Pagana

viking-lindisfarne-attack

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Vobis nota canam, fratres, quae fecerat olim
ecclesiae vestrae pontificalis apex.
praesulis egregii precibus se flamma retorsit
Aedani quondam Bebban ab urbe procul.
composuit precibus Eadberht minitantia mortem
flabra, pius praesul vester et ipse pater.
magnus et ipse pater, praesul pastorque sacerdos
Cudberhtus, vestrae iam decus ecclesiae,
quanta piis precibus, Domino donante, peregit,
non opus est nostris dicere versiculis,
dum prius heroicis praeclarus Beda magister
versibus explicuit inclita gesta patris,
laudibus ac celebrat quem tota Britannia crebris,
et precibus rogitat se auxiliare piis.
hi simul atque alii, si sic praecepta tenetis
illorum fixo semper amore Dei,
instanter precibus vestrum tueantur ovile,
hostibus expulsis moenia vestra favent.
posteriora vobis meliora prioribus esse
legistis, fratres: sic quoque vestra fient,
si in domino toto speratis pectore, qui post
iam maiora solet verbera dona dare.
at tu, sanctorum praesul successor avorum,
qui pascis populum, qui loca sancta tenes,
es magno, ut video, curarum pondere pressus,
quod tam dira fuit tempore plaga tuo.
tecum plango tuos casus, carissime frater,
ora fluunt lacrimis, pectora maesta dolent.
saepius ingeminans tanto sub murmure mecum,
omnibus, heu, quam sit illa dolenda dies,
qua pagana manus, veniens a finibus orbis,
navigio subito litora nostra petit
exspoliansque patrum veneranda sepulcra decore,
nec non foedavit templa dicata Dei
atque Dei Christi mundissima vinea Sorech
vulpinis subito dentibus esca fuit,
et lapides vivi pereunt altaria circum,
quapropter cithara plus gemit ecce mea.
victima facta fuit, Domino quae ferre solebat
munera; credo, pium munus et ipsa fuit.
felix illa dies illis, si tristia nobis
pectora fecisset; sic petiere polum.
et sanctis socii facti sunt sanguine sacro,
qui se pro Christo subiciunt gladiis.
hos puto quapropter nobis non esse gemendos,
quos melior caelo vita sibi rapuit.
desine quapropter lacrimis hos plangere, praesul,
quos sibi perpetuo Christus habet socios.
teque magisque tua facias virtute paratum,
ut, quo pervenias, tristia nulla fiant.
inclita perpetuam praestat patientia vitam,
ut vox veridica iusserat ipsa Dei.
fer patienter onus Christi tu triste sacerdos,
Iob exempla dabit victor et ipse sibi,
miles et ecclesiae Paulus per mille triumphos,
qui sua non doluit vulnera mente potens.
quis sine vel miles capiat certamine palmam?
bella nefanda dabunt praemia magna suis.
per gladios, mortes, pestes, per tela, per ignes,
martyrio sancti regna beata petunt.
stemmate iam gaudet belli, qui stemmate vincit,
proelia post terrae regnat in arce poli.
si quid displicuit Christo iam cuncta videnti,
moribus in vestris corrigite hoc citius.
ut pius egregium conservet pastor ovile,
ne rapidis capiat hoc lupus insidiis.
non est quippe Deus poenis culpandus in istis,
sed nostra in melius vita ferenda cito
et pia flectenda est precibus clementia nostris,
quatenus a nobis transferat ipse plagas
atque suis clemens praestet solacia servis,
tempora concedens prospera cuncta quibus,
hymnidicas laeta laudes et mente canamus
celsithroni cuncti semper ubique simul:
laus cui, cultus, honor, virtus, benedictio, carmen,
semper in aeternum gloria magna Deo.
(Alcuin, De rerum humanarum vicissitudine et clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii 165-240)

