Saturday, January 21, 2012

Phoenix V

An unexpectedly productive day for translation. Here's part V, only three parts (about 250 lines) to go.


And so the blessed bird after the hour of his death
soon revisits his olden home, fairest on earth.
The birds return from that warfarer sad-minded again
to their homes. Then that noble one is young in his yard.
God alone knows, the King Almighty, what sex he is:
whether female or male. None of the kindred of men
knows that, except the Measurer alone, how those facts
are wonderful, the lovely and ancient decree of the bird’s gender.
There the blessed one may enjoy his homeland,
the welling waters within the wooded glade,
dwelling upon the plain until a thousand winters have run.
Then is the end of his life; the pyre will engulf him
through kindled flame. Yet will it be awakened again
miraculously and wonderfully back to life. (350-67)

Therefore he never fears drooping death,
the sore killing blow, because he knows that life
is always renewed after the flame’s wrack,
the soul after its fall, when it is swiftly restored
from the ashes through the bird’s nature,
rejuvenated under the sheltering sky.
He is both his own son and his dear father,
and always again heir to the remains of his life.
The Mighty Origin of Mankind grants him
that he so wonderfully must become again
the same that he was before, clothed
in feathers, though the fire took him. (368-80)

So every blessed man himself chooses eternal life
after the painful wrack through dark death,
so that he may enjoy the gifts of the Lord
in perpetual bliss after his past days,
and abide ever after in deeds of glory as reward.
The nature of this bird, much like the chosen
thanes of Christ in the cities, betokens how
they held bright joy through the father’s help
in this dangerous time under the heavens,
and how they secured the highest profit
for themselves in that heavenly homeland. (381-92)

We have learned that the Almighty made man and woman
through the fullness of his wonder, and they were
then established in that best corner of the earth,
that the children of men call Paradise-plain,
where there was no want of prosperity while
the word of the Eternal, his holy commandment
would be kept in the newness of their joy.
There hatred harmed them, the malice of their olden-foe,
who offered them eat the fruit of the tree, which they
both ate, with ill counsel over the mercy of God,
and they tasted the forbidden apple. There misery
became bitter for them after the eating and for their heirs,
a grievous feast for their sons and daughters. (393-406)

Their busy teeth were terribly punished after their guilt.
They held the wrath of God, a bitter and baleful sorrow.
Afterwards their child paid for their sorrow, they who
accepted that morsel over the word of the Eternal.
Therefore they must forsake sad-minded the joys of home
through the spite of the serpent, when it deceived
closely our forefather in days of old by its guileful heart,
so that they sought a dwelling far thence
in the valley of death, a sorrowful home.
A better life was hidden from them in shadow,
and that holy plain was closed up fast by the enemy’s wiles
for many winters, until the Glory-King, the Joy of Mankind,
Comforter of the Weary, and our Only Hope opened it
up again for the holy by his coming hither. (407-23)

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