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)

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