Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's done! Genesis is done!

Finally these long months of work have found their conclusion, and the first draft of Genesis A & B is complete. I probably will take a few months off from doing any new work, but stay tuned for updates and revisions to the Genesis as well as the other poems that are part of ASNPP.


Afterwards the blessed son of Terah was settled among the Philistines,
the Hebrew people for a long time were destitute amid an alien nation.
The Lord of Angels showed him a camp that city-dwelling men called
the land of Beersheba. There the holy one built a lofty high-hall
and city and established a grove, creating an altar and making
sacrifice to his Sovereign in that fiery place, a sufficient gift,
to him who gave them life, blessedly under the heavens. (2834-45)

Then the Almighty began to test that warrior, inquiring eagerly
which of those noblemen were courageous, with harsh words
he spoke him in a dream: “Go forth quickly, Abraham, travel
and make tracks—and lead with you your own son. You shall
sacrifice Isaac your own son, as an offering to me. After you
have climbed the steep mountains, the ring around the high lands,
which I shall show you hence, upon your own feet, where you
shall prepare a pyre, an offering-fire for your child and you shall
kill your son yourself with the edge of a sword and you shall
burn up the body of your dear one and offer me a sacrifice.” (2846-59)

Nor did Abraham delay that journey, but he began to hurry
at once upon the trip. For him was the word of the Lord of Angels
dreadful and his Sovereign dear. Then the blessed Abraham
gave over his night-rest. Not at all would he oppose the behest
of the Savior, but the holy man girded himself with a grey sword,
knowing that the terror of the Warden of Souls dwelt within his breast.
He began to harness his donkey, the ancient dispenser of gold,
ordering his two young servants to travel with them.
His own son was the third of that company and he was the fourth. (2860-70a)

Hurrying he then departed, leading Isaac from his home, a child ungrown,
just as the Measurer had ordered him. Then he swiftly approached
and hastened forth over the earth-paths as the Lord had showed him
the ways through the wasteland, until the third day, glory-bright,
rose up over the deep water. Then the blessed man saw towering
the high hill just as the Lord of the Skies had said to him before. (2870b-79)

Then Abraham spoke to his servants: “My men, rest here in this place.
We will come again after we two have given the Soul-King our message.” (2880-84)

Then the nobleman left with his own son to the place that the Lord
had shown him, walking through the woods. The son bore wood,
the father fore and sword. Then the winter-young man wordfully
began to inquire of Abraham: “Here we have fire and sword,
my lord. But where is the offering which you mean to bring
to the sacrificial flame for bright God?” (2885-92)

Abraham spoke—he had set his mind that he would do what his Lord
had ordered him: “The Truth-King will find it for himself,
the Warden of Mankind, just as it seems fitting to him.” (2893-96)
Then stiff-minded he climbed up the steep hill with his son,
just as the Perpetual One had commanded him, so that he stood
on the roof of the high lands in that place which the Mighty One,
the Troth-Fast Measurer had shown to him wordfully. (2897-2901)

Then he began to pile up a pyre, building a fire and he bound
his own son foot and hand and then heaved young Isaac
onto the flame, and then he grabbed his sword at once
by its hilt and would have killed his son with his own hands,
sunk him into the fire and the blood of his own kin.
Then a thane of the Measurer, a certain angel from above,
called Abraham with a loud voice. He waited for
that messenger’s speech and answered that angel.
Then the glory-spirit of God spoke in words to him
in haste from the heavens above: (2902-13)

“Dear Abraham, do not kill your own son but draw the boy
living from the flame, your own heir! To him God gives glory!
Kin of the Hebrews, you shall take up the reward of the Heaven-King
through this holy hands, the true requitals of victory itself, a vast gift.
The Warden of Souls will reward you with delights because
his peace and favor was dearer to you than your own son.” (2914-22)

The pyre stood fired. The Measurer of Mankind had made blissful
the breast of Abraham, the kinsman of Lot, when he gave back
to him his child Isaac alive. Then the blessed warrior, the brother
of Haran looked over his shoulder and he saw there a ram nearby
standing alone, caught fast in the brambles. Then Abraham seized it
and heaved it onto the flames with the greatest hurry for his own son.
Then he drew his sword and reddened the offering, the smoking altar
with the blood of the ram, and consecrated that sacrifice to God,
saying thanks for all the rewards that the Lord of Graces
had, early and late, had given to him. (2923-36)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Genesis XL

The boy grew and prospered, as was natural to his pre-eminence
from his elders. Abraham had one hundred winters when his wife
thankfully bore him a son. For some time he waited since first
the Lord announced to him the joyful day through his own word.
Then it happened that that woman saw Ishmael playing
before Abraham, where the two of them sat at a feast, holy in his heart,
with their entire household, drinking and making merry. (2772-82a)

Then the noble woman spoke, wife to her husband: “Forgive me,
warden of rings, my own dear lord: order Hagar to journey
elsewhere and lead Ishmael with her! By my desire, we will not
dwell long together, if I be allowed to rule matters. Never will Ishmael
share your heritage with Isaac my own child after your tracks,
when you send life out from your body.” (2782b-91a)

Then was Abraham pained in his mind that he should drive
his own son into exile, when the true Measurer came to him,
strong in his assistance, he knew the spirit of the man was gripped by cares.
The King of Angels spoke to Abraham, the Eternal Lord:
“Let sorrow slip away from your breast, the turbulence of your mind,
and listen to that woman your wife! Order them both to depart away,
Hagar and Ishmael, the child of your home! I will make his kin
broad and powerful, the children of his stock, powerful of offspring,
as I have promised you in words.” (2791b-2803)

Then the man obeyed his Wielder: dreary-minded he drove
those two from his camps, the woman and his own son. (2804-6)

[A leaf is missing here, cutting out material from Genesis 21:15-21. We return to the words of Abimelech to Abraham.]

