Christ II (aka The Ascension)

 by Cynewulf


Seek now eagerly into the secret mysteries
of the soul, reputable man, by the skill of your mind
and the wisdom of your heart, so that you will know
the truth about how it happened—when the Almighty,
became conceived through the state of virginity,
after he selected the safe haven within Mary,
greatest of maidens, most famous of womankind—
that angels did not show themselves there,
wearing brilliant raiment when that nobleman arrived,
the boy in Bethlehem. Heralds were ready,
who revealed by the cry of their voices to the shepherds,
speaking of true rejoicing, that the Son of the Measurer
was made flesh in middle-earth, in Bethlehem. (440-53a)

However, it does not record in books how they revealed
themselves there in shining garb in that perfect moment,
as they soon did when the famous Lord, the Glory-Fast Prince
assembled his body of thanes to Bethany, the dearest band.
They did not despise the teacher’s words on that precious day,
their Giver of Treasure. At once they made themselves ready,
heroes with their lord, unto the holy city, where
the Dispenser of Glory made manifest many tokens,
the Helmet of Majesty, in wordful mysteries
before he mounted up, the Only-Begotten Son,
Child evenly eternal with his own Father,
after forty counts of days then he arose
out of death from the earth. (453b-67)

Then he had fulfilled, as was sung before,
the words of the prophets throughout the world,
by his sufferings. His thanes praised him,
celebrating dear-worthily the Owner of Life,
the Father of First-Creation. He gave them
fair rewards after that, his beloved companions,
and spoke these words, the Wielder of Angels,
hurrying, Mighty Lord, to his father’s realm: (468-75)

“Rejoice in your souls!
I shall never depart,
but I shall attend you
all with love always,
and give to you my strength
and dwell with you
forever and evermore,
so that there will never be
a want for God
through my grace. (476-80)

“Travel now throughout
this entire enormous earth,
beyond the wide waves,
and reveal to the multitudes
preach and pronounce
your bright belief,
and baptize the people
beneath the stars above. (481-84)

“Turn towards heathen people,
and shatter their idols,
chop them down and humiliate them,
wash clean their hostility,
to sow peace
in the hearts of men
by the power of my might.
I shall abide among you,
as a comfort to you from here,
and hold for you my peace
my strength fixed as foundations
in every place you go.” (485-90)

Then suddenly was a loud voice heard
upon the breeze. A throng of heavenly angels,
a shining squadron, heralds of glory flocked
crowding down. Our King departed
through the temple roof where they looked,
those who still remained in the trace of their beloved
in that place of assembly, his chosen thanes. (491-97)

They saw their Lord mount up to the heights,
the God-Child from the ground. Their minds were sad,
hot about the heart, thoughts mourning
for they would never again be allowed
to see their loved lord any longer under the skies.
The heralds hove up a song, of the kindred above,
praising that noble one, celebrating
the Origin of Life, rejoicing in the light
which illuminated the head of the Savior. (498-505)

They saw two all-bright angels beautifully
agleam with adornments about that First-Child,
the Glory of Kings. They called down from the heights
with wrought words across the multitude of men
with a bright voice: “What are you waiting for,
people of Galilee in a circle? You may clearly
see the True Lord travelling into the skies—
the Owner of Victories will ascend upwards from here
to his new home, the Start of Nobility,
with his company of angels, the Origin
of Humanity, to the homeland of his Father.” (506-16)



“With such a company, we wish to ferry
the Lord across the vaults of heaven
to the bright city with this blissful band,
the best and most noble of all the Sons of Victory,
who you all look upon here and see
glistening with adornments in comfort—
even though he will seek out the earth again
with an enormous army, and the he will judge
the folk’s every deed committed under the heavens.” (517-26)

Then was the Warden of Glory taken upwards
over the roofs, the King of the High-Angels,
into the clouds, the Helmet of the Holy.
Joyous expectation was renewed—
bliss in the cities, by the coming of that Child.
Victory-exulting, he was seated at the right hand
of his own Father, the Eternal Origin of Blessings. (527-32)

Then they departed to go to Jerusalem
heart-eager heroes, into that holy city,
sad-minded, from where they had just seen
God rising up with their own eyes,
their Giver of Good. There was a ring of cries—
covered over by grief. Their true love
was hot about their hearts, chests welling within,
breast-boxes burning. The magnificent thanes
all awaited there ten more nights the promise
of their Lord, as the Owner of the Skies
had commanded them himself before
the Sovereign of All had ascended upwards
into the keeping of heaven. (533-45a)

