Sunday, March 25, 2012

A good chunk of Exodus


I've been hard at work on teaching this semester and using my free time on other projects, so the translations have suffered somewhat. But this weekend found me some idle time which I used to continue my work on the Exodus. I post what I've done so far, rough edges intact:



Listen: we have learned both far and near,
across middle-earth of the fame of Moses,
of his wondrous word-laws for the generations of men—
in the high-heavens for all of the blessed
the relief of life after the death-journey,
enduring advice for all of the living—
spoken unto the heroes. Hear it who will! (1-7)

When in the desert, the Lord of Armies, the Truth-Fast King,
with his own might worthied Moses, and gave to him
many wonders into his possession, the Eternal All-Wielder.
He was dear to God, the Ruler of Tribes, daring
and prudent, the head of the host, their strong commander.
He bound the kindred of Pharaoh, the opponent of God,
by the afflictions of his staff. There the Sovereign of Victories
gave to the proud chief the son of Abraham
the lives of his kinsmen and the habitation of a homeland. (8-18)

Lofty was the hand’s recompense and the Lord was gracious
to him, giving Moses the wielding of weapons against
the terrors of the wrathful, and he conquered on campaign
many tribes, the enemies’ autonomy.
Then was the first time that the God of Hosts spoke to him,
where he said many true and miraculous things to him,
how the Wise Lord wrought this world, the circle of the earth
and the heavens above, establishing his victorious kingdom,
and his own name, which the sons of men knew not before,
the aged kin of patriarchs, though they knew much. (19-29)

God had made them stronger with true craft and honored
the prince of that army, Pharoah’s foeman on the forth-ways.
Soon most of that multitude were swallowed up by death,
with [seven] ancient torments. For the fall of the first-born,
wailing was renewed, their hall-joys snuffed out,
bereaved of treasure. In the middle of the night
God had fiercely cut down his sinning enemies,
and many of their first-born, shattering the city-wards.
A killer glided about widely, a hateful folk-hater,
the land darkened with the corpses of the dead—
the warriors fared forth, wailing was wide, light of worldly joys. (30-42)

The hands of the laughter-smiths were locked down,
those grieving people were given leave to make a hateful journey,
a traveling folk. The Fiend was bereaved, the hosts in Hell.
Lamentation had come to that place, devil-worship had fallen.
The day was famous throughout middle-earth when that multitude
ventured forth. So the Egyptian people suffered
for many years, old-accursed with imprisonment
because they thought to deny forever the people of Moses,
if the Measurer allowed them, their much-desired journey. (43-53)

The Hebrew army was ready, and bold was he who led them,
the proud kin-leader of their sheltering tribe.
He passed over with his people a great number
of remote places, the lands and provinces of hateful men,
the narrow lone-paths and unknown roads,
until they bore their gear to the battle-marchers—
their lands were blanketed in a helmet of clouds—
their swampy distant homes. Moses led the army
across the many perils confronting them. (54-62a)


Moses ordered about two nights later, the glorious warrior,
after they had flown from these enemies,
from the clangor of the army, his army to surround
the city of Etham, the greatest force in the marchlands.
Constraint compelled them to the northern ways;
they knew that to the south were the heights
burned by the heated heaven-coal, the Ethiopians’ land,
a brown people. There Holy God shielded the people
against the fearful heat by a cloud overspreading
the burning heaven, the scorching sky with a holy pall. (63-74)

A weather-cloud had parted evenly the earth
and heaven with its broad embrace, leading the people
and dowsing the flames, heaven-bright and hot.
The heroes wondered, the most exultant of troops.
The shelter of the day-shade winded across the sky;
wise God had covered over the journey of the sun
with a sail, so that men did not know the mast-ropes,
nor could that sail-yard be seen by all the craft
of earth-dwellers, or how the best of tents was fixed,
after he had worthied with glory the prince-loyal. (75-87a)

Then was that third camp a comfort to the people.
The whole army saw how the holy sails rose there,
a lighted sky-miracle. The people understood,
the Israelite multitude, that their Lord was come there,
the Lord of Hosts, to mark out their place of camp.
Fire and cloud came before them in bright sky, two beams
either of them shared evenly in the high service of the Holy Spirit,
the path of the brave-minded by day and by night. (87b-97)

Then, as I have heard, in the morning those strong in heart
heaved up war-trumpets with loud voices, a glorious crash.
The entire army rose, that valiant force, the people of the Measurer,
as Moses commanded them, the famous chieftain,
an eager army-troop. They saw before them what the Leader of Life
had marked out their the way of survival; that sail
controlled their destination, the sailors followed
after the flood-way. The people were rejoicing,
the noise of the army loud. Heaven’s beacon climbed
every evening, a second miracle, it held fast wondrous
after the sun’s setting, shining with flames across that nation,
a burning beam. Glittering it stood over the archers,
with blazing limbs. The shelter of their shields shone,
the shadows dissolving, the deepest night-shades nearby
could not conceal their hiding places. The heavenly candle burned. (98-115)

This new night-warden must by necessity remain over the army,
lest the desert-horror, the hoar heath-terror should end
their lives with a fearful seizure of a sea’s storms.
This scout had fiery hair, blazing beams—it threatened
[the terror of fire] in that army-troop, a hot flame,
so that he would consume the army in the wilderness,
unless they heeded to brave-hearted Moses.
[Scean scir werod], the shields glittered,
the shield-warriors saw the righteous way, the sign
above the masses, until the sea-fortress at the end
of land stood against the people’s force, eager on the forth-way.
The battle-camp arose; the wearied revived themselves,
meat-thanes brought food to the proud ones, restoring
their power. The sailors spread out their tents across the hills
after the trumpets sang. That was the fourth camp,
the resting-place for the shield-warriors beside the Red Sea. [116-34]