“It is patent and obvious that the true Lord is your companion,
the King of the Skies, who has given you victory by force
of his wisdom and strengthened your heart with godly grace.
Therefore you have succeeded up to now, with friend or foe,
you have accomplished both your words and deeds.
The Sovereign has advanced your desires with his own hands,
the Lord on the forth-ways. That is widely known
among the city-dwellers. I ask you now, kinsman of the Hebrews,
with my words, that you good-minded give your troth,
your pledge that you will be faithful to me, a friend of my benefit,
as recompense of that which I have made you from my plenty,
since you came here from afar, destitute into this people,
on the track of the exile. (2807-23)

“Yield to me with grace, that I have not been stingy to you
neither in land nor in delightful things. Be merciful now
to my people and my family, if the All-Ruler ordains it,
our Lord, who holds our destiny, so that you may abundantly
distribute ornaments to my shield-warriors, the treasure to the proud,
and extend the borders of this folk-land.” Then Abraham
gave his pledge to Abimelech that he wished to do so. (2824-33)


1 section to go!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Genesis XXXIX

The Abraham answered: “I did nothing for crime or unfriendship,
nor did I give you any sort of sorrow. But I shielded myself, lord of men,
far from my kinsfolk, from the striking of war-boards with a ruse,
after the Holy One led me out long ago from the household of my lord,
my father. Afterwards I sought many peoples, unknown to my friends,
and this woman with me, destitute of other companions. Always
I expected a danger that some wrathful stranger would cut off my life
wishing to possess again this woman for himself. (2691-2703)

“Therefore I said unto the war-smiths wordfully that Sarah
was my sister everywhere on the earth that we must suffer
homeless among hostile lands. I did the same thing in this country
after I sought your hand’s protection, famous prince. Now was it known
in my mind, whether the terror of the Almighty Lord was among
these people when I first came here. Therefore I hid from your thanes—
and from yourself most of all—the true statement that Sarah,
in the path of the bride, mounted up onto my bed.” (2704-16)

Then Abimelech enlarged Abraham with worldly treasures
and gave him his wife back. He gave to him compensation,
after he had seized his bride, living cattle and bright silver
and slaves. The helm of noblemen then spoke wordfully as well
to Abraham: “Abide with us and choose your camp in this land
where you most desire to be, your home-place, and I shall give it
to you. Be a faithful friend and we shall give you cattle!” (2717-26)

Then the dispenser of treasures spoke another word at once
to Sarah: “There is no need for Abraham, your lord, to set
any reproach upon you, that you walked upon the floors of my house,
elf-bright woman, but I deeply compensate his heart’s injury
with shining silver. Do not trouble yourselves to go seeking prosperity
elsewhere from this land’s soil, or friends unknown, but dwell here.” (2727-35)

Abraham did as his lord ordered, accepting his friendship
by the king’s command, his love and his delight. He was dear to God.
Therefore blessed he enjoyed his peace and he proceeded under the shade
of his Shaper, covered with sheltering wings, while he lived here. (2736-41)

Once again was God wrathful at Abimelech for the sin
which he earlier performed against Sarah and against Abraham,
when he parted them in two, the dear woman and weaponed man.
He got terrible punishment for that deed. None of his women,
neither free nor servile, could bear a man-count of sons
for their royal guardian, yet the Measurer stood against them,
until the blessed one Abraham began to ask the Eternal Lord
for mercy for his lord. The Helmet of Angels granted his bidding,
unlocking his progeny’s abundance to man and woman, slave or free,
for the folk-king. The Sovereign of the Skies allowed their number
to increase again, by riches and goods. The Almighty became
merciful in his mind, the Warden of Mankind to Abimelech,
just as Abraham begged him. (2742-59)

Then the Lord Almighty came faring to Sarah, as he himself
had said, our Sovereign, he kept his promise, fulfilled to his dear ones,
the Prince of Life, the man and the woman. A son was begotten
to Abraham from his wife, and before his mother was pregnant
with her child by that earl, the King of Angels named him Isaac.
Abraham set that glory-bright sign upon him with his own hand,
just as the Measurer had commanded him within the week,
after his mother had brought him into the world of mankind. (2760-71)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Then the brother of Haran departed with his wife, leading
his chattels with his household under the rule of Abimelech.
Abraham wordfully said to those men that Sarah was his sister,
thus saving his life, since he readily knew he had few kinsmen
or friends among these people. Then their lord send his thanes,
ordering them to bring her to him. Then was the alien wife
of Abraham led another time from her husband into a stranger’s embrace.
Then the Eternal Lord aided him there, as he often did, our Savior.
He came himself by night, where the ruler lay drunk with wine. (2621-35)

Then the Truth-King began to speak through a dream
to that nobleman and threatened him angrily: “ You have seized
the woman of Abraham, a wife at the side of her husband—
I shall draw forth death and your soul from your breast for this deed!” (2636-41a)

The feast-weary dispenser of sins spoke through his sleep:
“What? Will you ever allow him to be cut off from life, King of Angels,
through your wrath, one who lives in righteous custom,
whose mind-thoughts are fixed in his counsel, and who seeks
mercy for himself in you? She herself earlier said to me
unquestioning that she was Abraham’s sister wordfully. I have
not sinned against her, nor yet worked any crime.” (2641b-52)

Then at once the Eternal Lord, the Truth-Fast Measurer spoke to him
again through that dream: “Give to Abraham his own woman,
his wife into his power, if you care for life longer in this world,
helm of noblemen. He is good and wise; he can speak to God himself,
and see the Sky-King. You shall die with your money and goods,
if you hold his wife from this first-spear. He is able to pray to me,
if he, virtuous and patient, quickly chooses to announce this message
so that I shall allow you, still living, to brook the pleasure and plenty
of your treasures unharmed in the days to come.” (2653-66a)

