onto that fated folk the showers of arrows,
spears over yellow shields onto the throng of the fearsome,
the haters sword-grim, the venomous battle-darts
through the power of fingers sent forth.
The resolute warriors advanced, sometimes pressing forward,
sometimes breaking the shield cover, piercing it with blades
thronging battle-bold. Then was that plumed banner raised,
the standard before the squadron, singing the cry of victory.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elene continues

Yes, I know I said I would be doing Genesis next, but I got to thinking that if I resumed Elene then I would have an actual manuscript. Call it "Five Anglo-Saxon Hagiographic Poems" (taking Guthlac A & B as two separate poems).


Then the Caesar ordered with great haste, under the arrows’ flurry,
his warriors be summoned unto battle beneath the heavens
against the fearsome war-players, be led out for an attack.
Immediately the Romans were made ready, men victory-valiant,
with weapons to warfare, although they had fewer to go to battle
than the Hunnish king. They rode about their renowned leader—
their shields dinned, the camp-wood resounded—
The king marched forth in a horde, an army to battle.
The winging raven sang, sable and slaughter-fell.
The army was on the march.
The horn-bearers leapt, the heralds cried out,
the horses trod the earth. The host drew together,
quick to the quarrel. (42b-56a)

The emperor was afraid, affrighted by terror, after
he surveyed the strangers, the army of Huns and Hrethgoths
that gathered their army at the river’s shore, a force uncountable
on the border of the Rome-dwellers’ realm. Heart-sorrow weighed
upon the Roman ruler—for the kingdom he hoped not
for army-lacking—he had too few troops,
shoulder-companions to stand against the overwhelming force,
bold in battle. The army camped, nobles about the prince,
near the water course, about the length of a night
after they had first seen their enemies’ movements. (56b-68)

Then it was revealed unto Caesar himself in his sleep,
where he slumbered in company, victor-strong, seeing
a dreamy portent. It seemed to him beautiful in the shape of man,
a white and hue-bright warrior, a someone was shown to him—
more fair than he had seen early or late under the heaven.
He started up from sleep, covering himself with his boar-crest.
The messenger quickly, the brilliant herald of glory,
spoke and named him by his name—the helm of night was thrown back:
"Constantine, the King of Angels has ordered that, Wielder of Fates,
you be offered a pledge, the Lord of Multitudes.
Do not be afraid though the terror of strangers threatens you,
the cruelty of battle. Look to the heavens, to the Ward of Glory,
there you will find a bolster, the symbol of victory.” (69-85a)

Constantine was instantly ready —
through that holy command, his heart-box was opened
and he looked up, just as that messenger declared,
the faithful peace-weaver. He saw there bright with ornaments,
the beautiful tree of glory across the roof of the heavens,
adorned with gold, gems were shining;
The pale wood was inscribed with book-staves,
bright and light: “WITH THIS SIGN YOU
Then the light departed, ventured up, the angel with it,
into the crowd of the clean. The Emperor was happier
for this vision and more sorrowless, the prince of warriors,
in his mind for that fair sight. (85b-98)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Juliana completed

Hello all,

It only took eleven months, but Juliana is now complete in first draft. The final section, what I'm calling the epilogue is posted below. For the rest of section six, please go to the full Juliana translation from the sidebar.

Following Kennedy and Bradley, Cynewulf's runic signature is translated into likely words and are given in italics. The lines are purposely different from those of the rest of the narrative, broken up into short bursts of thought. I like how this pattern of lineation feels so far, so I think I'll keep it.



There is a great need for me
for that holy woman to effect me help,
when the dearest of all shall be parted
from me, the two brothers united shall
be torn apart, their great heart-love.
My soul shall part from my body
upon a journey—I myself do not know where—
in ignorance of its destination.
From this place I shall seek another,
journeying according to my former works
and my olden deeds. (695b-703a)

Mournful will mankind depart.
The king will be stern, the Giver of Victories,
when, flecked by sins, the sheep,
terrified, await what, according to their deeds
He will adjudge them, as a reward of life.
The watery floods will tremble,
lowering themselves sorrowfully.* (703b-09a)

I remember all that pain,
wounded by the sins that I late and early
have wrought in this world,
what I must lament with mournful tears.
There was one time too late,
so that I was ashamed afore of my evil deeds,
while ghost and body together fared
uninjured upon the earth.
I will have need of mercies then,
that the holy woman intercede
with that highest of kings.

