Sunday, January 22, 2012

Phoenix VI

The Phoenix part six has emerged much like a worm, glorious from its shell. We are now in the explanatory part of the poem, where the miracle of the Phoenix is given its religious explication, and so the translation should sound quite a bit different from its earlier, descriptive portions.


This is most like, as learned men say to us wordfully
and reveal by writing, the journey of this bird,
when the aged Phoenix forsakes his home and native seat,
and is grown old. He departs weary-hearted,
weighed down by winters, to where he discovers
a high shelter in the woods, and in that he builds
with the most noble twigs and herbs a new abode,
a nest in the grove. There is a great desire in him
to be allowed, soul-young once again, to take up
through the blast of fire life after death and be renewed,
and then seek out his olden home, his sun-bright land
after the flaming bath. Just so when our forefathers,
Adam and Eve our ancestors, forsook that beautiful plain,
the seat of glory, lovely in their tracks, and undertook
the long journey in the harmer’s hand, where the hater,
the miserable wretch, often did them injury. (424-42)

Nevertheless there were many, who obeyed the Measurer
under the heavens with holy customs, glorious deeds,
so that the Lord, Heaven’s High-King, became kindly in his heart
towards them. That is the high tree in which the blessed
now make their abode, where the olden-foe cannot scathe
them a bit with venom, the sign of sin, in this terrible time. (443-50)

There a nest is wrought for them against every malice
by their glorious deeds and the champion of the Lord
when he gives out alms to the wretched, deprived of glory,
and invokes the Lord, the Father as a fulcrum,
and is well employed on forth, and wipes out the iniquities
of this loaned life, the dark deeds of evil,
and he holds the law of the Measurer bold in his breast,
and seeks out his prayers with clean thoughts,
and bends his knee, noble to the earth, and flies
from every evil, the grim guilts, for terror of God,
and yearns glad-minded to perform deeds of the most good.
The shield of God shall be theirs in every journey,
the Warden of Victories, the Will-Giver of Hosts. (451-65a)

These are the herbs, the fruits of the blossom,
which the wild fowl gather under the sky from far and wide
to his dwelling-place, where the Phoenix, fixed in wonder,
against every malice, constructs his nest.
So now in that place the champions of the Measurer
perform his pleasures with mind and might,
and strive for renown, for which the Eternal Almighty
wishes to repay them with blessed reward.
A home shall be established from these herbs for them
in a city of glory as recompense for their works,
because they have kept holy precept, hot at their heart,
welling in their mind, all day and all night,
and they love the Lord, choosing the light
and beloved belief over the worldly wealth.
They have no joyful hope that they will
live long in this loaned life. (465b-81)

Thus the blessed man earns in courage eternal joy
and a heavenly home with the High-King,
until the end of the count of days will come,
when death, a slaughter-greedy warrior, will seize
armed with many weapons, the lives of everyone,
and into the bosom of the earth swiftly send
the captured souls and loaned life-houses,
where they will be covered by loam for a long time
until the coming of the fire. (482-90)

Then many will be led to the moot, the kindred of men—
the Father of Angels, the Truth-King of Victories,
the Lord of Armies will hold council and judge them
with righteousness. Then all men of earth shall all
experience resurrection, just as the Mighty King
commanded, the Lord of Angels, with a trumpet’s voice
across the broad ground, the Savior of Souls.
Through the Lord’s power dark death will be ended
for the blessed. Nobly they shall turn, thronging in crowds,
when this sin-working world shall burns in shame,
kindled in the pyre. Everyone shall become fearful
in their souls when the fire destroys this loaned land-wealth,
the flames consuming all the treasures of earth,
appled gold gripped greedily, speedily swallowed
the adornments of this world. Then in that revelatory hour
the fair and joyous symbol of that bird shall come
into the light for all these men, when all that power shall be raised
from the tombs, gathering up the bones and the body’s limbs
alike, and the spirit of life before the knee of Christ.
Majestically the King from his high throne will shine
upon the holy, the beautiful Gem of Glory.
It would be well for him to be allowed to be
pleasing to God on that sorrowful day. (491-517)

No comments: