Proem

In this way Alfred, the king of the West-Saxons,
stretched forth this old story to us, announcing his art,
the skill of a song-wright. Within him a great desire
to proclaim these poems unto his peoples,
a mirth for men, these manifold songs,
so that his ardor would drive out the arrogant man—
correcting then one owning so little—not much but pride.
Yet I shall claim counsel lodged deep within the people,
fold it into fitts, and say unto humanity. Listen who will!

 

 

I

It was long ago that the eastern Goths
led their shields from Scythia,
hurrying in a horde, into many settled lands,
setting out southward, two victorious peoples—
the realm of the Goths grew year by year.
They had two kings of their own kind,
Raedgod and Alaric. Their rule prospered.

Then many Goths horded over the Alps,
full of boasting, yearning for war
and the struggles between peoples.
Their banners waved, bright upon the bole.
Their warriors thought to overcome
all of Italy and its shielded soldiers.

They so endured even from the Alps
unto the noted shores where Sicily,
a great island in the sea-currents,
makes her illustrious homeland.

Then was won the realm of the Romans,
the choicest of cities broken apart.
Rome was opened by the battle-warriors.
Raedgod and Alaric went into the fortress.
The Caesar fled with his nobles into Greece.

Nor could the survivors resist them by warfare,
the Goths with battle. The home-guards gave up
unwillingly the treasures of their elders
and holy oaths. There was woe everywhere.
Although the pride of warriors was with the Greeks,
if they dared to follow the people’s chieftains.
He stood for a time among that nation.

The people were conquered
for many winters, until events decreed
that the thanes and earls must obey Theodoric.
There was the chieftain dedicated to Christ,
the king himself took on the custom of baptism.
Every child of Rome rejoiced
and swiftly begged for peace from him.

Theodoric firmly commanded that
they should continue to enjoy
all of their ancient rights
in that wealthy city,
so long as God would allow him
to possess power over the Goths.
But he deceived them all.

The heresy of Arrian was preferable
to that nobleman than the Lord’s law.
He ordered that John, the good pope,
would have his head chopped off—
that was not a noble deed.
There were countless other evils
that the Goth performed
against all of the good people.

Then there was a certain wealthy man
in the city of Rome, elevated to consul,
and dear to his lord while
the Greeks held the throne.
That man was righteous; there was not
among the Rome-dwellers
a more generous giver of treasure
for long afterwards.

He was wise in the world, eager for honor,
a man learned in books, Boethius
was he called, who received much fame.
The evil and disgrace revealed by foreign kings
was very much in his memory, at all times.
He was faithful to the Greeks,
remembering the honor and ancient rights
that his ancestors long possessed among them,
the affection and the favor.

He pondered only one desperate desire,
how to convince the Greeks to invade
so that the Caesar would be allowed
to possess power again over the Romans.

He secretly sent a message to his old masters,
and begged them for their former troth to their lord
to come into the city soon, and allow the Greek counselors
to advise the Rome-dwellers, and to allow
the country to enjoy their rights.

When Theodoric Amuling perceived that instruction,
he seized his thane, ordering that
the nation’s nobles keep fast their consul.
His mind was turbulent, terrified
of that earl. He ordered him to be
locked within a prison cell.

Then was the understanding of Boethius
greatly troubled. He had enjoyed long before
his pride beneath the sky.
He could suffer worse at that time,
when things became difficult.

Then the nobleman grew to despair,
he could not turn towards his former favor
nor could remember the comforts in that fastness,
but he fell upon the floor, stretched out and prostrate,
beneath the hillside, and spoke many words,
severely despairing.

Nor did he ever turn from there
or come out of his chains.
He called out to the Lord
in voice more miserable,
and sang out in this manner:

 

II

Listen! One time long ago I sang many songs heartily—
but now I am a wretched outcast lamenting
troubled by my own wailing. I must sing painful tunes.

I have suppressed my sighing and my sobs
and so I cannot compose so completely
these songs, though I have been allowed to set down

many truthful refrains in former times, when I was happier.
Often I completely fail to speak clearly
and at times my words are found too rough.

These worldly blessings enjoyed by all
have abandoned me, foolish and
blinded in this darksome hole,

and then I was robbed of counsel and comfort
for their treachery of this world,
which I always trusted in the most.

They turned their bitter backs to me,
and their bliss turned away from me.
Why do you wish, my worldly friend,

to say and to sing that I was a blessed man
in this existence? These words are not true,
and these boons can not always abide.

 

 

III

Alas! In what grim and groundless pit
does the troubled mind labor?
When the strong storms of worldly affairs
beat upon it. When its own light

abandons it, struggling and alone.
And, amid the woes thronging in the darkness
of this world, it forgets, perturbed by sorrows,
these eternal joys. Such has occurred now

to this mind, now that it knows nothing more
of the good of God except mourning,
estranged from the world.
Such a man needs comfort.

 

 

IV (metrum I.v)

O, you the shaper of the stars that shine,
the heavens and the earth. You on your lofty throne
reign for eternity, and you swiftly
orbit the whole universe, and through your holy power
compel the stars to obey you.

The sun is likewise quenched by the shadows
of the dark night through your might.

The glowing stars with their pure light
govern the moon through your magnificence,
while sometimes the sun is deprived
of her own bright illumination, when it can be hidden
and when it is sufficient by necessity.

Likewise the greatest morning-star,
which we also call the Even-star, obeys
that call, when you compel him to attend
to the journey of the sun—every year
he must come before his companion.

Listen Father, you transform
the summer-long days so warm
into winter-days wondrously short
and determine their time.
You give the trees all their leaves,
which, in the south and the west,
the north and the east, that black storm
had earlier seized by its hateful wind.

And lo! all creation hears your command,
and performs it on earth just as in the heavens,
with all their heart and ability,
all except for humanity alone,
who very often works against your will.

Alas! you are the Eternal and the Almighty,
the Shaper and the Director of all creation—
your arms are a mercy, the seeds of the earth
are mankind, all through your magnificence.

Why then, God Eternal, would you ever wish
that fortune should turn upon your desire
toward the evils of all men so prevalent?
She very often injures the innocent.

Wicked men sit throughout the realm of earth
upon high thrones, oppressing the righteous
under their feet. It is unknown to men
why fortune should turn out so perverse.
So these bright skills are hidden
here in this world throughout many cities.

The unrighteous for all time wickedly
possess those things which belongs to them.
Those wiser of right, more worthy of rule—
vain treachery will be theirs for many years,
clothed with trickery. Here in the world
now their wicked oaths are not impaired by men.

If you, Wielder, will not now steer events
but allow them to degrade of your self-will,
then I know that men of the world will know doubt
across the corners of the earth, without one joy.

Alas, my Lord, you who oversee all
the world’s creation, look upon mankind now
with mild eyes, now the multitude here
struggles and strives against the waves of the world,
the miserable citizens of the earth—
be merciful to them now.

 

 

V (I met. vii)

You can perceive clearly by the sun
and by all the other stars which brightest shine across the cities.
If the dark clouds should hang before them,
then they could not send down their rays so radiant,
until the thick clouds become thinned.

So often the south wind grimly stirs up
the smooth sea, grey and glassy-clear,
when they are mixed by a great tempest,
moving the whale-waters—then they are false
whose face was gleaming before.

So often the wellspring washes forth
from the hoary cliffs, cool and pure,
and flows straight down by rights,
running along with its landscape,
until the mountain’s mighty stone
cleaves it from within, and lies in its midst,
rolling away from that peak.
Afterwards it becomes separated into two—
the brightness of the brook is disturbed and blended,
the stream is diverted from its straight course,
running apart in rivulets.

So now the shadows of your heart
wish to withstand the light of my teaching
and greatly disturb your heart-thoughts.
But if you now desire it, as well as you might,
to plainly perceive that true light,
that bright belief, you must forsake
this idle and excessive delight, this useless joy.

