from "THE PHOENIX" (THE EXETER BOOK)lines 1-84
Cynewulf (?)prose trans. S.A.J.Bradley(from Anglo-Saxon)
Hæbbe ic gefrugnen...... þætte is feorr heonan
eastdælum on...... æþelast londa
firum gefræge....... Nis se foldan sceat
ofer middangeard...... mongum gefere
foldagendra,...... ac he afyrred is
þurh Meotudes meaht...... manfremmendum.
Wlitig is se wong eall,...... wynnum geblissad,
mid þam fægrestum...... foldan stencum.
Ænlic is þæt iglond,...... æþele se Wyrhta,
modig, meahtum spedig,...... se þæ moldan gesette.
Ðær bið oft open...... eadgum togeanes,
onhliden hleoþra wynn,...... heofonrices duru.
Þæt is wynsum wong,...... wealdas grene,
rume under roderum....... Ne mæg þær ren ne snaw,
ne forstes fnæst,...... ne fyres blæst,
ne hægles hryre,...... ne hrimes dryre,
ne sunnan hætu,...... ne sincieldu,
ne wearm weder,...... ne winterscur
wihte gewyrdan;...... ae se wong seomað
eadig and onsund....... Is þæt æþele lond
blostmum geblowen....... Beorgas þær ne muntas
steape ne stondað,...... ne stanclifu
heah hlifiað,...... swa her mid us,
ne dene ne dalu,...... ne dunscrafu,
hlæwas ne hlincas,...... ne þær hleonað oo
unsmeþes wiht;...... ac se æþela feld
wridað under wolcnum...... wynnum geblowen.
I have heard that far away from here in the regions of the east exists the noblest of lands renowned among men. This expanse of earth is not accessible to many of the potentates across the world, for through the might of the ordaining Lord it is far removed from evil-doers. The whole plateau is beautiful, -delightfully endowed with earth's loveliest perfumes. Unparalleled is that land of rivers and noble the Maker, magnanimous, -abounding in powers, who formed that land. There heaven-kingdom's portal is often open and the delightfulness of singing voices revealed to the blessed. It is a delightsome plateau. There the green woodlands, spacious beneath the skies, not rain nor -snow, nor breath of frost nor scorch of fire, nor falliing of hail nor drizzle of rime, nor heat of the sun nor incessant cold, nor -torrid weather nor wintry shower may spoil a whit, but the plateau remains perfect and unmarred. That noble land is abloom with blossoms. There stand no mountains nor steep -hills there, nor do rocky cliffs rear aloft as here with us, no valleys nor dales nor ravines, hillocks nor dunes, and there lies -there never a scrap of rough ground, but this noble plateau burgeons beneath the heavens, abloom with delights.
Is þæt torhte lond...... twelfum herra
folde fæðmrimes,......swa us gefreogun gleawe
witgan purh wisdom...... on gewritum cyþað,
þonne ænig þara beorga......þe her beorhte mid us
hea hlifiað,...... under heofontunglum.
That radiant land, that region, is higher by twelve fathoms - so in their wisdom sages knowledgeable from their studies inform us in their writings - than any of the mountains which rear aloft, luminous beneath the constellations, here with us.
Smylte is se sigewong,...... sunnbearo lixeð,
wuduholt wynlic:...... wæstmas ne dreosað,
beorhte blede,...... ac þa beamas a
grene stondað,......swa him God bibead;
wintres and sumeres...... wudu bið gelice
bledum gehongen;...... næfre brosniað
leaf under lyfte,...... ne him lig sceþeð
æfre to ealdre,...... ær son edwenden
worulde geweorðe....... Swa iu wætres þrymm
ealne middangeard,...... mereflod þeahte
eorðan ymbhwyrft,...... þa se æpela wong
æghwæs onsund...... wið yðfare
gehealden stod...... hreora wæga
eadig, unwemme,...... þurh est Godes:
bideð swa geblowen...... oð bæles cyme,
Dryhtnes domes,......þonne deaðræced,
hæleþa heolstorcofan,...... onhliden weorþað.
