Posts tagged ‘11th century’

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

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.

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)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Gazing Through the Night by Samuel Hanagid

Gazing through the
night and its stars,

or the grass and its bugs,

I know in my heart these swarms
are the craft of surpassing wisdom.
Think: the skies
resemble a tent,
stretched taut by loops
and hooks;

and the moon with its stars,
a shepherdess,
on a meadow
grazing her flock;

and the crescent hull in the looser clouds

looks like a ship being tossed;

a whiter cloud, a girl
in her garden
tending her shrubs;

and the dew coming down is her sister
shaking water
from her hair onto the path;

as we
settle in our lives,

like beasts in their ample stalls—

fleeing our terror of death,
like a dove
its hawk in flight—

though we’ll lie in the end like a plate,
hammered into dust and shards.


Date: 11th century (original); 1996 (translation)

By: Samuel Hanagid (993-1056)

Translated by: Peter Cole (1957- )