L.

I have heard that the Hebrews lived blessedly
in Jerusalem, granting 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)

Then the Prince of Realms grew anger-minded
at that disloyal people to whom he had given everything.
He directed them at the start, those who were at first
the dearest of mankind before that, dearest of the multitude,
most beloved of the Lord—a marching path had he marked out
unto the high city, those alien noblemen into their homeland
where stood Salem, strengthened with skillful walls,
bedecked with battlements. (34-41a)

To that place came the Chaldeans,
witful men, onwards upon that city,
where Israel was clothed in its wealthy things;
against them that host was attacking,
a powerful force, eager for sinful harms.
A princely chief of men aroused that killing hate,
the lord of Babylon in his city-stead,
Nebuchadnezzar through his envious hatred,
so that he sought his inmost thoughts
for how he could most easily oppress
the Israelite people through fierce men’s journey.
So then he gathered together from the south and north
a bloodthirsty host and brought them westwards
in an army of heathen kings unto that high city.
The home-wardens of Israel held their love,
their lively prosperity, so long as the Lord allowed them. (41b-55)

Then I heard that the kindred of the olden enemy
laid to waste the wine-city of men. These warriors did not believe,
bereaving the glory of halls, Solomon’s temple,
of its red gold, its treasures, and silver.
They plundered its riches under the stone cliffs,
everything that these earls might possess,
until they had smashed every stronghold
that stood as a sanctuary for these people.
They burdened themselves with the bounty
of the hoard-wardens as plunder, the coins and the chattels
such as they found there, and then they journeyed
back again with their possessions,
and led back on the long road the children of Israel,
on the eastern ways to Babylon, a numberless people
beneath the hand of warriors and heathen overlords.
Nebuchadnezzar put them under constraint,
the sons of Israel, the survivors of the swords,
as work-thralls out of all hope. (56-74)

Then he sent out an army of his own thanes
to go westwards so that they might rule over
that people’s territory, their wasted
homeland, in the stead of the Hebrews.
The king ordered his reeves to seek out
among the wretched remnants of the Israelites
which of their young men was who had been brought there
the wisest in the commandments of their books.
He wished that the young men should be learned
in this craft so that he could chatter to them
of the wisdom in his heart, and not at all
so that he could or would be mindful to thank God
for the gifts which the Lord bestowed upon him
for his own mortal glory. (75-87)

Then they found among them three
lord-wise and noble men and law-fast as well,
young and goodly in their godly descent.
One was Annanias, the second Azarias,
and Misael the third, chosen by Measurer.
Then these three came before the prince
hardy and heart-wise, where the heathen sat,
the king eager for his retinue, in the Chaldean city.
Then they were required to reveal their wisdom
the Hebrew men, to that proud king wordfully,
their high mind-power through their holy hearts,
when the warrior ordered, the warden of Babylon,
the stern-minded king, his own thanes, his first-spears,
upon their lives to ensure that there would be no lack
of food or clothing in this worldly life for these three young men. (88-103)

 

LI.

Widely renowned was the warden of Babylon then,
notorious and proud across middle-earth,
terrifying to the sons of men. He never performed the law,
but in over-pride he always lived his life.
Once to that chieftain at his first slumber,
after the prince of the realm turned in his rest,
there came a tumultuous dream hurtling into his head,
how the world was bedecked so beautifully,
so unlike men, at least until their renewed creation.
This truth was revealed unto him in his sleep,
that all realms, all earthly joys, must pass
and their terrible end be realized. (104-15)

Then awoke the wolf-heart, who slept wine-drunk,
the warden of Babylon. His mind was not happy,
but sorrows mounted in him, the clattering of his dream—
He could not remember what he had dreamed.
He ordered then his people to gather,
those who bore the most learning in magical skill,
and asked the assembly what he had dreamed,
while speech-bearing men occupied their slumber.
The king became affrighted in his terror,
when he did not know any word or start
to his own dream, but he commanded them to speak regardless.
Then those unhappy men answered him,
the devil-wise—there was not the power
ready in them to speak of the dream to the king: (116-29)

“How can we, sire, scry out something so secret
as your mind, or what you have dreamed,
or the wisdom of the condition of fortune
that inhabits you, if you cannot first
tell us of its beginning?” (130-33)

