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)