Monday, December 24, 2012

Daniel LIV

Here is a holiday treat: another great dream, another powerful prophecy, and a little more than half of the next section of Daniel. This will be the last piece of translation until after the new year, as we will be on vacation in frigid Maine.

Happy holidays!


Then in slumber a dream was made manifest to him,
Nebuchadnezzar—this dream was nigh to him.
It seemed to him that on the fair earth there stood
a lovely wood-tree, fixed in its roots
and bright of its fruits. Nor was it like other trees,
but it towered high unto the heaven-stars,
likewise it overshadowed the corners of the earth,
all of middle-earth, up to the ocean-currents,
twig and branch. There he looked upon it,
and it seemed to him that the wood-tree shielded
the wild beasts, and that it alone held food for them all,
likewise the birds also took their life-preserving
among the fruits upon those branches. (495-507)

And it seemed to him that an angel came descending
from above, out of the heavens and announced
his message in a bright voice. He ordered that tree
chopped down and the wild beasts to flee on their way,
likewise the birds, when the tree should fall.
He ordered that the fruits themselves be cut out
from the twigs and branches, and, so it should be a symbol,
the tree’s roots should remain, fixed to the earth
until green fruits should come again, when God granted them.
The angel ordered also the mighty tree to be bound
with brazen chains and iron, fettered in torment,
so that a mightier mind than his wielded his punishment
and against it he had no power. (508-22)

Then he awoke from his sleep—his dream was at an end—
this earthly noble. There was a terror upon him,
a fear from the soul that God had sent thither.
He ordered then that his people should gather,
and his chieftains too, asking over all of them,
the proud-minded king what his dream meant—
not at all believing they knew it, but he tried them
to see how they wished to answer.
Then was Daniel called to that assembly,
the messenger of God. In him was given a great spirit,
holy from the heavens, which strengthened his mind.
In him the lordly warden recognized deep intuition,
broad thinking, wise craft, and perceptive statements.
Many times he manifested a multitude of wonders,
of the might of the Maker, for the benefit of men. (523-37)

Then he began to speak of the dream’s clatter,
the high-hearted and heathen leader of the host,
and all the terror that was shown to him.
He ordered Daniel to relate what that secret thing meant,
heaving up a holy word discovered in his mind
in order to speak in truthful statements
what that tree implied which he had seen sparkling,
and prophesy the import of this happening. (538-45)

Then he fell silent, yet he perceived the truth,
Daniel before the council, that his lord was,
the prince of men, guilty against God.
The wise man hesitated, yet he still spoke a word,
a messenger crafty in law, unto that great noble: (546-50)

“It is, guardian of armies, no small miracle
that you have seen by the coming of a dream,
a heaven-lofty tree and the holy words,
wrathful and terrible, that the angel spoke,
that that tree should be stripped of its branches,
beaten down before you, where it stood fast,
and become joyless among the beasts,
to abide in the wilderness, its root-stock
befouling the earth and become for a time
still in the ground, as the voice declared,
about seven seasons, to take up its seed again. (551-61)

“So shall your fruits lie! Just as the tree grows
high to heaven, so shall you be warden and leader
alone of all earth-dwelling warriors.
There is no opponent for you, no man on this earth—
except the Measurer alone. He shall chop you down
from your kingship, and send you friendless into exile,
and then turn your heart so that you remember not
the joys of men, nor know any wit except the ways
of wild beasts, but will for a long while you shall abide,
living throughout the woods in the leaps of harts. (562-573)
“There will be no meals for you except roots and grass,
nor any rest appointed you, but the showers of rain
shall wash you and punish you just as the wild beasts,
until you believe the truth after seven winters,
that there is one Measurer for all mankind,
the ruler and the authority, who is in heaven. (574-79)

“However, it is pleasing to me that the root-stock
still remains in the ground, as the voice said,
and after seven seasons will again take up its seeds.
So your reign will be resting, unharmed
for the earls, until you come again. (580-84)

“Consider, my lord, this steadfast advice.
Give out alms, become a shelter to the wretched,
make entreaty before the Lord, before the time comes
that he should cast you down from worldly rule.
Often the Measurer pardons many peoples
that perform their cure, when they are willing themselves,
repenting their crimes before the onslaught of God
through his terrible fear, should scathe their lives.”(585-92)

Daniel could not speak so many truthful words
unto his master through the craft of his wisdom,
so that the ruler would heed them,
the lord of middle-earth, but he puffed up his mind,
high from his heart—hard would he be punished for this! (593-97)

Then the king of the Chaldeans chanted a great boast
when he looked upon the city-works, the fortress of Babylon
towering so tall in its riches, with the fields of Shinar
wound about it—that the chief of armies
had wrought it all through a great miracle.
Then he became obstinate over all men,
overly proud in his heart because of the special grace
that God had given him, a realm over men
and the world to wield in this human life: (598-607)

“O my city, you are mighty and wide-renowned,
which I have built to my own glory, a roomy realm.
I shall keep my rest in you, a seat and a home.” (608-11)

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