based on EPILOGUE TO "ELENE"THE AWAKENING
Cynewulftrans. Graham Holderness
(from 10c. English)




þus ic frod ond fus......þurh þæt fæcne hus



wordcræftum wæf......ond wundrum læs,



þragum þreodude......ond geþanc reodode



nihtes nearwe.......Nysse ic gearwe



be ðære rode riht......ær me rumran geþeaht



þurh ða mæran miht......on modes þeaht



wisdom onwreah.......Ic wæs weorcum fah,



synnum asæled,......sorgum gewæled,



bitrum gebunden,......bisgum beþrungen,



ær me lare onlag......þurh leohtne had



gamelum to geoce,......gife unscynde



mægencyning amæt......ond on gemynd begeat,



torht ontynde,......tidum gerymde,



bancofan onband,......breostlocan onwand,



leoðucræft onleac.......þæs ic lustum breac,



willum in worlde.......Ic þæs wuldres treowes



oft, nales æne,...... hæfde ingemynd



ær ic þæt wundor ...... onwrigen hæfde



ymb þone beorhtan beam,......swa ic on bocum fand,



wyrda gangum,...... on gewritum cyðan



be ðam sigebeacne.



i

A death-destined breath-catching
Bone-brittle ramshackle
Fleshwrapped body, awoken
From sleep of senescence
By a word-web woven
Of cunning contrivance and curious
Craft, mouth-made in another
Tongue, yet sung
By a darkling bird in waste
Night-watches of shivering
Sleep, dug deep
Into pain and praise.

ii

It was the Cross
Broke me apart, nailed
Me with knowledge,
In pain impaled me
On truth's sharp spear;
To horizons of hope
My arms wide flung, hung
Where the sleep of ignorance
Ended, as I ascended
Steep Calvary's slope.

iii

Grief-grappled, sin-shackled,
Pinioned and paralyzed
By fault-fettered manacles
Of my own making,
Till learning unlocked me
And dealt me in darkness
The blinding blow
Of a life unpromised
A gift half-grasped,
When freely God's grace
On my dry face dropped
As a dew.

iv

Dawn
Upsprung with a far-flung
Shroud-tearing, chain-shearing
Bond-breaking brightness
Of light's laceration, broke
With a big bang into my
Bone-box, body with spirit
So suddenly f´lled
To the brim now, full.

v

Racked on the Cross
A ghost, upgiven, received
This songskill, craft and art,
Exuberant eloquence, manifest
Mastery of word and wisdom
Service and song.

vi

How often I'd read
in vellum and volume, codex
And scroll, of the majesty
Magic and might of the
Cross; so many miracles
Proving its power, so many lives
Transformed by its force!

vii

Not till that fire-fork
Dove-like descending
Flamed on my forehead and
Touched my tongue,
Were the words that heard
The song of the saviour
My incantation
The Cry of the Cross.

Transl. copyright © Graham Holderness 2002 - publ. Shoestring Press


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