Then fear forced the warden of people from sleep. He ordered
his own counselors be fetched and with speed Abimelech said
to those earls, stricken with terror, the Wielder’s words.
Those men were filled with fear for the deeds of the Lord’s hand,
the stroke after the sleeping. Then the king himself ordered
Abraham to come to him with the greatest hurry. (2666b-73)

Then pronounced the prince of the realm: “Kin of the Hebrews,
I wish to wordfully speak to you of something. How have I treated you,
since you led your aught under us, Abraham, in this country’s land,
so that you thus practice such cunning towards me? You a stranger
wished to deceive us criminally within these borders, to smite us
with sins, when you spoke the words that Sarah was your sister,
the kin of your body, hatefully you wished to lay blame on me
for a crime through your wife, an immeasurable evil.
We fed you honorably and granted you a camp among our people
in friendship, land as a delight to you. Now you requite
us this way—unfriendly you show us thanks for our gifts!” (2674-90)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Genesis XXXVII (Lot & his daughters)

Then Abraham, the wise first-spear, departed alone at dawn
standing again where he had spoken before with his Sovereign.
He saw rising up from the earth a slaughter-grim smoke far away.
Pride and wine-drunkenness had wormed their way into them
so that they became voracious for vile deeds, brash in their sins,
overstepping the truth, the decrees of the Lord, who had given
them their wealth, the fruits in their cities.
Therefore the King of Angels sent them a swollen-hot flame
as vengeance. Our Sovereign pledge-fast remembered then
honorable Abraham, his beloved man, as he often did—
He warded Lot his kinsman from the others, when the many perished. (2576-90)

The deed-bold man did not dare then for dread of his Lord
to dwell for long in that fastness, but Lot soon departed,
going from that city together with his children and looking
for a camp farther from that fatal place, until they found
an earth-cave in the side of a tall hill. There the blessed Lot
dwelled firm in his troth, dear to his Wielder, a great number
of counts of day with his two daughters. (2591-99)

[Leaf missing, probably corresponding to Genesis 19:31-32]

And so they did—the older woman went first into the bed
of the drunken man, father to them both. Nor did grey-haired man
know when both the women were as brides to him, he was fast
constrained in his spirit-cage, mind and memory, so that he could not,
drunk with wine, understand the deeds of those maids. (2600-06)

The ladies were both quickened and those loving sisters begat
sons in this world, the heirs of their aged father. The mother
of that noble son, Lot’s daughter who was older in life’s winters
named the one child Moab. Scripture tells us, god-kindly books,
that the younger woman called her own child Ammon.
From these first-spears was begotten an uncountable race,
two powerful peoples. The one of these tribes of earth-dwellers
was called the Moabites, a kith widely-famous. The other
men, the children of nobles, were called the Ammonites. (2607-20)


Countdown: 4 sections, 316 lines. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Genesis XXXVI (The destruction of Sodom)

Then at once Lot answered them: “I cannot go seeking a journey,
a life’s refuge so far from here, going by foot with my women.
Yet you graciously have revealed to me your peace-loving
and friendship, granting me your truth and favor. I know of a high city
near to here, a little town. Permit me mercy and rest there, so that we may seek
our life’s safety above Zoar. If you wish to ward that high fastness from
the flame, in that place we could wait unharmed for a time and save our lives.” (2513-26a)

The honor-fast angels answered him then in a friendly way:
“You shall receive the granting of your prayer, now that you
speak of this city. Hurry at once to that stronghold: we will hold
our peace and hand’s protection for you. We will not allow the anger of God
to be avenged upon the troth-breakers, to destroy the sinning kind,
before you have led your children and wife together into Zaor.” (2526b-34)

Then the kinsman of Abraham moved quickly to that strong place.
He spared not his pace, the earl with his women, but he hastily
laid his tracks forth, until he conducted his bride with their children
under the city-locks in Zaor. When the sun, the people’s peace-candle,
rose up, then I heard that the Lord of the Skies sent down sulphur
and black flame from the heavens, as a punishment for men,
a welling fire after they had provoked the Lord in former days
for a long time. The Sovereign of Souls paid them their reward! (2535-47a)

The height of torment grappled the heathen-kind.
A clamor fell upon the city, a shout of killing
at its start, for the hated kin of the dishonored.
The flaming tongues destroyed everything
green found within the golden city —
so too there around it no small deal of
broad earth over-covered by burning and terror.
Forests were charred to cinders and ashes,
the earth’s blossoms as far as that ferocious
play of punishment reached the roomy land of men.
The ravaging fire went howling, swallowed
everything high and broad together
that men owned in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Everything the Lord God devastated, and those people with it. (2547b-62a)

When that fiery crash was heard in the city, the people’s life-parting,
Lot’s wife looked back at the slaughter-fall. It says to us in books
that she was immediately made into an image in salt-stone.
Ever afterward that statue—this is a well-known fact—
abides there still where she took her stern punishment because she
did not wish to obey the words of the servants of glory.
Now she must, hard and tall, endure the world’s way in that place,
the doom of the Lord, when the count of days of the world have passed.
That is some miracle, which was made by the Lord of Glory. (2562b-75)


Count to go: sections: 5; lines: 361

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Genesis XXXV (a busy day!)

A busy day of translating. Only six sections to go!


