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)

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