Monday, December 24, 2012

Daniel LIV

Here is a holiday treat: another great dream, another powerful prophecy, and a little more than half of the next section of Daniel. This will be the last piece of translation until after the new year, as we will be on vacation in frigid Maine.

Happy holidays!


Then in slumber a dream was made manifest to him,
Nebuchadnezzar—this dream was nigh to him.
It seemed to him that on the fair earth there stood
a lovely wood-tree, fixed in its roots
and bright of its fruits. Nor was it like other trees,
but it towered high unto the heaven-stars,
likewise it overshadowed the corners of the earth,
all of middle-earth, up to the ocean-currents,
twig and branch. There he looked upon it,
and it seemed to him that the wood-tree shielded
the wild beasts, and that it alone held food for them all,
likewise the birds also took their life-preserving
among the fruits upon those branches. (495-507)

And it seemed to him that an angel came descending
from above, out of the heavens and announced
his message in a bright voice. He ordered that tree
chopped down and the wild beasts to flee on their way,
likewise the birds, when the tree should fall.
He ordered that the fruits themselves be cut out
from the twigs and branches, and, so it should be a symbol,
the tree’s roots should remain, fixed to the earth
until green fruits should come again, when God granted them.
The angel ordered also the mighty tree to be bound
with brazen chains and iron, fettered in torment,
so that a mightier mind than his wielded his punishment
and against it he had no power. (508-22)

Then he awoke from his sleep—his dream was at an end—
this earthly noble. There was a terror upon him,
a fear from the soul that God had sent thither.
He ordered then that his people should gather,
and his chieftains too, asking over all of them,
the proud-minded king what his dream meant—
not at all believing they knew it, but he tried them
to see how they wished to answer.
Then was Daniel called to that assembly,
the messenger of God. In him was given a great spirit,
holy from the heavens, which strengthened his mind.
In him the lordly warden recognized deep intuition,
broad thinking, wise craft, and perceptive statements.
Many times he manifested a multitude of wonders,
of the might of the Maker, for the benefit of men. (523-37)

Then he began to speak of the dream’s clatter,
the high-hearted and heathen leader of the host,
and all the terror that was shown to him.
He ordered Daniel to relate what that secret thing meant,
heaving up a holy word discovered in his mind
in order to speak in truthful statements
what that tree implied which he had seen sparkling,
and prophesy the import of this happening. (538-45)

Then he fell silent, yet he perceived the truth,
Daniel before the council, that his lord was,
the prince of men, guilty against God.
The wise man hesitated, yet he still spoke a word,
a messenger crafty in law, unto that great noble: (546-50)

“It is, guardian of armies, no small miracle
that you have seen by the coming of a dream,
a heaven-lofty tree and the holy words,
wrathful and terrible, that the angel spoke,
that that tree should be stripped of its branches,
beaten down before you, where it stood fast,
and become joyless among the beasts,
to abide in the wilderness, its root-stock
befouling the earth and become for a time
still in the ground, as the voice declared,
about seven seasons, to take up its seed again. (551-61)

“So shall your fruits lie! Just as the tree grows
high to heaven, so shall you be warden and leader
alone of all earth-dwelling warriors.
There is no opponent for you, no man on this earth—
except the Measurer alone. He shall chop you down
from your kingship, and send you friendless into exile,
and then turn your heart so that you remember not
the joys of men, nor know any wit except the ways
of wild beasts, but will for a long while you shall abide,
living throughout the woods in the leaps of harts. (562-573)
“There will be no meals for you except roots and grass,
nor any rest appointed you, but the showers of rain
shall wash you and punish you just as the wild beasts,
until you believe the truth after seven winters,
that there is one Measurer for all mankind,
the ruler and the authority, who is in heaven. (574-79)

“However, it is pleasing to me that the root-stock
still remains in the ground, as the voice said,
and after seven seasons will again take up its seeds.
So your reign will be resting, unharmed
for the earls, until you come again. (580-84)

“Consider, my lord, this steadfast advice.
Give out alms, become a shelter to the wretched,
make entreaty before the Lord, before the time comes
that he should cast you down from worldly rule.
Often the Measurer pardons many peoples
that perform their cure, when they are willing themselves,
repenting their crimes before the onslaught of God
through his terrible fear, should scathe their lives.”(585-92)

Daniel could not speak so many truthful words
unto his master through the craft of his wisdom,
so that the ruler would heed them,
the lord of middle-earth, but he puffed up his mind,
high from his heart—hard would he be punished for this! (593-97)

Then the king of the Chaldeans chanted a great boast
when he looked upon the city-works, the fortress of Babylon
towering so tall in its riches, with the fields of Shinar
wound about it—that the chief of armies
had wrought it all through a great miracle.
Then he became obstinate over all men,
overly proud in his heart because of the special grace
that God had given him, a realm over men
and the world to wield in this human life: (598-607)

“O my city, you are mighty and wide-renowned,
which I have built to my own glory, a roomy realm.
I shall keep my rest in you, a seat and a home.” (608-11)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Daniel LIII

Got a lot done today! Here is the hymn of praise spoken by the Three Youths in the fiery furnace:

“May you be blessed, Merciful Lord by the beautiful
creation of the world and by all your works!
The heavens and the angels and the pure waters
which abide in glory across the skies
in righteous creation, may they honor you! (362-66)

“And may you, Almighty, be praised
by all created things, the sky-bright stars
which hold your course, the sun and the moon,
each one sundered alone, in their degree. (367-72)

“May the burning fire and the bright summer
celebrate the Savior! Night together with day,
and each and every land, light and shadow both,
heat along with the cold, may they praise you in their degree! (373-76)

“Mighty Lord, may you be loved in the winds,
by the frost and the snow, the winter-bitter weather
and the swirl of the clouds! And may the lightning,
shining, bright and blazing, bless you! (377-80)

“May all the earthly ground, Eternal Lord,
hills and fields and the high mountains,
the salty sea-waves, Soothfast Lord,
the waves of the water-stream and the welling
of the watery springs, may all these worthy you!” (381-85)

“May the great whales praise you, and the skyward birds,
bouncing on the breeze, which are stirred
by the sea-currents and the watery tides!
And may the wild beasts and all cattle bless your name! (386-89)

“And may the children of men love you in their hearts,
and all Israel, your servants, Shaper of All,
praise you according to their degree! (390-92)

“And may the hearts’ craft of the holy,
the souls and the spirits of every soothfast man,
love you, Author of Life, who gives recompense
to all the blessed-minded, O Eternal Lord! (393-96)

And may Annanias and Azarias and Misael
glorify the Measurer in the breast-thoughts!
We bless you, Lord of All Peoples, Father Almighty,
True Son of the Maker, the Preserver of Souls,
the Helper of Heroes, and may you, Holy Ghost,
be honored in glory, Wise Lord! (397-403)

“We praise you, Holy Lord and extol your commandments!
You are blessed, worthied always across the roof of the world,
High-King of Heaven, with your holy power,
Light-Start of Life across every land!” (404-8)

Then Nebuchadnezzar, prince of his people,
consulted his closest folk-chieftains:
“Many of you, my people, have witnessed
that we delivered three men, deliberated
to death in the burning of the fire’s light.
Now I see truly there are four men there,
unless my senses betray me.” (409-15)

Then replied the king’s counselors,
wise and handy with words: “That is some miracle
that we can look upon them with our eyes.
Consider, my prince, what is fitting!
Know eagerly who has imparted this grace
upon these young gadlings! They praise their god,
singular and eternal, and all of them
speak upon his every name in earnest zeal,
praising his majesty with bold words,
stating that he is alone the Almighty God,
the Wise Glory-King of heaven and earth.
Call forth these children, lord of Chaldea,
out of the oven. It is not in any way good
that they remain in the hateful longer than you need.” (416-29)

At that moment the king ordered those boys to come out.
The young men heard these instructions,
the nobles coming forth as they were bidden,
the youths turning towards that heathen king before them.
Their bands were burned away which once lay on their bones,
the hateful devices of the people’s king, and their lives were delivered.
Nor was their beauty blemished, nor any hurt upon their garb,
nor was their hair singed by the fire, but they in the peace of the Lord
had tread forth from that grim terror gladly,
the wise-minded men, in custody of their souls. (430-39)

Then the angel departed upwards, seeking eternal joys
in the highest roofs of heaven’s realm,
a lofty and loyal servant of the Holy Measurer.
By that miracle he had honored those who deserved it. (440-43)

The young men praised before that heathen folk,
teaching them true precepts and saying many true tokens,
until that one believed himself that he was the sovereign of might
who had delivered them from the darkness.
Then the brazen warden of Babylon, proud among his people
decreed that anyone would be guilty of his life
who argued the truth that it was the famous Ruler of Powers
who had set those young men free from their deaths. (444-51)

Then the king gave back to them the heirlooms of their people
which had been taken there into the keeping of the olden foe,
so that they had their honor again. Dignity was theirs again
in Babylon, since they had been tried in the fire,
their glory was revealed to that nation, after they had obeyed the Lord.
Their counsel was great, after the Sovereign of the Skies,
the Holy Warden of Heaven’s Realm, had shielded them from harm. (452-57)

Then, as I have heard in true words, the guardian of Babylon
sought, after perceiving that miracle through the burning of flames,
how those three youths had passed through the heated oven
and its fear-terrible fire. They waded through the welling,
as if the hate of the grim gledes, had hurt them not a bit,
the messengers of God in the wicked flames,
but the Lord’s peace had shielded them against gruesome terror.
Then the prince called a council, ordering together his people,
and proclaimed to that meeting the event that had happened
and the miracle of God that had been revealed in those youth: (458-71)