The humans awaited the punishing flames, woe under their walls.
and their women with them. The proud in riches repaid the Lord
wickedness for their many goods, until the Helm of Souls,
the First-Light of Life would no longer endure this scorn,
but the Stern-minded King sent to them two of his own strong messengers.
Then in the evening-time they sought a journey to the city of Sodom. (2409-27)

Then they encountered the warrior, the son of Haran himself
sitting at the city-gates, and they seemed as young to the wise man
before his eyes. Then the Lord’s servant came greeting the messengers
those spirits, coming in a friendly way, mindful of what is proper,
right and suitable, and he offered those men a night’s shelter.
Then the noble emissaries of the Savior answered him:
“You have the thanks for your favors, which you offer us!
We intend to abide still by this street for a spell, until
the Measurer allows the sun to rise again in the morning.” (2428-40)

[an erasure here obscures a line of text in the MS]

Then Lot bowed at the feet of those strangers, and eagerly offered
them rest and food and the shelter of his home and service.
They accepted the mercy of the nobleman, going with him at once,
as the Hebrew man guided them in under the roof of his house.
There the noble one, the wise-souled warrior gave to them
his gracious hospitality in his hall, until the even-shine had gone forth.
Then in the tracks of the day the night came afterwards.
It covered the water-streams, the majesty of this life in shadow,
the seas and the broad lands. Then the dwellers of Sodom came,
young and old, undear to God, they came in a great inquiring band,
and surrounded with the strength of an army Lot with his guests.
They demanded that the holy messengers be lead out of that high house,
those men into their power. They spoke wordfully that they wished
shamelessly to have sex with those men. Of honor they gave no heed. (2441-61)

Then quickly Lot arose, he who often perceived good counsel
and went outside at once, and the son of Haran, mindful
of wisdom, spoke to all that company of noble men: “Here are within
my two daughters unblemished. Do as I ask you—neither of these women
has ever known the company of men through sexual congress—
and give up this sin. I will give them to you all, before you perform shame
against your natures, a most voracious evil against the sons of humanity.
Take these women, and let peace be owned by my guests,
for I will protect them before God, if I must, from you all.” (2462-75)

The multitude, a dishonorable rout, answered him then by one word:
“It seem fitting and very right that you should remove yourself
from our people’s borders. You sought this nation from afar
in the exile’s track, destitute of friends, lacking companions.
Will you, if you may, be our lordly judge here, a teacher of our people?” (2476-84a)

Then, as I have heard, the heathen folk’s band grabbed Lot
with their hands, their cursed hands. Well his guests came to his aid,
coming honor-fast, and they dragged him from the clutches of the hostile
into his house, and then immediately the head-senses of every one
of the Sodomites standing about was obscured. At once the band
of city-dwellers all went blind. They could not storm fierce-minded
Lot's hall after his guests as they had intended to do, but there
God’s bearers of tidings were bold. The guests’ power had firm strength
and it quite restrained that band with bitterness. (2484b-98a)

Then they spoke wordfully, the faithful peace-envoys, fair to Lot:
“If you have any son or dear kinsman, or any other friend
among these folk besides these women who we here look upon,
who be dear to you, then lead them out from these people’s city
in the greatest haste and save your life, lest you perish
with these pledge-breakers. The Wielder ordered for these men’s sins
that Sodom and Gomorrah be given over to the flame, to the black fire
and these people destroyed, these folk in the cities with killing attack
and his scorn avenged. The time has come nigh. Depart now,
saving your life on the earth-way. To you the Lord is merciful.” (2498b-2512)

[Another leaf is missing, containing material from Genesis 19:14-17]

Genesis XXXIV

Then, ready to depart, they left at once, traveling according
to the swiftness of God’s speech from that oracle’s delivery.
The holy souls trod their steps—the kinsman of the light himself
was their companion—until they could look upon Sodom,
the steep-walled city. They saw the halls tower over treasure,
the houses above red gold. Then the Sovereign of the Skies
began to speak with law-abiding Abraham; saying to him no little news: (2399-2407)

I hear in this bright city, a clamor so loud of the sinning, the boast
of the ale-flushed and the hosts under their walls keep an evil speech.
Therefore they are pledge-breakers, a folk heavy with faults.
Now I wish to test out, son of the Hebrews, what these men will do
if they perform sins so greatly in their habits and thoughts
as they speak of crimes and wickedness so perversely—
Fire shall wreak that sin: sulfur and black flame sorely
and grimly, hot and ferocious shall fall on these heathen folk.” (2408-18)

[Another leaf is missing here, probably omitting Genesis 18:22-33]

A note on progress and the future (oh and Genesis XXXIII too!)

Fast and thick--that's how I would describe the way the translation is proceeding these days. I so want to get to the end of the Genesis and move on to a new poem. I was thinking Christ and Satan might be where to go next, since Elaine Treharne has done excellent translations of the Exodus and Judith already available in her Old and Middle English Literature collection from Blackwell, and since I have no problems with Bradley's rendering of the Phoenix (indeed, I rather like it). The Genesis has been with me for more than a year, and it's tough to see past it to the next project. Well, maybe it will be the Phoenix, since I already have a Blogspot page put together for it.

I was even thinking it would be a laudable deed to do a new translation of King Alfred's Consolation of Philosophy, since there hasn't been a new one published since Browne's in 1920. But that's further down the road, I think, and might even require a newly-edited text (I have to do more research on the bibliography here), which would be a whole mess of work. I gotta get my own book underway first. No one's going to be giving me tenure for these translations, no matter what I end up doing with them...

Here is Genesis XXXIII as well. Section XXXIV is just twenty lines long, so it will probably appear here in a few hours. Stay tuned.


