The Life and Trials of St. Guthlac of Croyland

 

Prologue

There will be the fairest of joys when they meet at the beginning,
an angel and a blessed soul—when she gives up this earthly joy
and forsakes these loaned pleasures—when she is parted from her body.

Then the angel speaks, since its holds the elder order, one spirit greets
the other and announces God’s embassy: “Now you may venture
to where you have striven for a long time, again and again.
I shall lead you myself — for you
the ways will be pleasant
and revealed is the splendorous light of glory.
You are now a fated-farer on your way to the holy home.

“There regret for its miseries will never come,
a seeking beyond the hedge—
instead there will be an ecstasy of angels,
peace and beatitude, and the couch of souls
where they may always rejoice to their furthest moment,
rejoicing with their Lord,
when they have performed his judgments here on earth.
God will keep perpetual recompense for them in the heavens,
where the Loftiest of All, the King of Kings, governs the cities.
Those are buildings that do not decay,
nor will life fail through wretchedness for those that abide therein,
rather it will become better for them the longer it goes on.
They will enjoy youth and the mercies of God.

“To that place the souls of the soothfast may come after death,
those that teach and perform Christ’s law here,
and uprear his praise;
those that subdue accursed spirits
and obtain for them the repose of glory,
that place where the heart of man must climb, before or after,
when he attends his solitary and sublime spirit,
so that these good souls will be allowed,
immaculate, to come into God’s possession.”

There are, throughout middle-earth, many orders of men
beneath the heavens, those who rise up in the number of the holy.
We can rightfully heed any one,
if we wish to keep the holy commandments.
The wise man now can take advantage
of the opportunity of good hours,
and his spirit can venture, desiring the way.

The world is perturbed — love for Christ cools,
and many temptations have arisen throughout middle-earth,
just as the prophets of God have said wordfully in former years
and through their divination declared all just as it is happening now.
All earthly abundance elders
and from their beauty fruiting things fade—
in such late seasons all seeds become weaker in power.

Therefore a man needs not think much upon this world
for its improvement, but that God will bring us a delight
more fair over these evils that we now endure,
before the ending of all creation, which he established in six days,
when he brings forth now these orders under the heavens,
both great and small.

So this middle-earth is shared out into halves.
The Lord watches where they dwell that keep his law—
he sees his judgments decline every day and stray
from the worldly rule that he established by his own word.
He finds many, but few will be selected.

Some desire to clothe themselves in the glory of their estate
by words alone but do not perform their own station.
For them earth-weal over the Life Eternal is their highest expectation,
that which must become estranged from all fold-dwellers.
Therefore they now condemn the heart of saints,
those who have confirmed their thought in the heavens,
who know that their true homeland will endure
perpetually for the multitudes who throughout middle-earth
serve the Lord and through their good works
desire that precious home.

So these world-treasures will be exchanged for a good
more renowned when they yearn for it,
those for whom the fear of God bends over their heads.
They will be rebuked by that highest majesty
and they profit by their life according to his commandments
and wish and hope for the better one hereafter.
They procure glory— they give alms and comfort the wretched.
They are generous with their rightful possessions.
They show their love with gifts to those that own less.
Daily they serve the Lord, and daily the Lord observes their deeds.

Some dwell in desert places. They willingly seek out and occupy homes
in the shadows. They await their dwelling among heaven’s kind.
Often one drives loathsome terror upon them,
he who would snatch away life. Sometimes he reveals
terrifying thoughts to them, sometimes idle glories—
the killer, wise in woven lies, has both skills and persecutes the sole-dweller.
Before these men stand angels, armed with ghostly weapons;
they are mindful of their well-being and keep the spirits of saints,
who know their joy is with the Lord. These are the proven champions
that serve the King, who never refuses recompense
for those that endure in his love.

