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water with beauty bright, and sent into the must cede our realm; yet hath he not done




The All-powerful had angel tribes, through might of hand, the holy Lord, ten established, in whom he trusted well that they his service would follow, work his will; therefore gave he them wit, and shaped them with his hands; the holy Lord. He had placed them so happily, one he had made so powerful,


so mighty in his mind's thought, he let him sway over so much,

highest after himself in heaven's kingdom. He had made him so fair,

so beauteous was his form in heaven, that came to him from the Lord of hosts,

he was like to the light stars.

It was his to work the praise of the Lord,

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misery in this hell. Oh had I power of my hands,

and might one season be without,

be one winter's space, then with this host I—370
But around me lie iron bonds,
presseth this cord of chain: I am powerless!
me have so hard the clasps of hell,
so firmly grasped! Here is a vast fire
above and underneath, never did I see

it was his to hold dear his joys in heaven, and a loathlier landskip; the flame abateth not,

to thank his Lord
for the reward that he had bestow'd on him in

that light; then had he let him long pos-
sess it;

but he turned it for himself to a worse thing,
began to raise war upon him,
against the highest Ruler of heaven, who sitteth
in the holy seat.

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The fiend with all his comrades fell then from
heaven above,

through as long as three nights and days,
the angels from heaven into hell, and them all
the Lord

transformed to devils, because they his deed
and word

would not revere; therefore them in a worse

under the earth beneath, Almighty God
had placed triumphless in the swart hell;
there they bave at even, immeasurably long,
each of all the fiends, a renewal of fire;
then cometh ere dawn the eastern wind,
frost bitter-cold; ever fire or dart,
some hard torment they must have;

it was wrought for them in punishment.

Then spake the haughty king

who of angels erst was brightest, fairest in heaven:

that other that we ere knew,



"This narrow place is most unlike

high in heaven's kingdom, which my master

bestow'd on me,

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Had the cloud, in its wide embrace,

the earth and firmament above alike divided:
it led the nation-host; quenched was the flame-

with heat heaven-bright. The people were

of multitudes most joyous, their day-shield's

rolled over the clouds. The wise God had 80
the sun's course with a sail shrouded;
though the mast-ropes men knew not,
nor the sail-cross might they see,
the inhabitants of earth, all the enginery;
how was fastened that greatest of field-houses.

The folk was affrighted, the flood-dread seized


their sad souls; ocean wailed with death,
the mountain heights were with blood be-

the sea foamed gore, crying was in the waves,
the water full of weapons, a death-mist


the Egyptians were turned back;

though we it, for the All-powerful, may not trembling they fled, they felt fear:



would that host gladly find their homes;

their vaunt grew sadder; against them as a cloud, rose

their allies, and having delivered them from their cruel oppressors, advised them to build a the fell rolling of the waves; there came not wall between the two seas across the island, any that it might secure them, and keep off the

of that host to home, but from behind inclosed enemy; and thus they returned home with great them


fate with the wave. Where ways ere lay, sea raged. Their might was merged, the streams stood, the storm rose high to heaven; the loudest army-cry the hostile uttered; the air above was thickened with dying voices; blood pervaded the flood, the shield-walls were riven, shook the firmament that greatest of sea-deaths: the proud died, kings in a body; the return prevailed of the sea at length; their bucklers shone high over the soldiers; the sea-wall rose, the proud-ocean-stream, their might in death


fastly fettered.-From Exodus.

BEDE (673-735)


triumph. The islanders raising the wall, as they had been directed, not of stone, as having no artist capable of such a work, but of sods, made it of no use. However, they drew it for many miles between the two bays or inlets of the seas, which we have spoken of; to the end that where the defense of the water was wanting, they might use the rampart to defend their borders from the irruptions of the enemies. Of which work there erected, that is, of a rampart of extraordinary breadth and height, there are evident remains to be seen at this day. It begins at about two miles' distance from the monastery of Abercurnig,2 and running westward, ends near the city Aleluith.3

But the former enemies, when they perceived that the Roman soldiers were gone, immediately coming by sea, broke into the borders, trampled and overran all places, and like men mowing ripe corn, bore down all before them.