You must as well abandon the wicked fear
of earthly miseries, nor may you despair for them all,
nor ever allow yourself to be weakened by pride,
lest you become disgraced with your arrogance soon,
and raised up with carelessness and worldly delight.
Nor despair even so weakly in any good things,
when your adversary fattens you for the world,
you may be oppressed by these matters and you
may dread them very strongly. Because the mind
will always be greatly bound up with confusion,
if both of these evils may vex it and toil within.

Therefore these two misfortunes draw together
against the mind before the mist of error,
that the eternal sun may not illuminate it within,
due to the dark clouds, before they melt away.

 

 

VI (II met.iii)

Then Lady Wisdom unlocked her word-hoard,
singing truth-saws and speaking in this way:

“When the sun is shining its clearest and brightest
from heaven, it quickly becomes obscured
all over the earth by another object in space,
and then its brilliance becomes nothing,
set against the light of the sun.

When the gentle wind blows from the south or west
under the heavens, then the blossoms of the field
quickly grow up and are allowed to be joyful.
But the storm so stark, when he comes in strength,
from the north or the east, he swiftly seizes the lovely rose—
and also the northern tempest afflicts the spacious sea,
stirring it up strongly, beating upon its own shores.

Alas, nothing on earth is of stable work
and may not ever abide in this world!

 

 

VII (II met.iv)

Next Lady Wisdom attended to her practice,
singing her wise words, a poem according to her message,
chanting a certain true statement further,
speaking what she had never heard that on a high hill
any man could establish a firm-roofed hall.

“No man needs also to believe in these works,
to ever mediate wisdom with pride.
Have you ever heard that any man
who could set a fixed hall on a sand dune?

“Nor could any man raise up wisdom where
covetousness overshadows the mountains.
Bare sand will swallow the rains,
and so does the bottomless greed of the rich
for boasting and trinkets,
drinking to the dregs failing prosperity,
and though the thirst of these beggars will never be cooled.

“Nor can the house of man last for long
on the mountainside, because the swift winds
will sweep it down suddenly.
Nor will sand be any better guardian
of the house to any man against a great rain,
but it will be tumbled to the ground,
the sand sinking after the downpour.

“So will be the mind of every lonely man
greatly undermined from an agitated place,
when the wind of worldly misery
under the skies strongly troubles it,
or the fierce rains moves it about—
a certain anxiety, universal superfluity.

“But he who wishes to possess true and eternal happiness,
he shall quickly fly from these worldly facades,
and build himself afterwards a house of the mind,
where he can find humble stones, a huge fortress
and a ready foundation.

“He will not need to collapse though the winds
of worldly misery should drive against it
or intense rains of anxiety, because in that valley
the lord of settled humility himself dwells,
were wisdom always abides in the mind.
Therefore wise world-men may always lead
a secure life without alteration.

“Then he would reject all this earthly good
and also become accustomed to its predictable evils,
expecting them eternally to follow after,
and then almighty good from every direction
continually and always keeps him
the one dwelling alone through the Measurer’s grace,
though the wind of worldly woe troubles him
greatly and eternal care encumber him,
then the grim wind of worldly good blows angrily
against him, although always his anxiety
of worldly fortune cruelly afflicts him.”

 

VIII (II met.v)

As soon as Lady Wisdom had these words
plainly related, she then began to afterwards
sing in sooth-words, and spoke herself thusly:

Listen, the former age was bountiful
for all earth-dwellers throughout the world,
when all of the land’s fruits seemed sufficient
for everyone. Now it is not so!

There were no opulent homes across the world,
nor was there a wide array of food and drink,
nor did they care indeed for these garments
that now lordly men esteem as dearest.
Because none of these things existed yet,
nor were they seen among the sea-dwellers.

Listen! Nor had they heard anywhere around them.
of these rash and sinful desires, rather
they could attend to what was most apt
by kind, just as Christ himself had made them.

They only ate one meal during the day,
at even-tide, of the blossoms of the earth,
of the groves and the herbs, not at all drinking
wine shining from the goblet. There was no man
who knew how to meddle his meat or drink,
water with honey, nor did they knit together
their raiment with silk, with cunning skill
girding fine fabrics, nor did they raise up
costly halls with cleverness, instead they always
beslept themselves the whole year
outside, under the shadow of trees,
drinking river-water cool from the stream.

Never did a merchant see over the blending of waves
a foreign shore. Indeed, men did not know
about ship-reavers, just as no man had spoken
about fighting. Nor was the earth yet defiled
with the blood of man that dyed the blade red,
just as no world-dwelling man had ever seen
another wounded under the sun, since none
had yet happened in the world. If someone
conceived a desire to do wickedness among men,
he would be loathed by everyone.

Alas, that there should become or God wished it
to be that upon the earth now in our time,
throughout this wide world it should be for everyone,
alike under the sun. Yet it is much worse these days,
so that avarice has corrupted the mind of every man,
so that he does not care about greater things,
but he burns inside his welling wits.

Even this gluttony, which has no bottom,
smokes darkly much like that particular
mountain, which the sons of men call Etna.
That place on the island of Sicily
burns with sulfur, so that one widely
calls it the fires of hell—
because it is always ever-burning,
and all around it pallidly consumes
other places with a bitter flame.

Alas, what should this earliest miser be
in the world, who grabbled up the ground
seeking gold and different kinds of gemstones?
What should he find on many occasions,
but wicked pelf covered over
in the world by sea and by earth?

 

IX [II.met.vi]

What we all know what criminal deeds
both far and near, Nero committed,
the King of the Romans, when his reign
as highest under the heavens, as the downfall of many.

The fornications of this bloodthirsty man
were revealed, very widely known,
many criminal acts, wickedness and felony,
a plenitude of evil deeds, the evil intentions
of that unrighteous man—

A game to him, he ordered the city of the Romans
to be burned completely to the ground,
which was the capital-seat of all his realm.

He wished to discover, in his unwisdom,
if those flames could be lighted so brightly
and also so long-enduring, to rage so red,
as he had heard told among the Romans
that on one certain day the city of Troy
had been destroyed, in the brightest of flames,
the longest of conflagrations
of the homes under the heavens.

Not at all a noble deed, he longed
in the arrogance of such diversions,
then he did not strive after anything else
except that he wished to display indeed
his sole authority over his nation!
Also it occurred at a certain time
that this same man ordered to be killed
all the most powerful Roman counselors
and he ordered slain with swords,
by the edge of blades, the most exalted
of the noble children whom he had learned about
among his own people, his own brother also
along with his mother as well—
he killed his bride himself with a sword
and he always was the more delighted
in his breast-coffer when he committed
the most heinous of murders likewise:
he didn’t worry at all whether afterwards
the Mighty Lord wished to mete out
vengeance for his crooked deeds.

Yet he, elated in spirit for these treacheries and deceits,
continued to be slaughter-thirsty—he ruled over
this celebrated middle-earth entirely,
just as breeze and stream embrace the earth,
the spear-waves surrounding the realm of men,
the habitations of humans, south, east and west
unto the northernmost cliffs of the earth—
all that had to obey Nero by force or by choice,
every one of those battle-warriors.

He considered it his own amusement,
when he mounted up in boasting,
how he made the earth-kings wretched and killed them.
Would you expect that the authority of God Almighty
could not easily deprive that vaunting foe
of his realm and snatch away his sovereignty
through that eternal might or otherwise
restrain him in his evil?

Alas! If he wished to, he well could prohibit
his unrighteousness easily!
Alas! That the lord slipped this heavy yoke
onto the necks of his own people grievously,
of all those warriors who must dwell
in his season throughout this loaned world!
Nero soiled his sword so very frequently
in the blood of his guiltless earls:

There it was very patent what we have often said,
that the authority does not perform good at all
if he who possesses the power does not want it.