They came down to the noblemen’s Giver
of Blessings, the shining angels—
that is well attested, as the Scriptures say—
that the all-bright angels came down to him
in that holy season in a great mass,
draining from the sky. Then the great feast
was held in glory. That behooved well
that his thanes entered into that bliss,
covered by brightness, into the Lord’s city,
an army shining beautifully. They made welcome
to the Granter of the People’s Life
upon his lofty throne, the Wielder of Heaven,
the Wielder of all Adornment,
of middle-earth and the Power Majestic. (545b-57)

The Holy One has bereaved hell of its thralls,
who succumbed to the unrighteous warfare
of years gone by. Now the overthrown,
oppressed and made captive in living torment,
shall be deprived of their glory in the depths of hell,
the devil’s champions. Nor can his opposing foes
find success in war, in the tossing of weapons,
since the King of Glory, Helmet of Heaven’s Realm,
has made his battle against his olden adversaries
with one single power—there he drew forth
most of their captives from their imprisonment
in the fiend’s city, a innumerable people—
this same crowd which you all stare upon here! (558-70)

Now the Preserver of Souls wishes to seek out now,
the giving-throne of spirits, God’s Own Child,
after the play of war. Now you readily know
who this lord is who leads forth this army,
Now go forth glad-minded to meet your friends boldly! (571-76a)

O Gates of Heaven, open up!
The Wielder of All wishes to enter into you,
the king into his citadel with no small company,
the Author of Olden-Works, leading his people
into the Joy of All Joys, who he seized
from the devil by means of his own victory.
Peace shall be shared by angels and men alike
henceforth and forever, to the extent of life.
A pledge is created between men and God together,
a ghost-holy troth—love, the hope of life,
and all the joys of light. (576b-85)

Hey! We have now heard how the Child of Salvation
through his coming hither has given us good health again,
liberating and defending his people under the skies,
the famous Son of the Measurer, so that all of mankind
now living may now choose while they abide here
hell’s abasement or heaven’s aggrandizement,
the light of lights or the hateful nights,
the majestic thrack or the shadows’ wrack,
with the joy of the Lord or the devil’s agonized sword,
punishment with wrath or glory with grace
life or death, just as it is more precious to him
to perform, so long as flesh and spirit dwell in the world.
May the glory and gracious thought of the majesty
of the Trinity endure without end! (586-99)



It is worthwhile that the human tribes should speak
thanks to the Lord for his every glory, which have
before and since have been performed
through the mysteries of manifold might.
He has given us food and plenty of possessions,
wealth across these wide lands and pleasant weather
under the sheltering skies. The sun and the moon
most noble of all the stars which are shining,
the candles of heaven, for the heroes on earth. (600-08)

The dew and rain falls, waking glory for the children
of men to nourish their souls,  increasing their share
of earthly wealth. Therefore every one of us must
speak our thanks and praise for our Prince,
and indeed for the healing that he gave to us,
our hopeful joy, when he transformed our misery
at his ascension, the sadness which we suffered before,
and he interceded for the dwellers of nations, the King Sole-Born,
with his own father, in the greatest of feuds. (609-18a)

The terrible sentence he turned around again,
peace for every soul, which was sung earlier
with an angry purpose to sorrow all humanity:
“I had created you upon this earth, and there
you must dwell in constant struggle, suffering
my vengeance, and to the delight of fiends,
sing a song of hurrying hence and towards that same
death you shall soon experience—welling with worms,
and to that place you must be forced to seek
the fires of punishment, away from the earth.” (618b-26)

Listen! This prince has made our lot easier
when he assumed the limbs and the lineaments
of the stock of mankind! Since the Son of Measurer
wished to climb up to the homeland of angels,
the God of Armies, his desire came as a help
for us in our humiliation in that holy season. (627-32)

Job recited a song about this, as he know how,
praising the Helmet of Men, celebrating the Healer,
and with his peaceable love conceived of a noble name
for the Son of the Sovereign, naming him a bird,
which the Jews never could comprehend
in the strength of the Godhead’s spirit.
This fowl’s flight was secretive, concealed
from his enemies on earth, who had dark thoughts
in their breasts and hearts of stone.
They did not wish to perceive these bright tokens
which the Free-Child of God performed before them,
many and manifold, throughout middle-earth. (633-44)

And so the faithful fowl tested his wings in flight—
sometimes he sought the homeland of angels,
that famous home, proud and secure in his powers,
and sometimes he swooped down upon the earth,
through the grace of his spirit seeking the world’s corners,
venturing into this realm. About this, the prophet sang:
“He was heaved upwards in the embrace of angels,
in the plentitude of his great puissance,
high and holy, over the majesty of heaven.” (645-53)