It is serene, that transcendent plateau. The grove of the sun shimmers, a delightsome wood; the foliage, the luminous leaves, do not fall, but the trees stand ever green as God commanded them. Winter and summer alike, the wood is festooned with leaves; never a leaf will wither under the sky nor fire ever to the fullness of time cause them harm, before the transformation comes upon the world. When of old the water's torrent, the flood, covered the whole world, the earth's ambit, then this noble plateau, in every way unmarred, stood secured against the rough waves' watery encroachment, blessed, unsullied, by the grace of God: so it will remain, abloom, until the coming of the conflagration and the judgment of the Lord, when the vaults of death, the gloomy tombs of mortals are opened.
Nis þær on þam londe...... laðeniðla,
ne wop ne wracu,......weatacen nan,
yldu ne yrmðu,...... ne se enga deað,
ne lifes lyre...... ne laþes cyme,
ne synn ne sacu,......ne sar wracu,
ne wædle gewinn...... ne welan onsyn,
ne sorg ne slæp,...... ne swar leger,
ne wintergeweorp,...... ne wedra gebregd
hreoh under heofonum,...... ne se hearda forst
caldum cylegicelum...... cnyseð ænigne.
Þær ne hægl ne hrim...... hreosað to foldan,
ne windig wolcen,...... ne þær wæter fealleþ
lyfte gebysgad;...... ac þær lagustreamas,
wundrum wrættlice...... wyllan onspringað,
fægrum flodwylmum......foldan leccaþ,
wæter wynsumu......of þæs wuda midle,
þa monþa gehwam...... of þære moldan tyrf
brimcald brecað,...... bearo ealne geondfarað
bragum þrymlice:...... is þæt þeodnes gebod
þætte twelf siþum...... þæt firfæste
lond geondlace...... lagufloda wynn.
Sindon þa bearwas...... bledum gehongene
wlitigum wæstmum:...... þær ne waniað o
halge under heofonum...... holtes frætwe,
ne feallað þær on foldan......fealwe blostman,
wudubeama wlite;...... ac þær beoð wrættlice
on þam treowum symle...... telgan gehladene,
ofett edniwe...... in ealle tid.
On þam græswonge...... grene stondaþ
gehroden hyhtlice...... Haliges meahtum
beorhtast bearwa...... No gebrocen weorþeð
holt on hiwe,...... þær se halga stenc
wunap geond wynnlond;...... þæt onwended ne bið
æfre to ealdre,...... ær þon endige
frod fyrngeweorc,...... se hit on frymþe gesceop.
There in that land is no loathsome foe, not weeping nor anguish, no sign of woe, not senility nor disease nor painful death nor losing of life, no onset of the abhorrent, neither sin nor strife nor wounding anguish, neither poverty's struggle nor want of wealth, not sorrow nor sleep nor grievous illness, not wintry squalls nor the flurry of tempests and stormy weather beneath the heavens, nor does harsh frost oppress anyone with its freezing icicles. Neither hail nor rime is there, falling to the earth, nor wind-blown cloud, nor does the water there, agi-tated by the breeze, fall downwards, but there wonderfully ornemental streams and wells spout forth in lovely springs. Delightful waters from out of the midst of the wood irrigate the earth, which every month gush cold as the sea from the turf of the ground and at these seasons percolate the whole grove in spate. It is the Prince's bidding that twelve times the delightfulness -of fluent streams should ripple throughout that glorious land. The groves are festooned with leaves, with beautiful fruits. There the wood's adornments, sanctified though below the heavens, never fade, nor do the blossoms, the beauty of the trees, fall brown to the ground, but there on those trees, perpetually, like a work of art, the laden branches continue green on the grassy plain, and the fruit fresh through all time, and that most dazzling of groves pleasantly bedecked by the powers of holy God. Never does the wood come to be marred in its appearance; the sanctified perfume there lingers throughout that land of delight. Never to the fullness of time will this be changed before the wise God who shaped it in the first place brings to an end his ancient work.
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Transl. copyright © David Campbell Publishers Ltd., 1982 - publ. Everyman


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