“Consider now the holy might and the wise wonder of God!
We have seen that he sheltered these young men
against the killing in the furnace, the flickering flame,
who have borne his praise. Therefore he is alone the Eternal Lord,
the Deemer Almighty, who granted them glory and a thriving triumph,
to those who carry his message. Therefore they have prophesied
through many miracles from their holy spirits that have chosen
his protection. It is known to me that Daniel spoke truly
of my secret dream, that had earlier greatly perplexed
many of my people in their minds, because the Almighty
had sent a soul ample in his senses, wise in his crafts.” (472-85)

So spoke the leader of armies wordfully, the warden of Babylon,
after he understood the signs, the patent token of God.
It made him no better, for over-pride harmed that noble yet,
it grew higher in his mind and in the thoughts of his heart,
greater in his mind-sense that should be appropriate,
until the Almighty Measurer thrust him down with compulsion,
just as he does to many who are mounted up by pride. (486-94)

Daniel LII, cont'd

Here is the continuation and end of section LII of Daniel:

When the stiff-minded king saw all this, trusting his senses,
the wonder occurring in torment, it seemed amazing to him.
The young men went forth whole in the hot oven,
all three law-fast men, and one more was seen in there,
an angel almighty. It had not damaged them any bit,
but there inside that oven it was pleasant, much like
when in the summer the sun is shining,
when the dew is dried in the day, strewn by the wind.
It was the God of Glory who had saved them
from that hot hatred. (268-78)

Then Azarias from his inmost thoughts
sang a holy song through the heated flame,
enduring, eager of deeds, praising his Lord,
a mna without sins and then spoke these words: (279-82)

“All-creating Lord, listen! You are greatly powerful,
saving mankind. Your name is well-known,
radiant and glory-fast throughout the races of man.
Your decrees in every day are true and strong
and triumphant, just as you yourself are.
Your will is a success in this world,
righteous and roomy, Ruler of the Skies.
Shaper of Souls, eagerly grant us your comfort
and aid through your grace, Holy Lord—
now, enwrapped in fire, we entreat you
in this compulsion and captivity
for the favor of your grace. (283-95a)

“We have wrought in this world, as we have lived,
even as our ancestors have committed sin—
the city-dwellers have broken your commandments
out of over-pride, and despised the state of holy living.
We have been scattered across the broad earth,
dispersed in bands, without your grace—
our lives are useless and disreputable
throughout many lands and among many peoples.
We are banished us as thralls into the power
of the worst of the earthly kings, into the slavery
of savage men, and now we suffer
the captivity of heathens. Thanks be you,
Glory-King of Armies,
that you have ordained this wrack upon us. (295b-308)

“Do not forsake us alone, Eternal Lord,
for the mercy that men attribute to you,
and for the troth that you, fixed in glory,
Savior of Mankind, have granted to Abraham
and to Isaac and to Jacob, Shaper of Spirits! (309-14)

“You promised them through your speech
that you would increase their first-kin
in days gone past, so that there would be born
a great multitude in the generations after them
and they would become famous, a family
to be exalted as the heavenly stars that enclose
a broad orbit, or as the seashore, the sands
of the strand across the salty waves that grind
in the ocean, so that they must become innumerable
down a multitude of years. (315-24)

“Fulfill now your ancient word, though few of them
are living! Magnify in us your statements
and your glory! Reveal your craft and might
so that the Chaldeans and many other folk
who live as heathens under the heavens
might learn that you are alone the Eternal Lord,
the Sovereign of Armies, of all the worldly creation,
the Ordainer of Victories, the Measurer Sooth-fast!” (325-332)

So was the blessed man praising the mercy of the Maker
and relating the power of his might through his voice.
At that moment from the heavens was sent
from above an all-bright angel, a beautiful human
in his glorious garments who was come to them
as a comfort and a life-saving, with love and with kindness.
He, holy and heaven-lustrous, scattered the flames, the hot fires,
sweeping them away and swinging them through his great might,
the illuminated tongues, so that their bodies were not
any bit troubled, but he smote their enemies,
with fire upon their foes for their sinful deeds. (333-44)

Then the furnace became, where the angel had come,
breezy and beautiful, much like the weather
when in the summertime a shower of raindrops is sent
during the spaces of the day, a warm falling from the skies.
Such is the best of weather, and such was in that fiery place
as an aid to those holy men by the blessed power of the Lord.
The heated flames were driven out and washed away
wherever the deed-brave men went within that oven,
and the angel with them preserving their lives,
who was the fourth in there with Annanias and Azarias
and Misael. There the three mind-brave men praised
their Lord in their thoughts, calling upon the sons of Israel
and every land creature to bless the Eternal Lord,
the Sovereign of Nations. So these three called out,
quick of their wits, through one common word: (345-61)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Daniel LII, pt 1

So I have been considering the fact that I have two manuscripts' worth of translations on this site, Anglo-Saxon Religious Poems and The Junius Manuscript, and have realized the time has come to start shopping these translations around to become the books I've always intended them to be. No sense sitting on them any longer until I have time to work on them. I will never have time to devote to them any time soon, but that shouldn't stop me from seeking the fulfillment of their true destiny. Let the dice fly!

Here's the first part of Daniel LII: --------------------------

Then the single-minded king grew enraged—he ordered an oven
to be stoked hot for the killing of these young men’s lives
since they resisted his power. Then it was kindled
as grimly as it could be, with the cruel tongues of flame,
when he gathered together the people in that place
and wanted them bound, the messengers of God,
fierce and much mourning in mind, the warden of Babylon. (224-29)

Then he ordered his servants to shove those youths
into the baleful blaze, those young warriors.
He was ready who did them comfort, though the king
had urged so cruelly in the arms of the fiery flames—
nevertheless a mighty guardian of God preserved their lives.
As the many were to learn the Holy One had ordained them help,
God, the Warden of Men sent them from the lofty heavens
his blessed spirit. An angel came within the furnace
where they endured their misery, covering these free-born sons
with his embrace under the fiery roof.
Nor could the welling of the flickering flames spoil their beauty
one whit, those men who the Sovereign had saved. (230-40)
Savage-minded was the heathen king—he ordered them
to be swiftly burned. The pyre was senselessly strong.
Then was the oven kindled, the iron all heated through.
Many slaves flung wood inside it, just as they were wordfully
commanded—they bore brands into the burning of the bright flames—
the wolf-hearted king wished to rear up an iron wall
around those law-fast men—until the fire leapt over
those beloved men and lustfully destroyed a great many,
more than should be appropriate. (242-49)

Then the flame flew upon those hateful men,
onto the heathens from the holy ones. The young men
were joyful at heart; the servants were burned
around and without the furnace. The pyre turned
upon them painfully to their hurt, and the lord of Babylon
witnessed it all. Blithe were the Hebrew nobles,
readily praising their Lord in joy, doing as they knew best
within the oven, preserving their lives.
The glad-minded men worthied God
within whose embrace the heat of the wicked fire
was put to flight. The free-born sons were delivered
from the onslaught of the flames, so that they did
no harm to them. The noise was no more a sorrow to them
than the shining of the sun, nor did the burning beat
upon these men who should be beat upon in there—
instead that fire let fly fire upon those worked harm then,
turning upon those heathen servants away from the blessed boys,
and the fairness of those accursed men was diminished,
who had rejoiced in those terrible deeds. (250-67)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Daniel LI concluded

Here is the rest of Daniel LI:

Nor might the multitude then at the moot
through their clever craft conceive
or contrive anything, when it was denied them
that they could speak of the dream of the king
or the mysteries of fate, until the wise man came,
Daniel at his decree—he was chosen by the Lord,
witty and truth-fast, and he went into that palace.
He was the best of that wretched remnant
who were forced to obey the heathens.
God had given him a heavenly gift
through the prophecies of the holy spirit,
so that an angel of God told him all
just as the wicked king had dreamed it. (145-57)

The Daniel went to him, at dawn light,
to relate the dream to his lord,
speaking sagely of the ends of nations,
that the haughty king understood at once
the start and the conclusion which was revealed to him.
Daniel had great glory then, and splendor
among the scholars of Babylon,
after he narrated the dream to the king,
which because of his crimes the warden of Babylon
could not previously remember in his breast-hoard. (158-67)

No matter what Daniel could do so that the king
would believe in the might of the Measurer—
instead the king began to create an idol on the plain
which the over-bold men named Dira,
that was there among those people who were called
the mighty Babylonians. The guardian of the city,
one nefarious above the mercy of the Lord,
reared among men this image of gold
because he was not wise, this warden of men,
fierce and rash, not right… (168-77)

[Leaf missing from the manuscript]

And then a listening came across the warriors
when the voice of the trumpet was heard by the city-dwellers.
Then they fell to their knees before that symbol,
that heathen people worshipping in that temple,
praising that golden idol, they knew no stronger course.
They raised up unrighteousness, just as they lord did,
mixing up wickedness, emboldening their minds.
The folk-army was estranged, just as their lord was first,
establishing their folly—an evil conclusion
was to befall them afterwards—and doing ill. (178-87)

There were three in their lord’s city, men of Israel,
who would never submit to the prince’s decree,
so that they did not rear up their prayers to that idol,
even though the trumpets sang its praises there.
They were good sons of Abraham by descent,
pledge-fast, knowing the Almighty Lord eternally above. (188-95)

These noble children made it known that they
would not take nor keep that golden image for god,
except for the High King, the Warden of Souls,
who had given grace to them.
Often they spoke in boldness to redeem men
that they cared not for that graven image,
nor could the heathen leader of armies
compel them to make their prayers,
so that they would turn to that place,
men to that gilded statue which the king had ordained
for himself as a god. These thanes said to their lord
that they were of one mind in this; servants of a higher being
in that high city, “who do not wish to exalt nor to worthy
this idol which you have wondrously appointed to your glory.” (196-208)

Then the warden of Babylon answered them
in rage and a boiling mind, speaking to those young earls
grimly and harshly saying to them they must
immediately be punished and suffer a great constraint,
the whelming of wicked flames unless they would
beg for mercy from that worst of all things,
these Hebrew men from that golden object,
which the king had ordained himself as a god. (209-16)

Though these young men would not heed
in their hearts that heathen instruction.
They eagerly conceived that the law of the Lord
would endure all things nor would they abandon
the Lord of Hosts, and turn towards paganism any more,
nor would they beg for shelter from the sinful
even though a bitter death be commanded them. (217-223)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daniel LI pt 1

Part 51 of Daniel is kind of long, so we'll break it up into several pieces. Here is part one.