A great heart’s sorrow reminds me
of this need. I pray that every man
of human kindred who recites this song,
earnest and mindful,
will remember me by my own name,
and pray to the Lord, the Helm of the Heavens,
Wielder of Powers, will provide me help,
on that greatest of days, the Father,
the Spirit of Comfort, on that awful day,
the Deemer of Deeds, and his dear Son,
when their Threeness sitting in majesty
as a singularity, the kindred of mankind
through that glorious creation decrees by his works
the reward of every man. Forgive us, Great God
so that we find your aspect, Joy of Nobles,
merciful on that famous day—

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Juliana VI underway

I'm about a hundred lines from the end of Juliana, and I can't express how happy that makes me. Although I am generally happy with the results, this poem has been with me for far too long. The summer was a pretty wretched stretch of bad translating, which I do not care to revisit.

I'm looking ahead with mild excitement to the next target, and I'm beginning to think it should be Genesis A&B. It's long, it's difficult, it really needs to be done.


[MS folio missing]

“… eagerly before
they praised [him] on high and his holy word,*
they said truly that he alone wielded all victories
over all of creation, and eternal blessed gifts.” (559b-63a)

Then came an angel of God, blazing with bangles
and thrust the fire to the side, freeing and fortifying
her clean of guilts, free of vices, and scattering
the ferociously hungry tongues of flame where the holy woman stood,
the maiden more bold, in their midst, unhurt. (563b-68)

That for the rich man was a distress to endure—
he would change it, if he could, for the whole world.*
Heliseus, flecked with many sins, sought how he could
most painfully, through the worst of torments,
devise her soul’s death. Nor was the enemy too slow—
he instructed the nobleman to make an earthen vessel,
by wonder-craft and the terrifying howls of warriors,
ordering it to be set it around with wooden beams
and forest timber. Then the obstinate creature commanded
that men fill that earth-bowl with lead, and then ordered
the pyre, the greatest of fires, be kindled,
surrounded by brands on all sides.
The bath welled with heat. (569-81)

Swiftly then, Heliseus, swollen with rage, ordered the woman
sinless and devoid of fault, to be shoved into the surging lead.
Then the fire became separated and scattered.
Lead burst wide, hot and hungry—
Warriors were terrified, seized by the rush.
There were five and seventy of the heathen host
forburned through the searing sneeze.
Then yet Juliana the holy woman stood
uninjured in her beauty. Nothing of her hem or garment,
her hair or skin, was damaged by the fire,
neither body or limb. She stood in the flames
totally unharmed, saying thanks for all to the Lord of Lords.
Then the deemer became stormy and mind-savage;
he began to tear his clothes and bared and gnashed his teeth.
He raged in his wits as if he were a wild beast,
roaring sad-minded and cursing his gods,
because their power could not withstand a woman’s will. (582-600a)

Juliana, the maid of glory, was resolute and unafraid,
mindful of her strength and the desire of the Lord.
Then the wretched judge ordered her put to death by sword-bite,
holy at heart, deprived of her head, chosen by Christ.
Her death would be no profit to him,
after he further knew its consequences. (600b-06)

Then was the hope of the holy woman renewed
and the mind of the maiden greatly gladdened,
after she heard the hero deliberate his evil counsel,
that the conclusion of her struggle-days must come—
her life released. Then Heliseus, full of sins, ordered
Juliana, chaste and chosen, to be led unto her sinless death.
Then came suddenly that humbled hell-ghast singing a harmful song,
wretched and unhappy—that same cursed devil
whom she had bound and beaten with torments—
he called for the crowd, filled with sorrowful songs: (607-18)

“Requite it with affliction now, that she has despised
the power of our gods, and degraded me most strongly,
so that I became a traitor. Let her obtain the hateful rewards
through the sword’s spoor, achieve your olden enmity,
enveloped in your sins. I remember the sorrow,
how I endured in one night countless afflictions
and sufferings, fast in bonds, innumerable evils. (619-27a)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Last part of Juliana V

The final stanzas of the fifth section of Juliana are now drafted. These were fairly complicated, and will probably change incrementally as I continue to read them aloud to myself.