We can now relate what was recently revealed to us by a holy order,
how Guthlac stretched out his heart to the delight of God,
rejected all wickedness and his earthly honors,
mindful of what lies above, his home in the heavens.
His hope was upon that place, after he that readies the life’s way
for souls illuminated him, and gave him angelic gifts,
so that he alone began to inhabit a mountain-home,
and through humility sold all his proper possessions,
which he in his youth must have applied to the joys of this world.
A holy warden from the heavens held him close, who eagerly strengthened
Guthlac’s pure heart with goodness of spirit.

 

I.

So, we have often heard that this holy man in his earliest age
loved many perils. The time yet came for the judgment of God,
when He gave an angel unto Guthlac and his understanding
so that his desires for sins could be assuaged.
The time was at hand; and two guardians kept watch over him,
fighting each other in a contest—an angel of the Lord and a fearsome specter.
Their counsels could be not any less alike,
which they bore many times into his heart’s reason.

One of them said that all things of earth were fleeting in the wind,
and praised the enduing good in the heavens, where the souls of the holy recline
in victor-glory upon the joys of the Lord, who frankly doles out recompense
for their deeds to those who would give thanks for his gifts and who
would utterly give up the world instead of eternal life.

The other incited him to seek by night the assembly of criminals
and acquire worldly goods by malicious acts, as do banished warriors
who mourn not for the mortal souls who bring plunder to their hands,
save that they may have spoil by them.

And so they exhorted Guthlac on either side until the Lord of Hosts
decreed an end to the struggle in the angel’s favor. The enemy was routed.
Afterwards the Comforting Spirit dwelt within Guthlac for his help,
held him dear and instructing him the more eagerly the longer
the lesson went on, so that he came to cherish the land’s joys—
his home on the hill. Often there came terror, frightful and uncouth,
the malice of the old foe, so cunning in artifice. They revealed their own faces
to Guthlac. They had held many seats there previously, but had since withdrawn
themselves, deprived of glory, thence into wide wandering, flapping on the breeze.

That plot of land had been concealed before the eyes of men
until the Creator revealed a hill within the woods,
when the builder arrived and reared there a holy home.
Guthlac cared nothing for life-wealth loaned through covetousness,
but pleasantly protected his goods after that champion of Christ subdued the enemy.
There he was tried within the time of remembering men,
who yet worthy him for his ghostly wonders and hold dear
the report of his wisdom, which that holy servant exercised
with strength, when he rested alone in that secret place.

There he unfolded and uplifted the praise of the Lord.
Often by speech he declared God’s embassy to those who adored
the martyrs’ custom, the sagacity of life which the spirit had revealed to him,
so that he denied his body-house all things of pleasure and world-bliss,
a softer seat and feast-days, likewise from the vain delights of the eyes
and proud clothing. His fear of God was greater in his thoughts
than his desire to devote himself to satisfaction in mortal glory.

 

 II.

Guthlac was a good man. He bore in his soul
heavenly expectation that he would attain the salvation
of eternal life. An angel, a faithful peace-guard, was near him,
one of a very few that dwelt in that march-land.
There he became an example to many in Britain,
after that warrior, blessed and battle-stern, had ascended the mountain.
He prepared himself with spiritual weapons. He blessed the plain,
which the Rood of Christ had just recently raised for him as a war-camp,
where that champion had subdued many perils
and many of God’s martyrs were made bold.

We thus ascribe to the Lord the precious portions
of Guthlac. He gave him victory and prudent craft,
his mighty protection, when enemy multitudes roused their feud
against him with far-flung arrows. They could not abandon
their enmity, but drove many temptations at Guthlac’s soul.
Assistance was near him—the angel strengthened him
with courage when they whipped up wrath
and the horrible welling of fire at him.
They stood about him in infantry-bands,
saying that he must burn upon that hill
and the flame would swallow his body-house;
that misery and mind-trouble would befall absolutely his kinsmen,
if he would not turn away from the fight’s flash-point
and apply himself to human joys, perform willingly and better
his familial duty among man-kind, allowing this conflict to still.