Widely renowned was the warden of Babylon then,
notorious and proud across middle-earth,
terrifying to the sons of men. He never performed the law,
but in over-pride he always lived his life.
Once to that chieftain at his first slumber,
after the prince of the realm had turned towards his rest,
there came a tumultuous dream hurtling into his head,
how the world was bedecked so beautifully,
so unlike men, at least until their renewed creation.
This truth was revealed unto him in his sleep,
that all realms, all earthly joys, must pass
and their terrible end be realized. (104-15)

Then awoke the wolf-heart, who slept wine-drunk,
the warden of Babylon. His mind was not happy,
but sorrows mounted him, the clattering of his dream—
He could not remember what he had dreamed.
He ordered then his people to gather,
those who bore the most learning in magical skill,
and asked the assembly what he had dreamed,
while speech-bearing men occupied their slumber.
The king became affrighted in his terror,
when he did not know any word or start
to his own dream, but he commanded them to speak regardless.
Then those unhappy men answered him,
the devil-wise—there was not the power
ready in them to speak of the dream to the king: (116-29)

"How can we, sire, scry out something so secret
as your mind, or what you have dreamed,
or the wisdom of the condition of fortune
that inhabits you, if you cannot first
tell us of its beginning?” (130-33)

Deeply troubled then the wolf-hearted
king replied to his counselors:
“You all are not so excellent over all men
in your mind-thoughts as you have said to me,
when you told me that you knew my life-laws,
just as it would befall me after,
or as I should discover it further along.
Now you do not know of my dreaming,
when it comes bearing wisdom for my people.
You all shall die in death, unless I know
the truth of my dream, which compels me.” (134-44)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Daniel L complete

The Daniel translation page is now available (check on the right side for the link).

Here is more of the first section (helpfully numbered section 50, since the scribe of the first part of the Junius Manuscript may have considered the sequential sections as all part of the same big poem). The poem feels good so far, like I'm back inside my own skin, which is a nice sensation.


Then the Prince of Realms grew anger-minded
at that disloyal people to whom he had given everything.
He directed them at the start, those who were at first
the dearest of mankind before that, dearest of the multitude,
most beloved of the Lord—a marching path had he marked out
unto the high city, those alien noblemen into their homeland
where stood Salem, strengthened with skillful walls,
bedecked with battlements. To that place came the Chaldeans,
witful men, onwards upon that city,
where Israel was clothed in its wealthy things;
against them that host was attacking,
a powerful force, eager for sinful harms.
A princely chief of men aroused that killing hate,
the lord of Babylon in his city-stead,
Nebuchadnezzar through his envious hatred,
so that he sought his inmost thoughts
for how he could most easily oppress
the Israelite people through fierce men’s journey.
So then he gathered together from the south and north
a bloodthirsty host and brought them westwards
in an army of heathen kings unto that high city.
The home-wardens of Israel held their love,
their lively prosperity, so long as the Lord allowed them. (33-55)

Then I heard that the kindred of the olden enemy
laid to waste the wine-city of men. These warriors did not believe,
bereaving the glory of halls, Solomon’s temple,
of its red gold, its treasures, and silver.
They plundered its riches under the stone cliffs,
everything that these earls might possess,
until they had smashed every stronghold
that stood as a sanctuary for these people.
They burdened themselves with the bounty
of the hoard-wardens as plunder, the coins and the chattels
such as they found there, and then they journeyed
back again with their possessions,
and led back on the long road the children of Israel,
on the eastern ways to Babylon, a numberless people
beneath the hand of warriors and heathen overlords.
Nebuchadnezzar put them under constraint,
the sons of Israel, the survivors of the swords,
as work-thralls out of all hope. (56-74)

Then he sent out an army of his own thanes
to go westwards so that they might rule over
that people’s territory, their wasted
homeland, in the stead of the Hebrews.
The king ordered his reeves to seek out
among the wretched remnants of the Israelites
which of their young men was who had been brought there
the wisest in the commandments of their books.
He wished that the young men should be learned
in this craft so that he could chatter to them
of the wisdom in his heart, and not at all
so that he could or would be mindful to thank God
for the gifts which the Lord bestowed upon him
for his own mortal glory. (75-87)

Then they found among them three
lord-wise and noble men and law-fast as well,
young and goodly in their godly descent.
One was Annanias, the second Azarias,
and Misael the third, chosen by Measurer.
Then these three came before the prince
hardy and heart-wise, where the heathen sat,
the king eager for his retinue, in the Chaldean city.
Then they were required to reveal their wisdom
the Hebrew men, to that proud king wordfully,
their high mind-power through their holy hearts,
when the warrior ordered, the warden of Babylon,
the stern-minded king, his own thanes, his first-spears,
upon their lives to ensure that there would be no lack
of food or clothing in this worldly life for these three young men. (88-103)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daniel Begins


Missing the act of translation, and the good feeling it inspires in me, I finally got around to downloading an electronic text of Daniel, Christ A, B & C, and Judith. These are the last three narrative poems in the Anglo-Saxon corpus (except for Beowulf, of course), and the final stops on the crazy, madcap journey that has been the Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry Project.

I think I'm going to start with Daniel, since it is the one that I'm the least familiar with.

Here are the first few lines, and they felt great to work on:

I have that the Hebrews lived blessedly
in Jerusalem, parting out their gold-hoard,
holding their own sovereignty, as was natural to them,
since through the might of the Measurer into Moses hand
the war and the host of warriors were delivered,
and they marched forth from Egypt with a great many.
They were a proud people!
So long as they were allowed to rule their realm,
and survey their cities, bright prosperity was theirs—
so long as that folk kept the covenant of their fathers.
God himself strengthened them, the Heaven-Realm’s Ward,
the Holy Lord, the Keeper of Glory.
He gave their armies spirit and power, the Lord of All Creatures,
so that they crushed the resistance of many peoples,
the helmets of armies, those who pledged them no loyalty,
until a pride seized them at their wine-feasts,
with devil-deeds and drunken thoughts.
Then they abandoned their law-crafts,
the power of their Maker, just as no man should
part the love of his soul from God. (1-21)

Then I saw that people turning towards error,
the kindred of Israel, doing unright and working sin.
That was an affliction to God!
Often he sent to that nation as teachers,
the Warden of Heaven-Realm, holy spirits
who tended wisdom for that host.
They would trust in the truth of those wise men
for a little while, until the longing for earthy joys
betrayed them of lasting good,
so that they forsook at the utmost end themselves
and the glories of God, choosing the devil’s craft. (22-32)

More to come in the next few days. I just need to figure out how the Junius MS divides the poem up into sections, and I will open up the blog page devoted to the poem. Keep an eye out!

Monday, November 12, 2012


It's been a little while since there has been an update. I must confess that I am having motivational difficulties getting through the Metres of Boethius. It desperately needs an updated translation, but I am beginning to think that I am not the one to produce it.

See, the problem is that Boethius must be the most boring, sententious poet out there. I understand that as a metrical innovator he is quite spectacular and a great deal is lost in the transmission from Latin to Anglo-Saxon and then into my own modern English. But thematically the Metres are a concatenation on one tiresome note. There is precious little of the dynamic tension (now we are in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I guess) I am accustomed to seeing the narrative poems, a dazzling vitality that I have felt equal to reproducing in my translations. Nope, the Metres is just a frog-march, and my own lyrical inadequacies make the process even more painful to endure. So I am giving it up for the time being. Maybe I will come back to it later. Who knows?

So, I think I should get back into the few remaining narrative poems. That would be just Daniel and the latter two parts of Christ. Perhaps I will start them soon. I have been missing the process and pleasures of translation a great deal.

Another thing that needs to happen is the process of revising the extant translations, especially Genesis A&B. I have a body of comments that need to be incorporated, both from the blog and from my students in my Spring 2012 Anglo-Saxon poetry course.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Metres VII

We're back from Wyoming and the verse that I left unfinished on my way out is done for now.


VII (II met.iv)

Next Lady Wisdom attended to her practice,
singing her wise words, a poem according to her message,
chanting a certain true statement further,
speaking that she had never heard that on a high hill
any man could establish a firm-roofed hall.

“No man needs also to believe in these works,
to ever mediate wisdom with pride.
Have you ever heard that any man
who could set a fixed hall on a sand dune?

“Nor could any man raise up wisdom where
covetousness overshadows the mountains.
Bare sand will swallow the rains,
and so does the bottomless greed of the rich
for boasting and trinkets,
drinking to the dregs failing prosperity,
and though the thirst of these beggars will never be cooled.

“Nor can the house of man last for long
on the mountainside, because the swift winds
will sweep it down suddenly.
Nor will sand be any better guardian
of the house to any man against a great rain,
but it will be tumbled to the ground,
the sand sinking after the downpour.

“So will be the mind of every lonely man
greatly undermined from an agitated place,
when the wind of worldly misery
under the skies strongly troubles it,
or the fierce rains moves it about—
a certain anxiety, universal superfluity.

“But he who wishes to possess true and eternal happiness,
he shall quickly fly from these worldly facades,
and build himself afterwards a house of the mind,
where he can find humble stones, a huge fortress
and a ready foundation.

“He will not need to collapse though the winds
of worldly misery should drive against it
or intense rains of anxiety, because in that valley
the lord of settled humility himself dwells,
were wisdom always abides in the mind.
Therefore wise world-men may always lead a secure life
without alteration.