“I have borne it all—cruel crimes throughout human nations,
those that have happened in the wide ages from the start of the world
for the kindred of men, the earls upon the earth.
There was none among them that have dared to touch me thus
boldly as you now do, holy with your hands.
There were none of these mindful men across the earth
through holy might, none of the high-fathers or prophets:
even though the God of Multitudes, the King of Glory,
revealed to them the spirit of wisdom, his boundless gift,
nevertheless I might approach the way to them. (506b-518a)

There was none of them who have laden me with bonds so boldly*
or whelmed me over with calamity, before now
when you seized me fast and overcame my great strength,
which my father gave me, the enemy of man-kind,
when he ordered me to venture, a prince from the darkness,
so that I had to sweeten your sins for you.
There sorrow befell me, a heavy hand-struggle.
I need not rejoice over this errand in the company of my kinsmen
after this sore suffering, when I must render unto them
a sorrowful account in our gloomy home.” (518b-530a)

Then Heliseus the noblemen, a cruel-minded man, ordered
Juliana, holy in heart, to be lead out from her narrow house
unto his doom-seat to speak with the heathens.
She, sainted and inspired in her breast, dragged with her
that unbelieving devil, fastened in bonds.
Then he, wretched and careful, lamented his errand,
bewailed his pain, bewept his bad fortune, speaking wordfully:

“I entreat you, my lady Juliana, before the peace of God,
to work me no further insult, no disgrace in front of these earls,
more than you have done already, when you overwhelmed
the wisest under the prison’s shadow, the king of the hell-dwellers
in the city of fiends; he is our father, the evil prince of murder.
So, you have chastised me by your soreful swats!
I know as truth that I have never met, before or since,
in worldly realms a woman like you—more bold in your thoughts,
nor more cross-timbered* of all womankind!
It is clear to me that you have become in all things
unabashed and wise in mind.” (539-553a)

At that moment the woman allowed the devil after his time
of suffering to seek the shadows in the dark earth,
the adversary of souls, in pain of torment. He knew more readily,
that messenger of malice, to speak of it before his kinsmen,
torture’s thanes, how it befell him on his journey. (553b-58)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Okay, so a sense of flow is returning now that I've made a point to work on Juliana a little bit every day. Here are the first fifty lines of the fifth part of the poem, in which the interrogation of the demon continues:


Then that beautiful woman, the light of glory,
spoke wordfully to that pledge-breaker:
“You must confess more wicked deeds,
humiliated spirit of hell, before you may go hence—
what iniquity, what great evil works by dark error,
have you accomplished, against the children of men?” (454-60a)

To her that devil replied: “Now I learn it by your speech,*
that I must speak my mind, constrained by compulsion
as you command me, to suffer your affliction.
This miserable time is full strong, this punishment excessive.
I have to suffer and tolerate all things in your judgment,
to uncover my dark and stained deeds, which I have plotted for an age.
Often I have stolen the sight, blinding countless warriors
by wicked thoughts, the kindred of men, covering the light
of their eyes with a cowl of mist, through the poisonous spear-point
and storms of darkness, and I have crushed the feet
of some through evil contrivances, others I have brought into burning,
into the blazes’ embrace, so that the last of his tracks was visible.* (460b-75a)