And so he raged, that one who spoke for all
the multitude of fiends—and not a bit more fearful
was Guthlac’s soul. God had given him courage
against the terror so that the shoal of these malign old-foes
suffered shame. These wrong-workers were filled with agony.
They said that Guthlac alone, save God himself, had wreaked
the most misery upon them, since he, overweening in the wastes,
had broken the mountains where they, wretched enemies,
were once able to brook an abode after their torments,
when they had come to rest, weary from wanderings, from the currents of time
and rejoice in the repose that was permitted them for a little while.

That secret space stood high in the thoughts of the Lord—
though abandoned and man-devoid, far from any land-claims,
it waited for the petition of a better guardian to whom the elder-foes
harbored a hatred, and so they suffer perpetual sorrow.
These devils may not enjoy an abode on earth, nor will the breeze
slumber them into the limb’s repose. Rather they will suffer shelterless of home,
calling out their cares, longing for death, desiring the Lord manifest for them,
through the pangs of death, an end to their tribulations.

The demons were neither allowed to harm Guthlac’s soul,
nor separate soul from body with a painful blow—
but they heaved up harm-songs with cunning falsehoods,
cast aside their laughter and sighed their sorrow, when a greater guardian
overcame them on the plain. Mourning the wrack-kin had to abandon
their green mounds. Nevertheless the deniers of God spoke vicious verses,
fiercely promising that Guthlac should suffer the division of death if he endured
their more loathsome assembly any longer, when they would return
with a greater crowd that felt little anxiety for his life.

Guthlac addressed them, saying that they needed not to boast
of their deeds against the Lord’s might. “Though you have promised me
death, the Lord that dominates over your hardships,
will preserve me from your hates. There is but one Almighty God—
he can shield me easily and cherishes my life.

“I wish to speak many truths to you.
Alone I can oppress you all—while on my rump—
without much hardship. I am not so destitute as I stand before you,
lacking a host of men but no small portion of sacred soul-mysteries
indwells and increases within me, and they bolster me up like a staff.
I shall build myself, readily and alone, a house and couch here.
The lessons within me belong to the heavens:
It seems not a little unlikely that an angel will conduct
unto me the spectacular success of all my deeds and words.

“Now begone, accursed ones and weary-minded,
from this ground here where you stand! Fly into the far-way!
I desire to seek peace for myself with God,
nor shall my spirit endure error among you all.
Instead the Hand of God acts as my guardian with its might.
Here shall be my earthly homeland—
It is no longer yours in any wise.”

 

III.

At that moment arose a clamor.
The exiled family surrounded the mountain in a band,
their speech climbing up, an anxious shout.
Many demon advocates called out, vaunting their crimes:
“Often we have observed between the two seas the habits of humans,
the prideful force of those that control their life by chance.
We have never found a greater arrogance in just one man throughout middle-earth.
You have vowed that you will occupy our home in our very midst?
You are God’s poorling! And though you possess this land,
by what shall you live? No man will nourish you here with meals—
hunger and thirst shall be your harsh adversaries,
should you go forth like a wild animal, alone from your homeland.

“There is nothing to this venture! Give up your refuge!
No man can give you better counsel than all this horde brings!
We will be loyal unto you if you will heed us, else we will seek you
again ill-prepared for our greater strength—so that we need not strike you
with hands nor fell your corse with weapons’ wounds.
We can beat down this hut with our feet—
our folk with both cavalry force and foot soldiers will trample it.
They will be swollen in rage then when strike you down—
pounding you and paining you, wreaking upon you their violent rage.
They will carry you away with bloody footprints if you think to resist us.
We will assault you with malicious deeds.
Start desiring sanctuary for yourself—flee to where
there is hope for friends if you care about your spirit!”

But Guthlac was prepared — God had made him
strong of answer, strong of courage. He did not quail
at these words, but spoke sorrow to his opposing foes
knowing full well the truth: “Wide is the wilderness—
there are many wrack-homes here, secret ground for wretched ghasts.
They are pledge-breakers that inhabit these houses.
Though you have congregated all these devils, each laboring for wider strife,
you will draw out a victory-less journey in pursuit of raging vengeance.