Then Abraham quickly put his face to the ground, and laughter
encircled those prophecies in his own mind and thoughts.
He never himself had looked toward that day, when Sarah, his grey-haired
bride, could bring a son into the world. He readily knew that
that woman had exactly one hundred winters indeed,
told by number. Then he, old of years, spoke to the Measurer:
“May Ishmael live so by your teaching, Lord, and bear thanks
to you with a resolute mind, a strong heart, to accomplish
your wishes by day and by night, by words and by deeds.” (2338-52)

And then fairly the Almighty Lord, the Eternal Ruler, answered him:
“And yet Sarah, old of winters, shall bring a son into this world,
and the world’s way shall proceed truly according to this promise.
I wish now to bless Ishmael with my grace, as you have requested
for your first-born, so that he may experience a host of life-days
in this worldly realm, with many children branching off his stock.
Your request shall be granted! Nevertheless I wish to exalt Isaac,
your son, your young child who is not yet come into this world,
with every glory and success of my will during his days,
and I will truly fulfill my pledge of my heart to him
and my holy spirit-troth, and be gracious unto him.” (2353-69)

Abraham did as the Eternal had commanded him, he set
the peace-mark by his Lord’s order upon his own son,
and the high one ordered that the sign be borne by every man,
who was his servant of the weaponed-kind,* mindful of the pledge,
wise of heart, when God gave to him the true pact, and himself
took on its bright token. Always the Measurer showed his glory,
the Doom-fast King, with his prosperities in this world’s realm.
He carried out that circumcision upon them since he
even as could perform his Wielder’s will in fear. (2370-81)

[A folio is missing here, which as Doane notes, probably contained material corresponding to Genesis 18:1-11.]

Then the woman laughed at the Lord of Armies, not at all
gladly, but she, old in years, regarded that prophecy with scorn
in her heart. She did not believe in the truth that that outcome
would ensue by God's speech. When the Sovereign of Heaven
overheard Abraham’s bride heave up her joyless laughter
in her bower, then spoke Holy God: “Sarah does not wish
to believe the truth of my words. These events nevertheless
must yet occur just as I have ordered you at the start.
I spoke to you of the truth, in its own time that a son shall be
begotten from that woman. When I visit your camp another time
my repeated promises will be fulfilled for you. You will look
upon your son, your own child, my dear Abraham!” (2382-98)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Genesis XXXII

Then Abraham’s wife became angered, wrathful in her heart
at her work-slave, stern and fierce, speaking a willful injury
severely upon the woman. She then departed fleeing both
punishment and servitude. She wished no longer to endure
wicked reprisals for what she had done to Sarah, but she
left on her way seeking the desert. There a thane of glory,
an angel of the Lord met her alone misery-minded, and he
eagerly asked her: “Whither do you strive, destitute lady,
to accomplish your journey? You are owned by Sarah.” (2261-72)

She answered him at once: “I have flown from unhappiness,
wanting any sort of pleasure, the hate of my lady, exalted
in the towns, grief and injury. Teary-cheeked now I must
await my destiny in the desert, when hunger or wolves
shall drag out soul and sorrow as one from my heart.” (2273-79)

Then the angel answered her: “Do not trouble yourself to separate
your own mutual meal with flight far from here,* but seek instead
your home. Labor for your honor, and humble begin to strive
for what is seemly, be loyal to your lord. You shall, Hagar,
bring the son of Abraham into this world. Wordfully I say to you
now that that warrior son shall be called Ishmael by people.
He shall be fierce, battle-greedy, and an enemy to the men
of his generation, his own kin. Many will struggle with weapon-wrack
against him wrathfully. From that first-spear a people shall be born,
an enormous race. Go again and seek your lord.
Dwell with those that own you!” (2280-95)

Then she at once left by the angel’s teaching back to her lords,
as the holy one had commanded, God’s messaging-spirit,
wise of speech. Then Ishmael was born to Abraham,
when he had exactly six and eighty winters in this world.
His son grew and prospered, as the angel had said before
to the woman by own words, a dear emissary of peace. (2296-2303)

Then about thirteen years later, the Prince, the Eternal Lord
spoke with Abraham: “Dear man, as I will instruct you,
fulfill faithfully our troth-pledge! I will exalt you
in every season with glory. Be strong in your deeds
by my will! I will fulfill our compact truly from now,
which I gave you once before as a pledge of comfort,
of which your spirit was troubled. (2304-11)

“You must hallow your household. Set the true token of victory
upon every male member,* if you would have me for a Lord
or a faithful friend unto your family. I will be Warden and Holder
of that people, if you obey me in your breast-thoughts and wish
to carry out my commandments. Every man of that generation of males
shall be as a child, of those who come into this world,
about seven nights old shall be dedicated to me with the sign
of victory, or else they shall be separated far from the earth
through my hostility, driven away from all glory. (2312-25a)

Do what I tell you! I will be true to you, if you observe that sign
with true belief. You shall have a son, a child of your own bride,
who all the city-dwellers must call Isaac. There is no need to be
ashamed of that boy, yet I will give my godly gift to your son
with the power of my spirit, with the benefits of my friendly abundance.
He shall take up my bliss and my blessing, my love and my delight.
From that start of peoples a broad folk will arise,
guardians of realms, kings of this world known widely.” (2325b-37)

* That is, of Abraham’s household, but since God is talking about circumcision perhaps the pun can stand, if isn’t too distasteful.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Genesis XXXI

[Ten sections to go...]


Then deed-bold Abraham answered his own Lord:
“What have you given me, Sovereign of Souls, of free-men
as a comfort, so that I am now thus miserable? I have no need
to build a heritage-seat for any sons of mine, yet after me
my kinsmen must distribute my wealth. You have not given
me a son, therefore sorrow troubles me greatly in my mind.
I myself cannot devise counsel. My reeve goes rejoicing
in his free children; he safely supposes in his inward thoughts
that after me his own sons shall be my inheritors.
They recognize that from my bride no child has been conceived.” (2173-86)

Immediately then God answered him: “Never will the sons
of your reeve possess your heritage, yet your proper children
will keep your treasures when your flesh lays down in death.
Look at the heavens and the count of its ornaments, the stars
of the sky, these now share out their glory-fast splendor
both wide and far, shining brightly across the broad waters.
Such will be the numbers of your family, your bold descendants.
You should not allow your spirit to be impaired with grief.
For yet your son shall honor you, bairn of your bride
come through birth, who will be the warden of your heritage
after you, well-known to God. Lament no longer! (2187-2200)

