Saturday, April 30, 2011

Genesis B [XI] tumbles forth!

I counted out the limited number of days until I have to return all my Genesis books to Princeton's library. There are not many left and I realize that I will have to work very efficiently to get a good chunk of Genesis done before I move away for Camden. There's no way I can get the whole thing done in a month of course, but at least I can make a dent in it, as well as getting all of Genesis B completed.

In recognition of this exigency, here is a whole afternoon's work, the entire 11th section, from Genesis B, which includes the first temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan's emissary.


[Two leaves are missing, cutting out all of sections IX and X, as well as the start to XI.]

Then the enemy of God began to gird himself, eager into his gear—
he had a lying spirit—he set upon his head his deceitful helm
and fastened it there very tightly, fixed it by its clasp.
He knew many cozening speeches, many crooked words.
He flew up from there, hastening through the Doors of Hell—
he had a strong mind—bouncing on the breeze, bane-minded,
parting that fire in two by the fiend’s craft.
He wished to secretly ensnare the servants of the Lord—
to seduce and corrupt humans with evil deeds,
so that they would become hateful to God. (442-2)

Then he traveled through the power of the enemy
until he found Adam completed upon the earth-realm,
God’s own handiwork, skillfully wrought, and his wife together,
his fairest lady, and they knew how to prepare many good things,
when he appointed them to be his own servants, the Maker of Mankind. (452-59)

And between them stood two trees; they were laden without
with fruits at that time, covered with blossoms, just as the Sovereign God,
the High Heaven’s King had set them there with his hands, so that
the children of men were allowed to choose either good and evil,
each man, either prosperity and trouble. The fruit was not alike! (460-66)

The one was so beautiful, splendid and shining, mild and praiseworthy—
that was the Tree of Life. One who tasted its fruit
was allowed to be in the world for eternity after living,
so old age would not harm one after eating it, nor stern sickness,
but one was allowed to always exist deeply in his desires
and keep his life, the favor of the Heaven-King here in the world.
One truly would have the appointed protection in the high heaven,
when one finally traveled thence. (467-76)

Then the other was entirely black, dark and shadowy—
that was the Tree of Death, it bore many bitter things.
Everybody must know the result of both evil and good in this world.
In knowing, one must live with sweat and with sorrow
ever afterwards, whoever ate of that which grew on that tree.
He must be deprived in his old age of deeds of courage,
joys and lordship, and death has been ordained for him.
A little time he must enjoy his life, seeking then
the darkest land of fire. He must serve devils,
where there is the most danger of all for the people for all time. (477-89a)

The hateful one knows this eagerly, the hidden messenger
of the Devil who struggles against the Lord.
Then he cast himself into the likeness of a snake, and wound
himself all around the Tree of Death through devil’s craft.
There he took up one of the fruits and turned himself again
to where he knew the hand-labor of the Heaven-King to be. (489b-94)

Then he began to ask the first man, the loathsome with lying words:
“Do you ever long at all, Adam, upwards to God?
I am on his errand here and have traveled from afar—
it has not been long since I sat with him.
Then he ordered me to fare on this journey, he ordered
that you should eat of this fruit, he said that your spirit and strength
and your intellect would become the greater,
and your body-case would become much more beautiful,
your shape the more splendid. He said that you should have no need of covering
in this world. Now you have gained the good will,
the grace of the Heaven-King, served to the pleasure of your Master,
you have wrought yourself dear with your Lord. I heard him
to praise your deeds in his light and to speak about your life.
Just as you must fulfill that his messenger brings here to this land. (495-510a)

“These green yards are broad in this world, and God sits
in the highest realm of the heavens, the All-Wielder above.
He will not hold these troubles himself, the Lord of Men,
to go upon this journey, yet he sent his servitor to speak with you.
Now he ordered me to teach you wisdom with these tidings.
Learn eagerly from his servant! Take this fruit into your hand!
Bite it and taste! It will become roomy in your breast,
your form flower more lovely. The Sovereign God sends you,
your Master, the help of the heavens’ realm.” (510b-21)

Adam spoke where he stood upon the earth, the free-willed man:
“When I heard the Victory-Lord, Mighty God speak
with a strong voice, and he ordered me to abide here,
to hold his commandments, and he gave me this woman,
my beauty-shining wife, and he ordered me to be watchful
so that I should not be cast down by the Tree of Death,
seduced too strongly. He said that dark Hell must be kept
for him who by his heart has produced something hateful.
I don’t know whether you come with falsehoods through secrecy
or you are the Lord’s messenger from heaven. (522-33a)

“Listen! I am not able to understand one whit of your commands,
your words nor your intentions, your errand nor your stories.
I know what he bade me himself, our Savior when I last saw him.
He ordered me to worthy his word and keep it well,
to carry out his teaching. You are not like any of his angels
that I have ever seen before, nor do you show me any token
that he dispatched you to me by the tree, my Master through his grace.
Therefore I can not heed you, but you can fare forth.
I have kept myself fixed to my faith up unto Almighty God
who wrought me by his arms, here with his on hands.
He is able to bestow upon me with every sort of good
from his high kingdom, though he sends no servitor.” (533b-46)

Genesis B VIII is done

“If ever I parted out prince-treasures to any of my thanes,
while we dwelt blessedly in that blissful kingdom and kept
the power of our thrones, then he could never repay my rewards
at a better time with gifts in return. If any of my servants still
would agree to it, if he could come up and out through that distant gate,
and if he had the strength within him so that he with his feathered wings
could still fly, still skate across the sky, to where new-made they dwell,
Adam and Eve upon the earthly realm, surrounded by every happiness—
and here we are, tossed down into this deep decline—
Now they are held in greater honor by the Lord,
and are allowed to possess the prosperity from him
which we should have in the heavenly kingdom, a realm in right.
That is the advantage allotted to mankind. (410-25a)