“I do not intend to bear sword, a worldly weapon, against you
with a rage-swollen hand. This good country shall not become inhabited
through bloodshed, but I think to satisfy my lord Christ with a dearer sort of play.
Now that I have ascended this land your idle words offered me many other lands.
My breast-core is not afraid or appalled, but he that wields all power
over his work keeps me in peace over mankind.

“There is not a speck of love due to you, nor may you do the tiniest part of evil.
I am the servant of the Lord: he often comforts me through an angel.
Therefore few longings visit me, and rarely sorrow.
Now a soul-kindred shepherd preserves me. My hope is with God—
I do not care for anything of earth-weal for my own use,
nor do I yearn for much with my heart. Instead every day
the Lord sends me what I require by hands of men.”

So he exulted standing against the many,
glory’s worthy warrior supported by the strength of angels.
The entire multitude of fiends departed thence.
The time was not great that they intended to grant Guthlac.
He was brave and humble-hearted, dwelling on the dale—his desired home—
forsaking the longings for loaned pleasures. He did not separate himself
from the mercy of men, but asked for the health of every soul,
when in the desert he lowered his face to the ground.
His inner-heart became incited with a joyful spirit.

Often, with an angel near him, he meditated upon how
he might least need to brook the joys of this world.
He did not doubt the truth for terror of wretched devils,
nor did he defer the time that he should endure for his Lord,
so that neither sleepy slumber nor sluggish spirit
would deprive him of the strength to rise up.
Thus a warrior should always campaign for God in his heart,
and often bear his soul into hatred of him that wishes
to prosecute every soul wherever he can betray them.

Always the demons found Guthlac stout in God’s will,
whenever the wild-fliers came through the darkness of night—
those ones that occupied secret dwellings—
seeking whether his delight in that plain had decreased.
They desired that a sorrow for human love should invade his heart,
so that he would make a journey again to his homeland.

There was no such enterprise: when the angel in the wasteland
approached Guthlac most eagerly and gave him gifts so that yearning
could not hinder him for the will of God. Instead he remained
in covenant with his instructor. Often he asserted:
“Indeed! It behooves that the Holy Spirit directs him
into determination and bolsters his works, inviting him with gentle words,
promising life’s repose, so that he heeds the teachings of the Leader
and does not allow the Olden-Foe to misturn his mind from the Measurer.
How shall my spirit come to safety, unless I give to God
my handsome heart in order that my inner thoughts to him […]

 

IV.

[The manuscript resumes in the middle of Guthlac’s speech]

“…early or late there may come an end
to when you can deceive me with your power.
Nor may my body-house against this perishing creation partake of death,
but it must fail, just as the entire earth upon which I stand.
Although you carry away my flesh-home to the fire’s welling,
fierce-minded with greedy flames, you will never avert me from this word
so long as my wit endures. Although you afflict my body with pains,
you can never approach my soul—you will rather bring it into a better state.
Therefore I wish to suffer what my Lord deems proper for me.

“There is no worry for death in me. Though my bones and blood
both will be rendered to the earth’s profit, the perpetual part of me
shall voyage into bliss, where it may enjoy a homestead more fair.
There is no home on this mountain as good or better that befits a man
who labors daily in the passion of his prince’s will. Nor must the servant
of the Lord desire in his heart-case more of these earthy possessions
than his sole share, so that he may keep an exculpation for his body.”

Then there was, just as before, the malice of olden-foes,
their quarrel brought again to boil — there resounded a second cry,
not at all small, when the clamor of care-ridden demons mounted the breeze.
Always the praise of Christ swelled and dwelt in Guthlac’s heart
for good things, and the God of Multitudes maintained him
on the mountain, as he keeps every spirit in safety, wherever he thrives
in ghostly customs. Guthlac was one of these men—
he worked not after worldly things, but instead heaved the pleasures
of his heart up into Eternal Glory. Who could have been greater than he?
A lone warrior revealed within our own times, the champion
for whose sake Christ manifested more mortal wonders?