“Then he would reject all this earthly good
and also become accustomed to its predictable evils,
expecting them eternally to follow after,
and then almighty good from every direction
continually and always keeps him
the one dwelling alone through the Measurer’s grace,
though the wind of worldly woe troubles him
greatly and eternal care encumber him,
then the grim wind of worldly good blows angrily
against him, although always his anxiety
of worldly fortune cruelly afflicts him.”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Metres V (provisionally)

Here is my rough version of Metres V, which I will post for comment as I am on my way out the door for a month of camping in Wyoming. Please send me your thoughts on what's there & how it can be made better. There were several places I must confess where I had no idea what the poem was literally trying to say, and so my attempts to smooth the translation out is even more provisional than usual.

[Edit:] I just located a modern English translation of both the Metres of Boethius and Alfred's translation of the Consolation of Philosophy online, done by John Sedgefield in the early twentieth century. Both will be of great use when confronting some of the more difficult passages in the poems. Expect some changes upon my return as I digest the other translation.

[2nd Edit:] Just reworded much of my translation of Metres V (see below), after comparing Sedgeworth to what I had done.


You can perceive clearly by the sun
and by all the other stars which brightest shine across the cities.
If the dark clouds should hang before them,
then they could not send down their rays so radiant,
until the thick clouds become thinned.

So often the south wind grimly stirs up
the smooth sea, grey and glassy-clear,
when they are mixed by a great tempest,
moving the whale-waters—then they are false
whose face was gleaming before.

So often the wellspring washes forth
from the hoary cliffs, cool and pure,
and flows straight down by rights,
running along with its landscape,
until the mountain’s mighty stone
cleaves it from within, and lies in its midst,
rolling away from that peak.
Afterwards it becomes separated into two—
the brightness of the brook is disturbed and blended,
the stream is diverted from its straight course,
running apart in rivulets.

So now the shadows of your heart
wishes to withstand the light of my teaching
and greatly disturb your heart-thoughts.
But if you now desire it, as well as you might,
to plainly perceive that true light,
that bright belief, you must forsake
this idle and excessive delight, this useless joy.

You must as well abandon the wicked fear
of earthly miseries, nor may you despair for them all,
nor ever allow yourself to be weakened by pride,
lest you become disgraced with your arrogance soon,
and raised up with carelessness and worldly delight.
Nor despair even so weakly in any good things,
when your adversary fattens you for the world,
you may be oppressed by these matters and you
may dread them very strongly. Because the mind
will always be greatly bound up with confusion,
if both of these evils may vex it and toil within.

Therefore these two misfortunes draw together
against the mind before the mist of error,
that the eternal sun may not illuminate it within,
due to the dark clouds, before they melt away.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Metres VI

Here is Metres VI, a nice short one.

----------------------- VI (II met.iii)

Then Lady Wisdom unlocked her word-hoard,
singing truth-saws and speaking in this way:

“When the sun is shining its clearest and brightest
from heaven, it quickly becomes obscured
all over the earth by another object in space,
and then its brilliance becomes nothing,
set against the light of the sun.

When the gentle wind blows from the south or west
under the heavens, then the blossoms of the field
quickly grow up and are allowed to be joyful.
But the storm so stark, when he comes in strength,
from the north or the east, he swiftly seizes the lovely rose—
and also the northern tempest afflicts the spacious sea,
stirring it up strongly, beating upon its own shores.

Alas, nothing on earth is of stable work
and may not ever abide in this world!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I have finished relineating the Christ and Satan translation in accordance with my sense of the free verse's rhythm. It still may not be right, so it may change again as I keep pondering it and reading it aloud. Check it out when you have a chance (link is available from the sidebar on the right).

Monday, July 23, 2012

Metres I finally

Here is the lengthy preamble, which introduces the situation of the Metres of Boethius.


It was long ago that the eastern Goths
led their shields from Scythia,
hurrying in a horde, into many settled lands,
setting out southward, two victorious peoples—
the realm of the Goths grew year by year.
They had two kings of their own kind,
Raedgod and Alaric. Their rule prospered.
Then many Goths horded over the Alps,
full of boasting, yearning for war
and the struggles between peoples.
Their banners waved, bright upon the bole.
Their warriors thought to overcome
all of Italy and its shielded soldiers.

They so endured even from the Alps
unto the noted shores where Sicily,
a great island in the sea-currents,
makes her illustrious homeland.

Then was won the realm of the Romans,
the choicest of cities broken apart.
Rome was opened by the battle-warriors.
Raedgod and Alaric went into the fortress.
The Caesar fled with his nobles into Greece.

Nor could the survivors resist them by warfare,
the Goths with battle. The home-guards gave up
unwillingly the treasures of their elders
and holy oaths. There was woe everywhere.
Although the pride of warriors was with the Greeks,
if they dared to follow the people’s chieftains.
He stood for a time among that nation.

The people were conquered
for many winters, until events decreed
that the thanes and earls must obey Theodoric.
There was the chieftain dedicated to Christ,
the king himself took on the custom of baptism.
Every child of Rome rejoiced
and swiftly begged for peace from him.

Theodoric firmly commanded that
they should continue to enjoy
all of their ancient rights
in that wealthy city,
so long as God would allow him
to possess power over the Goths.
But he deceived them all.

The heresy of Arrian was preferable
to that nobleman than the Lord’s law.
He ordered that John, the good pope,
would have his head chopped off—
that was not a noble deed.
There were countless other evils
that the Goth performed
against all of the good people.

Then there was a certain wealthy man
in the city of Rome, elevated to consul,
and dear to his lord while
the Greeks held the throne.
That man was righteous; there was not
among the Rome-dwellers
a more generous giver of treasure
for long afterwards.

He was wise in the world, eager for honor,
a man learned in books, Boethius
was he called, who received much fame.
The evil and disgrace revealed by foreign kings
was very much in his memory, at all times.
He was faithful to the Greeks,
remembering the honor and ancient rights
that his ancestors long possessed among them,
the affection and the favor.

He pondered only one desperate desire,
how to convince the Greeks to invade
so that the Caesar would be allowed
to possess power again over the Romans.

He secretly sent a message to his old masters,
and begged them for their former troth to their lord
to come into the city soon, and allow the Greek counselors
to advise the Rome-dwellers, and to allow
the country to enjoy their rights.

When Theodoric Amuling perceived that instruction,
he seized his thegn, ordering that
the nation’s nobles keep fast their consul.
His mind was turbulent, terrified
of that earl. He ordered him to be
locked within a prison cell.

Then was the understanding of Boethius
greatly troubled. He had enjoyed long before
his pride beneath the sky.
He could suffer worse at that time,
when things became difficult.

Then the nobleman grew to despair,
he could not turn towards his former favor
nor could remember the comforts in that fastness,
but he fell upon the floor, stretched out and prostrate,
beneath the hillside, ands spoke many words,
severely despairing.

Nor did he ever turn from there
or come out of his chains.
He called out to the Lord
in voice more miserable,
and sang out in this manner:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Metres IV

This one gave me a lot of trouble -- and without a previous translation from which to get a second opinion, I really had to blaze my own trail through here. Won't be the last time, I'm sure.

Let me know what you think, and if it seems that I'm really heading off in the wrong direction.


O, you the shaper of the stars that shine,
the heavens and the earth. You on your lofty throne
reign for eternity, and you swiftly
orbit the whole universe, and through your holy power
compel the stars to obey you.
The sun is likewise quenched by the shadows
of the dark night through your might.

The glowing stars with their pure light
govern the moon through your magnificence,
while sometimes the sun is deprived
of her own bright illumination, when it can be hidden
and when it is sufficient by necessity.

Likewise the greatest morning-star,
which we also call the Even-star, obeys
that call, when you compel him to attend
to the journey of the sun—every year
he must come before his companion.

Listen Father, you transform
the summer-long days so warm
into winter-days wondrously short
and determine their time.
You give the trees all their leaves,
which, in the south and the west,
the north and the east, that black storm
had earlier seized by its hateful wind.

And lo! all creation hears your command,
and performs it on earth just as in the heavens,
with all their heart and ability,
all except for humanity alone,
who very often works against your will.

Alas! you are the Eternal and the Almighty,
the Shaper and the Director of all creation —
your arms are a mercy, the seeds of the earth
are mankind, all through your magnificence.

Why then, God Eternal, would you ever wish
that fortune should turn upon your desire
toward the evils of all men so prevalent?
She very often injures the innocent.

Wicked men sit throughout the realm of earth
upon high thrones, oppressing the righteous
under their feet. It is unknown to men
why fortune should turn out so perverse.
So these bright skills are hidden
here in this world throughout many cities.

The unrighteous for all time wickedly
possess those things which belongs to them.
Those wiser of right, more worthy of rule—
vain treachery will be theirs for many years,
clothed with trickery. Here in the world
now their wicked oaths are not impaired by men.

If you, Wielder, will not now steer events
but allow them to degrade of your self-will,
then I know that men of the world will know doubt
across the corners of the earth, without one joy.

Alas, my Lord, you who oversee all
the world’s creation, look upon mankind now
with mild eyes, now the multitude here
struggles and strives against the waves of the world,
the miserable citizens of the earth—
be merciful to them now.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Metres III


Alas! In what grim and groundless pit
does the troubled mind labor?
When the strong storms of worldly affairs
beat upon it. When its own light

abandons it, struggling and alone.
And, amid the woes thronging in the darkness
of this world, it forgets, perturbed by sorrows,
these eternal joys. Such has occurred now

to this mind, now that it knows nothing more
of the good of God except mourning,
estranged from the world.
Such a man needs comfort.

Metres II

So here we have the second of the Metres of Boethius, since the first one is taking me longer than I anticipated. The translation is more loose than I am accustomed to doing, as I am trying to project myself lyrically, but it is still quite close to the original. The stanza form does not, of course, occur in the original.