THE BRITONS SEEK SUCCOR FROM THE ROMANS Hereupon messengers are again sent to Rome,


From that time, the south part of Britain, destitute of armed soldiers, of martial stores, and of all its active youth, which had been led away by the rashness of the tyrants, never to return, was wholly exposed to rapine, as being totally ignorant of the use of weapons. Whereupon they suffered many years under two very savage foreign nations, the Scots from the west, and the Picts from the north. We call these foreign nations, not on account of their being seated out of Britain, but because they were remote from that part of it which was possessed by the Britons; two inlets of the sea lying between them, one of which runs in far and broad into the land of Britain, from the Eastern Ocean, and the other from the West ern, though they do not reach so as to touch

one another.

On account of the irruption of these nations, the Britons sent messengers to Rome with let ters in mournful manner, praying for succours, and promising perpetual subjection, provided that the impending enemy should be driven away. An armed legion was immediately sent them, which, arriving in the island, and engaging the enemy, slew a great multitude of them, drove the rest out of the territories of

1 About 400 onward.

* See Eng. Lit., p. 23.

imploring aid, lest their wretched country should be utterly extirpated, and the name of the Roman province, so long renowned among them, overthrown by the cruelties of barbarous foreigners, might become utterly contemptible. A legion is accordingly sent again, and, arriv ing unexpectedly in autumn, made great slaughter of the enemy, obliging all those that could escape, to flee beyond the sea; whereas before, they were wont yearly to carry off their booty without any opposition. Then the Romans declared to the Britons that they could not for the future undertake such troublesome expeditions for their sake, advising them rather to handle their weapons like men, and undertake themselves the charge of engaging their enemies, who would not prove too powerful for them, unless they were deterred by cowardice; and, thinking that it might be some help to the allies, whom they were forced to abandon, they built a strong stone wall from sea to sea, in a straight line between the towns that had been there built for fear of the enemy, and not far from the trench of Severus. This famous wall, which is still to be seen, was built at the public and private expense, the Britons also lending their assistance. It is eight feet in breadth, and twelve in height, in a straight line from

2 Abercorn, a village on the south bank of the Firth of Forth.

3 Dumbarton.

east to west, as is still visible to beholders. | safe from the wintry storm; but after a short This being finished, they gave that dispirited space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes people good advice, with patterns to furnish them with arms. Besides, they built towers on the sea-coast to the southward, at proper distances, where their ships were, because there also the irruptions of the barbarians were apprehended, and so took leave of their friends, never to return again.-Book I, Chapter 12. (Translation from the Latin, edited by J. A. Giles.)

A PARABLE OF MAN'S LIFE † The king, hearing these words, answered, that he was both willing and bound to receive the faith which he taught; but that he would confer about it with his principal friends and counsellors, to the end that if they also were of his opinion, they might all together be cleansed in Christ the Fountain of life. Paulinus consenting, the king did as he said; for, holding a council with the wise men, he asked of everyone in particular what he thought of the new doctrine, and the new worship that was preached? To which the chief of his own priests, Coifi, immediately answered, "O king, consider what this is which is now preached to us; for I verily declare to you, that the religion which we have hitherto professed has, as far as I can learn, no virtue in it. For none of your people has applied himself more diligently to the worship of our gods than I; and yet there are many who receive greater favours from you, and are more preferred than I, and are more prosperous in all their undertakings. Now if the gods were good for anything, they would rather forward me, who have been more careful to serve them. It remains, therefore, that if upon examination you find those new doctrines, which are now preached to us, better and more efficacious, we immediately receive them without any delay."

Another of the king's chief men, approving of his words and exhortations, presently added: "The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is

This is an incident of the visit of Paulinus, who, in the year 625, during the reign of King Edwin (Eadwine) of Northumbria, came to England as a missionary from Pope Gregory.

