« PreviousContinue »
Who is there then of worldly men, to whom it doth not seem
A thing most strange that many stars go under the sea-stream,
As likewise some may falsely ween that also doth the sun,
But neither is this likeness true, nor yet that other one.
The sun is not at eventide, nor morning's early light
Nearer to the sea-stream than in the mid-day bright,
And yet it seems to men she goes her wandering sphere to lave
When to her setting down she glides beneath the watery wave.
Who is there in the world will wonder not to gaze
Upon the full-moon on his way, bereft of all his rays,
When suddenly beneath the clouds he is beclad with black ?
And who of men can marvel not at every planet’s track ?
Why shine they not before the sun in weather clear and bright,
As ever on the stilly sky before the moon at night?
And how is it that many men much wondering at such
Yet wonder not that men and beasts each other hate so much ?
Right strange it is they marvel not how in the welkin oft
It thunders terribly, and then eftsoons is calm aloft,
So also stoutly dashes the wave against the shore
And fierce against the wave the wind uprises with a roar !
Who thinks of this ? or yet again, how ice of water grows,
And how in beauty on the sky the bright sun hotly glows,
Then soon to water, its own kin, the pure ice runs away;
But men think that no wonder, when they see it every day.
This senseless folk is far more struck at things it seldom sees,
Though every wise man in his mind will wonder less at these;
Unstalworth minds will always think that what they seldom see
Never of old was made before, and hardly now can be.
But further yet, the worldly men by chance will think it came,
A new thing, if to none of them had ever happ'd the same;
Silly enough!-yet if of them a man begins to thirst
For learning many lists and lores that he had scorn'd at first,
And if for him the Word of life uncovers from his wit
The cloke of that much foolishness which overshadow'd it,
Then well of old I wot he would not wonder at things so
Which now to men most worthily and wonderfully show.
To teach his ignorant people all that he himself had learnt, was ever our Great King's aim : and so in these poems, likely enough then soon to become the ballads of the poor sung from village to village by the welcome wandering minstrels, Alfred has sought to include a little piece of every kind of knowledge. Here then we have the astronomy of those times, aod meteorology, and other daily unnoticed wonders touched upon. The‘northende,' the eaxe' of the 'ruma’ sky, and all the wandering stars round it are the subject of this verse ; which ends as always with a recognition of the gracious Word of Life: and the same sort of thing is still further enlarged upon in our next metre.
XXIX. OF THE STARS AND SEASONS.
Si vis celsi jura tonantis, -Pura sollers cernere mente.
Git thu nu wilnige
Ongitan giorne ;
Heofones tunglu :
Hu hi him healdath betwuh
Dydon swa lange.
Swa hi gewenede
Thæt sio fyrene mot
Sun ne gesecan
Snaw cealdes weg,
Hợt tha moran tung
Auther othres rene
A ne gehrineth,
Ær tham that other
Ne huru se steorra
Thone wise men
Samod inid rodere,
Under eorthan grund.
He ana stent.
Nis that nan wundor;
He is wundrum fæst
Eaxe thæs roderes.
Thonne is an steorra,
Ofer othre beorht;
Cymeth eastan up
Ær thonne sunne;
Thone monna bearn,
Forthän he hælethum dæg
Bodath æfter burgum ;
Samad eallum dæg.
Is se forrynel
Fæger and sciene ;
Cymeth eastan up
Dæg and nihte,
Sunnes and mona,
Swithe gethwære ;
Swa him æt frymthe,
Ne thearft thu no wenan
Thaet tha wlitegan tung!
Ær domes daege.
Deth siththan ymbe
Swa hini gemet thinceth.-
Forthon hi he healfe
On ane ne læt
Thy laes hi othra fordyden
Ac se eac God
Softa geth werath.
Hwilum thæt drige
Drift thone wætan,
Hwylum hi gemergeth,
Cile with hæto.
I wilum cerreth eft
On up rodor,
Æl beorhta leg.
Ligeth him behindan
Befig hrusan dæl;
Theah hit hwilan ær
Eorthe sio cealde
On inna hire
Heold and hydde,
Be thæs cyninges gebode,
Cymeth geara gehwam,
Æghwyle tudor :
And se hata sumor,
Giereth and drigeth
Geond sidne grund,
Sæd and bleda:
Hærfest to honda
Ren æfter thæm,
Swylce hagal and snaw,
On wintres tid,
For thæm eorthe on fehth
Gedeth thæt hi growath.