Listen! One time long ago I sang many songs heartily—
but now I am a wretched outcast lamenting
troubled by my own wailing. I must sing painful tunes.

I have suppressed my sighing and my sobs
and so I cannot compose so completely
these songs, though I have been allowed to set down

many truthful refrains in former times, when I was happier.
Often I completely fail to speak clearly
and at times my words are found too rough.

These worldly blessings enjoyed by all
have abandoned me, foolish and
blinded in this darksome hole,

and then I was robbed of counsel and comfort
for their treachery of this world,
which I always trusted in the most.

They turned their bitter backs to me,
and their bliss turned away from me.
Why do you wish, my worldly friend,

to say and to sing that I was a blessed man
in this existence? These words are not true,
and these boons can not always abide.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Translation Idea

I was working at relineating my previous trnaslation when it struck me. Instead of hitting another narrative poem right away (Daniel or Christx3, most likely), why don't I work on a text that really has not been translating in a long time. The answer to that, my friends, is the Metres of Boethius. It would mean experimenting with lyric forms and voices, something that I have only poked around at, but it could really be a service to the Anglo-Saxon community to produce a contemporary translation of this valuable text.

I already have started working on it, in fact, months and months ago, and so have the prologue done Right now, I'm trying to find a more updated text than the ASPR version.



In this way Alfred, the king of the West-Saxons,
narrated this old story to us, announcing his art,
the skill of a song-maker. In him was a great desire
to proclaim these poems unto his peoples, a mirth for men,
these miscellaneous songs, so that his ardor would drive out
the arrogant man—then the one who is ill-equipped
in such things would correct him for his pride.
Yet I shall speak this counsel known to the people,
taking it up in verse, and say unto men. Listen who will!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally, C&S XII

Here is the final, long section of Christ & Satan for your approval. Relineatio is underway for the preceding sections, and I more or less followed my own count as I translated this last part, so I shouldn't expect the rest to be that much different than this one.

What comes next? Either Daniel or the three Christ poems I should think, since they both have their narrative moments. Some more of the shorter poems could pop out as well ---------------------

Now that Prince renowned has announced to us,
Almighty God, the Lord himself, on Doomsday.
He has commanded the high-angels in a booming voice
to blow their horns over the city’s habitations
throughout the corners of the earth.
Then from this earth humans shall awaken—
the dead from the dust arising through the Lord’s might.
That will be the longest day, and the greatest din
loudly heard, when the Savior arrives,
the Wielder amid the clouds coming in this world. (597-607)

Then he will part out the fair and the unclean
into two halves, the good and the evil.
Then the truth-fast on his right hand
will rise to their rest with the Warden of Heaven.
Then they will be overjoyed, those allowed into the city
to go the realm of God,
and he will bless them with his right hand,
the King of All Creation, calling over them all:
“You are all welcome! Go into the light of glory
to the kingdom of heaven, where you shall have
always and forever eternal rest.” (608-18)

Then the evil-doers will stand there, those who have sinned—
they will be quaking when the Son of God
will judge them through the power of his deeds.
They will hope that they will be allowed into the famous city
upwards to the angels, just as the others were,
but the Eternal Lord shall speak to them,
saying over them all:
“Dive down now, accursed, into that house of torment
with the greatest haste. I do not know you now.” (619-27)

At once after those words, the cursed spirits,
the captives of hell, hurry them on their way
by the thousands, and lead them in that direction
into the cavern of criminals, shoving them to the bottom,
into evil’s narrowness—and never afterwards
will they ever be allowed upwards from there,
but there they must suffer miserable tortures,
bonds and imprisonment, and endure
the deep frozen bottom of hell and devils’ talk.
Oh, how they will be often ordained in shame
by swarthy and painful killers, fiends confessing
in violence and sin, where they have often forgotten
their Free Lord, the Eternal Governor,
who should have been a hope to them.
Let us, lo! consider how throughout this world
we have begun to obey our Savior! (628-43)

Eagerly through the grace of God let us remember the fruit of the spirit,
how blessed it is where he sits on high
himself among the clouds, the Son of the Savior.
There is a golden gate, adorned with gemstones,
wound up in delights, for those who are allowed
to go into the light of glory, the kingdom of God,
and around those walls they shine beautifully,
the spirits of angels and the souls of the blessed,
who have journeyed thence.
There the martyrs are pleasing to the Measurer,
and praise the High-Father with holy voices,
the King in his city. They all call out thus:
“You are the Helm of Heroes and the Heaven-Judge,
the First Chief of Angels, and the Issue of the Earth.
You have conducted us up to this blessed home!” (644-58)

So they praised the Warden of Glory wordfully,
the thanes around their Lord—there is great majesty,
a song at his throne, and he is himself the king,
the Lord of All, in that eternal creation. (659-62)

[Though there is no section break here, the topic of the poem seems to change]

That is the Lord, he who suffered
death for us, the Prince of Angels.
Likewise, he fasted for forty days,
the Measurer of Mankind through the power of his mercy.
And then it happened that the Accursed, who was previously cast down
from heaven and who sank down into hell,
then he tempted the King of All Beings.
He brought to his lap broad stones,
and commanded him for his hunger to create loaves—
“If you have a power so great.”
Then the Eternal Lord answered him… (663-73)

[no break in MS, but a gap in sense is posited here]

“Don’t you know, cursed one, that it was written,
'But for me alone…'?
Yet you have set it down, O Owner of Victory,
the light of the living, reward without end,
in heaven’s realm, and holy delights.” (674-78)

Then he took Jesus Christ up with his hands,
the terrible one through scorn, and heaved him upon his shoulder,
the spirit of evil’s harm, and mounted up to a mountain,
setting him upon its peak, the Savior Lord:
“Look now full wide, over the land-dwellers.
I shall give you into your own power
people and earth. Take from me in this place
both city and spacious dwelling into your power,
of the rule of heaven, if you are the rightful king
of angels and men, as you have before thought.” (679-88)

Next the Eternal Lord answered him:
“Depart, accursed, into your cavern of pain,
Satan yourself. For you is surely torment
prepared, not at all the realm of God.
But I command you through the highest power
to announce no hope unto the hell-dwellers
but you can speak of the greatest sorrow to them,
that you met the Measurer of All Creatures,
the King of Mankind. Turn yourself behind me!
Know you as well, accursed, how wide and broad
and dreary is the vault of hell, and measure it with your hands!
Grip it by the ground—proceed like that
until you know all its circuit
and measure it first from above all the way to the bottom,
and how broad is its black breath.
Then you shall know the more eagerly that you have struggled against God,
after you have measured it then with your hands
how high and how deep hell may be within,
the grim grave-house. Go quickly to it,
before two hours are past,
so that you have measured the home marked out for you.” (689-709)

At that point wrack came resting upon that cursed being.
Satan himself ran away and fell into torment,
the wretched monster. Sometimes he measured with his hands
its woe and its tortures. Sometimes the dark flame
leapt against the hateful. Sometimes he saw lying
the captives in hell. Sometimes a cry mounted up
when they saw with their eyes in that terrible place.
The opponents of God had struggled […]
the black spirit of harm, that stood upon the floor. (710-18)

Then it seemed to him that there was from there
to the doors of hell a hundred thousand
miles reckoned out, just as the Mighty had ordered him
that through his own craft to measure out his torment.
Then he remembered that he stood at the very bottom.
He looked about without hope across that hateful hole,
the terror with his eyes, until the terrible horror,
a host of devils climbed up then. (719-26)

With words of pain, those cursed ghasts began
to speak and tell:
“Alas! May evil be upon you always! You never wished for good!” (727-29)

Finit Liber II. Amen.

Relineation underway

The process of relineating Christ & Satan has started. Sections I & II are completed. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Metrical Charm 6: For a Delayed Birth

Another translation made for a student, for an assignmentn using the Word Exchange as a point of comparision.


The woman, who cannot nourish her child, should go to a man’s grave and step over the grave three times and three times speak these words:

“This is my remedy—against the hateful late-birth,
This is my remedy —against the grievous heavy-birth,
This is my remedy—against the hateful lame-birth.”

And when that woman is with child and she goes to rest with her husband, then she should say:

“Up I go, and I step over you
With my living child, not at all with a dead one
Not at all with a full-born one, not at all with a doomed one.”

And when the mother feels that her baby is alive, she should go then to a church, and then she should come before the altar, and say this:

“Christ, I have said, make this known!”

The woman, who cannot nourish her child, should take herself some piece from the grave of her own child, and wrap it afterwards in black wool and sell it to merchants and speak this:

“I sell this! You sell this!
This dark wool and these grains of sorrow!”

The woman, who cannot nourish her child, should take a milk cow of one color in her hand and sip from it with her mouth and then go to running water and spit the milk into it there and then draw up a mouthful of that water with the same hand and swallow it. Then she should speak these words:

“Everywhere I have carried this glorious, strong child
By means of this glorious, strong nourishment
I will keep him for myself and go home.”

When she goes down to the brook, she should not look back nor again when she goes from there, and then she should go into a house other than the one she left, and there she should eat some food.

The Rune Poem

A translation I made to help out one of my students this past semester. It was intended to be baldly literal, and so of assistance when trying to figure out where James Harpur's version in The Word Exchange was taking liberties. (I was so happy nobody chose the Riming Poem for their comparision...) That version is charming, even if it goes too far sometimes (see for example the stanza about the river-fish).


Wealth is a comfort to every man,
Although every man must share it out greatly
If he would obtain a portion of the Lord’s glory.

The ox is single-minded and over-horned,
A very savage beast, fighting with his horns,
A famous moor-stepper. That is a proud creature.

Thorns are severely sharp. To any thane
Seizing it is an evil, measurelessly cruel
To every man who comes to rest upon it.