“I am the Sovereign who led you out of the city of the Chaldeans
many winters ago, a certain four of you*—I promised you a wide country
to rule. Now I give to you, son of the Hebrews, another promise
that the earth, many broad lands, shall be established by your progeny,
the corners of the world until the River Euphrates and from
the boundaries of Egypt just as the Nile separates
the broad realm between peoples and the sea will turn your lands
back again.* Your sons shall possess all that, each human land,
as those three waters, foamy floods, encircle the high cities of stone
in their streams, the dwelling-places of your people’s kin.” (2201-15)

Then was Sarah sore at heart, so that with Abraham there was not
any noble children between them by conjugality to comfort them.
Soul-anxious, she then began to speak to her husband by her own words:
“The Wielder of Heaven has denied me this, that I may increase
the count of your lineage under the sky with your sons.
Now I am hopeless that the root of this nation will ever be
granted to us together. I am sadly old! My lord, do as I ask you!
Here is a maiden, a beautiful woman, an Egyptian lady,
alone in your power. I bid you to climb into her bed right away,
and find out whether the Lord will allow any heirs in this world
to come to you through that woman.” (2216-33)

Then the blessed man followed his wife’s advice, commanding
that handmaiden to go to his bed by Sarah’s instruction.
Her heart gladdened when Hagar was made pregnant with child
by Abraham. But the neck-bound woman was soon scornful
to her mistress with spite, and she carried herself proudly,
she was hostile and would not willingly endure her enslavement,
but she began to struggle strong and bold against Sarah. (2234-43)

Then, as I have heard, that woman made known wordfully
to her husband the sorrow of her mind, saying pained at heart
and speaking strongly: “You don’t do what is fitting and right by me.
Since you consented to me that Hagar, my handmaiden, would
mount your bed, just as I requested, in my tracks, she has afflicted
me daily and dishonorably with her deeds and words. I must own that one
if I am allowed to rule my servants on your behalf
my dear Abraham.* May the Almighty, the Lord of Lords,
be judge between us two.” (2244-55)

The wise-minded man quickly answered her then
with his words: “I will not allow you to be deprived
of honor so long as we both shall live, but you may
manage your own servant as your heart sees fit.” (2256-60)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Genesis XXX

(Countdown: 11 sections and 764 lines to translate)


At that time were the folk of Sodom heading south from there,
carrying the battle-news, what sort of departure their fierce enemies
had made. The lord of men departed, deprived of his earls,
seeking Abraham, poor in friends. The king brought with him
the treasures’ warden from Salem, the famous Melchizedek,
priest of his people. He came with gifts to fairly greet the first
of army-soldiers, the honorable Abraham, setting upon him
God’s blessing and so spoke: (2096-2106)

“You were rewarded in his eyes among the count of men
so that the glory of spears was given to you in warfare!
That was God himself who shattered for you in your power
the majesty of those hated armies, who allowed you to work
forth a broad warrior’s way with weapons, to recover our pillage,
and kill their men. They were cast down in your track—
an army at a run can not succeed in battle, yet God put them
to flight, who shielded you with his own hands in the scuffle
with their captains, against the terror of greater odds.
It is a holy troth that you keep rightfully with the warden of the sky.” (2107-19)

Then the man gave Abraham the reward of his blessing by hand,
and he granted God’s bishop the tithes of the battle booty.
Then spoke the war-king, the lord of Sodom, weak of warriors,
to Abraham (there was need of his favor): “Give to me
the women of my people which you rescued with your army
from the deadly grip of men! Have for yourself the wound gold
that once belonged to our people, the cattle and the ornaments!
Allow me to lead away the freemen again, the children of nobles,
into their native land, into their deserted towns, the women and the boys
and the wretched widows! Their sons are all dead, the peers of the people,
except some very few, who must hold with me the marches.” (2120-35)

Then Abraham answered him swiftly before the earls, lauded
with courage, glory, and victory, speaking nobly: “I promise you
with my words, wielder of men, before the Holy One, who is
in heaven and who is the Owning Lord of the earth,
there is no worldly wealth which I wish to possess for myself,
either chattel or coin which I, famous prince, redeemed of yours
from among the archers, helmet of noblemen, lest you soon say that
I grew prosperous on this earth by the pleasant comrades
and ancient treasures of the realm of Sodom, but you yourself
may lead away the spoils from here, which I reaped at battle for you—
all except one portion for these lordly men, Aner and Mamre and Eschol.
I do not wish for these warriors to be deprived of their right,
but they served me at the spear-thrash and fought for your relief.
Depart now carrying home your bedecked gold and your beloved girls,
the ladies of your people. There is no need to be afraid for a moment
the warrior’s battle-bluster, the warfare of the north-men.
Birds sit gorged on blood under the sheltering hills,
filled with the thick slaughter of the enormous army.” (2136-61)

Then the king departed, the holder heading home with the war-spoils
that the holy man had given him, mindful of the Hebrew people’s honor.
Then right away the High-King of Heaven himself revealed to Abraham
his holy speech, encouraging the good-hearted man and speaking to him:
Great will be your reward! Do not let your heart grow slack,
pledge-fast is my will! There is no need for you to fear any man,
so long as you fulfill my instruction, but I will cover and shield you
while you live here against any sort of misfortune with my own hands.
There is no reason for you to be afraid.” (2162-72)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Some maintenance work

Just to let you all know--I just performed some much-needed maintenance on the Guthlac poems. I relineated the entire B section and finally got around to updating the online version. It should be much easier to read and have a more dynamic flow. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Genesis XXIX (12 more to go)

Then a man, one survivor of the spear, escaped from the battle
departed journeying hastily and seeking Abraham. He announced
that war-work to the Hebrew earl, that the folk of Sodom
were struck down, the multitudes of people and the flight of Lot.
Then Abraham spoke that grim news to his own friends.
The pledge-fast man asked for support from his dear comrades,
Aner and Mamre and Eshcol the third, saying that it was a blow to his heart,
a sorrow most sore, that his nephew suffered slavery.
He asked them then, those wrack-bold warriors, to devise
a plan so that his near-kin would be rescued, the man and his wife.
Then the three brothers quickly spoke to him, soothing
his heart-sorrow with firm words, courage-bold, and gave
their pledge to Abraham that they would avenge his anguish
wrathfully, or they would fall into slaughter themselves. (2018-38)

