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)

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