The mouth is the beginning of all speech,
A support to wisdom and a comfort to the wise,
And a prosperity and trust to every earl.

Riding is a comfort to every warrior
in the hall, and very trying to those who sit upon
A powerful courser over the mile-paths.

A torch is known by every living being to be on fire,
White and bright, most often burning
Where the nobles rest themselves within.

Gifts are an honor and praise of men,
A support and a distinction, and to every wretch
Mercy and meat to those who are free from other possessions.

Joy is enjoyed by those who little know of woe,
Pains and sorrow, and to those who have of themselves
Profit and bliss and also many citadels.

Hail is the whitest of grains. It comes down from heaven’s breeze,
The wind’s showers rolls it down, and after it becomes water.

Need is a constraint on the breast, although it often becomes to the sons of men
A help and a healing of every one, if they hearken to his demands before.

Ice is really cold, measurelessly slippery
Glistening clear as glass, most like gemstones
A floor created by frost, and a fair face.

The new year is the hope of men, when God allows,
The Holy Heaven’s King, the earth to give
Her bright fruits to rich and poor alike.

The yew is an unsmooth tree without,
Hard, fixed to the earth, a warden of fires,
Supported by its roots, a joy in the home.

Peorth is always a play and laughter
To the proud where warriors sit
In the beer-hall, happy together.

Elk-sedge keeps its home most often in the swamps,
It grows in the water, and grimly wounds,
It burns the blood of any man
Who grasps it.

The sun is ever a hope to seamen,
When they carry themselves over the fishes’ bath,
Until their brine-horses bring them to shore.

Tir is a certain token, it keeps its troth well
With noble men. It is always on its journey
Over the clouds of night, never wandering.

Birch lacks fruit, even though it bears
Shoots without seed. It is lovely in its branches,
High in its crown and fairly adorned,
Laden with leaves, pressing into the breeze.

Horses are for earls the joy of noblemen,
A steed proud in its hooves, where the heroes about him,
Prosperous on horseback, weave their speech,
And ever a comfort to those on the move.

Man is in mirth, dear to his brother;
Though every one must depart to another place,
Because the Lord wishes, through his own doom,
That our wretched flesh be commended to the earth.

The waters seem to men to be broad,
If they should venture upon an unstable ship,
And the sea-waves terrify them so,
And the brine-horse cares not for his bridle.

Ing was first among the Eastern Danes
seen by men, until he soon afterwards
departed over the ways, a wagon running after him.
Thus bold men named this hero.

A homeland is very dear to every man,
If there he may enjoy in his household
What is right and fitting, very often with its fruits.

The day is the Lord’s message, dear to men,
the renowned light of the Measurer, a mirth and troth
to the prosperous and the wretched, useful to all.

The oak is fodder for flesh on earth
For the sons of men. It frequently ferries
Over the gannet’s bath. The spear-waves test
Whether the oak possesses reliability for noble men.

The ash is very tall, dear to men,
Stout in its trunk, its hilt is rightfully fixed,
Although it fights against many men.

A bow is for every noble and earl
A joy and an honor. It is fair on horseback,
Support on a journey, some part of a warrior’s tackle.

The gar is a river-fish, and though he takes
His food on land, he owns a lovely home
Surrounded by water, where he lives in joy.

The grave is terrible to every earl,
When the fixed flesh begins,
The corpse cooling, to choose the earth
Paleness as its bedmate. Fruits fail,
Joys depart, mankind ceases [to be].

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I think I've had just about enough of this lineation for the translation. There doesn't feel like there is any poetic transformation in what I've done and the rhythm just isn't right. Once I've finished rendering the whole poem, I am going to recast the lines so they satisfy my sense of flow and tension.


Then the Eternal Lord was upon the earth
forty days, followed by the people,
revealed to mankind, before he would bring
the Holy Ghost to the heavenly realm,
the Chief of the City-Folk into that famous creation.
He mounted up into heaven, the Shaper of Angels,
the Wielder of Hosts. Then came the voice of the skies,
holy from heaven. Amidst it was the hand of God,
receiving that Free-Lord, and leading him forth
into the holy home, the Prince of Heaven.
Crowds of angels fluttered about him
by the thousands. (557-68a)

Then it happened thus,
when the Savior Christ yet spoke that
he would in about ten nights strengthen
his disciples, his twelve apostles, with the grace of his spirit.
Then he had established uncountable souls,
the Living God. One of these was Judas,
who had earlier sold out the Bright One as a sacrifice,
the Saving Lord. That deed prospered him little,
after he had betrayed the Child of the Sovereign
for silver treasures. The wretched monster
darkly requited him that inside hell. (568b-78)

The Son now sits at his Father’s right hand.
He doles out every day, the Lord of Armies,
help and salvation to all the children of men
throughout middle-earth. That is known to many
that he alone is the Wright and Master
of all creation through his glorious craft.
The Sovereign sits in heaven with the prophets
and holy angels. The Child of Glory keeps
his own throne surrounded by the skies. (579-87)

Lead us there to the light through his leechcraft,
where we might ourselves be seated with the Lord,
upwards among the angels, and keep that same light
where his holy household now dwells,
living in delight—where the fruits of glory
are brightly revealed. Let us think well
so that we obey eagerly the Savior,
be pleasing to Christ. There is a life more excellent
than we may ever acquire here on earth. (588-96)

Monday, July 9, 2012

C&S IX & X

Only two more sections of C&S to go!!



Then the Eternal Lord allowed them to travel upwards
in their glory. He had inflicted chains of torment
upon the fiends, and thrust them further
into the abjected darkness, bowed them down into constraint,
where now Satan harangues them darkly,
that wretched monster, and the terrible ones with him,
wearied with tortures. Not at all may they
hold the light of glory, but only the bottom of hell,
nor may they ever hope for their return
afterwards. The Lord God became angered
with them, and gave them the chains of torment,
pain as possession, and the despair of terror,
the shadows of death, dim and darkened,
the hot ground of hell and the fear of death. (441-54)

That, lo, was lovely when the foot soldiers returned
up to their homeland, with the Eternal amid them,
the Measurer of Mankind, into that renowned city!
They heaved them up among them upon holy hands,
the prophets up to their native land, the kindred of Abraham.
Then the Lord himself had subjugated death
and put the enemy to flight. That in days of old
the prophets had said that he would do so.
This was all accomplished in the early morning,
before the rush of dawn, that the crashing came down
loud from heaven, when the doors of hell
were broken open and bowed down. The killers were worn down
when they spied the beams of light so radiant. (455-67)

Then was the Eldest Child of God sitting among his army,
and he said in truth-words: “Wise spirits,
I have wrought you all through my might,
Adam first and his noble wife.
Then they begat by the pleasure of God
forty children so that forth from there
a multitude was born in middle-earth
and they were allowed to dwell for many winters,
noblemen in the native lands, until it soon happened
that the enemy in his crimes soon estranged them.
Fault is everywhere! (468-78)

“I set up in this new Paradise-plain
a tree with branches, so that the boughs bore
apples high up in them, and you two ate them,
the bright fruits as the harmer ordered you to,
the hand-thane of hell. Therefore you held the hot deeps
because you disobeyed the word of the Savior,
and ate this terrible thing. The monster was before you,
the one that gave you both baleful thoughts. (479-86)

“Then I rued that my own handiwork
should suffer the bonds of this prison.
There was no capacity of men, no power of angels,
no deed of prophets, no wisdom of humans,
that might assist you, except the Savior God,
he who established that torment before in revenge.
I ventured to earth, through the office of women,
down from my native home, and experienced on earth
many tortures and much injury.
Many men contrived about me,
by day and by night, how they might
do me the blow of death, the rulers of realms. (487-98)

Then did the appointed time pass by
that I was in this world, a count of winters,
three and thirty years, before I was to suffer.
I remembered this multitude and my home—
long might I lead them from captivity to home,
upwards to my homeland, so that they should possess
the glories of the Lord and the majesty of his magnificence.
They should dwell in delights, having the fruits of glory
by the thousands. I interceded for you
when men stuck me with spears upon the cross,
upon the gallows. The young man struck me there—
and I came soon upwards to the eternal joys
and to the Holy Lord.” (499-511)


So spoke the Warden of Glory wordfully,
the Measurer of Mankind, early in the morning
after the Lord God had arisen from death.
There was no stone so strongly fastened,
though it were entirely embraced by iron,
that could oppose his great power,
but he went out, the Lord of Angels,
into the fastness and ordered his angels
all-bright to bring near his cherished disciples
and ordered them to say especially to Simon Peter
that he could look lout for God in Galilee,
active and eternal, just as he did before. (512-23)

Then I have heard that the disciples went together,
all of them to Galilee—they had the fruit of the spirit,
perceiving the Son of Holy God
so they saw where the Son of the Measurer
as he stood on high, the Eternal Lord,
God in Galilee. The disciples all ran
to that one, to where the Eternal was.
They fell upon the ground, and bowed to his feet,
thanking their Prince that it had thus happened
that they had seen the Shaper of Angels.
Then at once spoke Simon Peter: (524-34)

“Are you, Lord, worthied with this glory?
We have seen you at one moment,
a heathen man laying hateful bonds upon you
with his hands. It will grieve them
when they are soon shown their final fate.” (535-39)

Some could not recognize him in their hearts
One, named Didimus, was dear to the Lord
before he handled the Savior with his own hands
about the side where he was losing blood.
It fell to the earth, baptism’s bath.
Lovely was that action that the Free Lord
endured, our Prince.
He mounted onto the cross and his blood poured out,
God upon the gallows, through the power of his spirit. (540-48)

Therefore men must at all times
say thanks to the Lord in their deeds and works,
because he led us home out of captivity,
upwards to the homeland, where he should own
the glory of the Lord,
and we in our delights are allowed to dwell.
For us is the light of glory
revealed brightly, to those who think well. (549-56)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Christ & Satan VIII

The subject of the poem now moves to the Harrowing of Hell, stepping a bit outside the chronological progression of events, but showing another victory of God as Christ over the powers of Satan. The first two episodes show the cosmic inevitability of Satan's defeat to the force of the divinity of Christ. If I have figured this correctly, the poem will find its culmination in the victory of Christ the Man over the temptations of Satan in the poem's final episode in the wilderness, which directly links the need to resist evil to our condition as humans, bringing the poem to a rousing call for action.


