Listen!—I sat alone within a grove
beneath the covering helm, in the midst of the woods,
where the watery stream resounded and ran
into the middle of the garden, all as I say to you.
Also there winsome plants waxed and bloomed
mixed in among them in a singular plain,
and the woody trees stirred and sounded
through the dreadful wind—the heaven was stirred,
and my wretched mind was all troubled.
Then suddenly I, fearful and gloomy,
took up these doleful verses with a song,
all like you said, mindful of sin—
of the vices of life, and the long season
of the dark coming of death upon earth.
I am fearful as well of the greatest judgment
for my deeds of wickedness on earth,
and of that eternal wrath I also am afraid
and all sinful men before God himself,
and how the Mighty Lord will separate
and distinguish all mankind through his hidden might.
I remember also the glory of the Lord
and of the holy citizens in heaven’s realm,
as well as the evil and torment of the wretched.
I remember all this and I mourn greatly—
and I speak grievingly, with troubled mind:
“Now I ask you, fountain, to disclose fully
the well-springs hot from the cheeks, quickly in tears,
when I struck my sinful self greatly with my fist,
beating my breast in the place of prayer,
and my body-house lies upon the earth
and earning all the pain I called forth.
I ask you for prayers now at this time
so that you all do not turn aside a bit for your tears,
yet dreary cheeks are troubled with weeping
and salty drops pour over it at once,
and revealing its wickedness to the Eternal Lord.
Nothing may be believed within there,
in its heart-cavern of humiliated guilts,
so that it may not be day-clear
what was secretive, with manifest words
all was bared to the light, of the breasts,
and the tongues and the flesh all alike.
This alone is sound in the wretched soul
and the best hope for the sorrowing,
so that he will reveal the wounds with a cry,
in these upward gifts—he can alone
cure the slippery mind with good
and set the captives quickly unbound,
and he does not wish to crush so thoroughly
the foolish mind with his right hand,
the Sovereign of Angels, nor does Wielding Christ
wish to extinguish the heated smoke of pliant flax
with water. How has the harmer shaped you not
in his pointed example that was slain on the Cross
with Christ—how do the great defend him
and how famous is the true grief of sin and guilt?
The criminal was upon the Rood, guilty and full of evil,
loaded throughout with wicked deeds—
he offered his prayer from his breast’s thoughts
to the Lord nevertheless, condemned to death.
With few words filled yet with belief
he acquired his salvation and help swiftly,
and in ventured into that solitary gate
of Paradise-plain with his Savior.
I ask you, alas, with wretched thought,
why do you allow so long your gift
to not be revealed in yourself,
and why do you keep silent, sinning tongue,
now that you have forgiveness in this ordained time,
now that the Almighty, with ears persuaded,
the Warden of Heaven’s Realm, hears you gladly?
Yet the day shall come when God will judge
the orbit of the earth—you must explain alone
a reckoning in words with the Shaping God,
and repay the right to the Powerful Master.
I shall teach you will be the swifter with your miserable tears,
and be seized by the wrath of the Eternal Judge.
Why do you lie down in the filth, flesh befouled
with vices, with sins? Why did you not care
for yourself with pouring tears, grievous faults?
Why do you not await salve and plaster,
the medicaments of life from the Lord of the Living?
Now you must weep, founting tears,
then will be the space of time, the season of lamentation—
now it is salutary that man weep here
and perform penitence as pleasure to the Lord.
The Son of God is glad, if you suffer misery
and judge yourself for your sins upon the earth,
nor does Heaven’s God wish to wreck vengeance
upon any man for their shames and guilts
after their journey. You must not despise
lamentation and cries and forgiveness
in this foreordained time. Remember also
in your mind how great is the torment
that will be assigned for the miserable
for their previous deeds, or how terrifying
and how dreadful the King of Lofty Majesty
who wishes to judge here all of us every one
according to our previous deeds,
or what foretokening will begin to descend
when Christ’s coming is revealed on earth.