Then the holy man ordered his hearth-band to take up
their weapons. He found there eighteen and three hundred more
ash-bearing warriors, loyal to a lord, those who he knew
could each well bear the yellow shield in an army.
Then Abraham departed and those three earls who had pledged
their promise earlier with their army. He wished very much
to set his kinsman Lot free from his hateful condition.
The warriors were bold, bearing forth their shields with courage
onto the earth-way. The battle-wolves had reached
near the army-camp, when he spoke wordfully, a wise-minded man,
to his first-spear, the son of Terah, that his was a great need
that they on both halves should show these strangers a grim battle-moot
and a hard hand-playing. He said that the Holy One, the Eternal Lord,
could easily grant success to them in the spears’ malice. (2039-59)

Then I heard that the warriors dared to fight under the shades of night.
Clamor grew in the camps of shields and shafts, the archers fell,
a clashing of war-darts. Unfairly sharpened spears gripped
the men under their clothes and the lives of foemen fell thick,
where laughing they carried away treasures, the men and their mates.
Victory soon was turned aside from the north-men in the hateful melee,
the spear-glory of men. Abraham gave war for his word,
not wound gold at all for his nephew, he slew and felled
his foes in fits. The warden of heaven’s realm grabbed them
in aid. The four armies were put to flight and the folk-kings,
the people’s leaders as well. A happy hearth-band stood in their track,
and warriors lay set on the path, those who carried away the gold
of Sodom and Gomorrah, separated from their sergeants.
How grimly the uncle of Lot repaid them for it!
The army-lord of the Elamites were set to flight, deprived
of glory until they drew near to Damascus. (2060-83a)

Then Abraham departed upon the war-road, seeing the retreat
of the hateful men. Lot was delivered, the earl with his aught,
his lady returned to him, the wife of his desire. They saw widely
the corpses of those life-killers of free men torn by birds.
Abraham carried away again the wealth and women of the south-men,
the children of nobles, nearer to his home, the maidens to their kin.
Never did any living man in this world succeed with such a little band
more worthily, than those who rushed against so great a power. (2083b-95)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Genesis XXVIII

The sections are flowing out -- must have things I'm trying to avoid doing... Only 13 sections left until I'm finished with the Genesis!


Then, as I have heard, the lord of the Elamites, a wise leader
of men, Chodorlaomer, ordered his army and with him
marched in aid, Amraphel of Shinar, broadly across the world.*
Then they departed, four kings with great power, seeking
thence from the south Sodom and Gomorrah. Then was
the land by the Jordan widely covered over with the war-host,
the earth with enemies. Many a white-cheeked lady
must go trembling and terrified into a foreign embrace.
The defenders of bride and bracelet fell, sick with wounds.
Then against them with war-wrack went five folk-kings
in armies to the south—they wished to defend the city of Sodom
from wrath. Then for twelve winters after they must by need
render tribute to the north-men and give them payment,
until those people no longer wished to prop up the King of Elam
with their tribal treasures, but instead they rebelled against the bold. (1960-81)

They traveled together then, their javelins were loud,
the slaughter-army angry. The black bird sang
under the spear shafts, dewy-feathered, intent upon corpses.
The warriors went quickly into strong bands, mighty in courage,
until the broad armies had come together from the south and north,
covered by helmets. There was a hard play, an exchange of deadly darts,
a great clash of warriors. The warriors drew their ring-studded swords,
handily from their scabbards, doughty with blades. There was easily
found earl’s bargain in battle, if he were not already sated with its malice.*
The north-men were an obstacle to the southern folk.*
The men of Sodom and Gomorrah, gold-givers, were deprived
of their dear war-comrades in the crush of shields. (1982-99a)

They departed from their home, saving their lives in flight,
the slayers with swords, the children of nobles fallen in their track,
destroyed with blades, their dear companions. The chief
of the Elamite army had the war-victory, wielding the slaughter-field.
The survivors of weapons left, seeking safety. Their enemies
plundered their gold, spoiling then that rich city of men
with their army, Sodom and Gomorrah, when the hall was given up,
the famous city. The womenfolk were stolen, the wives and widows,
taken away by their foes, from their sheltered seats. The haters
led out the kinsman of Abraham with his aught from the city of Sodom.
We can further speak the truth of the fate of the army-wolves
who, after that battle, led away Lot and his people’s goods,
the southrons' treasures, boasting of his victory. (1999b-2017)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Genesis XXVIIb

So it was a short one and fell out quickly...


They dwelled in their camps, having plenty of good things,
Abraham and Lot. They passed around prosperity,
until they in that land could not enjoy its fruits
for long together nor keep both their possessions there,
but their men must, honor-fast, seek then for a more roomy realm
elsewhere. Often there were injuries of pledge-fast men
in bands, on both sides in stern harm-play. (1890-98a)

Then the sainted man began, mindful of his honor, Abraham
spoke fairly to Lot: “I am blood relation to your father,
and you are my nephew. There must not be strife growing
betwixt us, an increase of enmity—God does not will it!
Yet we are kin. There must not be anything common to us
otherwise, except a long-lasting love so perfect. Now Lot
consider that mindful men are seated about our borders,
a people glory-fast with their servants and kinsmen
the folk of the Canaanites and the Perizzites, and their bold warriors.
They do not desire for us a wider claim to their lands.
Therefore we must take this hostility from this place, and seek
for ourselves a more roomy establishing-ground. I speak counsel,
son of Harran, for us both, and say the truth. I myself offer you
a choice, dear man. Consider your self and examine your heart
in any direction you wish to take course, take yourself
with your cows, now as I command you choose.” (1898b-1919)

