Friday, December 31, 2010

Elene XIV, just in time for the new year!

Happy New Year, my friends. Here is the penultimate part of Elene ready for your savor and delectation. We are almost finished with this one, folks, and getting excited about starting a new project. I'm pretty sure it's going to be Genesis A&B: I've been looking forward to the challenge of such a long poem for a while, and the voice of the new poet will be fun to explore and assume. Enough of the Cynewulfian verse--bring on the Caedmonian!

Next week, I'll be at the MLA conference in LA, interviewing for some jobs -- if you see me, say hello!


Then Elene sought sooth-fastness eagerly with the spiritual mysteries
within her heart, a way to glory. Indeed, God of Armies,
Father in Heaven, you helped her, Almighty King, so that the queen
achieved her desire in this world. That prophecy had seen sung before
by wise men of old, all after the beginning, just as it had happened
in each instance. Keenly and through grace of spirit the folk-queen
sought, closely and often, to what purpose might she apply those nails,
best and worthily, to be a comfort to the multitudes
and what might be the desire of the Lord. She ordered then
that fore-wise man be fetched quickly to converse, he who
knew full well his counsel through wise power, sage in his spirit,
and Elene asked him what seemed best to him in his heart
to perform, and approved his advice through precept.
Cyriacus boldly spoke unto her: (1147-66)

“It is appropriate that you keep the word of the Lord,
O best of queens, in your heart by holy secret,
and diligently observe the commandment of the King,
now that God has given you the victorious success of the soul
and the skill of wisdom, the Savior of Men.
Order those nails to be made into a bridle for the noblest
of earthen-kings and city-owners, for his horse as a bit.
It shall be famous throughout middle-earth among many peoples,
when at conflict he may overcome every enemy with it,
when host-strong, his sword-foes seek combat on both sides,
where they struggle for victory, wrathful versus wrathful.
He will have success at war, victory at strife, and peace everywhere,
protection in battle, he who leads before him the bridle on his steed,
when war-renowned at the spear-struggle, tested among warriors,
bearing shield-board and spear-point. This will be to any man
an indomitable weapon of war against wretchedness.
About this the prophet sang, wise in crafty thought—
his heart ran deep, the understanding of his wisdom—and he spoke a word:
‘It shall be known that the emperor’s horse
will be worthied among the battle-proud
for its bit and ringed-bridle.
It will be a sign, named “Holy unto God,”
and that fortunate one, he who that horse
bears shall be esteemed in war.’” (1167-95)

Then Elene swiftly achieved all this before her earls.
She ordered the bridle of the prince to be so adorned,
the ring-giving warrior, and sent it to her own son as a gift,
a noble offering across the ocean’s stream.
She then ordered together those she knew to be the best men among the Jews,
the kinsmen of heroes, to come unto that holy city, into the stronghold.
Then the queen taught the throng of the beloved so that they
should perform fixedly the love of the Lord and peace
amongst themselves likewise, friendship, sinless in their lifetime,
and they heed the precepts of their teacher and Christian customs,
such that Cyriacus bade them, wise of books. (1196-1211a)

So was the bishopric established fairly. Often from far away
came to him the lame, the limb-sick, the ill, the halt, the wound-sorry,
the leprous and the blind, the wretched, the heart-sad, and always there
they found cure and health at the hands of the bishop for ever afterwards. (1211b-17a)

Then Elene gave him yet again precious gifts, when she was ready
to journey again to her homeland, and she bid all the god-praising
in that man-realm, men and women, to honor with their mind and might
that renowned day, with heart and thought, in which the holy rood
was discovered, that most famous of trees which has grown up
from the earth, thriving under its leaves. Then was springtime
departed except for six nights before the arrival of summer,
on the kalends of May. (1217b-28a)

Let the doors of hell be shut up for all men,
and those of heaven be opened wide, and revealed
the eternal realm of angels, the timeless joy, and let their portion
be assigned with Mary, those who keep in their mind
the dearest of feast-day celebrations, of the cross under the heavens,
when he the most powerful, Over-Sovereign of All, covers them with his arms.
Finit. (1228b-35)

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