 

X

If the reputation of heroes should now
give pleasure to anyone, who wishes
to possess this unavailing arrogance,
then I wish to request of him wordfully
that he reflect upon himself from all sides
without—he should see clearly south, east, and west
how spacious it is about the skies,
the domes of heaven—one can ponder easily
with a perceptive mind that this earth may be
for all that other exceedingly small—
although it should seem huge to the unwise,
in a steady stead to the rudderless man
though it could shame the wise man
within his brain-box with the avarice of his vaunting
when the most severe story pleases him
and though he cannot scatter it forth
across the narrowness of the regions of the earth
for anything—that is a useless boast!

Alas for arrogance! Why are you always pleased
to bend under the weight of this cruel yoke
about your neck, by your own desires?
Why should you labor perpetually
about these useless matters,
striving to hang onto this reputation
across the nation more than you should need?
Though it should now happen to you
that south and north the outermost earth-dwellers
should highly praise you in many tongues,
though any noble should be worthied
with high birth and prosperity,
and should be well provided with heady pride,
beloved by many, heeding not death,
when the Sovereign of Heaven
provided him with the opportunity—
yet he achieves his fortune equally important
to the poor, in just the same manner,
of every circumstance—

Where may be the bones of crafty Weland,
of the goldsmith who most renowned of yore?
(I speak of the bones of crafty Weland
because the skill of any of the earth-dwellers
cannot fail what Christ loaned to him,
nor can one single outcast ever be deprived
of that skill more easily than one could
divert the sun moving forward in her arc,
or any warrior budge the swift heaven,
from its straight and correct course.)

Who now knows in which barrow the bones
of crafty Weland lie concealed by earth?
Where is now that mighty Roman counselor
and that bold one who we speak about—
their general who was called
by the city-folk and named Brutus?
Where is as well the wise and the keen-achieving
and the steadfast watchman of his people
who was the philosopher in any matter,
keen and crafty, named Cato by them?

They died of old—
nor does any man know where they are now:
what is their glory except a single report?
That is also too little of such teachers,
because those valiant men were honored
widely in the world: yet now it is worse
that throughout this earth there are everywhere
their like talked about only a little,
some openly, all forgotten,
so that their fame could not be brought forth,
illustrious men well-known:
though they should expect and desire now
that they should be allowed to live a long time,
what should be or seem to you ever the better?

Because no one eludes death after their count of days,
although it seems long, when he has the Lord’s leave:
what then does any hero have, man by his boast,
if Eternal Death must grasp him after this world?

 

XI

The Shaper is singular without any doubts!
He is also the Sovereign of worldly creation,
of heaven and earth and the high seas,
and all of those that abide in there,
and the unseen things just the same,
those that we look upon with our eyes—
of all created things—he is the Almighty,
him who all creation tries to please,
which knows anything about his service
or else as well does not know anything—
that they are servants of this Prince:
he established our morality and customs for us
unchanging in all of creation,
enduring in natural accord.

Whenever he wants, whatever he wants,
as long as he wants, it must be that way—
so it must abide forwards into the world as well,
therefore always the unstill things of worldly creation
cannot become becalmed, diverted from their course
which the Warden of the Skies has established
for every one of them in an orderly manner.

The All-Wielding Lord has restrained
all creation with his bridle; he has done
these two things—he has restrained and trained
all things at once so that they may not be allowed
against the mercy of the Measurer
ever stop moving entirely
nor ever move about more strongly
than the Ward of Victories wishes
to slacken the reins for them.

He has taken up the bridle
of heaven and earth and the coursing seas.
So has the Guardian of Heaven’s Kingdom
restrained them with his authority,
all of creation so that every one of them
struggles against another—
and though contending, they are firmly sustained.
Every one embraces the other from without
lest they should drift away from other.

Therefore they always must traverse
their same course also which the father
ordained for them from the start,
and also they must become renewed—
so it now varies, the ancient hand-work of the Master,
that conflicting creation struggling
preserves a fixed amity from here.
So now fire and water, earth and ocean-stream,
many other elements just as strong as them,
throughout this wide world fight among them
and although they must preserve
their subservience and their cooperation faithfully.

It is not ever that alone that can easily
pull wayward creation together,
eternal companions, yet it is better
that any of them cannot exist without the other.
Yet any creature somewhat contrary
must have it under the heavens
so that it might dare to regulate its mind
before it should become too great—
the Almighty has established with all creation
that mutability that now it must abide,
the herbs grow, the leaves turn green
so that in harvest-time too it collapses and withers away:
the winter brings weather immeasurably cold,
swift winds—summer comes afterwards,
and warmer weather—

Listen—the moon illumines the darksome night
until the sun brings daylight to men
throughout this broad creation—
that same God has established the boundary
between earth and water: the sea-currents do not dare
to spread the domain of the kindred of fish
over the corners of the earth without the Master’s leave,
nor is it ever allowed to step over the threshold
of the land, neither are the ebb-tides nor the greater flood
allowed to pass beyond their frontier.

These conditions the Wielder of Victories
the Light-Origin of Life, allows, so long as he wishes,
to hold their borders throughout this famous creation.
Yet when the Eternal and the Almighty
wishes to slacken his grip on the reins,
even of those bridles which which he restrains
his own work, all from the beginning
(that is the opposition to every creature
that we strive to signify with that bridle) —
if the Prince allows them to loosen,
at once they renounce their love and concord,
the friendship of their cooperation—
they strive, each one of this worldly creation,
with their own desire, struggling between them
until this earth perishes entirely.

And likewise all of that other creation
becomes themselves as nothing afterwards—
yet that same God who regulates everything,
who joins many peoples together
and with friendship unites them fast:
joins together marriages, combines concord
with pure love: so the Architect also
unites fixedly their cooperation
so that they keep their partnership
forwards into forever with sincere troth,
harmonious amity.

Alas, the God of Victories, would be
greatly blessed by mankind, if their inner mind
could become fixed as columns, ordered
by that powerful might and set in motion
just as the rest of this worldly creation is!
Were it pleasing indeed among mankind
if it could be so!

 

XII

He who wishes to work the blossom-bearing land,
should pull up from the fields very first of all
the ferns and the thorns and the furzes all the same—

those weeds that generally wish to do harm
to the clean wheat—lest he should remain
lacking shoots on that land.

This other example is equally necessary
for all of the people, that is it seems to every thane
that the comb of the honey is twice as sweet

if he tastes a droplet of bitterness
a little before. Every man will be also find
the pleasant weather much the fairer

if the storms assail him a little before
and the stark winds from the north and the east.

The day seemed to no one so grateful
if the dim night had not brought its terror
before over men! So true felicity seems

to every one of the earth-dwellers
always the better and the more winsome
when he endures more tribulations,

a harder affliction here.
You could also understand more plainly,
much more easily, true happiness in your inner mind

and come afterwards to your homeland,
if you pull up very first of all from your mind-locker,
lacking happiness, and root out these things,

just as the land’s churl from his field
plucks out many harmful weeds—
afterwards I say to you that you could plainly

understand true happiness at once
if you never cared for any matter
above these alone if you perceive them entirely.

 

 

XIII

I want to, with these songs, reveal further
how the Almighty encourages all creation
with his bridle, bending them where he wishes
with his power, arranged into order
wonderfully well regulated

he has restrained them so, the Sovereign of Heaven,
encompassed all creation from without,
up the whole thing in his bonds,
so that they cannot devise to slip
themselves ever from his grip—

Although every creature presses on, leaning
upon broad creation, bent down strongly
against its own true nature which the King of Angels,
the Father at the start determined for them:

so now every thing strives for that place,
all of broad creation, except for certain angels
and mankind, who many of them dwelling
in the world struggle too greatly against their nature.