That is to me such a pain in my heart, it is a distress in my mind,
that they shall hold heaven’s realm forever.
If any of you could in some way rise up again so that they should
forsake his teaching, the word of God, soon they would be
the more hateful to him. If they break his commandment,
then he would become infuriated with them.
After that their abundance would be altered, and torment
would be prepared for them, and some harsh harm-shearing.
Consider it, all of you — consider how you might deceive them!
I could rest me more easily in these chains afterwards,
if that realm were lost to them…
He that fulfills this task, for him will be a ready reward
forever after, such as we can win to our advantage
right here inside this fire. I shall let him sit with me myself,
whosoever comes to this hot hell to say that Adam and Eve
unworthily have forsaken the teaching of the Heavens’ King
by their words and deeds…” (425b-41a)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Genesis B 8!

"Yet we endure now affliction in Hell (that is, darkness and heat),
grim and bottomless. God himself has swept us away
into the black mists. Although he cannot impart to us any sin,
or any injury we have done him in that realm—
still he has deprived us of the light and cast us down
into the most of all torments. Nor can we make revenge,
or repay him with any injury since he has deprived us of the light. (389-94)

“He has now set apart this middle-earth, where he has wrought man
according to his likeness. With them he wishes to soon settle
the realm of heaven with pure souls. This we must eagerly consider—
that we, if ever, could further our vengeance upon Adam
and upon his heirs too, and degrade his own desire with them,
if we could concoct something at all. (395-400)

“Nor do I further hope for that light for myself, which he intends
for Adam to long enjoy, nor for happiness among the host of angels.
Nor can we ever make it that we may soften the mind of Mighty God.
Let us now take it away from the children of men—
that heaven-realm, now we are not allowed to have it!
Bring it about so that they should relinquish his favor
so that they will give up what he has commanded by word!
Then he will become wrathful in mind, driving them from his grace.
Then they must turn towards Hell and its grim depths.
Then we will be allowed to draw them to us as disciples,
the sons of men in these fast fetters. Now begin to think on this foray! (401-9)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Genesis B VII (in part) *NOW in full*

Hello all,

Here is part VII of Genesis B. Work is proceeding much more slowly than I anticipated, as the poem presents a different sort of challenge than the others. Most notably, it is more repetitive than the rest of the Anglo-Saxon poems I've translated, which leads to long self-discussions about whether to preserve the repeating language or seek the variety that a modern ear finds more appealing. Sometimes I do, and sometime I don't, based solely on the feel from instance to instance.

But, while you're waiting for the Genesis to be updated, please go visit Juliana. Seriously, she is getting lonely.


At that moment the other fiends lay upon the fire, who before
had kept so many struggles against their Sovereign.
Torments they endure, heated war-surges in the middle of hell,
torches and broad tongues of flame, likewise the bitter fumes,
darkness and shadow, because they heeded not their servitude to God.
Their lust deceived them, the over-mind of the angels,
they would not worship the word of the All-Wielder.
They now had great torment, plunged to the fiery bottom
in that hot hell through their want of thought and arrogance.
They sought another land—devoid of light, filled with licking flames,
the great fearful fire. The fiends understood that they had exchanged
torments innumerable by their overweening thought and the might of God,
and through the greatest of all arrogances. (322-37)

Then spoke the arrogant king, who was the brightest of angels before,
most brilliant in heaven and dear to his Master,
beloved to the Lord, until they turned to foolishness,
so that God himself, mighty in his mind, became enraged
at his depravity and threw him within that murderous stead,
down into that corpse-bed, and wrought him a name ever since,
saying that he must thenceforth be called Satan.
He bade him rule over that black abyss of Hell,
instead of struggling against God. (338-46)

Satan said, speaking and sorrowing,
he who should thenceforth keep Hell,
and have charge of the deeps. He was God’s angel before,
bright in the heavens, until his pride seduced him
and his greatest of all arrogances,
so that he wished to obey the word of the Lord of Armies no longer.
His thought welled within him about his heart,
hot was the bitter torment from without.
He spoke then in word: (347-55)

“This narrow place is much unlike that other home*
that we knew previously, high in heaven’s kingdom,
which my Master had granted to me, though we were not permitted
to keep it from the All-Wielder, or strive for our realm—
nevertheless he had no right to do what he has done, to strike us
down in the very bottom of the fire, in this hot Hell, and deprive us of heaven’s-realm.
He has been determined that it shall be settled by mankind. (356-64a)

That is of most sorrow to me, that Adam, who was shaped from earth,
shall possess my strong-set throne, and dwell there in joy,
while we must suffer this torment and injury in this Hell.
Wellaway! Had I the power of my hands
and were allowed to come out for one moment, be it a winter’s hour,
then I with this force—
But iron bonds lie about me, I swing in looped chains.
I am without power—
These harsh fetters of hell have been clapped fast about me.
Here is a great fire from above and below.
I have never seen a more loathsome region;
the flame does not move away. It is hot throughout hell. (364b-377a)

A tormenting chain of rings has prevented me from moving,
depriving me of my power to fare forth—my feet are fettered,
my hands are bound. The ways to these Hell-doors are barred,
so I can not escape at all from these limb-chains.
Huge bolts lie about me, heated and hammered of harsh iron
and with them God has chained me by the neck,
thus I know that he knows my mind and the Lord of Armies
also knows that it must ill become us, Adam and me,
regarding that heaven-realm — if only had I the power of my hands. (377b-88)