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out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed." The other elders and king's counsellors by Divine inspiration, spoke to the same effect.-Book II, Chapter 13. (Translation from the Latin, edited by J. A. Giles.)


In this Abbess's Minster was a certain brother


extraordinarily magnified and honoured with a divine gift; for he was wont to make fitting songs which conduced to religion and piety; so that whatever he learned through clerks of the holy writings, that he, after a little space, would usually adorn with the greatest sweetness and feeling, and bring forth in the English tongue; and by his songs the minds of many men were often inflamed with contempt for the world, and with desire of heavenly life. moreover, many others after him, in the English nation, sought to make pious songs; but yet none could do like him, for he had not been taught from men, nor through man, to learn the poetic art; but he was divinely aided, and through God's grace received the art of song. And he therefore never might make aught of leasing or of idle poems, but just those only which conduced to religion, and which it became his pious tongue to sing. The man was placed in worldly life until the time that he was of mature age, and had never learned any poem; and he therefore often in convivial society, when, for the sake of mirth, it was resolved that they all in turn should sing to the harp, when he saw the harp approaching him, then for shame he would rise from the assembly and go home to his house.

When he so on a certain time did, that he left the house of the convivial meeting, and was gone out to the stall of the cattle, the care of which that night had been committed to him-when he there, at proper time, placed his limbs on the bed and slept, then stood some man by him, in a dream, and hailed and greeted him, and named him by his name, saying "Cadmon, sing me something." Then he an

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swered and said, "I cannot sing anything, and ] worldly life and take to monkhood: and he that therefore I went out from this convivial meeting, and retired hither, because I could not." Again he who was speaking with him said, "Yet thou must sing to me." Said he, "What shall I sing?" Said he, "Sing me the origin of things. "When he received this answer, then | he began forthwith to sing, in praise of God the creator, the verses and the words which he had never heard, the order of which is this:

"Now must we praise

the Guardian of heaven's kingdom, the Creator's might,

and his mind's thought;

glorious Father of men!

as of every wonder he, Lord eternal,

formed the beginning. He first framed

for the children of earth the heaven as a roof; holy Creator!

then mid-earth,

the Guardian of mankind,
the eternal Lord,
afterwards produced;
the earth for men,
Lord Almighty!"

Then he arose from sleep, and had fast in mind all that he sleeping had sung, and to those words forthwith joined many words of song worthy of God in the same measure.

Then came he in the morning to the townreeve, who was his superior, and said to him what gift he had received; and he forthwith led him to the abbess, and told, and made that

known to her. Then she bade all the most

learned men and the learners to assemble, and in their presence bade him tell the dream, and sing the poem; that, by the judgment of them all, it might be determined why or whence that was come. Then it seemed to them all, so as it was, that to him, from the Lord himself, a heavenly gift had been given. Then they ex

pounded to him and said some holy history, and words of godly lore; then bade him, if he could, to sing some of them, and turn them into the melody of song. When he had undertaken the thing, then went he home to his house, and came again in the morning, and sang and gave to them, adorned with the best poetry,

what had been entrusted to him.

Then began the abbess to make much of and love the grace of God in the man; and she then exhorted and instructed him to forsake

well approved. And she received him into the minster with his goods, and associated him with the congregation of those servants of God, and caused him to be taught the series of the Holy History and Gospel; and he, all that he could learn by hearing, meditated with himself, and, as a clean5 animal, ruminating, turned into the sweetest verse: and his song and his verse were so winsome to hear, that his teachers themselves wrote and learned from his mouth. He first sang of earth's creation, and of the origin of mankind, and all the history of Genesis, which is the first book of Moses, and then of the departure of the people of Israel from the Egyptians' land, and of the entrance of the land of promise, and of many other histories of the canonical books of Holy Writ; and of Christ's incarnation, and of his passion, and of his ascension into heaven; and of the coming of the Holy Ghost, and the doctrine of the Apostles. And also of the terror of the doom to come, and the fear of hell torment, and the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom, he made many poems; and, in like manner, many others of the divine benefits and judgments he made; in all which he earnestly took care to draw men from the love of sins and wicked deeds, and to excite to a love and desire of good deeds; for he was a very pious man, and to regular disciplines humbly subjected; and against those who in otherwise would act, he was inflamed with the heat of great zeal. And he therefore with a fair end his life closed and ended.