That angel-kin once was named,
called Lucifer the light-bearer,
in years gone by in God’s kingdom.
Then he incited a crime in that home of glory,
and desired to possess it all in over-pride.
Then Satan darkly thought
that he would create a high-throne in heaven
upwards among the eternal. He was their prince,
the first-chief of evil. It soon grieved him
when he had to bow towards hell
and his fellows with him, gliding into abjection,
the hatred of the Savior and never afterwards
were they allowed to witness the face of the Eternal One
forever and ever. (365-78a)

Then terror came to them,
and a crash before the Deemer, when he bowed
and broke the doors of hell. Bliss came to men
when they saw the head of the Savior.
Then was that awful folk, who we named before,
they were all frightened with terror,
widely throughout their windy hall, and they complained wordfully:
“This is harsh now that this storm comes—
the thanes in their host, the Prince of Angels.
He carries before him a more beautiful light
than we have ever before seen with our eyes,
except when we dwelt upwards among the angels. (378b-89)

“Now he will destroy all our torments
through his glorious skill. Now this terror comes,
a crash before the Lord, and now this sorrowful crowd
must soon endure suffering.
It is that one himself, the Son of the Sovereign,
the Lord of Angels. He will lead these souls
upwards from here, and we afterwards always
will suffer the humiliation of his wrathful works.” (390-97)

Then he turned to hell, the Hero of Men,
the Measurer by his might. He wished to lead
forth a number of men, many thousands
up to his homeland. Then came the voices of angels,
a thundering at the crash of dawn. The Lord himself had
conquered the enemy. Their feud was still evident
at the start of day, when the terror came.
Then he allowed the blessed souls to voyage up,
the kindred of Adam, but Eve might not yet
look upon the glory before she spoke wordfully: (398-407)

“I once angered you, Eternal Lord,
when we two, Adam and I, ate the apple
through the adder’s hatred, as we never should have.
The terrible one taught us, he that ever now
burns in his bonds, that we would own riches,
a holy home, and heaven to rule.
And we trusted the words of the cursed one,
we seized it with our hands on the holy tree,
the bright fruits. Bitterly we paid for it
when we must venture into this hot cavern,
and for untold thousands of winters
dwell there afterwards, severely ignited. (408-19)

“Now I implore you, Guardian of Heaven’s Realm,
for my household, that you lead us from here,
and your legions of angels, that I can and may
be taken upwards away, with my kinsfolk.
And about three nights ago, a servant of the Savior
came homewards to hell. He is now stoutly bound in captivity,
wearied with torments, because the Glory-King
became angered with him due to his pride.
You said to us truly that God himself
would illuminate this house for all hell-dwellers.
Then everyone arose and rested against his arm,
leaning against his hands. Though the terror of hell
seemed terrifying, they were all
joyful in their suffering that the Free-Lord
wished to come to hell to help them.” (420-34)

Then she stretched up her hands to the Heaven-King,
and begged the Measurer for mercy through the office of Mary:
“Listen! you are, my Lord, born from my daughter
in middle-earth, to be a help to all mankind.
Now it is obvious that you are God himself
and the Eternal First-Chief of all creation.” (435-40)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Christ/Satan VII

Alas it is so! The accursed thought in his anger
that he wished to obey no longer the Heaven-King,
the Comforting Father. The bottom of hell boiled with venom,
hot under the captives. The devils howled widely
throughout their windy hall, bewailing their woes,
their wickedness and deadly sin. There was a multitude there
so immolated—that was all a very strong fate.
Then was their lord, who had come first
forth among the foot-soldiers, bound fast
in fire and licking flame. That was an unceasing calamity.
His thanes must also dwell there
in that terrible homeland, not at all up there
hearing in heaven that holy delight
where they had often a lovely following
upwards among the angels. They were not allowed to dwell
with any of the good things, except for the fires of the abyss,
and that cursed hall where there are woes and cries
widely heard, and a gnashing of teeth,
and the lamentations of men. (315-33)

Nor had he any hope except for chill and fire,
woe and torment, and a mass of serpents,
dragons and adders—and that darksome abode.
Therefore one could hear, he who was
twelve miles from hell, there was a grinding of teeth,
loud and miserable. The adversaries of God
traveled throughout hell, kindled in heat
from above and without—their woe was everywhere—
wearied with torture, beshorn of glory,
deprived of delights. They heaved up profound thoughts,
when they had established their homes in heaven,
that they wished to seize from the Savior Christ
the kingdom of heaven, yet he had rightfully maintained
the heavenly household and that holy throne. (334-47)

There is no one so wise nor so crafty,
nor so knowledgeable except God himself
that could speak of the light of heaven;
how its rays shone there from all about
by the might of the Measurer, throughout that famous kin,
there the angels hold blessed delights
and the saints sing before God (that is he himself). (348-54)

Then there are the blessed, who have come from earth,
bearing in their bosoms blossoms of sweet smell,
the pleasant herbs that are the word of God.
Then the Father of Mankind embraces them
and he blesses them with his mightier hand,
leading them into the light where they have life,
always and forever, in the lofty home,
that bright city-stead. Prosperity shall belong to all
who think to obey the Savior,
and it is well for them who can perform it. (355-64)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Christ & Satan VI

Work is moving forward on C&S. I have been doing something different with this poem, and preserving the editorial line-breaks from the ASPR version of the poem. It's an experiment, and one that I feel suits the sparseness of the poem. I might, however, decide to lineate the translation the way that I have the other ASNPP's poems, in the near future. I have to decide what I like better.


“Then it happened to us that we so wished
to drive out the Lord from his precious home,
the King from his fortress. It is widely known
that we must dwell on the exile’s track,
the grim ground. God himself
keeps the kingdom. He is the sole king,
who angered made this happen, the Eternal Lord,
the Measurer so mighty. Now must this host here
abide in their sins, some hurrying on the breeze,
flying over the earth. The flames are round about
around everyone, though he be up in the air.
Nor may he ever touch the souls of those who seek upwards,
blessed from the earth, though I will grab in my hands
the heathen opponents of God and take them to this ground. (254-68)

Some shall travel about throughout the lands of men
and without peace often disturb
the tribes of men throughout middle-earth.
I must suffer here every event
mourn these bitter harms and evils,
sick and sorrowful, because I wielded them myself
when I established a homeland in heaven
Whether the Eternal One will ever wish
to allow us to come home in heaven’s realm,
possessing our native seat, as he once did.” (269-78)

So mourned the adversaries of God,
hot in hell. For them was the wrath of God
the Savior was made for their blasphemous words.
Therefore one could conceive, every living person
whose heart avails, to remove himself
from wicked thoughts and hateful folly. (278-84)

Let us always remember in our hearts the strength of the Measurer
and to make ready a green road rising up before us,
upwards to the angels, where Almighty God is.
And the Free-born Son of God will embrace us
if we think first of him while we are on the earth,
and trust ourselves to his holy help.
Then he will not forsake us, but give us life instead
upwards amid the angels, and a blessed delight.
The Bright One will reveal to us a stable home,
the radiant city-walls. Radiantly they will shine
the blessed souls, deprived of their sorrows,
where they are ever allowed to dwell forthwards
at the citadel and regal throne. Let us make this known! (285-97)

Let us declare this upon the earth, where we formerly were living,
and unlock eagerly the strongbox of the Sovereign—
let our spirits understand! A thousand angels
will come toward us, if we are allowed to go thither,
and have labored for that while upon the earth.
Therefore he will be blessed who ever despised evil,
pleasing the Lord, and drowning his sins. So he will say himself: (298-305)

“Truth-fast men, like to the sun,
adorned beautifully in their Father’s kingdom,
shine in the shield-town.” There the Shaper himself
embraces them in amity, the Father of Mankind,
raises them graciously into the light of heaven,
where they may dwell with the Glory-King,
always forever—
they will possess the joy of all joys with the Lord God,
ever and forever, always without end. (306-14)

Monday, July 2, 2012

C&S III, IV, & V

Christ & Satan has been coming along well, with whole sections produced every time I sit down with it for a few hours. Things are helped greatly by its unique features: that is, that it seems to be built in very short sentences (unlike the Genesis, for example) and its relatively simple poetic diction and lack of kennings. What makes it harder is its orthography, which seems to be a combination of obscure dialect and late date of inscription or creation. The poetry changes so little from instance to instance that when something, like C&S, is different it really jumps out at you. I'm getting into the swing of things and so I'm feeling pretty good about how the poem is proceeding. Hope you enjoy the latest section!