Deeply troubled then the wolf-hearted
king replied to his counselors:
“You all are not so excellent over all men
in your mind-thoughts as you have said to me,
when you told me that you knew my life-laws,
just as it would befall me after,
or as I should discover it further along.
Now you do not know of my dreaming,
when it comes bearing wisdom for my people.
You all shall die in death, unless I know
the truth of my dream, which compels me.” (134-44)

Nor might the multitude then at the moot
through their clever craft conceive
or contrive anything, when it was denied them
that they could speak of the dream of the king
or the mysteries of fate, until the wise man came,
Daniel at his decree—he was chosen by the Lord,
witty and truth-fast, and he went into that palace.
He was the best of that wretched remnant
who were forced to obey the heathens.
God had given him a heavenly gift
through the prophecies of the holy spirit,
so that an angel of God told him all
just as the wicked king had dreamed it. (145-57)

The Daniel went to him, at dawn light,
to relate the dream to his lord,
speaking sagely of the ends of nations,
that the haughty king understood at once
the start and the conclusion which was revealed to him.
Daniel had great glory then, and splendor
among the scholars of Babylon,
after he narrated the dream to the king,
which because of his crimes the warden of Babylon
could not previously remember in his breast-hoard. (158-67)

No matter what Daniel could do so that the king
would believe in the might of the Measurer—
instead the king began to create an idol on the plain
which the over-bold men named Dira,
that was there among those people who were called
the mighty Babylonians. The guardian of the city,
one nefarious above the mercy of the Lord,
reared among men this image of gold
because he was not wise, this warden of men,
fierce and rash, not right… (168-77)

[Leaf missing from the manuscript]

And then a listening came across the warriors
when the voice of the trumpet was heard by the city-dwellers.
Then they fell to their knees before that symbol,
that heathen people worshipping in that temple,
praising that golden idol, they knew no stronger course.
They raised up unrighteousness, just as they lord did,
mixing up wickedness, emboldening their minds.
The folk-army was estranged, just as their lord was first,
establishing their folly—an evil conclusion
was to befall them afterwards—and doing ill. (178-87)

There were three in their lord’s city, men of Israel,
who would never submit to the prince’s decree,
so that they did not rear up their prayers to that idol,
even though the trumpets sang its praises there.
They were good sons of Abraham by descent,
pledge-fast, knowing the Almighty Lord eternally above. (188-95)

These noble children made it known that they
would not take nor keep that golden image for god,
except for the High King, the Warden of Souls,
who had given grace to them.
Often they spoke in boldness to redeem men
that they cared not for that graven image,
nor could the heathen leader of armies
compel them to make their prayers,
so that they would turn to that place,
men to that gilded statue which the king had ordained
for himself as a god. These thanes said to their lord
that they were of one mind in this; servants of a higher being
in that high city, “who do not wish to exalt nor to worthy
this idol which you have wondrously appointed to your glory.” (196-208)

Then the warden of Babylon answered them
in rage and a boiling mind, speaking to those young earls
grimly and harshly saying to them they must
immediately be punished and suffer a great constraint,
the whelming of wicked flames unless they would
beg for mercy from that worst of all things,
these Hebrew men from that golden object,
which the king had ordained himself as a god. (209-16)

Though these young men would not heed
in their hearts that heathen instruction.
They eagerly conceived that the law of the Lord
would endure all things nor would they abandon
the Lord of Hosts, and turn towards paganism any more,
nor would they beg for shelter from the sinful
even though a bitter death be commanded them. (217-223)

 

LII.

Then the single-minded king grew enraged—he ordered an oven
to be stoked hot for the killing of these young men’s lives
since they resisted his power. Then it was kindled
as grimly as it could be, with the cruel tongues of flame,
when he gathered together the people in that place
and wanted them bound, the messengers of God,
fierce and much mourning in mind, the warden of Babylon. (224-29)

Then he ordered his servants to shove those youths
into the baleful blaze, those young warriors.
He was ready who did them comfort, though the king
had urged so cruelly in the arms of the fiery flames—
nevertheless a mighty guardian of God preserved their lives.
As the many were to learn the Holy One had ordained them help,
God, the Warden of Men sent them from the lofty heavens
his blessed spirit. An angel came within the furnace
where they endured their misery, covering these free-born sons
with his embrace under the fiery roof.
Nor could the welling of the flickering flames spoil their beauty
one whit, those men who the Sovereign had saved. (230-40)

