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)

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