All the earth will tremble, and the mountains as well
will rush to earth, will fall to the ground—
and the cliffs of the hills will buckle and melt,
and the terrifying voice of the tumultuous sea
greatly disturbs the minds of all men.
All shall be heaved up as well, darkened and angry,
greatly benighted, black and murky colored,
obscured in the chasm. Then the unmoored stars
will tumble to the earth, and the sun will dim
at once in the morning, and the moon will have
no more power at all, so that it can no longer fly
with the shadow of night. Then also death-betokening sign
shall come hither, down from the heavens,
terrifying the miserable—then shall come from on high
a crowded cavalry, their violent power stirred,
rushing in from without, an angel army
encircling eternally that famous Measurer,
with might and majesty. Then he will be sitting
the sky-bright dispenser of the heavens
on his lofty throne, glorying in his helmet.
We shall be brought from afar before him,
coming from everywhere to his visage,
so that all may receive
glory by his deeds from the Lord himself.
I ask you, man, to be mindful of how great will be the terror
then before the judgment-seat of the Lord—
the greatest of armies stands, heartless and wretched,
confounded and stupefied, without power, afraid.
Then all the hosts of angels shall come
from the sheltering skies together, empowering eternally.
Then there will be a great commandment,
and all Adam’s progeny will be told there,
the earth-dwellers who were ever raised on land
or who their mother bore into wickednesss,
or those that were or those who will be
or who were reckoned as anything at all.
Then the secret thoughts of all shall be revealed
to everyone in the daytime, all the harmful thoughts
of the heart or the tongue spoke as injury
or the hand of man performed as wickedness,
dark matters in darkened caves of the earth—
all that felt little shame for their crimes in this world,
so that he discloses and reveals to every man—
then it will be apparent to all together,
allowed alike that man will healed in a long time.
Above all this the upwards sky shall be filled as well
with a venomous light. Fire shall terrify everyone,
nor shall there be none deprived there,
nor can man deny him his might—
everything seems empty to us to the horizon
beneath the course of the sky, then a scarlet flame
will cast them all down equally with it.
Then a fiery light shall blow and burst,
crimson and fierce, flickering and flying,
how he shall perform torments upon the sinful—
nor does the driving burning wish to pass by
or do honor to any of them there,
except that he may be cleaned of the filth here,
and then come there, severely cleansed.
Then many peoples, an uncountable folk,
shall beat greatly their sinning breast,
fearfully with their fists for their criminal desires.
There will paupers and mighty kings,
the wretched and the blessed, all will be afraid—
there will be one single law for miserable and the blessed,
because they will have a great fear for all together.
That fearsome flood will flicker with fire
and these miserable souls will burn bitterly,
and loathsome worms will rend and tear
the hearts of the sin-blemished.
Nor can any man remain brave there
in their merits,
yet a horror shall run through all together,
their breast-thoughts and that bitter wail
and there stand rigid, much like a stone,
all the horde of those void of honor,
evilly in their thoughts. What do you,
alas, flesh? What are you suffering now?
What could you weep in your time of need?
Woe to you now, you who suffers in this world,
and who lives here gladly in lustfulness
and who with terrible stings of licentiousness
will be goaded! Why are you not afraid
of the dread of the fire, and fear for yourself
these terrible tortures, that the Lord has appointed
you by devils, for cursed spirits, woe as reward?
These will overcome both soul and speech
of every man for their exaltedness.
No speech can be, recounting with messages,
wretched torments for anyone on earth,
filled by burning places on the ground,
that was in the grim tortures of hell.
There they are mixed together as sorrow,
those smoky flames and fearsome icicles,
so hot and so cold in the middle of hell.
At times there the eyes will weep immeasurably
for the burning of ovens (they are filled with bale)—
at times also the teeth of men for the great chill
will chatter there. This terrible exchange
will transform wretchedly created men
in this world of worlds, in there
betwixt the darkened and dusky nights
and the woe of welling pitch and smoke.
There no voice will be stirring except
the unrestrained cry and lamentation,
nothing else—nor will there be any faces
seen there, of any creature except
of the departed who have died wretchedly.
