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All men and all women on earth
Had first their beginning the same,
All of one couple they came :
Alike are the great and the small;
No wonder that this should be thus ;
The lord and the maker of us.
He giveth light to the sun,
To the moon and the stars as they stand; The soul and the flesh He made one,
When first he made man in the land.
Wellborn alike are all folk
Whom He hath made under the sky;
ye be lifting on high ?
And why be so causelessly proud,
As thus ye find none are illborn ?
Raise yourself up in such scorn ?
In the mind of a man, not his make,
In the earth-dweller's heart, not his rank, Is the nobleness whereof I spake,
The true, and the free, and the frank.
But he that to sin was in thrall,
Illdoing wherever he can,
His God, and his rank as a man :
And so the Almighty down-hurld
The noble disgraced by his sin,
And never more glory to win.
Unless one were to forage about for parallel passages, or to descant upon Alfred's good philosophy as texts; or to furnish tables of the words identical to both English and Anglo-Saxon, or to speculate upon the possibilities of metre, there really seems little reason to disturb the patient reader with many notes; let him, instead, have the satisfaction of knowing that our verse is no loose paraphrase, but a close rendering, and that several of these metres seem to be analogous with the short and tripping lines of early minstrelsy. It will be remembered that the true ballad line (as in Macaulay's Lays of Rome), though sometimes written longwise, is in truth an eight-syllable stanza of short lines, and not a four-syllable of long ones: that great German epic, the Niebelungenlied (lately translated with uncommon ability and closeness by William Nanson Lettsom esq.) is an instance strictly in point: and further on (see Metre XXVIII) we have rendered Alfred in a similar measure.
XVIII. OF SINFUL PLEASURE.
Habet omnis hoc voluptas, Stimulis agit furentes,
Eala thæt se ysla,
10 Anunga sceal,
Alas that the evil unrighteous hot will
Be a plague in the mind of each one !
With grief for the deed it hath done.
XIX. WHERE TO FIND TRUE JOYS.
Eheu, quam miseros tramite devio, Abducit ignorantia !
Eala thaet is hefig dysig,
15 Forthæm hit thær ne wexth, Ne on wingeardum Wlitige gimmas. Hwy ge nu ne settan On sume dune
20 Fisc net eowru, Thonne eow fon lysteth Leax oththe cyperan? Me gelicost thincth. That te ealle witen, 25 Eorth-buende, Thoncolmode That hithær ne sint. Hwæther ge nu willen Wæthan mid hundum 30 On sealtne sæ, Thonne eow secan lyst Heorotas and hinda Thu gehycgan meaht Thæt ge willath tha 35 On wuda secan Oftor micle, Thonne ut on sæ. Is thaet wundorlic Thaet we wítan ealle 40 Thaet mon secan sceal Be sae-warothe, And be ea-ofrum, Æthele gimmas, Hwite and reade,
45 And hiwa gehwæs ? Hwæt hi eac witon,
Hwær bi ea-fiscas
70 Sotha gesaeltha, Thaet is selfa God. Ic nat hu ic maege Naenige thinga Ealles swa swithe,
75 On sefan minum, Hiora dysig taelan Swa hit me don lysteth : Ne ic the swa sweotole Gesecgan ne maeg.
80 Forthaem hig sint earmran, And eac dysegran, Ungesæligran, Thonne ic the secgan mæge. Hi wilniath
85 Welan and aehta, And weorthscipes To gewinnanne ; Thonne hi habbath thaet Hiora hige seceth,
90 Wenath thonne, Swa gewitlease, Thaet hi tha sothan Gesaeltha haebben.
Oh! it is a fault of weight,
Let him think it out who will,
Careworn men from the right way,
Will ye seek within the wood
Red gold on the green-trees tall ?
Neither in winegardens green
ye on some hill-top set, When
list to catch a trout
That it would be foolish fare,
In the salt sea can ye find,
When ye list to start and hunt
In the woods to look, I wot,
Is it wonderful to know
That for crystals red or white One must to the sea-beach go,
, Or for other colours bright,
Seeking by the river side
Likewise, men are well aware
Where to look for river-fish;
Wisely careful men will know
But of all things 'tis most sad
That they foolish are so blind,
Where the ever-good is nigh