II (Exeter book version)

Indeed, it behooves all of these heroes
to care for the passage of his own soul—
how it must be grievous when death arrives,
disjoining the siblings! For long afterwards
it shall be the case, that the ghost takes
for its own good, such torment and such glory,
just as that earth-vessel previously
worked for them both in this world. (ll. 1-8)

The soul must come, clamorous with cares,
always finding about every seventh night
its body-home, that it wore long before,
three hundred winters ago,
unless the Eternal Lord should bring about,
Almighty God, the end of the world. (ll. 9-14)

Then the sorrowing soul calls out with a cold voice,
speaking grimly, ghost to the dust:
“Listen! Blood-stained you have labored,
towards what torments me so, O full of earth,
entirely decayed, the very likeness of loam!
Little did you think to what end should occur
for the journey of your soul afterwards,
after it would be conducted from your body-house! (ll. 15-21)

“Harumph! Know this of me, O accursed!
Harumph! Indeed you are a delicacy for worms,
thinking little on how the road is long from here,
how the soul was sent to you by angels above from heaven,
through his own hand, the Measurer Almighty,
from his Power Majestic, and then purchased for you
with holier blood—and you have bound me
into a harsher hunger and captived me
into the very torments of hell! (ll. 22-29)

“I dwelt within you. I never could exist without you,
enclosed in flesh, and your criminal desires
crushed me. It very often seemed to me
that there would be thirty thousand
winters until your death-day. Listen, I begged
miserably for our parting. That end has not turned out well! (ll. 30-35)

“You were proud at your feast and sated with wine,
standing out majestically, and I was thirsty,
my body, for good, for the drink of souls.
There you considered then, here in this life,
while I had to dwell with you in the world,
so that you were guided eagerly by your flesh
and your criminal desires, and strengthened by me,
and I was the ghost sent within you by God—
you never prepared me for the compulsion,
for the torments of hell so harsh by your lust for pleasure. (ll. 36-45)

“Yet you must suffer the shame of my ruination
on the greatest of days, when the only-begotten
gathers together all the kindred of men.
You are not now the dearer to any living being,
a mate to men, neither to mother nor father,
nor to any siblings, than the darkened raven,
after I journeyed away from you alone
through your own doing, when I was sent out before. (ll. 46-53)

“Nor may these scarlet trappings set you free
henceforth, neither gold nor silver, nor any of your material goods,
but they should remain here, bereaved of bones,
torn in the sinews, and your soul
must often seek you, repugnant to me,
reviled with words, just as you did to me. (ll. 54-59)

“You are deaf and dumb—
you no longer possess any of your pleasures!
I must nevertheless seek you perforce,
agonized by our sins, and turn away from you
at once at cock-crow, when holy men
sing their praises to the Living God,
seeking the abodes to which you have consigned me,
and that merciless homestead,
and the many mold-worms must chew upon you,
tearing your sinews, darkened creatures,
gluttonous and greedy. None of your possessions are yours,
which you once showed off to men on this earth. (ll. 60-70)

“Therefore it would have been better by a great deal—
more than all the profits of this earth—
unless you had shared them for God’s sake—
that you have been at the first making a fowl or a fish in the sea,
or a beast of the earth, exerting itself in eating,
a field-stomping cow without kind wisdom,
or in the wastelands as the grimmest of wild animals
wherever God wished it, or even if you were
the worst of the kindred of creeping creatures—
more than ever becoming a man upon the earth,
who must receive baptism. (ll. 71-81)

“When you have to answer for us both
on that greatest day, when the wounds
of all mankind shall be revealed,
those that criminal men worked in the world
earlier, then will the Lord himself
wish to hear of their deeds, from the voice
of their mouths from every human being,
recompense for his wounds. And what will you
say unto our Lord there on the day of judgment? (ll. 82-89)

“Then there is no joint so small in your body
that you must pay retribution for each one singly,
when the Lord shall be fearsome in his judgment.
And what have we done for our sakes?
We must soon afterwards brook like miseries,
just as you have ordained for us here before!” (ll. 90-96)

Thus the soul reviles that flesh-hoard, and then must
go on its way, seeking the bottom of hell—
not at all the joys of heaven—afflicted by its deeds.
The dust lies where it was, nor can it speak any answer
nor is it promised any refuge for a miserable spirit,
no consolation nor comfort— (ll. 97-102)

Its head is cleaved open, hands despoiled,
jaws gaping, throat torn apart,
sinews sucked out, neck gnawed up,
ribs ravaged by fearsome worms,
drinking the corpse in plunder, thirsty for gore.
That tongue has been devoured in ten directions,
hungrily as their sole comfort—
therefore it cannot so quick-wittedly bandy
about words with that accursed spirit. (ll. 103-10)

Glutton is the name of that worm, whose jaws
are sharper than needles. That one dares to,
first of all in the earthen grave—
he destroyed that tongue, boring through his teeth,
and he made room for others to feast,
and he ate through the eyes up upon the head,
for worms as a banquet. That accursed body
has just cooled, once garbed in fine garments—
Now it is a platter for the worms, a meal in the dirt. (ll.111-20a)

So that can serve as reminder to men,
for every one of the mind-perceptive. (ll. 120b-21)

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