Monday, November 30, 2015

"King Alfred's Epilogue to the Pastoral Care of Gregory the Great," translated by Maurice Riordan

Metrical Epilogue to the Pastoral Care

[Original text in Anglo-Saxon]

ðis is nu se wæterscipe       ðe us wereda god 
to frofre gehet       foldbuendum. 
He cwæð ðæt he wolde       ðæt on worulde forð 
of ðæm innoðum       a libbendu 
wætru fleowen,       ðe wel on hine 
gelifden under lyfte.       Is hit lytel tweo 
ðæt ðæs wæterscipes       welsprynge is 
on hefonrice,       ðæt is halig gæst. 
ðonan hine hlodan       halge and gecorene, 
siððan hine gierdon       ða ðe gode herdon 
ðurh halga bec       hider on eorðan 
geond manna mod       missenlice. 
Sume hine weriað       on gewitlocan, 
wisdomes stream,       welerum gehæftað, 
ðæt he on unnyt       ut ne tofloweð. 
Ac se wæl wunað       on weres breostum 
ðurh dryhtnes giefe       diop and stille. 
Sume hine lætað       ofer landscare 
riðum torinnan;       nis ðæt rædlic ðing, 
gif swa hlutor wæter,       hlud and undiop, 
tofloweð æfter feldum       oð hit to fenne werð. 
Ac hladað iow nu drincan,       nu iow dryhten geaf 
ðæt iow Gregorius       gegiered hafað 
to durum iowrum       dryhtnes welle. 
Fylle nu his fætels,       se ðe fæstne hider 
kylle brohte,       cume eft hræðe. 
Gif her ðegna hwelc       ðyrelne kylle 
brohte to ðys burnan,       bete hine georne, 
ðy læs he forsceade       scirost wætra, 
oððe him lifes drync       forloren weorðe. 

[Translation into modern English by Maurice Riordan]

King Alfred’s Epilogue to the Pastoral Care
of Gregory the Great

Here is the water which the Lord of all
Pledged for the well-being of His people.
He said it was His wish that water
Should flow forever into this world
Out of the minds of generous men,
Those who serve Him beneath the sky.
But none should doubt the water’s source
In Heaven, the home of the Holy Ghost.
It is drawn from there by a chosen few
Who make sacred books their study.
They seek out the tidings they contain,
Then spread the word among mankind.
But some retain it in their hearts.
They never let it pass their lips
Lest it should go to waste in the world.
By this means it stays pure and clear,
A pool within each man’s breast.
Others pour it freely over all the land,
Though care must be taken lest it flow
Too loud and fast across the fields,
Transforming them to bogs and fens.
Gather round now with your drinking cups,
Gregory has brought the water to your door.
Fill up, and return again for refills.
If you have come with cups that leak
You must hurry to repair and patch them,
Or else you’ll squander the rarest gift,
And the drink of life will be lost to you.

Source of the text – The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, edited by Greg Delanty and Michael Matto.  New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011, p. 426-427.

TJB: Instream flow. From a dark age of metaphor, this extended metaphor-parable instructs us to avoid flood irrigation & store it in reservoirs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

Blog Archive