Homiletic Fragment I (from the Vercelli Book)

                              …. pain comes,
many and manifold, within the joys of men.
One earl rebukes another from the back,
with insults and with grudging words,
yet speaks fairly from the front—
He holds that fault nevertheless inside his heart,
a hoarded treasure unclean. (1-6)

Then the Lord of Hosts shall be witness to these blots.
Therefore the knowing man says:
“Grant me not, O Lord of Hosts, to be counted
among the sinful, in the destruction of torments,
nor must you abandon me in this life
among the workers of deceit,
those who use very smooth speech
yet in their spirit-box firmly hold onto grim thoughts,
so their expectations do not go forth,
no pledges upon their lips.” (7-15a)

Woe will be inside their heads,
minds spattered with sins, mixed up in soreness,
filled up with faults, though he reveals
a fair word from the outside. Singular
they are, just bees bear delicious food
together, but a venomous tail they have in hind—
honey their mouths, a pleasant feast.
They sometime wound a man sorely with their stings,
when he comes into their hall. (15b-23)

These lying men are just like this,
who speak out troth with their tongues
in endearing words, yet are thinking criminally,
when they betray the bound nearest them,
they have the savor of honey in their vows,
smooth words of peace, within their mind
through the devil’s craft, there are wounded secretly. (24-30)

So now is this middle-earth, mixed up in evil,
waning and waxing. The elder weaken,
erring and vexed by day and by night,
the mercy with the wickedness, trusting in their power,
pursuing their envy, sowing their guile,
malice abundantly. None cherish in their souls,
except a very few, to keep their peace truthfully,
a ghostly affection, just as god commanded. (31-39)

Therefore he chooses hope altogether,
the winsome world, he who is not wise,
perspicacious, crafty-witted in counsel of the soul.
Let us expect and hope for the better way,
now that we know our remedy, so that we
are allowed to keep the heavenly light
upwards amid the angels, the comfort of souls—
then God wishes to work the end of this earthly life! (40-47)


Homiletic Fragment II (from the Exeter Book)

Rejoice now in your spirit and thrive in the satisfaction
of your Lord, and rear up your glory,
hold onto your hoard-lock, bind your mind fast
with your soul-close. Many are unknowing
of trusted friends, sometimes they cry,
so fares the world, hurrying in showers
and performing creation. Belief is singular,
singular the living, singular is baptism—
lonely is the Eternal Father, lonely is the Origin of People,
who shaped this earth, its multitudes and its joys. (1-11a)

Glory has waxed afterwards, though this loaned world
has stood for a long time, covered by shadows,
covered by a helmet, concealed well under trees,
embraced over by darkness—
afterwards the youth grow up
a maiden strong-souled among mankind—
there likened…
in the hoarded vessel, the holy spirit,
bright in…  shining,
he was the origin-point of every light. (11b-20)


[Muir gives the final lines of ASPR’s “The Partridge” as “Homiletic Fragment III” — these lines are found with “The Partridge” on the “Shorter Poems” page.]