On lencten tid,
Leaf up spryttath.
Ac se milda metod,
On eorthan fet
Eall thæt te groweth
Wæstmas on weorolde ;
Wel forth brengeth hit,
Thonne he wile,
Hefona waldend :
And eowath eft
Nimth thonne he wile
And thæt hehste good
On heah setle
Siteth self cyning ;
And thios side gesceaft
Thenath and thiowath.
He thone anwaldet h
Nis that nan wundor,
He is weroda God,
Cyning and Drihten
Cwucera geh welces ;
Æwelm and fruma
Wyrhta and sceppend
Weorulde thisse ;
Wisdom and a
Hio nane ne sendath
That eft cumath.
Gif he swa gestæththig
Ealle to nauhte
Theah tha ane lufe
Heofones and eorthan
Thæt hi thiowien
And fægniath thæt
Hiora fæder waldeth.
Nis that uan wundor;
Forthæm wuhta nan
Æfre ne meahte
Elles wunian ;
Gif hi eall mægene
Theodne mærum !
If now thou art willing the lord of the world
His highness and greatness clearsighted to see, Behold the huge host of the heavens unfurl'd
How calmly at peace with each other they be! At the first forming the Glorified Prince
Order'd it so that the sun should not turn Nigh to the bounds of the moon ever since
Nor the cold path of the snow circle burn. Nay, the high stars never cross on the skies
Ere that another has hurried away; Nor to the westward will ever uprise
Ursa the star,—so witting men say.
All of the stars set after the sun
Under the ground of the earth with the sky: That is no wonder; for only this one,
The axle, stands fastly and firmly on high.
Again, there's a star more bright than them all,
He comes from the east before the sun's birth, The star of the morning,—thus him ever call
Under the heavens the children of earth. For that he bodes day’s-dawn to men's homes
After him bringing the sun in his train, Fair from the east this forerunner comes
And glides to the west all shining again.
People rename him at night in the west,
Star of the evening then is he hight,
And when the setting sun goes to her rest,
He races her down more swift than the light.
Still he outruns her, until he appears
Again in the east, forerunning the sun, A glorious star, that equally clears
The day and the night, ere his racing be run. Thro’ the Lord's power, the sun and the moon
Rule as at first by the Father's decree; And think not thou these bright shiners will soon
Weary of serfdom till domesday shall be: Then shall the Maker of man at his will
Do with them all that is right by and bye: Meanwhile the Good and Almighty one still
Setteth not both on one half of the sky, Lest they should other brave beings unmake ;
But, evergood, He still suffers it not ; Somewhiles the dry with the water will slake,
Somewhiles will mingle the cold with the hot. Yea, by His skill, otherwiles will upsoar
Into the sky fire airily-form’d, Leaving behind it the cold heavy ore
Which by the Holy One's might it had warm’d. By the King's bidding it cometh each year
Earth in the summertime bringeth forth fruit, Ripens and dries for the soildwellers here [root.
The seed, and the sheaf, and the blade, and the
Afterward rain cometh, hailing and snow,
Wintertide weather that wetteth the world,
Hence the earth quickens the seeds that they grow
And in the lententide leaves are uncurl'd.
So the Mild Maker for children of men
Feeds in the earth each fruit to increase,
Wielder of heaven! he brings it forth then ;
Nourishing God !-or makes it to cease.
He, Highest Good, sits on his high seat
Self-king of all, and reins evermore
This his wide handiwork, made (as is meet)
His thane and his theow to serve and adore.
That is no wonder, for he is The King,
Lord God of hosts, each living soul's awe,
The source and the spring of each being and thing,
All the world's maker and wisdom and law.
Everything made,-on His errands they go,
None that he sendeth may ever turn back;
Had he not stablished and settled it so
All had been ruin and fallen to rack;
Even to nought would have come at the last :
All that is made would have melted away :
But in both heaven and earth, true and fast,
All have one love such a lord to obey,
And are full fain that their Father should reign;
That is no wonder, for else should each thing
Never have life, if they did not remain
True to their Maker, man's glorious King.
Very few words in these literally rendered metres are not pure unlatinized English,-the same as used by Alfred: even to forerunner, Forrynel,' 'wintres-tid,' and 'lencten-tid' and 'thios side gesceaft thenath and thiowath,' &c, and this wide handiwork is his thane and his theow'; &c.