“Also I did unto some so that the blood spewed
from their bone-locks, so that they with sudden peril
gave up their ghost through the welling of their veins.
Others on a sea-voyage were drowned upon the way of waters,
on the ocean-flood, by my skill under the gloomy gushing.
Some I delivered unto the rood so that they gave up their life,
dreary, upon the high gallows. Others I incited by my teaching
to make strife so that they in sudden peril renewed old grudges,
drinking beer. I poured out for them crime from the cup,
so that they lose their soul in the wine-hall through sword-grabbing,
hastening fated from the flesh-home, seeking sore wounds.
When I find some without the mark of God, heedless
and unblessed, then I boldly slay them by various deaths
with my own hands and devilish devices. (475b-94a)

“Even though I sit a summer-long day,* I could not relate
all the suffering that I have performed as evil, early and late,
indeed since the heavens and the way of stars were areared,
the earth was fastened and the first humans, Adam and Eve,
from whom I snatched away life and instructed them
so that they abandoned the love of the Lord, his eternal blessed gift,
and their bright happy home, so that wretchedness became them both
forever and so upon their heirs, the darkest of sinful deeds—
How much more endless evil must I recount? (494b-506)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Juliana IV complete!

After only six months, I have finished the first translation of part four of Juliana. It's not that it is particularly difficult rendering, I just have had a lot of other things to do with my time. The final three stanzas are posted below and appear on the Juliana translation page in context. The post-wrestling conversation with the devil is almost finished.


The accursed one addressed her, that wretched miscreant:
“Say to me first how you, daring through deep thought,
became thus battle-bold beyond all of woman-kind
so that you clapped me fast thus in chains,
in every way defenseless. You placed your trust
in God Eternal, He that Sits in Majesty, Maker of Man-kind,
such as I founded hope in my father, the king of hellish citizens. (429-37)

“Then I am dispatched against sooth-fast people,
that I might convert their minds in wicked deeds,
their hearts from health. At times my desire is
restrained by their resistance, my hope for holy ones,
just as sorrow befalls me here on my campaign.
I know that much too late myself: now I, a sin-worker,
have to suffer shame over this for a long time. (438-45)

“Therefore I beg of you through the power of the Highest,
the grace of the Heaven-King, who upon the rood-tree
suffered, Lord of Majesty, that you have mercy upon me
in my wanting, so that I miserable may not wholly perish,
even though I, thus rashly and dull-wittedly sought you
on my journey, where I did not expect such an unhappy time as this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three more stanzas of Juliana IV

Several more stanzas of Juliana have crept onto the translation page. They are repeated below for your morning-coffee convenience.


If I meet any powerful or mind-proud champions of the Maker
who against my arrows’ flight will not bend far thence
from the battle but heaves up his board against them,
mind-wise, a holy shield, his ghostly war-dress,
who will not betray his God—but bold in his prayers he makes a stand,
fast in a foot-band so I must flee far thence,
low-minded, deprived of comfort, in the grip of gleeds,
mourning my care, so that I can not with craft of strength
go against him with war, but sad I should seek others
lacking in courage, under the bristle of standards,
the more sluggish warrior who I can puff up with my leaven,
and hinder from warfare. Although he the strength of God
may begin spiritually, I will be immediately ready,
so that I look through all his thought,
how established he might be his inward strength,
built his defenses. (382-401a)

I open up the gate of his wall through reproach;
the tower will be pierced, opened by its apeture,
then first I dispatch to him through arrow-flight
into his breast-self bitter thoughts by varied desires of the mind,
so that it seems better to himself to perform sins
instead of the praise of God, lusts of the body.
I am an eager teacher so that he may live
according to my wicked customs,* averted certainly
from the law of Christ, his heart troubled for me
as power in the pit of his sins. I care more,
and more eagerly about the spirit, the ruin of the soul,
than for the body-house, that which must become in this world
the comfort of worms and is commended to a lair in the earth.” (401b-17a)

Then again the woman spoke: “Speak, wretched shape,
spirit unclean, ruler of darkness, how do you associate yourself
in the company of the clean? You of old, pledge-less, labored
against Christ and drew along a struggle, plotting against holy men.
For you was the pit of hell delved below, where you,
harassed by your misery on account of your over-pride
sought a home. I supposed that you must be the more cautious—
and the more cowardly—in such a meeting against the sooth-fast
one that often withstood your will by the Glory-King.