Savage-minded was the heathen king—he ordered them
to be swiftly burned. The pyre was senselessly strong.
Then was the oven kindled, the iron all heated through.
Many slaves flung wood inside it, just as they were wordfully
commanded—they bore brands into the burning of the bright flames—
the wolf-hearted king wished to rear up an iron wall
around those law-fast men—until the fire leapt over
those beloved men and lustfully destroyed a great many,
more than should be appropriate. (242-49)

Then the flame flew upon those hateful men,
onto the heathens from the holy ones. The young men
were joyful at heart; the servants were burned
around and without the furnace. The pyre turned
upon them painfully to their hurt, and the lord of Babylon
witnessed it all. Blithe were the Hebrew nobles,
readily praising their Lord in joy, doing as they knew best
within the oven, preserving their lives.
The glad-minded men worthied God
within whose embrace the heat of the wicked fire
was put to flight. The free-born sons were delivered
from the onslaught of the flames, so that they did
no harm to them. The noise was no more a sorrow to them
than the shining of the sun, nor did the burning beat
upon these men who should be beat upon in there—
instead that fire let fly fire upon those worked harm then,
turning upon those heathen servants away from the blessed boys,
and the fairness of those accursed men was diminished,
who had rejoiced in those terrible deeds. (250-67)

When the stiff-minded king saw all this, trusting his senses,
the wonder occurring in torment, it seemed amazing to him.
The young men went forth whole in the hot oven,
all three law-fast men, and one more was seen in there,
an angel almighty. It had not damaged them any bit,
but there inside that oven it was pleasant, much like
when in the summer the sun is shining,
when the dew is dried in the day, strewn by the wind.
It was the God of Glory who had saved them
from that hot hatred. (268-78)

Then Azarias from his inmost thoughts
sang a holy song through the heated flame,
enduring, eager of deeds, praising his Lord,
a man without sins and then spoke these words: (279-82)

“All-creating Lord, listen! You are greatly powerful,
saving mankind. Your name is well-known,
radiant and glory-fast throughout the races of man.
Your decrees in every day are true and strong
and triumphant, just as you yourself are.
Your will is a success in this world,
righteous and roomy, Ruler of the Skies.
Shaper of Souls, eagerly grant us your comfort
and aid through your grace, Holy Lord—
now, enwrapped in fire, we entreat you
in this compulsion and captivity
for the favor of your grace. (283-95a)

“We have wrought in this world, as we have lived,
even as our ancestors have committed sin—
the city-dwellers have broken your commandments
out of over-pride, and despised the state of holy living.
We have been scattered across the broad earth,
dispersed in bands, without your grace—
our lives are useless and disreputable
throughout many lands and among many peoples.
We are banished us as thralls into the power
of the worst of the earthly kings, into the slavery
of savage men, and now we suffer
the captivity of heathens. Thanks be you,
Glory-King of Armies,
that you have ordained this wrack upon us. (295b-308)

“Do not forsake us alone, Eternal Lord,
for the mercy that men attribute to you,
and for the troth that you, fixed in glory,
Savior of Mankind, have granted to Abraham
and to Isaac and to Jacob, Shaper of Spirits! (309-14)

“You promised them through your speech
that you would increase their first-kin
in days gone past, so that there would be born
a great multitude in the generations after them
and they would become famous, a family
to be exalted as the heavenly stars that enclose
a broad orbit, or as the seashore, the sands
of the strand across the salty waves that grind
in the ocean, so that they must become innumerable
down a multitude of years. (315-24)

“Fulfill now your ancient word, though few of them
are living! Magnify in us your statements
and your glory! Reveal your craft and might
so that the Chaldeans and many other folk
who live as heathens under the heavens
might learn that you are alone the Eternal Lord,
the Sovereign of Armies, of all the worldly creation,
the Ordainer of Victories, the Measurer Sooth-fast!” (325-332)

So was the blessed man praising the mercy of the Maker
and relating the power of his might through his voice.
At that moment from the heavens was sent
from above an all-bright angel, a beautiful human
in his glorious garments who was come to them
as a comfort and a life-saving, with love and with kindness.
He, holy and heaven-lustrous, scattered the flames, the hot fires,
sweeping them away and swinging them through his great might,
the illuminated tongues, so that their bodies were not
any bit troubled, but he smote their enemies,
with fire upon their foes for their sinful deeds. (333-44)

Then the furnace became, where the angel had come,
breezy and beautiful, much like the weather
when in the summertime a shower of raindrops is sent
during the spaces of the day, a warm falling from the skies.
Such is the best of weather, and such was in that fiery place
as an aid to those holy men by the blessed power of the Lord.
The heated flames were driven out and washed away
wherever the deed-brave men went within that oven,
and the angel with them preserving their lives,
who was the fourth in there with Annanias and Azarias
and Misael. There the three mind-brave men praised
their Lord in their thoughts, calling upon the sons of Israel
and every land creature to bless the Eternal Lord,
the Sovereign of Nations. So these three called out,
quick of their wits, through one common word: (345-61)

 

LIII.

