Sunday, April 29, 2012

Order of the World

Here's something that's been sitting in my folder for a few weeks. I don't usually do much with the lyric poetry, and wonder if the voice is right. I taught this poem a few months agom, using Daniel Tobin's translation in The Word Exchange. Then I felt that his version had a New Age-y feel to it that rankled me, but after looking at it so hard while working on this, I realized I must have been imagining that license. So I have an appreciation for Tobin's work, and a growing respect for the poems of that volume in general. The semester is now over, and I think my students got a lot out of the experience. I did too, learning a lot about the lyric poetry of Old English, as well as figuring out some things and hard truths about my own translations.


The Order of the World

Do you wish, hurrying hero, to wordfully greet the alien moon,
the wise bearer of prophecies, and ask that much-traveled one
about the creation to come, to inquire who speaks of broad destinies,
of kindly crafts alive in every way, which every day
through the glory of God bring forth many miracles
to the generations of men?

Each a manifest token to him who through his wisdom
knows how to perceive the entire world in his breast,
the brooding man, that many years ago with skill of the wise
and with songs, men, warriors counsel-fast,
often knew how to express and to speak rightly,
always asking that of the kindred of men
and speaking about the joining of cunning mysteries
ever mindful of what the greatest men know.

Therefore one who lives in courage must inquire,
that deep-hearted man, of secret creations,
to be inscribed in the mind with the skill
of word-hoards, and fastened in the spirit’s close—
and to think forth stoutly, nor must it
weary a mindful man, to wisely perfect the world.

Learn this lore! Quickly I must speak
of the Measurer’s majesty too great
for you, mind-crafty in your chest,
to be able to comprehend with your mind.
Is that power of yours very great?

There is no measure of man, moving on the earth,
that he might be able in breast his high creation
further to investigate when the Lord gives him
in order to understand God’s own decree;
but we must thank the Famous Prince
ever forever, for that which the Eternal King
wishes to give us into the beauty of the soul
so that we can easily ascend
forth to the celestial kingdom,
if it is sufficient to us in our spirits
and we wish to hold to the decrees of the Heaven-King.

Hear this mortal message and affix your thought.
Listen! The Father Almighty shaped at the start,
the Warden of High Hosts, heaven and earth,
the bed of the broad ocean, all of patent creation,
which now in the chastisement through the Lord’s hand
heightens and heaves up the holy fruits.

He that readily knows therefore joined all,
everything with another; they must all bear
stiff direction, just as their guide ordered them
various measures through this greater kind.

So they bear forth beauty into the world,
the Glory of the Lord and his majestic deeds,
his glittering praise into those lengthy times,
performing faithfully the word of the Eternal Lord
in that first throne where the Lord seats himself,
the pure Guardian of Heaven, eagerly holding
the boundaries of the ocean; his might draws forth
the heaven-candle and, among the waves,
the Owner of Life laps and leads
into his own bosom all creation.

So wide-spirited glory stands for him
of all judges the most fitting,
who shaped this life for us and this bright light
that comes every morning over the misty cliffs,
wading across the waves, adorned with miracles,
and at dawn hastens from the east,
lovely and winsome to the generations of men;
for every one living it bears forth its light
the brightest brands so everything on earth
can enjoy his radiance, which he wishes to give,
the Truth-King of Victories, sight of the eyes.
Then it turns with this glory into the western skies
the star much magnified, traveling together,
until in the evening out of the spear-waves
traversing the grounds, calling across the gloom;
night comes afterward, keeping his constraining command
the Holy Lord. The heaven-bright skies
incites the resplendence into the creation of God
under the embrace of the earth, the traveling star.

Therefore no man lives of his wisdom
so that he can know of his departure through his own power,
how the gold-bright sun passes beyond the earth
into that inky blackness below the crowding waters,
or who of the land-dwellers can enjoy that light,
after she departs over the ocean.

He that readily knows therefore joined
day to night, the deeps to the heights,
breeze to sea-stream, land to water,
flood to flood, fish to the waves.
Nor do these works weaken, but he holds them well;
they stand stoutly, firmly covered over
with his great belt of power in that great majesty
among them may be heaved up heaven and earth,

The ones who abide in that place are blessed then,
hopeful is his hearth-band. That is the greatest army,
an uncountable number of the prosperous, the bands of angels.
They always see their own king,
looking in their eyes and having enough of everything.
There is no dark creature among them, for those who
see the King of Glory in the skies; his is the feast and the joy
eternal and endless, with blessedness as consolation.

Therefore one must ponder their Measurer.
Every child of man abandon your useless desires,
the joys of this loaned life, and set out for mild bliss.
Forsake hateful malice, settling everything
amid fiery sins, and betake yourself to the one granting the realm.

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