Though you encounter a lion on land,
a winsome creature, well tamed,
greatly loving its magister
and also dreading him every day,

if it ever happens that she tastes
any blood, no man need to imagine
the outcome, that she will hold onto
her tameness afterwards, yet I suppose
that she will remember nothing

of her new-found tameness—
yet she wishes to adopt the wild customs
of her forefathers, beginning in earnest
to tear at her reins, roaring, growling
and first devours the guardian

of her own house and quickly afterwards
every man that she can seize.
She wishes not to give up any creature,
cattle or man, alive. She takes all that she can find!

As do the wild birds—although they may be
well and properly tamed, if they happen upon
a tree in the midst of the forest,
quickly they are renouncing their trainers
who have instructed and tamed them for a long time.

They live from that time in their wild
original nature in the trees by their desire,
though any of their trainers wished
to offer them pleasingly that same meat
that he urged them with before to become tame.

Those branches seem even so delightful
so that they don’t care for their meat,
it seems to them so much more pleasant
that the forest echoes for them
when they hear it resounding

with the voices of other birds—
they are stirred by their own call:
they are chiming all together,
singing very pleasantly, the woods all echoing!

So it is for every tree, that is its true nature
to grow highest in the forest,
although you should bend every bough to the earth,
it will still be upright, so you leave it alone,
the wood in their will, going according to their nature—

So does the sun as well, when she goes downwards
after mid-day, the glorious candles moves ahead
on its descent, an unfamiliar course,
venturing nightly northwards and eastwards too,

showing herself to humans, bringing
morning shining bright for earth-dwellers—
she clambers up over mankind
always upwards until she comes again
to where her highest home is suitable.

Just as every creature with all its might
strives and hurries throughout this wide world—
with all its might it always bends as well
against its nature, coming back to it, when it can.

There is not now any creature upon the earth
that may not wish to go, that wishes to come,
unto that habitation that will occur
when there is tranquility and eternal rest,
where there is clearly Almighty God!

There is not now any creature upon the earth
that may not turn just like the wheel does
upon itself, because it revolves so
so that it comes again where it was before.

When it should be first turned around from without
then it all becomes rotated from without—
it must do again what it did before
and also become what it was before.

 

XIV

How will the miser be better in his mind
than the wealthy? Though he owns much
gold and gemstones and every sort of good—
possessions uncountable—and one must plough
for him a thousand acres every day.

Though all of middle-earth and mankind
may be in his control under the sun,
south and west and east all subjugated,
nor may he conduct these treasures hence
from this world, no more at all

these hoarded treasures—
no more than he brought here.

 

XV

Though the evil and unrighteous King Nero
now decked himself in new, lovely clothes,
wonderfully adorned in gold and kinds of gems—
though he was in this world among wise men
in his life-days hated and despised,
filled with criminal lusts. Yet, the fiend nevertheless
honored the cherished ones among his entourage!

Nor can I imagine even so, why he needed
in his heart to be always the better—
though they for some time should choose
without skill the most foolish king,
they were not so honorable among any wise men—
though the foolish one made himself king,
how can the reasonable man reckon
that he should be or seem any better?

 

 

XVI

He who wishes to hold power—
then he must first strive
that he should own himself
in the soul, power within,
lest he ever should be
subjected entirely to his vices.

He should banish from his mind
many things, those distractions
that are not useful to him—
he should permit for some time
singular grief and his own miseries.

Though all may be given
into one’s possession
in this middle-earth,
just as the sea-currents
encompass us from without—

even so wide just as
the westernmost island lies
alone out in the spear-waves
where no one will be
on a summer’s night

nor any creature any more
on a winter’s day
distinguished by the time,
that is called Thule—
though who of them now

should control it that island
entirely and also from there
unto the Indies eastwards—
though he may be allowed
to own all that—why

should his power be
anything the greater
if he did not possess
afterwards control of himself
in his own inward thought

and resolutely does not
watch over himself well
in words and in deeds
against those faults
that we speak about.

 

 

XVII

Okay—all earth-dwellers, citizens
of the land, have their original likeness—
they all come from one of two,
man and woman within the world
and they also come into the world now
like everyone yet, proud or humble.

No miracle about it—because
all know that is God is unique
of all creation, the Master of Mankind,
the Father and Shaper—
The light of the sun given from heaven,
to the moon and these famous stars—
that shaped men upon the earth
and gathered soul into body—
first at the start people under the skies
made every man just as noble—

Why should you all consider yourselves
superior over all other men
without any good cause, now that you all
compares yourselves with the ignoble?
Why should you heave yourselves up
for your lineage? Now that every man has
in his mind those true qualities
that I am accounting for—
not at all in the flesh of earth-dwellers.

Yet now every man who is subjected
among all to his vices, he abandons first
the original condition of life
and his own lineage itself
and also that father who made him at the start—
therefore Almighty God degrades him
so that he becomes ignoble thenceforth
in the world—he never arrives at glory!

 

 

XVIII

Lo—the evil unrighteous one does
his wrathful desire, fornications—
so that he troubles the mind of every one
among all of mankind! Listen, the wild bee,
though it be wise, necessarily it must
perish entirely if it stings anything in anger—

So must any soul fail afterwards
if its body-home becomes defiled
with unrightful fornication,
unless penitence comes earlier to his heart
before he carries on hence.

 

 

XIX

Alas! How burdensome to be a foolish man—
think what he will—and so dangerous among any human,
so that those wretched people are led into error
in everything, sent astray at once from the rightful course:
whether you all should wish to seek in the woods
red gold among the green trees? I know nonetheless
that none of these advisers would not seek it there
because there it does not grow, nor among the vineyards
would they seek the lovely gemstones—
why do you all not build upon some mountain
your fish-weirs when you wish to catch
a salmon or a kipper? It seems to me most likely
that every sensible earth-dweller should know
that they are not up there! (1-14)

Whether you all now should desire to go a-hunting
with hounds upon the salty seas when you want to find
harts and hinds? You could consider that you all
would find them in the woods a great deal more often
than out on the sea! Is that so amazing that we all know this?
That one must seek by the sea-shore and by the river-banks
noble gemstones, white and red and every other color too?
Listen! They also know where they need to seek
the water-fishes & so much other worldly wealth:
They do that well, those men eager to gain, every year! (15-27)

Yet that is the most wretched of all matters
that those foolish men have become in their errors
even as blind to not be able to easily recognize
in their own breast where the eternal good,
the felicity of truth, must be hidden:
therefore they do not ever wish to chase after it,
to seek these prosperities: the dullards never think
that they could find life among all these loaned goods,
the felicity of truth—that is God himself! (28-36)

I know not how I might be able to condemn so strongly
these foolish men for anything inside my heart,
as I desire to do, nor can I speak to you very clearly,
because they are more miserable and also more foolish,
more unblessed than I might be able to say to you:
they wish for wealth and possessions and honor
in order to be surpassing—then they consider
that their mind seek after them, believing then,
so witless, that they have these true prosperities! (37-47)

 

 

XX

Oh, my Lord! How you are almighty,
great, mindful, renowned in lofty works,
and miraculous to every counselor!
Listen! You, Eternal God, have shaped well
all of creation wonderfully, and all invisible beings
as well as those seen—you wield softly
this shining creation with all reason,
power, and craft—you distinguished in time
this middle-earth from the earliest start,
forth until its end, just as it was most convenient,
in an orderly manner so that they either traveled before
or came soon after: you rouse yourself wisely
with your own unruly creation to your desires
and you abide yourself immovably,
unchangeable forwards always and always. (1-17)

There is none mightier, none greater,
nor throughout all this creation as great as you!
Nor was any necessity ever yet of all these works
that you have wrought, yet with your desire
you have created all of it and by your own authority
you have created the world and all its creatures—
though there was never any necessity of all those mighty deeds—
that is great, natural in your goodness—
think what he will—therefore it is all alone of all things,
you and your goodness—it is your own
therefore it is not outside, nor does anything come unto you,
yet I know eagerly what your goodness is,
Almighty God, all with you yourself— (18-32)