“May you be blessed, Merciful Lord by the beautiful
creation of the world and by all your works!
The heavens and the angels and the pure waters
which abide in glory across the skies
in righteous creation, may they honor you! (362-66)

“And may you, Almighty, be praised
by all created things, the sky-bright stars
which hold your course, the sun and the moon,
each one sundered alone, in their degree. (367-72)

“May the burning fire and the bright summer
celebrate the Savior! Night together with day,
and each and every land, light and shadow both,
heat along with the cold, may they praise you in their degree! (373-76)

“Mighty Lord, may you be loved in the winds,
by the frost and the snow, the winter-bitter weather
and the swirl of the clouds! And may the lightning,
shining, bright and blazing, bless you! (377-80)

“May all the earthly ground, Eternal Lord,
hills and fields and the high mountains,
the salty sea-waves, Soothfast Lord,
the waves of the water-stream and the welling
of the watery springs, may all these worthy you!” (381-85)

“May the great whales praise you, and the skyward birds,
bouncing on the breeze, which are stirred
by the sea-currents and the watery tides!
And may the wild beasts and all cattle bless your name! (386-89)

“And may the children of men love you in their hearts,
and all Israel, your servants, Shaper of All,
praise you according to their degree! (390-92)

“And may the hearts’ craft of the holy,
the souls and the spirits of every soothfast man,
love you, Author of Life, who gives recompense
to all the blessed-minded, O Eternal Lord! (393-96)

“And may Annanias and Azarias and Misael
glorify the Measurer in the breast-thoughts!
We bless you, Lord of All Peoples, Father Almighty,
True Son of the Maker, the Preserver of Souls,
the Helper of Heroes, and may you, Holy Ghost,
be honored in glory, Wise Lord! (397-403)

“We praise you, Holy Lord and extol your commandments!
You are blessed, worthied always across the roof of the world,
High-King of Heaven, with your holy power,
Light-Start of Life across every land!” (404-8)

Then Nebuchadnezzar, prince of his people,
consulted his closest folk-chieftains:
“Many of you, my people, have witnessed
that we delivered three men, deliberated
to death in the burning of the fire’s light.
Now I see truly there are four men there,
unless my senses betray me.” (409-15)

Then replied the king’s counselors,
wise and handy with words: “That is some miracle
that we can look upon them with our eyes.
Consider, my prince, what is fitting!
Know eagerly who has imparted this grace
upon these young gadlings! They praise their god,
singular and eternal, and all of them
speak upon his every name in earnest zeal,
praising his majesty with bold words,
stating that he is alone the Almighty God,
the Wise Glory-King of heaven and earth.
Call forth these children, lord of Chaldea,
out of the oven. It is not in any way good
that they remain in the hateful longer than you need.” (416-29)

At that moment the king ordered those boys to come out.
The young men heard these instructions,
the nobles coming forth as they were bidden,
the youths turning towards that heathen king before them.
Their bands were burned away which once lay on their bones,
the hateful devices of the people’s king, and their lives were delivered.
Nor was their beauty blemished, nor any hurt upon their garb,
nor was their hair singed by the fire, but they in the peace of the Lord
had tread forth from that grim terror gladly,
the wise-minded men, in custody of their souls. (430-39)

Then the angel departed upwards, seeking eternal joys
in the highest roofs of heaven’s realm,
a lofty and loyal servant of the Holy Measurer.
By that miracle he had honored those who deserved it. (440-43)

The young men praised God before that heathen folk,
teaching them true precepts and saying many true tokens,
until that one believed himself that he was the sovereign of might
who had delivered them from the darkness.
Then the brazen warden of Babylon, proud among his people
decreed that anyone would be guilty of his life
who argued the truth that it was the famous Ruler of Powers
who had set those young men free from their deaths. (444-51)

