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

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