I shall speak, brothers, of deeds familiar to you
performed by the bishop who was head of your church.
The flame drew back at the prayers of the excellent bishop
Aidan and retreated afar from the city of Bamburgh.
Eadberht, your kindly bishop and father, quelled with his prayers
the gusts of wind which were threatening his flock with death.
That great father, bishop, pastor and priest,
Cuthbert, the paragon of your church,
achieved such prodigies by his holy prayers and God’s grace
that there is no need to speak of them in my paltry verses,
since Bede, the outstanding teacher, in heroic poetry
has described the distinguished deeds of that father
whom all of Britain celebrates with constant praise
and entreates to help her with pious prayers.
May these men and others, providing you always follow
their teachings with a steadfast love of God,
zealously protect your fold with their intercession,
guard your walls and rout the enemy.
You have read, brother, that what is to come will be better for you
than what has gone before, so too it shall be with you
if you wholeheartedly place your hope in God
who after striking you often grants you greater gifts.
And you, bishop, successor to holy forebears,
who feed the people and hold sway over hallowed places,
you are oppressed, I see, by a great weight of cares,
because such a dire blow has been struck in your lifetime.
Most beloved brother, I lament your disaster,
tears flow down my cheeks, my heart grieves with unhappiness,
often groaning to myself in a speechless murmur
of how painful to everyone was that day when, alas,
a pagan warband arrived from the ends of the earth,
descended suddenly bu ship and came to our land,
despoiling our fathers’ venerable tombs of their finery
and befouling the temples dedicated to God,
and Sorech, the most pure vine of the divine Christ,
was suddenly gnawed by the teeth of foxes.
The living stones perished about the alters
and so my lute groans, as you see, all the more sadly.
She who used to make offerings to the Lord, herself became the sacrifice,
and I believe that she was a holy offering.
Happy was that day for them, heavy-hearted
though it made us, for it provided them with a route to heaven.
Those who give themselves up to the sword for Christ’s sake
have become the companions of the saints by shedding their holy blood.
And so I do not think that we should groan for these men
who have been snatched away to a better life in heaven.
Cease, then, bishop, to lament for them with your tears,
since they are Christ’s companions forever.
Make yourself more ready by your virtue,
so that there shall be no sadness in the place to which you shall come.
Distinguished patience offers eternal life,
as God’s voice, speaking the truth, predicted.
Bear Christ’s sad burden patiently, priest:
Job in his victory sets you an example,
as does Paul, the soldier of the church, through a thousand triumphs;
his mighty spirit did not grieve for his wounds.
Without them what soldier culd win the palm of victory in the struggle?
Wicked wars will provide Christ’s followers with great prizes.
Through swords, death and plague, through weapons and fire,
the saints in the martyrdom seek the realms of blessedness.
He rejoices in a noble war who wins it nobly
and after battles on earth reigns in the heights of heaven.
If anything in your behavious displeased Christ
who sees all things, correct it swiftly,
so that the pious shepherd may save the excellent fold
and the wolf not capture it by his swift snares.
For God is not to be blamed for these our punishments,
but our lives should swiftly be improved
and our prayers should appeal to His kindly mercy,
so that He take tribulation away from us,
and grant solace in His clemency to His slaves,
bestowing prosperity at all times upon them,
that with joyous minds we may all sing hymns in praise
of Him who is enthroned on high everywhere at once.
Let there be praised, worship, honour, virtue, blessing and song
and great glory to God forever and ever.
(tr. Peter Godman)