 

V.

God shielded Guthlac against the loathsome clutches of spirits,
wretched and wracking—they were fierce to rush upon him
with greedy grasp. God did not will that his soul should suffer bodily pain
from them, he granted that the harmers may only touch
him with their hands, and that his peace was protected against them.

Then the demons heaved Guthlac onto the high breeze,
giving him power beyond the kindred of men, so that he was shown
before his eyes everything under the dominion of holy shepherds,
the bearing of men in monasteries whose use their lives in lusting,
idle possessions and arrogance, in ostentatious clothing,
as will be the custom of youth where they are not
checked by the fear of the elder.

The fiends need not have rejoiced there—
rather they had too swiftly consumed the fruits of their endeavor,
only granted them for a short while. They might not
long afflict his body-house with tortures,
nor vex him by any abuse they might achieve.

Then they conducted him from the air to his most beloved home
on earth, so that he again climbed the mountains in the grove.
The killers groaned and moaned mournsomely that a child of man
had excelled them in calamities, and thus, destitute and alone,
this would come as a hardship to them, if they could not
painfully pay him a greater blow in return.

Guthlac set his hope in the heavens, trusting in salvation—
he had endured the fiends’ embrace with his life.
The insurrection of miserable demons was a temptation vanquished.
The champion remained, happy on the hill: his reward was with God.
It seemed in his thought that he was blessed among mankind
who protected his noble soul alone so that the Enemy’s hand
at the uttermost end should hurt him not, when the Lord’s glory
would guide him, compelled to die at last.

Nevertheless yet, remembering their griefs, the blame-blabbers
promised him miseries with furious blasphemies.
His faith was revealed:
that God had rewarded Guthlac with courage
with his favors since he struggled alone.

An accursed demon said to him wordfully:
“We should not need to toil this arduously for you,
if you would have readily heeded the precepts of friends.
When you first came, humbled and wretched, into this flash-point,
then you vowed that the Holy Ghost would shield you readily
against hardships, because of the token that turned the hand
of men away from your noble face.” (Within that mask
live many men, resigned to fault—they don’t serve God at all,
but please their bodies for love of delicate food’s delights)

“So you all render unto the Lord worthy memorials
with a dull song. You all hide before men many things
that you conceive in your heart. Although you practice them in secret,
your deeds will not be kept hidden. We conducted you
upon the breeze, depriving you of the land’s joys, for we desired
you would see for yourself that we have bring the truth against you.
All of these torments you have endured because you could not change this fact.”

Then it happened that God wished to give him favor after his suffering,
so that he esteemed martyrdom in his breast. He gave Guthlac wisdom
in his heart’s thoughts and a might-fast memory. He stood against many
old devils, emboldened by courage, and said to vex them that they,
vanquished, must abandon that green plain.

“You are scattered! Sin weighs upon you!
You know not how to beseech the Lord of Multitudes,
nor humbly seek for mercy, even though he permitted you a little
time that you were allowed to possess power over me.
You were willing to accept that with patience,
but conducted me up angrily so that I could see from the air
the buildings of the land. The radiant light of heaven was revealed to me,
though I may have endured your fury.

“You set me in scorn because I suffered meekly
the roomy regula and the wild hearts of young men
in God’s temples. By this you would make game of the praise of saints.
You sought the inferior, and did not judge the better by their deeds.
Yet these acts shall not be kept secret.

“I will speak a truth refuting you all—
God has shaped the youth and the delight of men
so they cannot bear themselves with maturity in their early bloom
but instead they delight in the joys of the world until the count of winters
subdues their youngness. Thus their spirit feels affection
for the demeanor and deportment of a more mature state,
which many throughout middle-earth appropriately serve in their ways.
Men will reveal their wisdom to other people:
they lose their arrogance after their youth flees folly.