* 410. mon-þeawum: This is usually translated as “human custom” or simply “custom.” However, the possibility cannot be ruled out “mon-” (human) is not “man-” (evil, wicked), especially since the context seems to demand it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Andreas re-lineation is complete

I have finally finished re-lineating and revising Andreas. The line breaks should feel more comfortable and less breath-stretching now, with a concomitant increase in the energy of the translation. Let me know how it works for you.

I have also considered and reconsidered a tough word choice at line 1478-81 (the first lines of section IX):

Hwæt, ic hwile nu haliges lare,
leoð-giddinga, lof þæs þe worhte,
wordum wemde

Listen, I have defamed [proclaimed?] for a while now the teaching of the saint, the praise of what he achieved, in the words of poetic songs

There is an untranslatable pun possible between weman “to announce, persuade, entice” and wemman “to mar, spot, spoil" and "to defile, besmirch” (both are weak verbs and may look the same in the preterite). Both of the translations I rely upon translate it as weman: Kennedy rendering it as “singing” and Bradley as “proclaiming.” The Bosworth Toller Dictionary, however, translates this line
as “I have not given a good account of the saint," and suggests a definition for the phrase wordum wemman "to reproach, blame."

The line is repeated from line 740, where it is used to describe the animated statue speaking. There the pun also works, but not so urgently: it could mean either "proclaiming [to them] in words" or "reproaching [them] ('them' being the priests of the Temple at Jerusalem).

My preference is to go with the unusual, but defensible "defamed" in line 1480—it becomes then a humility topos that fits in with the author's need to re-introduce himself in direct address and begins his apologetic statement. What do you think? Can I keep it as "defamed" or should it be "proclaimed?" I'd like to hear from you on this?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Updates and revisions

There have been many changes made to the Andreas translation. I spent the afternoon reading it aloud, making many changes to the lineation in order to create a better rhythm as well as correcting many errors and reconsidering many lexical choices. So far I've blazed through the first three parts and anticipate getting through a few more before the evening is finished. Please see for yourself (by following the sidebar link).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Finally some progress with Juliana

It's been a while since I've posted anything. Meanwhile the Guthlac translation is getting tons of hits and Andreas is just as well read as ever.

I have had such trouble getting through Juliana. Two measly sections were giving me fits (the final two posted below) -- and suddenly I lost confidence in my ability to translate effectively, then I got very busy with another season on the job market (better known 'round these parts as the susel-tid). But things are settling down now and I have some time to work on this again



Then the holy woman asked wordfully the enemy of heroes,
the workman of crime, the originator of sinful deeds.
“You must speak to me further, enemy of souls,
about how you grievously harm, by falling into sins,
the soothfast encompassed round with guilt.” (345-351a)

To her the fiend answered, a faithless wretch,
and spoke his words: “I will make it known to you,
blessed virgin, of every evil from the start forth unto the end
that I, wounded by sins, have performed—
and not just a few times—so that by this you may plainly know
yourself that this is the truth, and not at all lies.
I believed and reckoned it certain, an audacious thought,
that I could, without difficulty and by my own craft,
turn you away from your salvation, so that you renounced
the Heaven-King, the Lord of Victories, and bowed down
to an inferior, sacrificed to the Origin of Sins.

Thus I turn the minds of soothfast men through varying forms.
Where I find him making steadfast his spirit to the desire of God,
I am soon ready that I him multifold the lusts of the mind
towards bear horrible thoughts, dark errors, through
delusions uncountable. (362b-68)

I sweeten in him the desires for sin, the wicked loves of his heart,
so that he, quickly for evil deeds attached to his crimes, hears my teachings.
I enflame him very strongly in these sins so that he, burning,
ceases his prayers, stepping willfully—he can not abide
in the place of prayer firm as a foundation
for long on account of the love of his crimes.
And so I conduct a hateful dread to the man whom I begrudge
life and the clarity of belief, and he wishes to hear my teachings
through the desires of his mind and perform sins, he shall afterwards
turn away, deprived of all good virtues. (369-81)