They could not know then of that bird’s flight,
who made denial of his climbing up, and did not believe
that the Origin of Life was taken up in the shape of man,
holy from the earth, across the Power Majestic.
He who shaped the world honored us then,
the Ghostly Son of God, and gave to us his grace,
eternal foundations upwards among the angels,
and also sowed and established the manifold
wisdom of the heart throughout the minds of men. (654-63)

To some he sends wise articulation into the memory
of his mind through the aspiration of his mouth,
noble perception. One man can sing and tell of all things
in whom the craft of wisdom is committed in his soul.
Some can vibrate the harpstrings with his fingers
very well and loudly before other men, touching the mirth-wood.
Some can reckon aright the laws of the people of God.
Some can tell of the mysterious orbit of the stars,
the broad creation. Some can craftily write statements of words.
To some he grants success in warfare in their battles,
when the spear-corps and shooters send the flickering
of wrought missiles over the covering of locked shields.
Some very bravely can drive the swimming wood
over the salty sea, stirring the agitation of the ocean.
Some can climb the highest and steepest of trees.
Some can create weapons, the sword of steel.
Some know the course of plains, the wide-spreading ways.
So the Sovereign dispenses his many gifts to us
on earth, the God-Child. He does not wish to give
all his wisdom of spirit to any one man,
lest boasting over others should harm him
due to his unique talents. (664-85)



Thus Almighty God, the King of All Creatures craftily
honors the stock of the earth with bountiful gifts—
likewise he gives the fruits to the blessed in heaven,
rearing eternal peace for angels and men forever.
So he worthies his workmanship.
So the prophet spoke about this, saying that
the holy gems were heaved up on high,
the bright stars of heaven, the sun and the moon.
What may those gems so splendid be but God himself?
He is the sooth-fast rays of the sun, a noble burning
for both angels and the dwellers on the earth.
Over middle-earth the moon radiates, a ghostly light,
so the church of God brightly shines through
truth and righteousness united.
So it says in the book, after the God-Child ascended
from the earth, the King of All Cleanness,
then the church of the law-dutiful here endured
persecution within the power of heathen princes.
Those sin-scathers heeded not the truth,
the requirements of the soul, yet they broke and burned
the temple of God, wreaking bloodshed, hating and slaying. (686-709a)

Still the glory of thanes of God was realized
through the soul’s grace, after the mounting up
of the Eternal Lord. Solomon sang about this,
the son of David, readily wise in verses,
the sovereign of human nations, and spoke
these words of spiritual mystery: “It is known
that it shall come to pass—that the King of Angels,
the Measurer of such great power, shall jump the mountains,
leaping the tall hills, surmounting the dales and knolls
with his glory, loosing the world and all
its inhabitants, by those noble springing.” (709b-19)

The first leap was when he went inside that woman,
the virgin undefiled, and there took on mannish shape
without marring so that he could become a comfort
to all earth-dwellers. The second leap was his birth
as a child, when he was placed in a manger,
in the form of a baby wound up in cloth,
majesty of all majesties. The third leap was
the rushing of the Heavenly King, when he climbed
onto the Cross, the Father, the Comfort of Souls.
The fourth leap was into his grave, when he gave up
that tree, fast in his earthen hall. The fifth leap
was when he humiliated the heap of hell-dwellers
in the living torment, bound the king within,
the enemies’ intercessor, in flaming fetters,
malignant, where he lies to this day fastened
with chains incarcerated and sealed in his sins.
And the sixth leap was the Holy One’s playing of hope,
when he ascended into the heavens into his ancient people.
Then was the thronging of angels become blithe
with jubilant celebrations in that holy season.
They saw then Glory Majestic, the Origin of Noblemen,
seeking his homeland, the brilliant halls.
Then the games of that Noble Son became
a perpetual delight to the dwellers of the blessed city. (720-43)

Thus here on the ground the Eternal Child of God
jumps leaping across the lofty hillsides,
mindful over the mountains. So we humans must
leap our hearts in jumps through our thoughts—
from power to power, aspiring to glories—
so that we may climb up to the highest roof
with our holy works, where there is hope and bliss,
the notable throng of teeming servants.
There is a great need for us to seek our salvation
with our hearts, where we eagerly believe
with our spirits, that the Son of Health will rise upwards
with our body-home from here, the Living God. (744-55)