“You do not distinguish that fact, rather you speak of the sins
of the wicked, and will not celebrate the hearts and practices
of the soothfast. You rejoice in crimes and do not look for the comfort
that you may experience any improvement in your wrack-journeys.
Often you stand accused, for which comes chastisement from heaven.
That one who has sent me can reconcile us,
he that controls the length of every life.”

So the sainted soldier shouted out—he was a martyr for mankind,
sundered from his sins. Yet he must endure his share of pain,
though the Lord ruled over his torments. Listen—
that seemed some wonder to men that Guthlac would further
allow miserable demons to strike him with savage seizures,
and that it happened yet!

Greater still was that Christ sought middle-earth himself, and shed his blood
into the hands of slayers. He held dominion over both life and death
when he suffered willingly and meekly the malice of persecutors on earth.
Therefore it is now fitting that we consider the deeds of law-fast men,
and say praise to the Lord for all these exempla, the wisdom that his books
reveal for our sakes through his glorious works.

 

VI.

Grace in sacred power was discovered within Guthlac—
There is much to relate, all after the beginning, what he endured in courage:
the vanguard whom the Almighty Father himself
had decreed against the hidden adversaries of life.
There his soul became pristine and proven.
It is widely known throughout middle-earth that his heart
flourished in God’s design—there is still much to tell about what he suffered himself
under the narrow bonds of those malicious spirits.

Then he scorned the pain and always was mindful of his soul,
of the protector that kept his mind, so that Guthlac did not doubt
the truth in his breast, nor with grieving injure his spirit,
but that steadfast heart dwelt in the holy man
until he had overcome these troubles.

His torments were harsh, grim the servants, all of them that promised
his life’s downfall. They were not allowed to condemn Guthlac to death,
these herders of sin, but his soul waited within its body-house until a dearer hour.
Readily they observed that God would deliver him from hatred.
He would sternly judge their forceful vengeance. So the Lord can,
Almighty and alone, easily protect every one of the blessed against hardships.

Nevertheless, fury-swollen, the wracked wrathfully brought him,
the champion of glory, the holy host-thane, to the doors of hell,
where the doomed spirits of the sinful first seek entry after their death-pangs
into that horrible house, the bottomless pit down below the cliffs.
They shook him, wickedly offering him battle, dread and hatred,
and a savage journey, as is the custom of fiends, when they wish
to betray the souls of the soothfast with sins and crafty tricks.

Grim-hearted they began to harass God’s warrior in his heart,
affirming strongly that he must go into that terrible and grim place
and go down humbled to hell’s citizens and there suffer in burning bonds.
They desired to drag the miserable wretch in hopelessness
among the angry words, the Creator’s champion. It could not be so!

Lornsome and loathly to Christ, they spoke to Guthlac harshly:
“You are not worthy, no servant of the Lord, pristinely proven,
nor a righteous champion, well known by word and deed,
holy in his heart. Now you must dive deep into hell, to have
no more of the light of the Lord in Heaven, the lofty houses, the seat in the sky,
because you have performed too many sins and evils in your flesh-home.
We wish to repay you a bounty for every blot, where it will be
the most loathsome for you, in the most horrific soul-torment.”

Guthlac the blessed man gave answer to them in his spirit,
with the power of God: “Do so much, if Christ the Lord,
the Light-Origin of Life will permit you, the Wielder of Hosts,
to be able to led his pledge-pilgrim into that hateful flame.
That deed would be in the power of the Glory-King,
Christ the Savior, he that humiliated you and routed you
into servitude under close confinement.

“I am his humble serving-man, his vassal patient.
I must submit myself wholly to his sole judgment everywhere
and wish forever to be subordinated to him eagerly
with my soul’s thoughts, and faithfully follow my Savior,
in both my practice and presence. I wish to thank him
for all these gifts that God shaped—first the angels
and then the earth-dwellers. I will bless him with a blithe heart
the Light-Origin of Life and day and night sing praises to him
through honor befitting, praise in my heart the Warden of the Heaven-Realm.
It will never be allowed you from above, in the light’s leniency,
that you may speak the Lord’s praise. Rather you must,
welling with woe in death, whooping bewail your lamentation
in Hell, to never have the holy exaltation of the Heaven-King.

