Thursday, January 3, 2013

First Advent Lyric (Christ I)

I know it's a little late for the season, but here is the first of the twelve Advent lyrics that make up the first section of Christ I, the first entry in the most famous collection of Anglo-Saxon verse, the Exeter Book.

The first poem is acephalous due to lost leaves. Some posit that one or more lyrics are missing, but there is something nice and round about the number twelve (The later Middle English poem Pearl, for instance, is obsessed with the religious significances of the number).



… to the king.
You are the wall-stone that the stonewrights
once rejected from their labors. It suits you
that you should be the capital of the glorious hall,
and you gather up the capacious walls,

with fixed joint and stone unbroken,
so that throughout all earthly cities,
by the sight of the eyes, all men
can marvel forever at the Lord of Glory.

Manifest now through your skillful craft
the work of your own, sooth-fast, victor-bright,
and allow wall to meet wall at once.

Now there is need for the building
for the Architect and the King himself to come
and make amends to that which is fallen
to disrepair, the house under its roof.

He shaped the body and its limbs of clay—
now shall the Lord of Life deliver the wearied heap
from his wrath, the wretched from their terrors,
just as he often has done. (1-17)

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