Monday, July 2, 2012

C&S III, IV, & V

Christ & Satan has been coming along well, with whole sections produced every time I sit down with it for a few hours. Things are helped greatly by its unique features: that is, that it seems to be built in very short sentences (unlike the Genesis, for example) and its relatively simple poetic diction and lack of kennings. What makes it harder is its orthography, which seems to be a combination of obscure dialect and late date of inscription or creation. The poetry changes so little from instance to instance that when something, like C&S, is different it really jumps out at you. I'm getting into the swing of things and so I'm feeling pretty good about how the poem is proceeding. Hope you enjoy the latest section!



And so that accursed ghast spoke wordfully
about his torments, all together,
guilty of his crimes. The flaming light stood
throughout that terrible cavern, mixed with venom:
“I am such a limb’s stature that I cannot lurk
in this broad hall, wounded by my sins.
Listen! Here heat and cold are at one time mingled;
at other times I hear infernal devils,
a mourning tribe, lamenting this ground
under the headlands At other times naked humans
struggle with serpents. This is a wind-torn hall
inward entirely filled with terrible things. (125-36)

“Nor may I enjoy a more hopeful home,
neither citadel or household, nor may I gaze
upon the brightness of creation with my eyes evermore.
I am now the worse that I ever knew
the light of glory upwards among the angels,
their song upon the wind, where the son of the Measurer,
the Blessed Child, has embraced them all
himself with a joyful noise. Nor may I harm
any of these souls —
except the lonely one who he will not keep.
Then I am allowed to haul that one into my house of captivity,
bring him into my homestead, onto this bitter ground. (137-48)

“We were all unalike
when we were formerly in heaven and earlier held
beauty and distinction. Very often the voice of glory
brought us to the breast of the Child of the Savior,
where we heaved up the words of a praise-song
about him, light around the beloved
and spoke them to the Lord. Now I am stained of deeds,
wounded with iniquities. Now I must bear burning
these chains of torment upon my back,
hot in hell, without the joy of hope.” (149-58)

Nevertheless the warden of many crimes spoke,
the terrible monster out from hell,
tired from his torments. Words flew out sparking,
much like poison when he forced them out:
“Alas the majesty of the Lord! Alas the Helm of Multitudes!
Alas the might of the Measurer! Alas middle-earth!
Alas the light of day! Alas the joys of God!
Alas the host of angels! Alas upper heaven!
Alas that I am without all the joys of eternity,
so that I cannot reach out to heaven with my hands,
nor may I look up with my eyes,
nor indeed shall I ever hear with my ears
the voice of the brightest trumpets!
because I wished to drive the Lord, the Son of the Measurer
from his throne, and keep its power of delight for myself,
the glory and the joy. But something worse befell me,
than I was allowed to have as a hope. (159-75)

“Now I am separated from that gleaming host,
withdrawn from the light into this hateful home.
Nor can I conceive how I have come into this place,
into this abjected cloud, stained with malicious sins,
cast out of the world. I know now this fact:
that he will deny the joys of eternity,
he that is the Heaven-King, to all who do not think to obey
or please the Measurer. I must endure this killing,
this woe and this torment and wrack,
deprived of good things, marked by my former-deeds,
because I thought to drive the Lord from his throne,
the Sovereign of Armies. I must now set myself
upon the ways of exile, sorrowing, upon these wide paths.” (176-88)


Then went he to hell, when he was prostrated,
the adversary of God, and so did his cohort,
gluttonous and greedy, when God pursued them
into that overheated house, which is named hell.
Therefore must every hero think about
how not to provoke the Child of the Wielder.
Let him take as an example how the black fiends
were for their over-pride entirely overcome.
Let us take as our delight the Lord of Hosts,
upwards in eternal joy, the Wielder of Angels.
He showed that he possessed the great strength,
the powerful might, when the drove out that multitude,
the captives from his high throne. Let us remember the Holy Lord,
eternal in his glory, and choose for ourselves a glorious home
with the Prince of All Creation, with the King of All Kings,
such is Christ named — (189-204)

Bearing in the breast, these blissful thoughts,
peace and wisdom, let us remember the truth and the right,
when we think to bow down to that high-seat,
and ask for mercy from the Sovereign.
Then it would behoove him that dwells here,
in the delights of the world, to shine in beauty
when he soon seeks a second life.
a fairer land than this earth.
There is beauty and joy there, the fruits shine
brightly across the cities. That is a broad land,
a more hopeful home in the realm of heaven,
more pleasant to Christ. Let us turn to that place
where he sits himself, the Wielder of Victories,
the Lord and Savior, in that home more dear,
and about that highest throne stands the white
wings of angels and the more blessed souls,
holy heaven-legions praising the Lord
with words and deeds. Their beauty shines forth
throughout the world of all worlds with the Glory-King. (205-23)


Further still, as I have heard, confessed the fiends.
There was for them all the full strength of terror and torment;
the Glory-King had abandoned them for their over-pride.
They spoke quickly a second word:
“Now is obvious that we have sinned
up in our old home. We must ever wage
this glory-less struggle against the Lord’s might.
Listen! We were once allowed to dwell in the beauty of glory
where we wished to obey Holy God,
and must speak, by the thousands, a hymn
about the throne. When we were there,
we lived in delights, and heard the voice of glory,
the sound of the trumpet. Bright-words arose,
the First Chief of Angels, and unto that noble
every saint bowed. Victory-bright he arose,
the Eternal Lord, and stood over us
and blessed the blissful crowd
every day, and his dear Son,
the Shaper of Souls. God himself was
the defender of all who came up there,
and who had believed in him before on earth.
But it gave offense that the Lord was
so strong and stiff-minded. I began to step forth
alone among the angels, and spoke unto them all:
‘I can teach you all long-enduring counsel,
if you will trust in my power.
Let us despise the Great Defender,
the Wielder of Armies, and take this light of glory,
entirely as our possession. This is a vacuous boast
that we have endured before all this time.’ (224-53)

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