Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year II (Daniel LV)

Here is the conclusion to Daniel, featuring the feast of Belshazzar (Baldazar in the manuscript) and the writing on the wall. With this section, you can now find the complete Junius Manuscript here on this site. Which is terribly exciting to me, as that gives me two complete book-length manuscripts of translated poems.


Then among that nation was born the third generation after him.
The prince of the fortresses was Balthazar,
wielding the realm of men, until his pride devastated him,
a hideous over-mind. Then was the ending of days
that the Chaldeans kept the kingdom,
when the Measurer granted sovereignty
to the Medes and the Persians in a short space,
allowing the prosperity of Babylon to wane,
which those heroes should have held onto. (675-83)

God knew that their elder-men lived in unrighteousness
who should have directed the realm.
So then the lord of the Medes, sitting at home,
conceived something no man had ever before:
that he would destroy Babylon,
the temple-grounds of nobles, where noblemen
under the shelter of their walls passed around their wealth. (684-90)

That was the most well-known fortress to the people,
the greatest and the most famous inhabited by men,
the city of Babylon, until Balthazar by his terrible boasting
was tested by God. They sat at wine, enclosed in their walls,
never fearing the malice of their enemies,
even though a nation of foes had come traveling
in warrior’s kit unto that high citadel
so that they could break down Babylon. (691-99)

Then the Chaldean king sat at the feast unto the final day,
amid the men of his generation, when the leader
of that power grew drunk with mead.
He ordered his nobles to bear forth the treasures
of Israel, the holy vessels of sacrament,
in the hands of his men, the clean objects
which the Chaldeans had earlier seized
in Jerusalem with their majestic might
and their champions in the city,
when they destroyed the prosperity
of the Jews with the edges of their swords,
and through their clamorous coming,
the armies seized the bright trappings.
Then they dispersed the temple,
the hall of Solomon, boasting mightily. (700-711)

Then the prince of cities became blithe-minded,
vaunting terribly to anger God, speaking
that his armies were the most powerful
and more efficacious to make peace with men
than the Eternal Lord of Israel.
A sign appeared to them where he was staring,
terrifying for the earls inside the hall,
that he had spoken lying words before his people,
when an angel of the lord there in fright
allowed his hand to enter into that lofty palace,
and wrote upon the wall in mysterious letters,
blazing red book-staves, before those sitting in the citadel.
Then the folk-leader became fearful in his mind,
dismayed by the terror. He saw the angel’s hand
in the hall inscribing the punishment of the Shinarites. (712-26)

The multitude of men, heroes in the hall,
orated upon what that hand had written
as a signal to the city-dwellers.
Many men came to look upon that miracle.
They earnestly sought within their hearts’ thought
what the hand of the holy spirit had written.
Nor could the men crafty in secrets read
the angel’s message, nor the kin of nobles,
until Daniel came, chosen by the Lord,
wise and sooth-fast, venturing into the palace.
God’s craft was great in his spirit,
to whom the guardians of the city, as I have heard,
eagerly tried to purchase him with gifts
so that he would read and relate those book-staves
for them, what mystery dwelt there. (727-40)

Skilled in the law, he answered them,
the messenger of God, wise in his thoughts: (741-42)

“I will not bear to the people the judgments of the Lord
for payments of coin, nor can I for riches,
but I shall speak of fate unremunerated,
the mysteries of the word, which you cannot change.
In your presumption you bear in your possession
vessels of the holy sacrament, in the hands of men.
You all have been drinking to devils in them,
which before were held in Israel within the law,
beside the Ark of God, until your boasting betrayed them,
your wits drunken with wine—so shall it be for you! (743-52)

“Your lord never would have borne in boast
the gold vessels of God, nor crow more swiftly,
even though his armies brought the treasures
of Israel into the control of his keeping,
yet more often the lord of nations spoke
in true words over his own forces,
after the miracle of the Warden of Glory was revealed to him,
that he was alone the Lord and Sovereign of all creation,
who gave him glory, the undimmed profit of earthly reign,
and now you deny that he is living
who rules over devils in his majesty.”

[Possibly incomplete, but the final invocation of devils blends well with the next poem, Christ and Satan]

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