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)

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