Plangis

5b

This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

Talia cur, Iesu, fieri permittis in orbe,
iudicio occulto, non ego scire queo.
vita tuis alia servatur in arce polorum,
qua pax alma viget, praelia nulla fiunt.
aurum ut flamma probat, iustos temptatio mundat,
purior utque anima sidera celsa petat.
haec est vita viro iusto temptatio tota,
auribus ut cecinit pagina sacra tuis.
quemque Pater natum puro complectit amore,
saepius huic tristi dura flagella dabit:
sic Deus omnipotens sanctos per saeva probavit
verbera, post reddens praemia laeta polo.
non vos conturbet, sancti, inconstantia, fratres,
nec mundana quidem gurgitibus variis.
sic fuit atque fiet saecli versatilis ordo,
laetitiae numquam sit cui certa fides.
qui iacet in lecto, quondam certabat in arvis
cum cervis, quoniam fessa senectus adest.
qui olim Syrano laetus recubabat in ostro
vix panno veteri frigida membra tegit.
longa dies oculos atra caligine claudit,
solivagos atomos qui numerare solent.
dextera quae gladios, quae fortia tela vibrabat,
nunc tremit, atque ori porrigit aegre cibos.
clarior ecce tuba subito vox faucibus haesit,
auribus appositis murmura lausa ciet.
quid iam plura canam? marcescit tota iuventus,
iam perit atque cadit corporis omne decus:
et pellis tantum vacua vix ossibus haeret,
nec cognoscit homo propria membra senex.
quod fuit, alter erit, iam nec erit ipse, quod ipse:
fur erit ipse suus temporibus variis.
sic ventura dies mentes mutabit et artus,
atque utinam melior proficiat meritis!
quapropter potius caelestia semper amemus
et mansura polo quam peritura solo.
hic variat tempus, nil non mutabile cernis;
illic una dies semper erit, quod erit.
quo tu, quaeso, meus mentem, rogo, dirige lector;
invenies quidquid cor cupit, ecce, tuum.
qua tua te numquam fallit spes, advena mundi,
aspicies patriam, quam tuus optat amor.
invenies veniens illic bona gaudia vitae
perpetuae, quae tu semper habere potes.
laetus in aeternum, Christo sociabere civis;
ille manet semper, tu quoque semper eris.
quid tu pertristis aurum te perdere plangis?
est auro melius lucrificare Deum.
quid species vanas lacrimosis, nate, querelis
prosequeris, haec tu cur peritura cupis?
talia iam mundi, non Christi luget amator;
sit, rogo, non aurum, sit tibi Christus amor.
ad vos, o fratres, vertam, mea cura, camenas,
alloquar et paucis vos modo versiculis.
vos regale genus, soboles veneranda parentum
sanctorum, qui vos iam genuere Deo.
illorum bibulas meritis caelestibus aures
nunc adhibete pio pectore, mente, manu,
ut sanctum precibus conservet semper ovile,
pectore concordi quod statuere Deo.
horrida non frangat vestras temptatio mentes,
impia quam vobis gessit iniqua manus,
sed magis ad studium vitae melioris abundet,
incitet et mentes semper adesse Deo.
erigit elisos, qui vulnerat atque medetur,
qui ferit atque sanat, conterit atque levat.
nocte dieque simul precibus insistite sanctis,
ut vos conservet Iesus ubique pius.
et si quae placeant concordi addiscite corde,
atque implete manu, quod pia mens cupiat.
sic tandem vobis clipeus descendit ab alto,
et Domini dextra proteget atque reget.
vos estote patrum memores, quis semper ab alto
venerat auxilium, dante Tonante, pium.
iam Moyses melius precibus quam fortis in armis,
expandens palmas proelia sacra regit.
plurima pro lacrimis sternuntur milia morte
Ezechiae regis pestiferi populi;
huic quoque ter quinos clemens Deus addidit annos,
pro prece, quam moriens fundit ab ore Deo.
(Alcuin, De rerum humanarum vicissitudine et clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii 85-164)

Why, Jesus, you allow such things to happen in the world
by Your impenetrable judgement, I cannot tell.
A different life is reserved for Your followers in highest Heaven,
where gentle peace thrives and no battles are fought.
As flame tempers gold, so the just are cleansed by their trials,
to enable their purer souls to seek the stars on high.
This life is all trial for a just man,
as the holy writings have sung in your hearing.
Fathers who hold their sons in affection and love them
will often beat them harshly.
So too omnipotent God tested the saints through savage blows,
later granting them the rewards of joy in heaven.
Holy brothers, be not bewildered by want of resolution,
nor by the inconstancy of this world’s many maelstroms.
Thus was the order of this world subject to change and so it will be,
let no one have trust in the permanence of joy.
He who once hunted in the fields for the stag
lies in bed, now that weary old age is at hand.
He who once reclined joyously on his purple couch
can scarcely cover his chill limbs with an old rag.
The long day closes in black darkness eyes
which used to count each solitary wandering mote.
Hands which once brandished swords and mighty weapons
now tremble and can barely convey their food to their mouths.
Voices, clearer than trumpets, suddenly stick in the throat
summoning up a subdued whisper for attentive listeners.
Let my poem be brief. All youth fades away,
all physical beauty perishes and falls,
only the empty skin clings with difficulty to the bones,
and when a man grows old he does not even recognise his own limbs.
What he was, another will be, nor will he continue to be what he is,
he will act as a thief from himself at different times.
And so the day to come will change minds and bodies
and may it mark better progress in good deeds!
Therefore let us always love instead the things of the higher world,
and what will remain in heaven rather than what will perish on earth.
Here time changes and you see nothing that is not mutable;
there one day will always be what it will be.
Turn your mind in that direction, I beg and entreat, my reader,
there you will find all that your heart desires.
Where your hopes never deceive you, stranger from the world,
you will recognise the homeland that you love and long for.
Arriving there you will discover the fine joys of eternal life
which are yours always to possess.
A joyous citizen, you will be joined to Christ in eternity;
He lives forever, and so will you to too.
Why do you lament so dejectedly that you have lost your gold?
To bring riches to God is better than gold.
Why do you pursue vain beauty, my son, with tearful complaints?
Why do you long for these things which shall perish?
They are grieved for by lovers of the world, not of Christ.
May Christ, not gold, be your love, I pray.
To you, my brothers for whom I care, my poem is addressed;
I shall speak to you now in a few minor verses.
You are a royal race, venerable children of holy parents
who sired you to do service to God.
Cause them to listen with ears thirsty for achievements worthy of heaven,
by calling upon them now with pious hearts, minds and hands,
so that they may always guard with their prayers the holy flock
which they created for God in a spirit of harmony.
May your resolve not be shattered by the hideous trials
that the designs of wicked and impious men have placed in your path;
may they increase your determination to pursue a better life,
urging your minds always to concentrate on God
who raises up the downcast, who both wounds and heals,
strikes and cures, crushes and uplifts.
Persevere both day and night with holy prayers,
so that in every place kindly Jesus may watch over you.
Learn with peaceful hearts whatever pleases Him
and perform all that a pious spirit might wish.
And so at length a shield will descend to you from on high
and the Lord’s right hand will protect and rule over you.
Remember the fathers to whom divine help
granted by the Almighty always came from on high.
Moses, by stretching out his hands, waged a holy war
more effectively with prayers than by the force of his weapons.
Many thousands of the baneful people
were laid low in death by the tears of the king Ezekiah,
to whose life God in His mercy added fifteen years
in answer to the prayer which he poured forth to Him as he lay dying.
(tr. Peter Godman)