Therefore we must always renounce empty lusts,
the wounds of sin, and celebrate the better part.
We should keep the Father as our comfort,
almighty in the heavens. He dispatches his heralds
holy from the heights from there to here,
and they shield us against the showers of hideous arrows,
sent by scathers, lest the devils work our wounding
when the crime-bearer sends forth bitter missiles
into the people of God from his braided bow.
Therefore we must always hold watch fixedly
and warily against the devil’s distant shots,
lest the poisonous point should sink in
under the bone-locks, a bitter war-missile,
the sudden trap of our foes—
and that would be a perilous injury, a most ghastly wound. (756-71a)

Let us shelter ourselves then, so long as we keep
a home on this earth—let us entreat the Father
for peace, beg the Child of God and the Blissful Spirit
to shield us against the weapons of the harmers,
the hateful deceiving devices. He who gave us life,
limbs, body, and soul. Eternal praise be to him
all glory in heaven, world without end. (771b-78)



None of the kindred of man on earth needs dread
these diabolical arrows, spear-paths of the fearsome,
if God shields him, the Lord of Multitudes.
It is near to that judgment that we must acquire
our appropriate recompense just as we have burdened
ourselves with our deeds through the course of our lives,
throughout the broad earth. Books speak to us
how in principio the Humble One climbed up
into middle-earth, the Gold-Hoard of Every Power,
into the female’s fathoming embrace the Free-Born Son
of God, holy from the heights. Indeed I believe for myself
and dread as well the more severe judgment
when the Prince of Angels arrives once again,
I who have not held close what my Savior
has commanded me in his books. For this I must
look into terror, the wrack of sin, for this I shall make
a true account—where many will be conducted
to the meeting before the Eternal Deemer. (779-96)

When the keen ones (C) quake, hearing the King,
the Righter of the Heavens, affirm and swear a harsh word
upon those who listened only weakly to him in the world,
so long as they could have discovered their comfort
most easily through the blowing horn (Y) and its urges (N).
There must be many affrighted waiting there,
weary in that terrible place, for what he wishes to allow them
according to their deeds, what wrathful torments.
The joy (W) in mortal adornments shall be departed.
Our (U) share of living joy was long encircled by flooding waters (L)
and our wealth (F) on earth. Then all those trappings
must burn in the pyre and brightly shall the swift red flame rage—
quickly it shall race throughout the wide world.
The plains will crumble, the city-steads burst.
The torches shall be on the move, kindling
the ancient treasures without remorse,
the most greedy of spirits, that men once kept
so long as glory was theirs on the earth. (797-814)

Therefore I wish to instruct every one of my beloved friends
so that he should not neglect his soul’s needs,
nor affirm in his boasting that, so long as God wishes,
he is allowed to dwell here in the world,
faring forth, soul united with body in its guest-house.
Every man must eagerly take care in the days of his life
to remember that the Wielder of Powers came to us
mildly in the beginning through the angel’s word.
But when he comes again, he shall be grim, dreadful,
yet righteous. The skies will be stirred
and the greater part of middle-earth then will quake.
The brilliant King shall pay them back who have lived
on earth with sluggish action, stained with sins—
afterwards they must long receive wrathful retribution
in the fire’s bath, beaten around by its welling. (815-31)

Then the powerful King shall come to the moot,
in his greatest majesty. The loud human-terrors
will be heard along with a heavenly clatter
a wailing of mourners—carefully they will lament
before the face of the Eternal Deemer,
those who trusted weakly in their works.
There will be revealed a greater terror
than ever was heard on the earth from its early inception.
There will be for every one of the sin-workers
in that quickly approaching hour something
much more dear than all this loaned creation,
where he himself in that victorious crowd
can be concealed when the First of the Armies,
Start of Noblemen, judges them all,
both the beloved and the despised,
rewards according to right, for every person.
There is a great need for us to ponder eagerly
our soul’s beauty before that moment
of awful terror in that dying time. (832-49)

At this moment it is most like this:
that we are sailing across the cold waters in ships,
beyond the broad sea in steeds of the deep,
ferried in flood-wood. The course of water is perilous,
waves beyond measure on which we bounce here
throughout this fragile existence, the windy waters
over the deep ways. Our way of living is harsh
before we had sailed to land over the stormy spine.
Then help comes to us, that haled us to health in harbor,
the Spirit-Son of God, and gave to us grace
so that we could recognize over the sides of the ship
where we must moor our ocean-horses,
the olden chargers of the waves, with our anchors fast. (850-63)

Let us plant our hopes in that harborage,
that the Sovereign of the Skies opened up for us,
holy from the heights, when he ascended to heaven. (864-66)




  • Absolutely love it. Very well done indeed. Quite an achievement. I am teaching a master\’s class in OE Lang and Lit. This allows me to give them some of the lesser known poems in translation, while we spend the other half of each class working on grammar and reading smaller chunks of original works.

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