I have learned that there is the best of lands far from here,
in eastern places, according to the report of men.
This corner of the world cannot be reached by folk-rulers,
many across middle-earth, for it is withdrawn beyond them
the sin-makers, by the might of the Measurer. Lovely is this whole land,
blessed with joys and with the fairest odors of the earth.
Unique is that well-watered realm, noble that wright, proud
and abounding in might, he who established that ground.
Often there is open the door of heaven’s empire and revealed
to the blessed the bliss of singing. That is a joyful place,
the groves green and roomy beneath the heavens.
Neither the rain or the snow can spoil it a bit—
not the frost’s blowing nor the fire’s throwing,
not the hail’s tumbling nor the rime’s fumbling,
not the heat of the sun nor the everlocking cold,
not the warm weather nor winter’s shower—
but that realm endures, prosperous and absolute. (1-20a)

The noble province is blown with blossoms.
Neither peaks nor steep hills stand there, nor stony cliffs
hang over the heights, as they do here among us,
not caves nor clefts nor carvings in the hill-sides,
rills neither ridges, nor any kind of rough scarps
but that worthy plain ever burgeons under the skies,
increases its pleasures. That bright land is higher
than the surrounding earth by twelve fathoms—
as is revealed to us by the report of the wise,
the prophets through the wisdom of the Scriptures—
than any of these bright mountains that here among us
hang over the heights under the stars of heaven. (20b-32)

Prosperous is that victory-plain, shining the sunny groves,
joyful the wooded forests. The flowers never fail,
the bright blossoms, but the trees ever stand green,
just as God commanded. The woods in winter and summer
are alike, hanging with fruit. The leaves under the breeze
are never corrupted, nor does the flame ever harm them—
as it was before the change of the world occurred.
When the majesty of the water, the sea-flood covered
all of middle-earth of old, the circle of the world
so that noble plain, altogether perfect, stood steadfast
against the heaving way of the rough waves
blessed, unspoiled, through the mercy of God.
It endures blossoming until the coming of the blaze,
of the judgment of the Lord, when the death-halls,
the shadowy coffers of men, become unclosed. (33-49)

There are no hated foes there in that land,
neither weeping nor pain, no grief-signs at all,
old age nor misery nor the goading of death,
neither the life’s losing nor the hateful coming,
no sin nor strife nor sore-wrack’s knife,
not the struggle of poverty nor the want of prosperity,
not sorrow nor sleep nor the sad grave—
neither storming snow nor change of weather,
harsh under the heavens, nor the stern frosts,
with icicles cold and chilly crashes down upon any. (50-59)

There neither hail nor frost falls to the earth,
nor windy cloud; no waters tumble down there,
troubled by the breeze, but there streams of water,
wondrously intricate, springs forth in wells,
in fair surgings of flood. The ground is slaked
with winsome waters from the midst of the woods.
Then every month from the turves of the earth
they break forth sea-cold, cross every grove,
gloriously at times. That is the order of the Lord:
that twelve times a year that majestic land
overflows with the delights of watery floods. (60-70)

There are groves hanging with blossoms,
fair fruits which never fade there —
holy beneath the heavens, treasures of the forest.
The flowers never fall fallow to the ground there
from the lovely wood-beams, but there wondrously
the boughs in the trees are always bearing fruit again—
at every season the brightest bowers stand
on the green grassy plain, joyously adorned
with power of the Holy One. The form of the forest
is never broken. There a sacred odor abides
throughout that delightful land. It will never be changed
ever forever, not before the Wise One who shaped it
at its origin finishes his ancient work. (71-84)



That wood is watched over by a wondrously fair
fowl, strong of feathers, which is called the Phoenix.
There that lone-dweller observes that land,
brave-minded of bearing. Death shall never harm him
in that desired land, so long as the world remains.
He must behold the course of the sun
and come toward God’s candle,
the gem of gladness, eagerly attending it,
when up comes the most noble of stars
over the waved sea, gleaming from the east,
the Father’s olden work dazzling with jewels,
the bright token of God. The stars are hidden,
departed beneath the waves towards the west,
obscured in the daybreak and the dark night
descends dusky. Then the strong-winged bird
proud in its wandering, in the mountain stream
under the sky, eagerly makes witness over the water
when the light of the heavens comes up from the east
gliding over the broad expanse of the sea. (85-103)

So the noble and beauty-fast bird dwells
by the welling streams at the fountain-head,
where he, glory-blessed, bathes himself in that brook
twelve times before the coming of that beacon
the sky’s candle, and always as often
from that delightful surging spring
the sea-cold water preserves him with every bath.
Afterwards the high-minded bird heaves himself
onto a lofty tree after his swim-play,
and from there he can most easily behold
the journey on the east-ways, when the taper of the skies
sparkles clearly over the churning waves, the light’s beam. (104-16a)

These lands are adorned, the world beautified,
after the gem of glory illumines the ground
over the ocean’s course throughout middle-earth,
the most famous of the stars. At once, as the high sun
overtops the salty streams, so the pale grey bird
turns from his tree, bright from the bowers,
venturing by wing a swift flight on the breeze,
keening and trilling towards the heavens. (116b-24)