For when the time approached of his decease and departure, then was he for fourteen days firmity; yet so moderately that, during all that ere that oppressed and troubled with bodily intime, he could both speak and walk. There was in the neighbourhood a house for infirm men, in which it was their custom to bring the infirm,

and those who were on the point of departure, and there attend to them together. Then bade he his servant, on the eve of the night that he was going from the world, to prepare him a

place in that house, that he might rest; whereupon the servant wondered why he this bade, for it seemed to him that his departure was not so near; yet he did as he said and commanded. And when he there went to bed, and in joyful mood was speaking some things, and previously, then it was over midnight that he joking together with those who were therein asked, whether they had the eucharist within?

5 In the ceremonial sense (see Leviticus, xi). 6 penances

7 host, or consecrated bread

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Ravage all the rooms! There the reek ariseth
Gray above the gables. Great on earth the din,
And the slaughter-qualm of men. Then I shake
the woodland,

Forests rich in fruits; then I fell the trees;-
I with water over-vaulted-by the wondrous


Sent upon my way, far and wide to drive along!
On my back I carry that which covered once
All the tribes of Earth's indwellers, spirits and
all flesh,

When he had it in his hands, he asked, Whether they had all a placid mind and kind, and without any ill-will towards him? Then they all answered, and said, that they knew of no ill-will towards him, but they all were very kindly disposed and they besought him in turn that he would be kindly disposed to them all. Then he answered and said, "My beloved brethren, I am very kindly disposed to you and In the sand together! Say who shuts me in, all God's men." And he thus was strengthen-Or what is my name-I who bear this burden! ing himself with the heavenly viaticum,8 and Answer: A Storm on Land. preparing himself an entrance into another life. Again he asked, "How near it was to the


ween I,


So that, in the battle-brattling,1 help may bring itself to me;


Ere I, with the warriors, have been utterly for


But the heritage of hammers hews adown at

hour that the brethren must rise and teach the I am all alone, with the iron wounded, people of God, and sing their nocturns?''9 With the sword slashed into, sick of work of They answered, "It is not far to that." He said, "It is well, let us await the hour." And Of the edges weary. Oft I see the slaughter, then he prayed, and signed himself with Oft the fiercest fighting. Of no comfort Christ's cross, and reclined his head on the bolster, and slept for a little space; and so with stillness ended his life. And thus it was, that as he with pure and calm mind and tranquil devotion had served God, that he, in like manner, left the world with as calm a death, and went to His presence; and the tongue that had composed so many holy words in the Creator's praise, he then in like manner its last words closed in His praise, crossing himself, and committing his soul into His hands. Thus it is seen that he was conscious of his own departure, from what we have now heard say.-Book IV., Chapter 24. (Translated from Latin into Anglo-Saxon by Alfred the Great. Modern English translation by Benjamin Thorpe.)

CYNEWULF (A. 750)*



Stark of edges, sworded-sharp, of the smiths the handiwork,

On me biting in the burgs! Worse the bat

tle is

I must bear for ever! Not one of the Leechkin,3


In the fold-stead, could I find out,
Who, with herbs he has, then should heal me of
my wound!

But the notching of my edges more and more

Through the deadly strokes of swords, in the daylight, in the night.

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Of the Shield.


Now in pride

Hugely then I thunder, tear along in gusts,

8 provisions for a journey (in this case the eucharist)

9 service before daybreak

These extracts from Cynewulf's writings are translations by Mr. Stopford Brooke, and have been taken from Mr. Brooke's History of Early English Literature by permission of the publishers, Messrs. Macmillan & Co.

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young serving-man all with silver and fine


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