 

VII.

“I will worthy that Deemer by words and deeds in my days,
love him in my lifetime, as his lesson and grace spring forth
as sprouting speech, to those who with their works accomplish his will.
You are pledge-breakers, so you have lived long on the exile’s track,
given flame to drink, enticed by darkness, deprived of heaven,
bereaved of joy, committed to death, caught up in crimes and hopeless of life—
you would devise a cure for your blindness. You readily scorned
then the fairer creation in former-days, the spiritual heaven-joy,
when you conceived contrary to the Holy Lord.
You would not ever be allowed to abide in joy-days,
but in shame were shaven with sins for your over-pride,
in eternal fire, where you must suffer death and darkness,
wailing the width of your years.
Never should you expect an improvement to this state.

“And I believe that fact in the Life-Origin,
the Eternal Ruler of all creation, that he,
for his mercies and powerful means, the Savior of Men,
never will abandon me in the valor-works for which I have
long campaigned for God in my body-house and in my soul
through the mysteries of multifold powers. Therefore I trust
in the glory of the brightest Trinity, which holds in its hands
heaven and earth, by their consent—so that you never can,
rage-hearted with malice drag me into torments, vile murderers
and man-harmers, dark and unvictorious.
Truly I am by graceful belief and with the love of the Lord
satisfied, fairly in my soul-box, instigated in my breast
unto that better home, enlightened in my limbs
to that everlasting dwelling most precious. There is my native land,
pleasant and joyous in the Father’s Glory,
where the light’s radiance nor life’s hope in God’s realm
was never rendered to you for the savior’s sake,
because of your over-pride that mounted you in mind
through idle boast all too powerful.

“You believed and desired, you evil-thinkers,
that you must be like the Shaper in glory.
There a worse thing happened to you,
when the Wielder gave you wrath to wassail in gloomy torment—
there a pyre was kindled for you afterwards, blended with poison,
and through his deep doom expelled you from joy, the society of angels.
Now and forever it shall be so that you have damnation
in welling-flame, and no blessings at all.
Nor need you believe, beshorn of glory, that you,
sinful in the shade with guile-tricks, can shove me into shame,
nor drag me into the fire-blaze down into this hell-house,
where a home for you has been created, the darkness
of everlasting night, strife without end and grim ghast-killing.
There you mourning must be dragged into death while I will have
the delight of joys among the angels in that lofty realm of the stars,
where is the Lawful King: the succor and salvation
for the race of heroes, their company and community.”

Then came a messenger of the Lord, holy from the heavens,
who with his voice pronounced fear of a sublime sort
for the miserable demons. He ordered them to immediately lead
glory’s champion limb-whole and unharmed from that wrack-trip,
so that the dearest soul, prepared in God’s protection,
should set forth unto joy. The press of fiends were trembling in their terror.
The powerful being spoke, the Lord’s precious thane, shining day-bright.
He held the soul of Guthlac in his power, the proud protector
rich in mighty deeds. He bound the servants of darkness with agonizing
restraints, imposing hardship and earnestly commanding them:

“Let there be no break of bone nor bloody wound,
no welts on his body nor one whit of injury
which you could do to harm to him. Rather you will place him whole
where you grabbed him. He shall control the countryside —
you may no longer defend that place against him.
I am the judge; the Lord commanded me to utter at once,
that you will heal him of every injury with your own hands,
and after be obedient to him in his own judgments.
I must not conceal my countenance before the lot of you.
I am the servant of the Maker. I am one of twelve who he cherished
in his heart, most faithful in the form of men.

