Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daniel Begins


Missing the act of translation, and the good feeling it inspires in me, I finally got around to downloading an electronic text of Daniel, Christ A, B & C, and Judith. These are the last three narrative poems in the Anglo-Saxon corpus (except for Beowulf, of course), and the final stops on the crazy, madcap journey that has been the Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry Project.

I think I'm going to start with Daniel, since it is the one that I'm the least familiar with.

Here are the first few lines, and they felt great to work on:

I have that the Hebrews lived blessedly
in Jerusalem, parting out their gold-hoard,
holding their own sovereignty, as was natural to them,
since through the might of the Measurer into Moses hand
the war and the host of warriors were delivered,
and they marched forth from Egypt with a great many.
They were a proud people!
So long as they were allowed to rule their realm,
and survey their cities, bright prosperity was theirs—
so long as that folk kept the covenant of their fathers.
God himself strengthened them, the Heaven-Realm’s Ward,
the Holy Lord, the Keeper of Glory.
He gave their armies spirit and power, the Lord of All Creatures,
so that they crushed the resistance of many peoples,
the helmets of armies, those who pledged them no loyalty,
until a pride seized them at their wine-feasts,
with devil-deeds and drunken thoughts.
Then they abandoned their law-crafts,
the power of their Maker, just as no man should
part the love of his soul from God. (1-21)

Then I saw that people turning towards error,
the kindred of Israel, doing unright and working sin.
That was an affliction to God!
Often he sent to that nation as teachers,
the Warden of Heaven-Realm, holy spirits
who tended wisdom for that host.
They would trust in the truth of those wise men
for a little while, until the longing for earthy joys
betrayed them of lasting good,
so that they forsook at the utmost end themselves
and the glories of God, choosing the devil’s craft. (22-32)

More to come in the next few days. I just need to figure out how the Junius MS divides the poem up into sections, and I will open up the blog page devoted to the poem. Keep an eye out!

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