Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Phoenix VII comes limping

There it is, part 7 of The Phoenix, presented for your reading pleasure, although I am not happy with it. There were parts that seemed to need lots of extra license in order to function and I'm still figuring out whether that was okay to do. It probably is, but I need to reconcile myself to it. Other parts need some poetic recasting once I've digested the mostly literal translation. We'll see how it goes...


There those life-homes, clean of their sins shall go
glad-minded, turning their spirits in their bone-vessels,
when the burning ascends high to the heavens.
Many will be hot, terrifyingly kindled when every one
the truthfast and the sinning, soul with the body,
from the mouldy grave shall seek the glory of the Lord,
terrified. The flames will be in motion, ignited by sin.
There those blessed men shall be, after their season of exile,
clothed by their works, their own deeds.
That is what those noble and winsome herbs betoken,
that wild fowl among them, his own nest surrounding him without,
which is suddenly burned by the fire, scorched under the sun,
and himself therein, and then after the flames
life is again taken up renewed. So will be any one
of the kindred of men clothed in flesh, unique
and revived, who works his own will here on earth
so that the mighty Glory-King at the judgment
shall become merciful unto him. Then the holy souls
shall sing, the spirits truthfast, heaving up their song,
the pure and the elect, praising the majesty of the King,
voice after voice, ascending to glory—
lovely scented amid their good deeds.
Then the ghosts of men shall be cleansed,
brightly purified by the burning flames. (518-45)

Let none of the sons of men reckon that I render
with false words this song, or write only in verse-craft.
Hear the prophecy of the story of Job.
By the fruit of the soul he was inspired in his breast,
speaking boldly, worthying in glory, and he spoke these words:
“I do not reject it with the thoughts of my heart,
so that in my nest I choose my death-bed, a life-weary man,
and depart thence abjected upon a lengthy journey,
covered by loam, miserable of my former deeds,
in the embrace of earth—and then after death
through the Lord’s gift, just as the Phoenix bird
is allowed to possess life again renewed
after its resurrection, joys with the Lord,
where that beloved throng praised the loved.
I cannot wait for the end of this life forever,
of light and bliss. Though my body must decay
in its mouldy hall, the pleasure of worms,
yet the God of Hosts after the season of death
will release my soul and wake it in glory.
My hope will never be found wanting in my breast,
for which I have everlasting delight fixed in the Lord of Angels.” (546-69)

Thus the aged man in his elder-days sang wise-minded,
God’s messenger, about his resurrection into eternal life,
so that we could understand the more eagerly
the glory-fixed sign that the bright bird betokens
by its burning. The remains of its bones, ashes, and cinders,
he gathers together after the fire-lighting, afterwards
the bird bears them in his claws to the home of his Lord,
towards the sun. There they dwell after for many winters,
renewed with blossoms, everything rejuvenated,
where nothing can menace them with harm in that land.
So now after death through the power of the Lord
soul fares together with body, fairly ornamented,
much like the bird in blessedness with noble scents,
where the lovely and truth-fast sun shines
over the multitude in the city of glory. (570-88)

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