It is quite unlike our nature—
all that we possess should come to us from without,
all our goods upon the earth, from God himself—
you have not taken any malice for anything,
because nothing is in your likeness,
nor indeed are any of the all-powerful,
therefore you have dreamed up all good things
from a solitary thought and you have made them too—
there was no creation earlier than you
either existing or not existing made by you,
yet you without model, Lord of Mankind,
Almighty God, you have made it all,
everything so very good, you are yourself
that highest good— (33-46a)

                         Listen! You, Holy Father,
shaped the world according to your desires,
this middle-earth with your power, Lord of Hosts,
as you yourself wanted, and with your desires
you wield it all—and you, God of Truths, dealt out yourself
every kind of good, and you in earlier years
shaped at the start all of creation in very much the same fashion—
to some degree however it is unlike though.
You named it all nevertheless with a single name,
all together, the world beneath the heavens— (46b-57a)

Listen! You, God of Glory, divided that single name,
Father, into four elements—there was of them one earth,
a second the waters of the share of creation,
and fire is the third and fourth the sky—
that is all the world altogether—
though the four have their native station,
all of these have their own place,
though any of them may be against the other,
greatly comingled and also by the power
of the Father Almighty they are bound firmly,
peaceably, together softly by your command,
Gentle Father, so that any of the others dare not
to overstep their boundary for fear of the Measurer,
yet they remain in amity, thanes as one,
the champions of the king—cold against heat,
moist against dry struggle together nonetheless— (57b-74)

Water and earth bring forth the blossoms,
these are by nature cold between them—
water wet and cold, surrounding the fields,
the all-greening earth also is cold—
the sky is mixed together because it dwells in the middle—
there is not no wonder that it is both warm and cold,
the wet atmosphere of the heavens, blended up with the wind,
because it is in the middle, as I have heard,
between fire and earth—many men know that
is the highest of all creation, fire over earth,
with the ground being the lowest— (75-85)

That is wonderful, O Lord of Hosts,
that you with your thoughts created
what you established so decorously
the borders for this universe, and mixed them together!
Listen! You established firmly the ground to its floor
with waters wet and cold, because either wished
to be unstill, to disperse widely, weak and yielding—
nor could it ever stand up of itself—I know this truth readily—
yet the earth holds it and swallows it as well
in some portion so that it afterwards can become
for the soaking moistened by the breeze— (86-98a)

therefore leaves and grass grow throughout Britain,
blooming and looming as a favor to humanity—
the chilly earth produces many wonderful fruits,
because it becomes softened by the water—
if that were not so, then these things would be
dried out into dust and driven away afterwards
widely with the wind, as it often happens now,
dust all scattered throughout the earth—
nor can anything living upon this earth
make use of no water at all any more
dwelling upon it by any craft for its unique chill,
if you, King of Angels, had not mixed together
a little fire with the earth and the watery stream
and moderated the chill with the heat by your skill
what fire cannot burn up so gruesomely the earth and sea-stream,
though it be put together with them both, Father of Elder-Works— (98b-116)

Nor does it seem to me that the wonder is any lesser
that this earth and the flowing stream (such a cold creation!)
can wipe out them entirely without any craft,
what sticks inside of him, the fire, put together
with the skill of the Lord—that is his own craft,
the watery streams, the seas and the earth, and also the sky above
and even just the same upwards over the heavens—
then is the native place of fire rightfully,
its home above all others of visible creation
throughout this broad ground— (117-127)

although it destroys any other entirely
without the permission that established this life in us—
that is the eternal and the almighty!
Earth is heavier than the rest of creation,
more thickly compacted, because it has stood for a long time
in all creation most underneath without the sky,
which circles outside every day, spacious creation,
and though it does not ever touch the earth,
nor is it allowed to go forward nearer the other place­—
it passes around from over and under,
equally necessary upon every side— (128-141)

each part of creation that we are speaking about
has its own habitation kept separate,
though it is mixed up also with the others.
None of them can exist without the others,
though they may dwell together indistinguishably—
as now earth and water, difficult to determine
to any of the unwise, they dwell in fire,
though they are all apparent to the perspicacious—
that fire is hidden peaceably just the same
by the water and the stone as well, though difficult to see—
it is there yet—the Father of Angels has bound fire
evenly with it firmly so that it cannot betake itself
into its home region where that other fire abides
up over all this established world—
at once it gives up this transient creation
overcome with the chill if it departs into his region! (142-158)

And though every creature wishes to go in that direction
where most of its kindred are gathered together—
you have established the earth so fixed
by your powerful might, Glory-King of Destiny,
wonderfully, so that it does not leans on any side,
nor can it sink down the more strongly here or there
which it always did—listen! though earthly creatures hold
them not, though it is just as easy for this earth
to fall up or downwards, very similar to a yolk
in the middle of an egg, yet the egg glides without—
all the world stands like this, still in its station—
the streams outside, the bouncing of the sea-floods,
the sky and the stars, and the shining shell slips without
every day, as it has done for a long time. (159-175)

Listen! you, God of Nations, have set up the threefold soul
within us and they also afterwards are stirred and arranged
through that powerful might so that is not the lesser among the lowly
by a single finger that is on their whole body—
therefore I said it clearly a little before that the soul
was a triplicate creation in every thane, because all the sages
speak that the single nature of every soul may be the irascible,
another desire—the third kind is the better than the other two,
that is, its reason. There is not a shameful skill
because no animal possesses it except men—
the other two are held by countless other creatures,
almost every beast has the desiring capacity
as well as the irascible just the same. (176-192)

Wherefore men have excelled throughout middle-earth
of all earthly creation because they have it to the same degree
that they have it not, that single craft that have before named
the reasoning—it must rule over every other capacity:
the desiring and the irascible just the same.
It must rule over the minds of men by its thought
and its perception entirely—it is the greatest power
in the soul of mankind and the best of its unique skills. (193-203)

Listen! You, Sovereign of Victories, the Majestic King of Nations,
created the soul thus so that it fluttered within itself and without,
just as the swiftly sliding sky does, quickly moving about
every day by the might of the Lord in this middle-earth—
so does the soul of man, much like a wheel it turns around itself,
often reflecting about the earthly creation of the Lord
by day and by night. Sometimes it ponders, seeking out itself,
sometimes thinking about the Eternal God, its Shaper—
it ventures gliding much like a wheel turning about itself.
When it thinks about its Maker with its proper understanding,
it is lifted up over itself, yet it is entirely about itself alone
when it thinks about it, seeking itself. (204-221)

It will be so far beneath itself as well, when it admires
and delights in the earthly matters of this transient place,
over its eternal good. Listen! You, Eternal God, gave this home
to all souls in heaven—supplying valuable and generous gifts,
God Almighty, according to the merits of every one—
all of them shining through the illuminated night,
clear in the heavens, however not all of them are evenly bright.
Listen! we have often seen in lucid nights that
the heavenly stars do not all shine so equally bright. (222-233)

Listen! You, Eternal God, have mixed up also the heavenly kind
in this place with the earthly, soul with body—
afterwards they abide this earthly and the eternal together,
the soul in the flesh— listen! they are always hastening to you
from here, because they are come here from you earlier,
and must go again back to you—the body-home must
remain behind upon the earth because before it waxes
in the world, made out of earth—they dwell together
even as long as it was allowed for them to do
by the Almighty who formerly joined the together.
That is a true king! (234-246)

He that created this earth and then stocked it
with so many different things, as I have heard,
with the kindred of beasts, Our Savior—
he sowed it afterwards with many seeds
of woods and plants, in the corners of the world.
Grant to our minds now, Eternal God,
that they may be allowed to mount up to you,
Measurer of All Creatures, through this hardship
and from these troubles, Gentle-Minded Father,
Sovereign of Nations, coming back to you
and then be allowed to see the source of our minds
with their eyes opened, through the swift workings
of your power, the source of all good—
and you are yourself the God of Lordly Victory! (247-260)

