Saturday, January 14, 2012

Phoenix II finished

These lands are adorned, the world beautified,
after the gem of glory illumines the ground
over the ocean’s course throughout middle-earth,
the most famous of the stars. At once, as the high sun
overtops the salty streams, so the pale grey bird
turns from his tree, bright from the bowers,
venturing by wing a swift flight on the breeze,
keening and trilling towards the heavens. (116b-24)

Then the voice of the bird will be so fair, the breast-hold
so inspired, exultant in many joys—
wonderfully weaving his bright song with song-craft,
when the Child of Man, heard under heaven,
afterwards the High-King, the Craftsman of Glory,
ever founded the world, the heaven and the earth.
The sound of that music will be more sweet
and more fair than all other powers of singing
and more winsome than every other melody.
Nor can trumpets or horns exceed its beauty—
not the strain of harps nor the voice of men
in any way on earth, not organs, not the strains of melody
nor the feathers of the swan nor any joyful thing
that the Lord made to cheer men in this miserable world. (125-39)

So he sings and entunes, blissful and joyous
until the sun is rested in the southern sky.
Then he falls quiet and pays heed, lifting
his brave head, wise of thoughts, shaking
his flight-swift feathers thrice—the bird is silent.
Always he measures the hours twelve times
by day and night. So they are ordained
by this denizen of the grove, so that he
might brook them there, the field at his favor,
and enjoy their wealth, their life and their bliss,
the ornaments of the land until he,
warden of the wooded copse knows
one thousand winters of this life. (140-52)

Then the old bird, grey of feathers will be
burdened, aged with years, departing
the green earth, the joy of fowl, the flowering land,
and then it seeks out a broad realm of middle-earth,
where no humans dwell, no yard or homeland.
There he assumes the rulership foremighty
over the kindred of the birds, exalted among their kind,
and for a space abides with them in the wastelands.
Then, strong in flight, he seeks the west, weighed
down by winters, to fly there swiftly by wings.
The birds throng about around their lord.
Each one wishes to be the thane and servant
of their famous lord, until they must visit
the Syrians’ land in the greatest band. (153-67a)

There the pure bird hurries away from them
abruptly, so that he may take hold of a secret refuge
in a woody bower, a deserted place, hidden
and concealed from many men. There he dwells
and inhabits a tall tree in the forest, fixed by the roots
under the roof of heaven. Men call that one the Phoenix
on the earth, from the name of those birds.
He has granted that tree, the Glory-Mighty King,
the Measurer of Mankind, as I have heard,
which is alone of all lofty trees on the earth-way,
blossoming with the brightest. Nor can anything bitter
injure it with evils, but it is shielded always,
dwelling unscathed, so long as the world stands. (167b-81)

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