“The Lord dispatched me here from heaven, seeing that you,
on the earth for your envies, lay torments upon this pledge-pilgrim.
He is my brother, his hardship grieves me.
I bring this about, where my friend dwells in his refuge,
that I will keep in peace with him. Now I may aid his task —
and for that you will often be shown my face.
Now I will seek him out frequently.
I must conduct his words and works to the Lord in witness—
and so he will know his deeds.”

 

VIII.

Then Guthlac’s spirit was overjoyed after Bartholomew
had proclaimed God’s message. The obedient captives stood ready,
those who did not deviate from the word of that saint.
Glory-blessed the Lord’s champion then began to draw himself
on the dear journey to that desired portion of earth. They bore him
and held him from breaking, heaving him with their hands and protecting him
from a fall. Smooth and soft, their travels were done under the terror of God.

Victor-triumphant the builder returned to the mountain.
Many species, the race of tree-fowl blessed him with insistent chirping,
revealing the return of the blessed man in tokens.
Often he held out food for them when they flew about his hands,
hungry and greedily eager, exulting in his aid. So that mild heart parted himself
from the joys of mankind, serving the Lord and taking unto himself the joys
of wild beasts since rejecting those of the world.

Tranquil was the triumph-field and the hall renewed,
the voice of birds fair and the earth blossoming;
the cuckoos announced the spring.
Guthlac was allowed, blessed and resolute, to brook his dwelling.
That green plain stood in God’s protection. The warden,
who had come from the heavens, had banished the fiends.
What design has become fairer in men’s lifetime,
which our elders remember or we know for ourselves since?

What wonders are these known to us! All this has come to pass
within the period of our own times. Therefore none of men’s kind
across the earth need doubt it, indeed such good is worked
as a confirmation to the souls’ life, lest weaker hearts have need
to turn from that testimony when they might profit by the truth in their own sight.

So the Almighty adores all creation beneath the breeze
in its body-housing, the tribes of men throughout middle-earth.
The Wielder wishes that we always and prudently swallow up his wisdom,
so that his truth becomes a recompense for his gifts
among us, which he grants and sends to us as an honor and understanding,
clearing lenient life-courses for our souls that reach towards radiance.

This is certainly not the least that his love makes known,
when it builds godly gifts in the heart of men.
So he exalted Guthlac’s days and deeds through his decree.
The originator was firm in fights with his foes, set against sins,
where he wanted afterwards for little vigilance.
Often his word was sent up to God through his humility;
his prayer allowed to come into that bright creation. He thanked the Prince
for those things he was allowed to endure in his sufferings—
until the moment when, through God’s will, a better life may be given him.

And so was Guthlac’s spirit carried into the high-heavens
in the embraces of angels, conducting him lovingly
before the face of his Eternal Judge. The reward was granted
him, a seat in the skies, where he might always exist
established in life and continue in calm forever. The Child of God
is his patient protector, the Mighty Lord and Holy Herdsman,
the Warden of Heaven’s-Realm.

So the souls of the sooth-fast may climb up
into that perpetual home, the realm of the stars,
those who accomplish the Glory-King’s life-long lesson here
in words and works, and in their life’s season earn eternal life on earth
and a home on high. Those are the Host-men,
chosen champions dear to Christ, bearing in their breasts bright belief
and holy hope. With clean hearts they worthy the Wielder,
holding thought both prompt and prudent onto the forth-way
to their Father’s homeland. They ready the soul’s house,
expertly overfighting the Enemy and eschewing the sinful desires
in their own breasts. These men attend to brother-love eagerly—
in God’s purpose they trouble themselves, adorning
their souls with holy thoughts. The command of the Heaven-King
they effect on earth. They love fasting—they are sheltered
from baleful evil and strive after their prayers.
They struggle against sins and keep truth and right.

Their hence-going will never grieve them after,
when they voyage to that holy city,
departing directly for Jerusalem, where
they may joyfully behold the face of God
and her peace and panorama unto the world’s end,
where she truly abides, beautiful
and glory-fast, for the entire width of life,
in the delight of the land of living.