You all have the sound eyes of our minds
so that we may be allowed to fasten them
in yourself, Father of Angels—
Drive away this thick mist that now at times
hangs before our eyes of our mind, heavy and shadowy!
Illuminate now the eyes of our mind with your light,
Sovereign of Life, because you are the brightness,
Gentle Father, of the truth and the light and you are
the fixed rest yourself, Father Almighty, of all creation! (261-272a)

Listen! You do it softly, that they are allowed
to see you yourself—you are the start and the end
of all matters—listen! You, Father of Angels,
sustain all things easily without travail—
you are your own way and the leader as well
of every living thing and the lovely place
that the way extends that to all the men of this earth
who hasten to you in that famous creation. (272b-281)

 

 

XXI

Well lo! May I hasten towards them
throughout this middle-earth,
every free man, all the children of men,
with Eternal God, whom we have spoken about,
and unto this felicity that we speak about! (1-4)

Then he who now may be narrowly captive
amid the notorious of this middle-earth
by this unprofitable love, seek swiftly also
a replete freedom for them, so that he may come forth
to that felicity of the good of souls! (5-9)

Therefore that is a singular resting
of all this turmoil, a hopeful haven
for the tall ships of our spirit, a place of watery calm:
that is a singular haven that will be ever
(after our turmoil of those waves,
every storm) perpetually smooth— (10-15)

that is the refuge and the unique comfort
for all the wretched after these worldly tribulations—
that is a winsome place after possessing these miseries! (16-19)

Yet I know eagerly that no golden treasure,
no silver jewel, none of these crafty gemstones,
the wealth of middle-earth shall ever make bright
the eyes of the mind—all things shall not improve
their sharpness to that showing of true felicity. (20-25a)

Yet they furthermore dazzle the eyes of the mind
in the breast of all men more strongly
when they are brighter to achieve—
therefore every thing, that is pleasing
in this present day life, is loaned,
these earthly things always fleeting. (25b-30)

Yet that is wonderful, lovely and bright
that all of these creatures illuminate splendidly
and after them are entirely guided! (31-33)

The Wielder wills it not, that our souls must perish
yet he wishes to make them clear themselves,
the Sovereign of Life—if each hero with the clear eyes
of his own mind can ever look upon the light of heaven,
lucid and bright, then he would wish to say
that the sun is as bright as shadow for every man
to compare against that greatest of lights,
God Almighty, that is for every spirit
eternal without end, for all blessed souls. (34-44)

 

 

XXII

He who wishes with just order wishes
to follow inwardly after righteousness,
so deeply so that any man cannot drive it away,
nor mar indeed any earthly thing, he must
first seek inside himself what he sought
before for some time on the outside— (1-7)

He may seek that afterwards within his mind
and forsake (as often as he can) all anxieties
that should be unavailing to him,
and gather together (as strongly as he can)
all his inward thoughts into one thing alone— (8-12)

He may speak his mind so that he can find it,
all within him inside that it most often now
always seeks outside of itself, every good— (13-16a)

He perceives afterwards the evil and the unavailing,
all that he held in his inner coffer for a long time before
even as clearly as he can look upon the sun
with his bodily eyes—and he also perceives
his inward thought more lightly and brightly
than those radiant beams might be,
the sun in the summertime, than the gem of heaven,
the clear heavenly star, that shines most purely— (16b-24)

Therefore the sins and heaviness of the body-home
and these faults cannot be pulled out completely
from the mind, the righteousness from any man,
though now for any warrior, the heaviness and the sins
of the body-home and the faults may often afflict
the mind-house of men, greatest and most powerful
forgetfulness amid the evil things— (25-32)

Among the error-filled mists, the dreary mind
covers over the spirit before every man,
so that it may not sparkle and shine so brightly
as it wishes to, if it possessed the authority—
though some wheat will be maintained by the seed,
truthfastness will always abide within the soul
so long as the spirit in unified with the body— (33-39)

The corn of these seeds will always be roused
with inquiring and also with the teaching of the good
afterwards, if it must grow up—how can any man
find the answer to any matter, a reasonable thane,
although any of their men righteously
may inquire after, if he does not have anything
in his mind, greater or lesser of righteousness
nor of intelligence? Though there is not any man
who is so bereft of all intelligence that he does not
know any answer, finding in his spirit, if he is asked— (40-52)

Therefore it is a rightful message that the old philosopher
related to us long ago, our Plato—he spoke that
every forgetful man must swiftly direct himself
unto righteousness into the memory of his own mind—
he can afterwards find in his spirit, in his secret coffer,
righteousness hidden fast among confusion every day
in his own mind, greatest and most strongly,
and with heaviness of his body-home
and with the troubles that stir within his breast,
a man in his mind, every season. (53-65)

 

 

XXIII

That a man may be, lo, blessed
in all things upon the earth,
if he may be able to see
that clearest and heaven-bright stream,
the noble fountain of every good,
and he can cast away
the shadows of his mind,
the darkened mist from himself!
Nevertheless we must improve
your inward thoughts
by example, with the help of God
in all old and deceitful things,
so that you can better devise
the rightful path to heaven
into the eternal homes of our souls. (1-11)

 

XXIV

I have wings swifter than a bird—
with them I can fly far away from earth,
over the lofty roof of this heaven:

yet there I now may en-wing your mind
your spirit-close, with my feathers
until you could renounce this middle-earth

all earthly things entirely—
straightaway you could fly with wings
across the sky, far up and over

wheel about the firmament,
gaze afterwards from above over all—
you could also venture across the fire

that for many years, for a long time,
stood between the breeze and the heaven
as the Father ordained at the beginning—

you could voyage afterwards
with the sun between the other stars—
you could become very speedy

outwards upon the sky
afterwards and immediately then
near the very cold one of the stars

which is the uppermost of all the stars—
that one the sea-dwelling call Saturn
under the heavens—he is the coldest,

an entirely icy star, wandering furthest away
above all the other planets—
after you have passed beyond then

those on high, you could go even further—
then you will be immediately up beyond
the heavens running swiftly—

if you voyage correctly
leaving the highest heaven
behind you, then you could

keep your share afterwards
of the true light, whence
the sole king rules the roomy

up over the heavens
and all creation under it too
dominating the world.

That is a wise king!
He is that one who rules
throughout this nation—

the king of all other earthly things—
he has restrained all the orbits
with his bridle, of earth and heaven—

he moderates his controlling reins well,
he guides always through his strong might
that swift chariot of heaven and earth—

he is the sole judge unwavering,
changeless, lovely, and well-renowned!
If you ever come thereon,

then you wish to say and speak at once:
“This is entirely my own land,
habitation and homeland—

I arrived before here
and was conceived by this crafty power—
I do not wish to ever know

what is outside of here,
yet I always wish to gently
stand here with my Father’s desires!

If it ever happened again
that you wished or were allowed
to explore the shadows of this world,

you could easily see
unrighteousness in earthly kings
and overweening pride and power

which has tormented weary folk,
so that they are always very miserable,
not powerful in all things,

even the same as these wretched people
he has very greatly feared for some time now.