Conturbat

547px-Wheel-of-fortune-12th-century-rylands-lat-ms83

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Postquam primus homo paradisi liquerat hortos,
et miseras terras exul adibat inops,
exilioque gravi poenas cum prole luebat,
perfidiae quoniam furta maligna gerit.
per varios casus mortalis vita cucurrit,
diversosque dies omnis habebat homo.
fatali cursu miscentur tristia laetis;
nulli firma fuit regula laetitiae.
nemo dies cunctos felices semper habebat,
nemo sibi semper gaudia certa tenet.
nil manet aeternum celso sub cardine caeli,
omnia vertuntur temporibus variis.
una dies ridet, casus cras altera planget,
nil fixum faciet tessera laeta tibi.
prospera conturbat sors tristibus impia semper,
alternis vicibus ut redit unda maris.
nunc micat alma dies, veniet nox atra tenebris,
ver floret gemmis, hiems ferit hocque decus.
sidereum stellis culmen depingitur almis,
quas nubes rapiunt imbriferae subito.
et sol ipse die media subducitur ardens,
cum tonat undosus auster ab axe poli.
saepius excelsos feriunt et fulgura montes,
summaque silvarum flamma ferire solet:
sic maior magnis subito saepissime rebus
eveniet casu forte ruina malo.
haec exempla dedit periturus et undique mundus,
divitiis florens, qui perit in pelago.
voce prophetarum pariter per quatuor orbis
iam praedicta vides subruta regna modo.
nobilis urbs regni et prima potentia regum
perdidit, o, Babylon Chaldea regna potens.
egregium bello et magnis te, Persa, triumphis
obruit, heu, iaculis femina sola suis.
victorem mundi medio sors, ecce, secundis
rebus Alexandrum India flore tulit.
Roma caput mundi, mundi decus, aurea Roma,
nunc remanet tantum saeva ruina tibi.
gloria Castrensis gladiis aequata remansit,
lutea pars digitum sola videtur iners.
quid te, sancta, canam David urbs inclita regis,
in mundo nullis aequiparanda locis?
in te templa Dei, cultus, laus, gloria, virtus,
in te mansit ovans sancta propago patrum.
dum tua, quis teneat lacrimas, nunc ultima cernit;
gens inimica Deo iam tua tecta tenet.
heu, Iudaea, tuis habitator in urbibus errat
rarus in antiquis, laus tua tota perit.
nobile nam templum, toto et venerabile in orbe,
quod Salomon fecit, Chaldea flamma vorat.
deicit hoc iterum Romana potentia bellis,
in cineres solvens moenia tecta diu.
ecce, relicta domus Siloe per saecla remansit,
in qua sancta Dei arca potentis erat.
sic fugit omne decus, hominis quod dextera fecit,
gloria saeclorum sic velut umbra volat.
ut sitiens liquidas frustra sibi somniat undas,
sic gazas mundi dives habebit inops.
Tempora cur tantum luctu longinqua retexam,
et veterum miseros carmine plango dies,
dum praesens dies patitur peiora per orbem,
et misera mundus nunc ditione dolet?
Asia lata gemit paganis pressa catenis,
quam premit et spoliat gens inimica Deo.
Africa iam servit, magni pars tertia mundi
pro dolor, heu, tota pestiferis dominis!
Hesperiae populus, quondam gens inclita bello,
invisis sceptris servit et ipsa modo.
quidquid habent pulchri domini vel templa decoris
vastavit, rapuit ethnica dextra sibi.
hoc generale malum relevet speciale per orbem:
quod patitur solus quisque, ferat levius.
iam domus alma Dei, princeps qua corpore pausat
Petrus, apostolica primus in arce pater,
perfidiae manibus fertur vastata fuisse,
dum pretiosa domus impia dextra tulit.
planxerat Italia Gothorum tempore tota,
vastavit templa hostis ubique Dei:
et natat effusus sanctorum sanguis in aula,
qua prius almus honor omnipotentis erat.
Hunorum gladios ter ternis senserat annis
Gallia tota suis exspoliata bonis.
ecclesias, urbes, vicos, castella, sacratas
cum populis pariter ignis edax rapuit.
(Alcuin, De rerum humanarum vicissitudine et clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii 1-84)

