Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Laus Legis"

Laus Legis
by Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

Vox Quaerentis
When the great floodgates God first sundered
Of Himself on desolation,
And round reverberate Heaven there thundered
The growl of an unleashed Creation,
What voice could cry to discord: ‘Be
Thou rampart round security?’

Vox Legis
I bade the frowning terror be
Citadelled o’er security
Yea, at my stamp she cowers, and lies
The warden-hound of Paradise.

Vox Quaerentis
Leviathan earth, with back upstood from
Chaos, shook its woody fells;
Belching a conflagrant flood from
Its Aetnean spiracles;
And where then was there found a hand
That could draw it to the land?

Vox Legis
I, with the finger of my hand,
Plucked it to the heaven-strand;
And with a twist I bound it there
Of adamantean gossamer.

Vox Quaerentis
Whose the hand that strews the manna
For the mailèd birds of God,
When congregating pennons fan a
Flicker from the flame-grassed sod,
With tinkling justle, and the clangours
Intersweeping of sweet angers?

Vox Legis
I cast the paradisal grain
In a sudden rainbow-rain;
’Mid the clangour, clangour, clangour,
Of their wings in argent anger.

Vox Quaerentis
Threating occidential rampires
When the stellar hordes alight,
Kindling their innumerous camp-fires
On the champain of the night;
What tactic ranks their rangèd wars?
Who is Captain of the stars?

Vox Legis
My nod their linked battalia wait,
Their wheeling ranks intrinsicate;
Until this rotten earth become
An apple ’twixt the jaws of doom.

Vox Quaerentis
Who hath seen the broods of lightnings
Seething in their caverned cloud,
And endured their dreadful brightenings
With lids unblenched, with front unbowed?
Whose countenance the strong thunders mutes,
When they tear Heaven up by the roots?

Vox Legis
With moveless gaze enchant I these,
And interspheral harmonies;
I bide the levins’ stroke and pause,
Or twitch the sting from their hot jaws.

Vox Quaerentis
When Eve’s blown vestures half uncover
The lucence of her moonèd breast;
And a red vortex gurges over
The foundered sun in the tossed West,
Who to the heavens’ high-seas restores
And sets it round with silver oars?

Vox Legis
I bid its banks of vibrant rays
Beat to bright froth heaven’s water-ways
Unmooring from Phosphorian shores
The long flash of those silver oars.

Vox Quaerentis
When the lady lily, slipping
Her green garment, stands up slight,
With her white limbs newly dripping
From the laving of the light;
What hand can gird her safely pure,
From her funeral mold renew her?

Vox Legis
I engird her safely pure,
From sepulchral mold renew her;
Till the dead stars that night enwombs
Burst the lids o’ their golden tombs.

Vox Quaerentis
Who hath piped to every bird
Pipings of so diverse noise?
Given each its little unknown word?
Perfumed with tone its diverse voice?
Who steers the throngs of note on note
That shake its multitudinous throat?

Vox Legis
I teach their passionate souls, small, strong
To break and curdle into song;
Allay or perturbate all notes
That swarm within their populous throats.

Vox Quaerentis
Who graved grief’s face, a signet-ring for
God’s own signet-hand to wear?
Made smooth joy a mirroring for
Grief to see her own self fair?
The fount of tears so near to rise,
Their spray perturbs the calm-mered eyes?

Vox Legis
Through me, through me, doth joyance prove
The way to grief, and grief to love;
Yea, sadness sitteth, by my arts,
A portress at the gate of hearts.

Vox Quaerentis
Who is he of dread dominion,
That, upon the peal of doom,
Weighs two firmaments of pinion,
Constellate of burning plume?
Under his foot off-pushing into flight,
The universe goes rocking down to night.

Vox Legis
That is I, oh, that is I!
By me what sprung, by me shall die:
Back to God’s stretched hand I fly,
To perch there for eternity.
The fates may gorge to their content,
To implacable desire,
On the shapes that drift asunder
Down the inundating thunder,—
Carrion hulks of continent,
Redly riven, and bleeding fire:
But I shadow with supernal
Wings of sway the fields eternal,
There my great empery feels not jars,
Though the sick heaven shall moult its stars.

Notes: Aetnean spiracles = from orifices from Mt. Aetna; rampires = ramparts; intrinsicate = intricate; levins = lightning flashes; gurges = surges; Phosphorian = fm Phorphorus, the morning star.

No comments:

Post a Comment