And so that accursed ghast spoke wordfully
about his torments, all together,
guilty of his crimes. The flaming light stood
throughout that terrible cavern, mixed with venom:
“I am such a limb’s stature that I cannot lurk
in this broad hall, wounded by my sins.
Listen! Here heat and cold are at one time mingled;
at other times I hear infernal devils,
a mourning tribe, lamenting this ground
under the headlands At other times naked humans
struggle with serpents. This is a wind-torn hall
inward entirely filled with terrible things. (125-36)

“Nor may I enjoy a more hopeful home,
neither citadel or household, nor may I gaze
upon the brightness of creation with my eyes evermore.
I am now the worse that I ever knew
the light of glory upwards among the angels,
their song upon the wind, where the son of the Measurer,
the Blessed Child, has embraced them all
himself with a joyful noise. Nor may I harm
any of these souls —
except the lonely one who he will not keep.
Then I am allowed to haul that one into my house of captivity,
bring him into my homestead, onto this bitter ground. (137-48)

“We were all unalike
when we were formerly in heaven and earlier held
beauty and distinction. Very often the voice of glory
brought us to the breast of the Child of the Savior,
where we heaved up the words of a praise-song
about him, light around the beloved
and spoke them to the Lord. Now I am stained of deeds,
wounded with iniquities. Now I must bear burning
these chains of torment upon my back,
hot in hell, without the joy of hope.” (149-58)

Nevertheless the warden of many crimes spoke,
the terrible monster out from hell,
tired from his torments. Words flew out sparking,
much like poison when he forced them out:
“Alas the majesty of the Lord! Alas the Helm of Multitudes!
Alas the might of the Measurer! Alas middle-earth!
Alas the light of day! Alas the joys of God!
Alas the host of angels! Alas upper heaven!
Alas that I am without all the joys of eternity,
so that I cannot reach out to heaven with my hands,
nor may I look up with my eyes,
nor indeed shall I ever hear with my ears
the voice of the brightest trumpets!
because I wished to drive the Lord, the Son of the Measurer
from his throne, and keep its power of delight for myself,
the glory and the joy. But something worse befell me,
than I was allowed to have as a hope. (159-75)

“Now I am separated from that gleaming host,
withdrawn from the light into this hateful home.
Nor can I conceive how I have come into this place,
into this abjected cloud, stained with malicious sins,
cast out of the world. I know now this fact:
that he will deny the joys of eternity,
he that is the Heaven-King, to all who do not think to obey
or please the Measurer. I must endure this killing,
this woe and this torment and wrack,
deprived of good things, marked by my former-deeds,
because I thought to drive the Lord from his throne,
the Sovereign of Armies. I must now set myself
upon the ways of exile, sorrowing, upon these wide paths.” (176-88)


Then went he to hell, when he was prostrated,
the adversary of God, and so did his cohort,
gluttonous and greedy, when God pursued them
into that overheated house, which is named hell.
Therefore must every hero think about
how not to provoke the Child of the Wielder.
Let him take as an example how the black fiends
were for their over-pride entirely overcome.
Let us take as our delight the Lord of Hosts,
upwards in eternal joy, the Wielder of Angels.
He showed that he possessed the great strength,
the powerful might, when the drove out that multitude,
the captives from his high throne. Let us remember the Holy Lord,
eternal in his glory, and choose for ourselves a glorious home
with the Prince of All Creation, with the King of All Kings,
such is Christ named — (189-204)

Bearing in the breast, these blissful thoughts,
peace and wisdom, let us remember the truth and the right,
when we think to bow down to that high-seat,
and ask for mercy from the Sovereign.
Then it would behoove him that dwells here,
in the delights of the world, to shine in beauty
when he soon seeks a second life.
a fairer land than this earth.
There is beauty and joy there, the fruits shine
brightly across the cities. That is a broad land,
a more hopeful home in the realm of heaven,
more pleasant to Christ. Let us turn to that place
where he sits himself, the Wielder of Victories,
the Lord and Savior, in that home more dear,
and about that highest throne stands the white
wings of angels and the more blessed souls,
holy heaven-legions praising the Lord
with words and deeds. Their beauty shines forth
throughout the world of all worlds with the Glory-King. (205-23)


Further still, as I have heard, confessed the fiends.
There was for them all the full strength of terror and torment;
the Glory-King had abandoned them for their over-pride.
They spoke quickly a second word:
“Now is obvious that we have sinned
up in our old home. We must ever wage
this glory-less struggle against the Lord’s might.
Listen! We were once allowed to dwell in the beauty of glory
where we wished to obey Holy God,
and must speak, by the thousands, a hymn
about the throne. When we were there,
we lived in delights, and heard the voice of glory,
the sound of the trumpet. Bright-words arose,
the First Chief of Angels, and unto that noble
every saint bowed. Victory-bright he arose,
the Eternal Lord, and stood over us
and blessed the blissful crowd
every day, and his dear Son,
the Shaper of Souls. God himself was
the defender of all who came up there,
and who had believed in him before on earth.
But it gave offense that the Lord was
so strong and stiff-minded. I began to step forth
alone among the angels, and spoke unto them all:
‘I can teach you all long-enduring counsel,
if you will trust in my power.
Let us despise the Great Defender,
the Wielder of Armies, and take this light of glory,
entirely as our possession. This is a vacuous boast
that we have endured before all this time.’ (224-53)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Christ and Satan II

The prince of fiends spoke soon a second time.
Then was he affrighted after feeling many
of these torments. He sparked with flame and venom
when he began to speak. There was no pleasant joy
when he spoke wordfully in his wracking pains: (75-80)

“I was formerly in heaven a holy angel,
dear to the Lord. I had great delight in God
on account of the Measurer, and so did this host united.
At that time I conceived in my brain
a wish to cast down the Radiance of Glory,
the Child of the Savior, to own for myself
the power over the Celestial Cities,
every one as my possession, and this miserable faction
which I have led to a home in hell.
Consider this obvious token that I was banished below
into this accursed state, under the headlands,
into the bottom of the abyss. (81-90)

“Now I have conducted you all from your native land
into a home of captivity. There is no glory of the blessed here,
no wine-halls of the proud, nor the delights of the world,
no company of angels, nor may we possess
upper heaven again. This is a terrible house,
kindled with fire. I am hostile to God.
Eternally at hell’s door dwell dragons,
heated in their terror. They cannot help us.
This is a woeful house, replete with torment.
We have no right to this darkness, in which we can hide ourselves
in its abysmal shadow. Here is the voice of serpents,
here worms dwell. Here is the chain of torture
firmly bound. The fiends are fearsome,
dim and dark. Nor does day light this place,
the light of the Shaper, for the gloom of shadows. (91-105)

“Once I held power of all glory
before I must await what Lord God wished
to adjudge me in this awful place,
stained upon the floor. Now I come faring
with a host of devils to this darksome house.
Yet I shall upon wing and flight at times
seek many places and more of you as well,
you who performed the start of these proud deeds.
Nor need we believe this, that the Glory-King
will ever grant us another home,
a native land to own. The Son of the Sovereign
possesses for himself all the power
to glory and torment. (106-18)

“Therefore I must, abject and wretched, wander the wider,
voyage on the paths of exile, deprived of glory,
bereaved of riches, keeping nothing of the joys
upwards among the angels, when I had earlier said
that I was the Dispenser of the Sky myself,
the Wielder of All Creatures. Yet something worse befell me!” (119-24)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Christ and Satan I

Another day, another Anglo-Saxon narrative poem. For the foreseeable future, it will be the Junius Manuscript's Christ and Satan. So far, there have been many of difficulties present in starting a new poem--figuring out how the poet's voice works and negotiating the poem's unique features in dialect and diction. It's taken me a while to get this first piece out, as I am pretty busy with my Beowulf article these days. But work shall progress on the poem slowly but surely.


That matter became manifest to the earth-dwellers,
that the Measurer possessed the might and the strength
when he established the corners of the earth.
By himself he set up the sun and the moon,
the stones and the earth, the currents out at sea,
the water and the sky, through his wondrous might.
A clean and profound circuit he encompassed,
the Measurer in his might, and the whole of middle-earth.
He can himself scan the seas, the bottom of the ocean,
God’s own Son, and he can count up the showers of rain
and their every drop. The number of days
he established himself through his true might.
So the Wright through the Spirit of Glory
planned and ordained in six days
the portion of earth, up in heaven,
and the towering sea. Who is he that knows
these pure and skillful thoughts except Eternal God? (1-18)

He parted out these joys and riches to the people,
Adam first of all, and a noble kindred,
the origin-point of angels, those that soon passed away.
In their mind it seemed to them that it could be such
that they were themselves the bestowers of the heavens,
the sovereigns of glory. It became worse for them,
then they established a home in hell, one after another,
in that terrible grave where burning surges must be endured,
the sorrow of pains, not at all the light of the skies
had in heaven, loftily timbered up,
but they must dive down into that deep well
lowest under the headlands in that abysmal ground,
greedy and hungry. God alone knows
how he had doomed that shameful host! (19-33)

Then spoke the eldest out of hell,
uttering statements, cursing with his voice,
in a voice of terror: “Whence has come the majesty of angels,
which we in heaven were used to possess?
This is a shadowy home, violently bound
with fixed fiery bands. The floor is in a boil
ignited in poison. It is not far from the end
which we must together suffer torment,
pain and affliction—not at all the fruits of glory
we once had in heaven, the joys of high seats.
Listen! Once we possessed delight before the Lord,
singing in the skies, in better seasons,
where now stand the noble warriors around the Eternal
and his high throne, praising the Lord
with words and deeds, and I must in torment
abide in bonds, nor ever hope
for any better home for my over-mind.” (34-50)

Then terrible fiends answered him,
dark and full of sin, mourning their torment:
“You betaught us through your lying words
that we did not have to heed the Savior.
To you alone it seemed that you owned all power,
the heavens and the earth, that you were Holy God,
the Shaper himself. Now are you bound fast
in fiery locks, a certain harmer.
You believed by your glory that you possessed the world,
power over everything, and we were your angels by your side.
Terrifying is your face! Ill we have suffered
for all your lying. You said to us as truth
that your son was the measurer of mankind—
now you have the more torment!” (51-64)

And so the sinful ones spoke to their elder chieftain
with lying words and in sorrowing speeches.
Christ had expelled them, deprived them of joys.
They had abandoned the light of the Lord
from above because of their exceeding pride—
they kept for themselves in their hopes
the very bottom of hell and a burning malice.
Once pale, they were changed, the wretched monsters,
the transformed spirits, and the fiends wandered about
throughout that terrible pit because of their arrogance,
which they formerly had performed. (65-74)