Then Lot departed, looking at the land by the Jordan,
the green earth. It was cooled by waters and covered by blossoms,*
watered by river-streams, and like the Paradise of God,
until the Savior God gave dark flames in surges to Sodom
and Gomorrah for the sins of men. Then he chose his country
and native-seat, the son of Harran in the city of Sodom.
All his possession he led there, bracelets from Bethel
and a wealth of household goods and wound gold.
He lived afterwards by the Jordan for many years.
There were favorless men in that fair folk-stead,
hateful to the Measurer. (1920-34)

They were the kin of the Sodomites, crazed by their sins,
led astray by their deeds. They busied themselves in perpetual harm.
Lot never wished to take up the people’s customs
but he flew from the man-habits of that tribe, their evil and sin,
and held himself to the fair, virtuous and patient in that nation,
just as if, mindful of his teachings, he knew not what these people did. (1935-44)

Abraham dwelled thenceforth in the homeland of the Canaanites.
The King of Angels, the Measurer of Mankind held forth
his protecting hand for him, for the fruiting of good things
and world glory, for his love and his mildness. Therefore
he said his praise wide under the skies, for his generation of men,
the children of the covenant.* He obeyed the Lord for his grace
on the ground so long as he enjoyed the earth, holy and heart-wise.
— Never will anyone bearing his spirit, lacking protection,
become fearful and terrified at anything before his Measurer,
who wishes to serve him always through the strength of his memory
in mind and deed, word and wit, wisely by thought, until his life-parting. (1945-59)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Genesis XXVIIa

Here is the first section in the Junius MS marked "XXVII." Only fifteen more sections to go after this! School has started and with it the tenure clock, so it will be a minor miracle if I keep up the pace of a section per week. This one felt pretty good, and if they all feel so good then maybe it will easy to continue at this rate.

I've ordered this collection of Anglo-Saxon poems translated/interpreted by contemporary poets called the Word Exchange. There are even some chunks of the Genesis in there. I hope that the book will prove to be useful in the classroom and inspirational for the word-plega.

I'm designing a graduate course now as well about medieval translations and translation theories to use for next academic year. If there are any articles or books on translation you can think of that would be useful in my planning, please let me know. I'm coming into the theory part of the task as a greenhorn, so nothing's too basic. Also what is your favorite medieval translation? Mine I think is the Book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer, translating and adapting three love-dits by Guillaume de Machaut. I really like that he takes the lion from Dit dou Lyon and makes it a puppy. Clever guy, that Chaucer.

Any way, on to the translation:


Then Abraham created a second altar on his journey.
He invoked God with glorious words there, he made
a worthy sacrifice to his Life-Lord, to him who had given
him rewards not at all sparingly through his measuring hand,
in that flaming-place with manly virtue. There the counsel-bearer
dwelt after a time in his camps, enjoying pleasurable things,
a warrior with his wife, until terrible calamity came pressing
upon the kind of the Canaanites, to those seated at home,
a ferocious famine, slaughter-grim to men. Then thought-wise
Abraham departed for Egypt, chosen by his Lord, seeking
their way of living, fleeing that sure woe—that torment was much too strong. (1805-19)

Abraham spoke, seeing the white horn-halls of Egypt
and the high city sparkling brightly. The thought-wise man
and husband then began to instruct his wife wordfully:
“Because many proud Egyptian men may look upon your looks*
with their eyes, and then these noble earls will suppose you,
my elf-shining woman, to be the bright companion of my bed,
that some warrior will wish to acquire you for himself.
I can fear for myself, that some man, angry with desire,
will deprive me of my life with the weapon’s edge.
Say therefore Sarah that you are my sister, kin of my body,
when these strange country-men inquire what friend-love lies
between us two strangers and foreign-comers. Fast conceal
the spoken truth from them, as you must shield my life,
if the Lord grants me his peace and a longer life
in the world’s realm, our Wielder Almighty, just as he did before.
He made this path for us, so that we must seek the honor
of the bold and look for our own benefit.”* (1820-43)

The came the courage-bold earl journeying into Egypt,
Abraham with his aught, where men of strange folk were,
unknown to their friends. They spoke wordfully about the beauty
of that woman, many proud men, arrogant in their glory.
The noble lady seemed to them splendid in her luster,
the many servants of the king. They made it known to their folk-lord
that they had noticed few fairer women before that prince,
yet they praised her joyous beauty in many words even more,
until he ordered that beautiful woman to be led to his own hall. (1844-57a)

The bestower of riches, the helm of nobles ordered them
to exalt Abraham with favors. However the Lord and Master
grew angered and adverse to Pharaoh for his woman-lust.
He was bitterly punished for it: sorely did the best of the youths
of his household pay for it.* And yet did the lord of men understand
why the Sovereign scathed him with punishing strokes.
He ordered Abraham terrified into his dread presence,
the prince of Egypt, and gave back his bride, his wife into his wielding.
Pharaoh bade him to choose noble friends elsewhere, from other people.
Then the nation-king commanded his own thanes, his serving-men,
to bring Abraham, honorably and wholly unharmed,
to their people’s borders again, so that he may be at peace. (1857b-72)

Then Abraham led his retinue from the margins of Egypt;
they carried his courage-bold lady, bride and bracelets both,
so that they drove his cattle to Bethel again into a known camp,
his rich prosperity, the wife of his will and their worldly goods.
Then they began to build and rear their city, setting their hall
and renewing their home. The men raised an altar in the fields
near to the one that Abraham had established prior
to his Lord God when he came from the west.
There the blessed man again worthied the name of the Eternal Lord
with a new voice. The good-hearted earl made sacrifice
to the Prince of Angels, strongly thanked the Light-Start
of Life for his mercy and favor. (1873-89)