 

 

XXV

Hear now a singular message
about the overweening pride,
the unrighteousness of earthly kings,
those who shine wondrously
in various and variegated
brightly colored raiment
upon their lofty thrones close to the roof,
fitted with gold and many kinds of gems,
surrounded without by
uncountable thanes and earls! (1-8a)

They are decorated with armaments
bright for battle, with blades and sword-belts,
highly adorned, and all of the others
serve him with great pomp,
and they all crush about him
from every side whence the majesty
of those other people seated around him. (8b-14)

And the lord does not care,
he who rules over armies,
about friends or enemies,
their lives or possessions—
yet he fierce-minded rushes
at them all, much like some sort
of mad dog—he will be heaved up high
within his mind on account
of his authority, which every one
of his glorious friends supports him in. (15-21)

If one wishes then to strip from him
these regal robes, all of his clothing,
and deny him then all of their service
and all this authority that he wields here,
then you could see that he would be
very much like any other man
who crowds around him most eagerly
with devotion—if he is not worse,
I do not believe him any better! (22-29)

If this ever happened to him unexpectedly,
quite by chance, that this were denied him,
the majesty and the raiment and the servitude
and the authority that we are speaking about—
if any of these things were lacking—
I know that it would seem to him
that he had crawled into prison
or had been wretchedly bound in chains. (30-37a)

I can claim that from such immoderation
in all things, in food and clothing,
and wine-drinking and of delicacies,
grows very strongly a mighty paroxysm
of wantonness—it troubles greatly
the inward thoughts of the mind
of every man, whence comes the most
of evil, of arrogance, of vanities, of conflicts. (37b-44)

Then they become enraged, a scourged spirit
within his breast with a great surge of rage,
becomes hot-heartedness, and quickly afterwards
despondency captivated him also,
fettered severely—after that a certain expectation
of vengeance for this struggle
begins to deceive him strongly—
that wrath desires one and then the other. (45-52a)

His recklessness promised that all to him,
not caring about what is right!
I said to you before in this same book
that all individuals always desired
a certain good thing in this broad creation
out of his originary nature— (52b-57)

The unrighteousness of earthly kings
cannot ever affect any kind of goodness
because of its evil that I said to you earlier—
there is no wonder to this, because they desire
to subjugate themselves to their faults
which I have earlier named to you,
every one of those at every moment— (58-63)

Then this captivity must bow down
tightly by force to those lords
that he submitted himself entirely before—
that is worse yet when he dies not wish
to struggle against its dominion
at any time—there he always wished
to begin to struggle and then to persevere
in that conflict forwards, then he did not hold
any blame although he must be vanquished. (64-72)

 

XXVI

I can easily relate old and untruthful songs
much like speech, even these same ones
that we are speaking about—
Formerly it happened in a certain season
that Ulysses had two kingdoms
under the Caesar: he was lord of the Thracian nation
and he guarded Rhaetia as well—
the name of his overlord was celebrated,
Agamemnon, who wielded all the realm of Greece. (1-11a)

It was known that the Trojan War happened
beneath the heavens in that time—
the warden of warfare ventured, the Greek lord,
to seek the battlefield with Ulysses—
he led one hundred ships across the watery stream,
he waited for a long time there, ten complete winters,
until the time occurred that they had taken
that kingdom—the Greek lord has purchased dearly
the city of Troy with good companions! (11b-20)

When Ulysses obtained permission, the Thracian king,
that he was allowed to go from there,
he left behind him ninety-nine horned ships—
no more than one of those sea-horses
ventured onto the monster’s tide, foamy-sided,
a triple-banked ship (that was like most of the Greek ships).
Then there was cold weather, the tossing of a stark storm.
The brown waves crashed, one against the other,
driving that band of warriors far away into the Mediterranean Sea,
up onto the island where Apollo’s daughter lived
a great number of days—that Apollo was a noble king,
the heir of Jove, who was at one time king,
who pretended to great and small, to every man,
that he was a god, highest and holiest. (21-38a)

So then that lord led his foolish people into error
until an uncountable folk believed in him
because he was rightfully the keeper of the realm,
of their royal descent—it is widely known
that in those days every nation held their lord
as the highest god and honored him
just as the King of Glory if he was born rightfully
into the realm—so Jove’s father was a god just as him,
so those sea-dwellers named that Saturn,
the child of a man—those tribes had all after another
taken him for eternal god—the nobly born daughter of Apollo
must be also the goddess of men, of those foolish people. (38b-53a)

She knew many spells, to commit druid-crafts—
she followed heresy, most strongly of humans,
of many nations, this king’s daughter,
she was called Circe by the people—
she ruled upon that island, to which Ulysses,
the king of Thracia, had come alone, sailing his ship.
At once it was known to all that assembly
that lived with her, that nobleman’s journey—
she loved the lord of the sailors adoringly,
with excess, and he did as well with all his might,
he loved her even as strongly in his mind,
so that he did not have any thoughts in his mind
of his homeland, for any other young woman. (53b-67)

Yet he dwelt afterwards with that woman
until no man of his crew could be there with them,
yet they for their misery wished for their home—
they meant to abandon their beloved lord.
Then they began to work a message from her people,
saying that she must with her sorcerous power
transform those warriors and with her baleful skill
change wrathfully the thanes of the king
into the bodies of wild beasts, and bind then afterwards—
and fetter many of them also with chains. (68-78)

Some of them became as wolves, they could not
produce words then yet they at times began to howl.
Some were boars, always grunting
when they must lament something of their pain.
Those who were lions began hatefully
to roar angrily when they always must do,
crying out for company—they were men,
both old and young, all of them were transformed
to certain beasts much like those that they were earlier
in their life-days—except for the king who the queen loved. (79-89)

None of the others wished to eat mannish food,
but they preferred more the fodder of beasts,
just as was not fitting for them—they no longer had
the likeness of humanity, of earth-dwelling men,
no longer had their inward thoughts any longer.
Every one kept his own mind, though it was strongly
bound up in sorrows because of the hardships
which sat upon them— (90-97)

Listen! These foolish men who for a long time
believed in this druid-craft, these deluding spells,
nevertheless knew that their senses could not
change the spirit of any man with sorcery,
though she could perform it such that the bodies
became altered for a long time—that is miraculous,
a great powerful skill of every mind over the bodies,
loaned and weak! And so on and so on you could clearly
perceive that the desires and crafts of the body come
from the mind of every man, of every individual. (98-110a)

You could easily understand that more vices of the mind
is harmful to every man than the infirmities
of the loaned body—No people have a need
to believe in the event, what the weary flesh
may be able to ever change the mind of any man
entirely—yet the faults of all minds and the inward thoughts
of all men bends the body towards it. (110b-119)

 

 

XXVII

Why must you all trouble your minds
with vain hatred, just as the waves
of the sea-flood stir the ice-cold waters,
shaking from the wind? Why do you reproach
yourselves with destiny, that it has power? (1-5)

Why can’t you wait for the death,
that the Lord has shaped for you,
your bitter and true nature, now
that he hastens toward you every day? (6-8)

Can you not see that it searches always
after every earthly seed, beasts and fowls both?
Death, the same for all, a terrible hunter,
will always be in pursuit after mankind,
throughout this middle-earth—
he does not wish to ever let go of any trail
before he catches what he has long searched after. (9-16a)

That is a miserable affair, that town-dwellers
cannot wait for him, unlucky men!
They wish to sprint ahead of him before—
just as kinds of birds or wild beasts,
that struggle between them, all of them
wished to slay each other. (16b-21)

Yet that is wrong for every man
to hate another in his inward thoughts,
in his spirit, just as a bird or a beast—
yet that would be most right that every man
to render unto another his correct repayment,
working according to the merits of every human
in all things, that is, that he should love
every good thing as he can most eagerly,
merciful towards the wicked as we said before— (22-30)

He must love in his mind those humans
and hate all of his faults, and cut away
what he can most readily. (31-33)

 

 

XXVIII

Who is now among the unlearned on earth
who wonders at the motions of the sky,
the swiftness of heaven, the course of the stars,
how they circle every day outside
of all this middle-earth? Who of mankind does not
wonder about these lovely stars—
how some have a much shorter orbit,
and some glide longer outside of all this?
Worldly men call one of those stars
the Wain’s Axle—it has a short motion and course,
an orbit lesser than the other stars,
because they circulate outside at the northern end
of their axis, circling around nearer—
all the roomy sky turning upon that same axis,
gliding swiftly, sweeping along,
bent to the south, quick and untiring. (1-17)

