i.

Now I wish to wordfully reveal a song
about a certain kind of fish,
yet with the craft of verse,
through the heart’s thoughts
and concerning the great whale.
He is often encountered against his will,
perilous and fatally grim, by sailors,
every one human—to him a name
is conceived, that floater
in the ancient ocean: Fastitocalon. (ll. 1-7)

His aspect is like a leprous stone,
like those that crumble over by the water,
surrounded by sandy hills, a most mighty reef,
so that the wave-sailors believe
that they are looking with their eyes upon some island
and then tether their high-prowed ship
to that non-land by their anchor-ropes,
settling their sea-steeds, swimming at an end,
and then the brave-hearted go up
onto that island, their keels standing
fixed by the shore, wound by the tide.
Then the weary-spirited sailors make camp,
not expecting any wickedness on that island,
waking a fire, kindling large flames—
the mourning heroes become joyful,
longing for rest. (ll. 8-23)

When, crafty in crime, he perceives
those who have come upon him,
abiding fast, keeping their camp,
wishing for good weather—
then forthwith, he turns downward
into the salty waves, with them as plunder,
this ghast of the spear-waves, seeking the bottom,
and then affixing that ship with its crew,
drowned in that deadly hall. (ll. 24-31a)

Such is the custom of that phantom,
the way of the devil, that they practicing
through secret skill betray the multitudes,
inciting them into wrong, those excellent of deeds,
profaning themselves according to their pleasures,
so that they should seek the support,
the comfort of fiends, until they choose
confidently those haunts there,
by the will of the pledge-breakers. (ll. 31b-37)

When from living torment, the fiend,
wily and wanton, perceives that every human,
the kindred of heroes, be fixed fast
in his linking chain, he afterwards becomes
their soul-slayer through cruel cunning,
of the proud and the miserable
who wickedly perform his pleasures here,
and among them, covered by his invisible helmet,
speedily seeks out hell, lacking all good deeds,
the bottomless welling, under a misty gloom,
just as the great whale, who drowns
sailing men and their wave-horses. (ll. 38-49a)

 

ii.

He has another aspect, the watery whale,
proud yet wondrous—when hunger troubles him
in the ocean, and the monster wishes to eat,
then the warden of the deeps opens up his mouth,
his cavernous lips. There emerges a pleasant scent,
from his insides, that is an enticement
to other kinds of sea-fish, those swift in swimming
swim to where that sweet stench comes out.
They venture inside, an unwary host,
until those broad jaws become filled—
then swiftly that gruesome throat clashes closed
about that army’s plunder. (ll. 49b-62a)

So it is for every man, who most often
looks uncritically upon this loaned life,
allowing him to be cajoled by the sweet stench
of deceptive desires, so that he becomes
splattered by guilt against the Glory-King.
The accursed open ups hell for their coming,
after their hurrying-hence,
for those who performed the joys
of a deceptive life heedlessly,
over the spirit’s honest course. (ll. 62b-70a)

When the treacherous, crafty in harm,
has brought them into his fastness,
near the whirling flame, those who cleaved to him,
adorned with their faults, and eagerly obeyed
his precepts previously in their living days,
then he claps together his gruesome throat
fast after their soul-death, Hell’s ornate doors.
They shall never have a turning or an escape,
an out-venturing, those who come inside there,
no more than the ocean-going fishes
may depart out from the whale’s clutches. (ll. 70b-81)

Therefore it’s entirely… [gap in MS posited]for the Lord of Lords, and always oppose
these devils with words and works,
so that we are allowed to look upon the Glory-King.
Let us always be pledged to him,
seeking our salvation in this transitory time,
so that we are allowed to brook
in his praises—with one so beloved—
to the width of all time, his glory. (ll. 82-8)

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