Excerpt from “The Debate of the Body and the Soul” by Traditional

The soul these words had scarcely spoke,
That wist not whither it should go.
When with a bound right in there broke
A thousand devils, and yet mo.
Their sharpe claws in it they stoke,
Exulting, with a loud halloo,
And piteously, with many a mock,
They tugged and toused it to and fro.

For they were rough and fierce and tailed,
With broad bulges on their back,
Sharp their clawës, longë nailed,
There was no limb withoutë lack.
On every side it was assailed
By many a devil, foul and black;
Crying mercy nought availed
When God his hard revenge would take.

Some the jaws wide open wrast
And pourëd in the lead all hot,
Bade him thereof to drinken fast,
And skink to all his friends about.
A devil came there attë last
That was the master, well I wot,
A glowing colter in him thrast,
And through the heart the iron smot.

White-hot sword-blades some did set
To back and breast and either side;
In his heart the pointës met,
And made great gaping woundës wide; —
A pretty sight, not to forget.
They said, that heart so full of pride.
But they had promised morë yet,
And more should presently betide.

Seemly weeds they must not spare,
In such he ever would be drest;
A devil’s mail-coat for to wear,
All burning, was upon him cast,
With red-hot hasps, to fasten fair,
That sat right close to back and breast;
Anon thereto a helmet rare,
And eek a charger of the best.

As a colt for him to ride
A cursed devil forth they brought,
Horribly grinning, yawning wide,
And flame all flaring from his throat;
With a saddle at mid-side
Full of sharpë pikës shot,
Like a heckle to bestride,
And all over blazing-hot.

From: Child, F. J. (ed.), The Debate of the Body and the Soul, 1888, John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, pp. 31-34.
(https://archive.org/stream/cu31924013113364#page/n35/mode/2up)

Date: 8th century (original in Latin); 11th century (translation in Middle English); 1888 (translation from Middle English to modern English)

By: Traditional

Translated by: Francis James Child (1825-1896)

Alternative Title: Visio Philiberti (Vision of Filibertus)

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