Who in the world is not astonished—
except for the one who knew it before—
that many stars have a greater orbit in the heavens?
Some travel in a shorter time, those that fly about
the end of the axis—others travel a much greater distance,
those of them that travel strongly about the equator.
One of them is called Saturn, who circles around
the world in about thirty counts of winter—
Boötes also, shining brightly among the other stars,
comes even as similarly into the same place
in about thirty yearly counts where it was of old. (18-31)

Who among worldly men is not amazed
how certain stars venture into the sea,
under the watery streams, as it seems to humanity?
Some suppose that the sun does as well,
yet that idea is not any bit of the truth!
Nor is it, in the evening nor in the early morning,
within the sea-currents or nearer at the middle of day,
and, though it seems so to men, that it goes into the ocean,
sweeping under the sea, when it glides to its rest. (32-40)

Who in the world does not wonder at the full moon
when it suddenly becomes under the heavens
deprived of its brightness, covered with shadow?
Which thanes cannot be astonished also at every star,
why they do not shine in splendid weather
before the sun as they always do in the middle of the night
with the moon before them, with the light of the skies? (41-49a)

Listen, now there are many men likewise
and likewise they marvel greatly that every creature,
men and beasts, have a great and unprofitable
struggle between them, long enduring—
and that is a good thing that they never wonder
how it often thunders loudly in the skies,
and every now and then it desists, likewise
the waves struggle against the land
perpetually, the wind against the sea! (49b-59a)

Who wonders about that or something else—
why the ice can be made from water?
The brightness of the sun shines in hot skies,
and the splendor of frozen lakes turning at once,
by their own nature, back into water—
that does not seem a great miracle to any man,
what he can see every day, yet those foolish folk
marvel more at what it is seen more seldom,
though it should seem wondrous to the wiser
in their minds, and much less— (59b-69)

Those fickle people always believe that
that originary creation was never what they seldom
witnessed—yet more strongly still worldly men
believe that it comes into being quite by accident,
and that it happened recently, if anything
was not revealed to any man before—
that is a wretched thing! (70-75)

Yet if any of them ever became inquisitive
about those things, those many skills he began to study
and the Warden of Life withdrew them from his mind,
so that the many foolish men dwelt for a long time
smothered with it, when I know readily that
they marvel not at many things, the spectacles
and the miracles that seem well-nigh everywhere to men nowadays. (76-83)

 

 

XXIX

Now if you wish for the World’s Lord,
to perceive his lofty power eagerly
with a pure mind, pay attention
to the almighty stars of heaven,
how they are held there between him
in perpetual concord—they have long done this! (1-5)

So the Lord of Glory accustomed them
at the earliest of creation, that they, fiery,
would not be allowed to seek the sun,
on their snowy and cold path,
the limits of the moon. (6-9a)

Listen, those famous stars,
upon either one or the other course,
never touches upon another before them
that moves away from them. (9b-11)

Nor indeed does that star wish
to approach the western part
of the sky, that wise men
called Ursa—all of the stars
sink after the sun together
in the sky under the lip of the earth—
that one stands alone. (12-16)

That is not any wonder—
it is fixed there miraculously,
near the upper end of the axis
of the heavens—then there is
a single star, bright over the others,
that comes up from the east
before the sun, that one men
under the heavens call the Morning-Star
because it pronounces the day
for men after the fastness—
it brings after it the sky-bright sun
along with the rest of the day. (17-24)

That harbinger is fair and glorious,
coming up the eastern sky, first
before the sun and also after it
glides towards its rest, westwards
under the world—the men of nations
then change its name when nights comes,
everyone calling it the Evening-Star. (25-30)

It is swifter than the sun—
afterwards it departs for its rest,
this noble star running ahead
until it comes into the eastern sky,
revealed to men before the sun. (31-33)

The noble stars have been distributed
evenly by day and by night
by the might of the Lord,
the sun and the moon, most agreeably,
as the Father ordained them
in the beginning. (34-37)

You have no need to believe
that these glorious stars grow
tired of their servitude before
the day of judgment, doing afterwards
the start of mankind what seemed
fitting to them—because Almighty God
does not permit them to circle
on one side of these heavens,
lest they should ruin the rest
of noble creation, yet Eternal God
regulates all of the broad universe,
gently kept in agreement. (38-46)

Sometimes dryness drives away
moisture, and sometimes they are mixed,
by the skill of the Measurer,
cold with heat—sometimes also
the all-bright flame reverts in the upper sky,
light in the breeze—the heavier portions
of the earth remain behind.
Though for a while the cold earth
keeps and hides the fire within itself
by the strength of the Holy One. (47-54)

By the command of the King—it comes every year—
every seed is brought forth upon the earth
and the hot summer readies and ripens
the seeds and the fruits every year
for the children of men across the broad lands—
the harvest to the hands of here-dwellers
proffering their fruition—rain wets
the earth afterwards, and the hail and snow as well
in the season of winter, the rough weather. (55-63)

Because of this cold, the earth harbors
for every seed, doing it so that they grow up
every year in the springtime,
the leaves springing up. Yet the mild Measurer
sustains all that grows in the earth
for the children of men, producing
well the blossoms in the world. (64-69)

Then, when he wishes to, the Sovereign of Heaven
shows it soon to the earth-dwellers—
he takes them up when he wishes to,
Preserving God—and that highest good
sits upon his lofty throne, the King Himself,
and this broad creation supports and serves him. (70-75a)

From there he rules this worldly creation
with his reins—there is no wonder:
he is the God of Hosts, the King and Lord
of everything living, the Source and the Start
of all the universe, the Wright and the Shaper
of this world, the Wisdom and Law of all mortals! (75b-81)

He breaks down the wrathful of all creation,
all of them, which must become as nothing,
the wrathful things which must be dissolved—
though they have one love in common,
of all creation, of the heaven and the earth
so that they serve the Origin of Peoples,
and rejoice that their Father rules them. (82-92)

There is no miracle here, because no creature
can ever abide in any other way
if they do not serve the Start of Things
with all their might, the Famous Ruler. (93-96)

 

 

XXX

Homer was, east among the Greeks,
in their lands, most skillful in songs,
friend and teacher of Virgil,
best of masters to that famous poet. (1-4)

Listen! That Homer often and frequently
highly praised the bright sun,
the noble crafts, often and frequently
in verses and songs, related to men. (5-8)

Although it could not shine, even though
it was brilliant and bright, anywhere near
as brightly as all creation, not even
that creation that it can shine upon (9-11)

fully, yet it cannot illuminate all
within and without—yet the Almighty
Sovereign and Wright of this worldly creation
sees into all of his own work (12-15a)

fully scanning into all of creation—
that is the true sun rightfully,
about that we can sing like this
without any deception! (15b-18)

 

 

XXXI

Listen! You could understand, if a desire to heed
him was yours, that many kinds of various creatures
venture across the earth, unlike each other—

They have dissimilar color and movement both,
and many kinds of appearances,
known and unknown—they creep and crawl,

their whole body close to the earth—
they do not have the support of wings,
nor can they go upon their feet,

enjoying the earth, as was allotted them!
Some walk upon the earth with two feet,
some upon four feet, some are flying

hovering in the sky—though every creature
is bowed ever to the earth, bending down from above,
gazing upon the world, desiring the ground,

some have necessity, some a wicked greed—
man alone goes about, of the Measurer’s making
with his face directed upwards by right,

by that is betokened, that his troth
and his mind’s thoughts, more up than downwards,
must consider the heavens, lest he turn his mind

downwards like the beast—that is not fitting,
that the mind of any man should be
pointed downwards, while his face looks up!

 

 

 

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