After the first man had left the gardens of Paradise
and entered the lands of misery, needy and banished,
in burdensome exile he and his children began to pay the penalty
for the wicked act of treacherous theft he had committed.
Human life passes rapidly through many sorts of disasters
and every man has had different kinds of days.
In the course of fate sadness will be mixed with joy;
no one has firm control over delight.
No one has had success every day,
no one always enjoys predictable happiness.
Nothing remains eternal under the tall dome of the sky,
all things change at different times.
One day smiles, the next laments a catastrophe,
no stability is granted by a token of luck.
Unkindly chance always throws sadness and prosperity together,
as the sea waves return with their ebb and flow.
Soft daylight gleams one moment, then comes the darkness of black night;
spring blossoms with buds whose beauty winter destroys.
The heights of heaven are picked out with fine stars
which the rain clouds suddenly snatch from view,
and the burning sun hides too in the middle of the day,
when the south wind thunders with watery torrents from high heaven.
Lightning most often hits the loftiest hills
and flames usually strike the tops of the woods:
in this way greater ruin most often comes suddenly
to great things by chance and by ill fortune.
Everywhere the world, doomed to perish, teaches this lesson,
it flourishes with wealth and is lost in the seas.
Through the four corners of the earth you can now witness
the collapse of kingdoms foretold by the worlds of the prophets.
The noblest city in the realm and chief bulwark of its kings,
mighty Babylon, alas, lost the kingdom of Chaldea.
The Persian who excelled in war and won great triumphs,
was brought down by a solitary woman with her darts.
Envious fate cut off Alexander, conqueror of the world,
in the prime of his life and at the height of his success.
Of Rome, capital and wonder of the world, golden Rome,
only a barbarous ruin now remains.
Its military glory has been levelled by the sword,
and only a lifeless part of its muddy rooftops is visible.
What should I now sing about the holy and excellent city of King David
to which no place in the world can be compared?
In it was God’s church, worship, praise, glory, virtue;
in it the holy children of the fathers lived joyously.
How shall any man restrain his tears when he looks upon its end,
for a people hostile to God now holds sway over its dwellings?
Alas, Judaea, few are the inhabitants who wander
in your ancient cities; all praise of you has died.
The noble temple, revered throughout the world,
which Solomon built, the Chaldean flame devoured,
the power of Rome once again demolished it in battle,
reducing its walls and houses to ashes.
For centuries now has stood derelict the house of Shiloh
in which the holy ark of mighty God was kept.
So it is that all beauty made by the hand of man flees away,
and the glory of the ages flies by like a shadow.
As the thirsty man vainly dreams of flowing waters for himself,
so the pauper hopes to become rich and enjoy the world’s wealth.
Why should I only deal mournfully with distant times
and lament the miserable days of the ancients in my poetry,
when throughout the world the present age endures worse things
and the earth now grieves in doleful subjection?
Broad Asia groans, oppressed by the chains of pagans,
ground down and despoiled by a people hostile to God.
Africa, the third part of the great world, is now enslaved;
she is entirely given up—alas—to baneful masters!
The people of Spain, once a race excellent at warfare,
are now enslaved by the hands of a power they hate.
All the lords’ beautiful possessions, all the finery in the churches,
the hands of pagans have ravaged and seized for themselves.
May this general suffering reduce the grief of individuals in the world:
may each man bear more lightly what he suffers alone.
Now the sweet house of God in which rests the body of Peter,
the father pre-eminent among the ranks of the apostles,
is said to have been devastated by treacherous hands,
when the impious laid their grasp on the precious objects in the church.
The whole of Italy lamented in the time of the Gothic invasions,
when the enemies of God laid waste to the temples everywhere,
and the blood of the saints was shed in waves in the halls
where due respect was once paid to omnipotent God.
For nine years the whole of Gaul suffered at the swords
of the Huns, despoiled of its goods,
while hallowed churches, towns, villages and castles
and the peoples in them were devoured by the ravening fire.
(tr. Peter Godman)