Then the king gave back to them the heirlooms of their people
which had been taken there into the keeping of the olden foe,
so that they had their honor again. Dignity was theirs again
in Babylon, since they had been tried in the fire,
their glory was revealed to that nation, after they had obeyed the Lord.
Their counsel was great, after the Sovereign of the Skies,
the Holy Warden of Heaven’s Realm, had shielded them from harm. (452-57)

Then, as I have heard in true words, the guardian of Babylon
sought, after perceiving that miracle through the burning of flames,
how those three youths had passed through the heated oven
and its fear-terrible fire. They waded through the welling,
as if the hate of the grim gledes, had hurt them not a bit,
the messengers of God in the wicked flames,
but the Lord’s peace had shielded them against gruesome terror.
Then the prince called a council, ordering together his people,
and proclaimed to that meeting the event that had happened
and the miracle of God that had been revealed in those youth: (458-71)

“Consider now the holy might and the wise wonder of God!
We have seen that he sheltered these young men
against the killing in the furnace, the flickering flame,
who have borne his praise. Therefore he is alone the Eternal Lord,
the Deemer Almighty, who granted them glory and a thriving triumph,
to those who carry his message. Therefore they have prophesied
through many miracles from their holy spirits that have chosen
his protection. It is known to me that Daniel spoke truly
of my secret dream, that had earlier greatly perplexed
many of my people in their minds, because the Almighty
had sent a soul ample in his senses, wise in his crafts.” (472-85)

So spoke the leader of armies wordfully, the warden of Babylon,
after he understood the signs, the patent token of God.
It made him no better, for over-pride harmed that noble yet,
it grew higher in his mind and in the thoughts of his heart,
greater in his mind-sense that should be appropriate,
until the Almighty Measurer thrust him down with compulsion,
just as he does to many who are mounted up by pride. (486-94)

 

LIV.

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,
but 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)

Then, on account of this boasting, the lord of men
became seized and departed into flight,
alone in his over-pride above all men.
So he went forth as men do in days of struggle,
upon the most bitter path in God’s punishment,
who, living through, soon regain their homeland,
and so did Nebuchadnezzar, after the enmity of God,
swift from the heavens, had punished him terribly. (612-21)

Seven winters together he suffered this torment,
and the wilderness of wild beasts, the king of the wine-city.
When the wretched man looked up,
with the wits of beasts, through the goings of clouds—
he was mindful then in his heart that the Measurer,
the High-King of Heaven, was for the sons of man
the only Eternal spirit. Then he soon turned from
madness in his wits, where he had before borne
widely, oppressing the heart and mind of the warrior. (622-28)

Then his spirit turned again to the memory of God,
his mind to humanity, once he understood the Maker.
Then the miserable man departed soon upon a journey,
a naked and needy traveler, enduring scorn,
an exotic exile and without clothing as well,
more moderate in his mind-thoughts, to mankind,
than when the warden of men was in his vaunting.
Middle-earth stood before the lord of men,
ground and home before that nobleman,
seven winters together, and it had not diminished,
his realm beneath the stars until its leader had returned. (629-39)

Then he was soon reestablished in his lordship,
the guardian of Babylon, having better ways,
a lighter belief in the Origin of Life,
that God gave prosperity and punishment
to every man, just as he wished to do. (640-44)

Then the prince of peoples did not linger at the words
of prophets, rather he proclaimed abroad
the might of the Measurer wherever he held power,
He spoke unto his people of his journey,
his wide wanderings where he roamed with the wild animals,
until the constant counsel of the Lord God came
into his soul, when he peered upon the heavens.
These events occurred, and a miracle revealed,
the dream confirmed, and the torment overcome,
and the judgment decreed, just as Daniel had said—
that the folk-leader was to discover a wretched journey
on account of his overweening.
And so Daniel eagerly preached the good news
of the might of the Measurer before mankind
afterwards for a long while among the city-dwellers
of Babylon, speaking precepts and true judgments. (645-661a)

After the companion of beasts, the exile of the wild,
had come from his wanderings, from the scornful vengeance,
Nebuchadnezzar, then he guarded a great realm,
holding the treasures of men and their high city,
wise now, a surpassingly mighty leader of his people,
the Chaldean king, until his killing knocked him down,
since there was no rival to him across the earth,
no man until God himself wished to divest him
of that lofty realm through the crumbling of his body.
Afterwards his heirs distributed the prosperity there,
the weal and the wound gold, in that wide citadel,
the temple grounds of noblemen, steadfast,
the lofty hoarded riches, when their lord fell dead. (661b-74)

 

LV.

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 travelling
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.” (753-64)

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