Nor will there be in there anything meted out
except for flame and chill and the hated vessel—
they cannot smell anything with their noses
except an immeasurably foul stench.
There a deadly rush shall destroy the despoilers
by a burning vomiting flame of hateful fire,
and the slaughter-grim wyrms will tear them
and gnaw their bones with burning tusks.
From above all this that wretched breast
will be frightened and trouble with bitter cares,
what the reviling flesh in this terrible time
wrought, so many sins for itself,
so that it was killed in its prison,
where the dire are in eternal punishment—
there no little spark of light illumines
any of the miserable, nor does piety there
nor peace nor hope nor silence gladden
any of that crew of creatures weeping.
Comfort flies away—nor will there be any aid,
what could make shelter against that bitter conclave.
Nor will there be a proper face of any bliss,
yet there will be dreadful terror and fear
and a sorrowful spirit, a powerful tooth-grinding—
there will be gloominess, everywhere bloodthirsty,
plague and fury and a great weariness,
and there also sinning souls in the fire
within the blind caverns burning and yearning.
Then the joys of this world shall dwindle hence
for the harmers, departing among them all—
then drunkenness shall dwindle with feasting,
and laughter and playing shall dance away together,
and wantonness as well shall depart hence,
and fasting shall depart far away,
vices and all luxuries on their way—
guilty they shall hasten away into the shadows then,
and the miserable shall flee this uncrafty sleep,
slack with slumber to slink away behind.
Then he will look around blindly in the bitter flames,
miserable at the end, that is now not allowed—
most beloved in this life will be hated then,
and that weary mind shall change those guilts
strongly with its sorrows and its sighing.
Lo, he will be blessed and very fortunate,
and in this world of worlds the most happy of creatures,
he who with benefits can turn away
from such pestilence and torments,
and together thrive happily in all the world
with his Prince, and then he will be allowed
to hold the heavenly realm—that is highest hope.
There night will never seize with its shadows
the shining of these heavenly lights—
nor will there come sorrow nor pain
nor wearied old age, nor will there ever occur
any toil or hunger or thirst or dejected sleep,
nor will there be fever or plague nor fearsome disease,
there will be no crackling flames or hateful chill.
There is no gloom there nor weariness there,
no falling no cares no rough torments,
nor will there be lightning nor the hateful storm,
winter nor thunder’s course nor any bit of cold,
nor will there be hail-showers, hard among snow,
nor will there be poverty or loss nor the terror of death,
nor misery nor pain nor any mourning,
yet there shall reign together peace and prosperity,
and piety as well—and Eternal God—
glory and honor,
likewise praise and life and beloved concord.
From above all this, the Eternal Lord
shall stretch himself over every good person,
there always present, praising all
and rejoicing and making them glad,
the Father together, glorifying
and holding them well, adorning them fairly
and loving them generously
and upon the heavenly seat reigning lofty.
His joyous Son, the Dispenser of Victory,
gives to everyone eternal reward,
heavenly trappings—that is a virtuous gift.
A multitude, a beautiful army of angels
and holy ones in crowds and companies—
there they will be an assembly, a nation in fellowship
between the patriarchs and holy counselors,
with minds exulting, amid the mountains,
where these apostles are of Almighty God
and between the scarlet heaps of roses,
there they will always shine.
There a virgin crowd of the pure shall turn,
hanging with blossoms, the brightest of troops,
that the lovely companion of God will allow all,
the lady who conceived the Lord for us,
the Measurer upon the earth, the woman so clean—
that is Mary, the best of maidens—
she will remain in the bright, shining realm,
most blessed of all, of the famous Father,
between the Father and the Son, a lofty army,
and betwixt those Eternal Ones, a heavenly concord
of powerful counselors, the Wardens of the Heavens.
What can be so severe here in this life,
if you wish to speak the truth to those who ask,
against those you allow, assembled in a troop,
to dwell, splendid in all eternity,
and among the heavenly upon blessed seats
to enjoy absolute bliss without ending?”