Then the voice of the bird will be so fair, the breast-hold
so inspired, exultant in many joys—
wonderfully weaving his bright song with song-craft,
when the Child of Man, heard under heaven,
afterwards the High-King, the Craftsman of Glory,
ever founded the world, the heaven and the earth.
The sound of that music will be more sweet
and more fair than all other powers of singing
and more winsome than every other melody.
Nor can trumpets or horns exceed its beauty—
not the strain of harps nor the voice of men
in any way on earth, not organs, not the strains of melody
nor the feathers of the swan nor any joyful thing
that the Lord made to cheer men in this miserable world. (125-39)

So he sings and entunes, blissful and joyous
until the sun is rested in the southern sky.
Then he falls quiet and pays heed, lifting
his brave head, wise of thoughts, shaking
his flight-swift feathers thrice—the bird is silent.
Always he measures the hours twelve times
by day and night. So they are ordained
by this denizen of the grove, so that he
might brook them there, the field at his favor,
and enjoy their wealth, their life and their bliss,
the ornaments of the land until he,
warden of the wooded copse knows
one thousand winters of this life. (140-52)

Then the old bird, grey of feathers will be
burdened, aged with years, departing
the green earth, the joy of fowl, the flowering land,
and then it seeks out a broad realm of middle-earth,
where no humans dwell, no yard or homeland.
There he assumes the rulership foremighty
over the kindred of the birds, exalted among their kind,
and for a space abides with them in the wastelands.
Then, strong in flight, he seeks the west, weighed
down by winters, to fly there swiftly by wings.
The birds throng about around their lord.
Each one wishes to be the thane and servant
of their famous lord, until they must visit
the Syrians’ land in the greatest band. (153-67a)

There the pure bird hurries away from them
abruptly, so that he may take hold of a secret refuge
in a woody bower, a deserted place, hidden
and concealed from many men. There he dwells
and inhabits a tall tree in the forest, fixed by the roots
under the roof of heaven. Men call that one the Phoenix
on the earth, from the name of those birds.
He has granted that tree, the Glory-Mighty King,
the Measurer of Mankind, as I have heard,
which is alone of all lofty trees on the earth-way,
blossoming with the brightest. Nor can anything bitter
injure it with evils, but it is shielded always,
dwelling unscathed, so long as the world stands. (167b-81)



When the wind lies still, the weather will be fair and
the holy gem of the heavens will shine so clear,
the clouds shall disperse, the raging waters will stand still,
every storm will be calmed under the skies,
the warm weather-candle sparkles from the south,
giving light to the hosts of men on earth,
then that bird begins to build in the boughs, to prepare a nest.
There will be a great need that he be allowed to turn hastily then
towards life, to assume a younger spirit through the surge of mind.
Then the sweetest herbs are gathered from far and near,
winsome and wooded fruits too, all brought to that bird’s abode,
every one with a noble scent, the most delightful herbs,
which the Glory-King, the Father of Every Beginning,
created across the earth as a blessing for the kindred of men,
sweet under the skies. (182-99a)

There that bird bears bright ornaments within the tree.
There the wild fowl builds his house in the wilderness
over that high tree, lovely and fair, and dwells there
himself in that sun-filled room, and surrounds himself without,
body and feather in that leafy shade, on every side
with blessed scents and the earth’s most noble blossoms.
He sits there eager for a journey. When the gem of the skies
in a summer season, hottest with the sun, shines across the shadows
and performs its destiny, surveying the world,
then the bird’s house becomes heated by the glowing sky.
The herbs are warmed, the house of desire steams
with sweet fragrance, then in flames that bird burns
through the grip of the fire amid its nest. (199b-215)

The pyre will be kindled. Then the torch engulfs
the life-dreary house, the fierce one hurries,
the fallow flame feeds upon it and the Phoenix burns,
wise with passing years. Then the fire consumes
the loaned life-house—it shall go traveling,
the fated soul-hoard, when flesh and bone
are lighted by the corpse-fire. (216-222a)

Nevertheless the spirit soon comes for him,
renewed after the appointed time, after those ashes
begin to lock together after the flame’s wrack,
contracting into a ball. Then the brightest nest
will be purified, the brave house burned out
by the pyre—the body will grow cool,
the bone-vessel broken, and the flames die down.
Then in the fire something like an apple
soon is found in the ashes, and from that grows
a worm, wonderfully fair, as if led forth
out of an egg, glorious from the shell.
Then it grows in the shadows, so that it first
appears like an eagle’s chick, a fair bird in the making.
Then further still, it flourishes in delight
so that it bears something like the form of an old eagle,
and after that, adorned with feathers such as he was
at the start, blossoming brightly. (222b-240a)

Then his flesh becomes whole, soon made afresh,
sundered from his sins—somewhat similarly,
just as a man brings home the fruits of the earth
at harvest-time for his sustenance, a joyful meal,
before the winter comes, in the ripe season,
lest the rain’s shower spoil them under the sky.
There they find a support, the joy of food-taking
when the frost and snow covers the earth
with its overwhelming power and winter-weeds.
From those fruits shall the fortunate weal of men
soon be led forth through the nature of grain,
whose pure seeds were sown before.
Then the sun’s gleam in the springtime, the sign of life,
awakens the world’s treasures, so that those fruits
are again born by their own nature, the adornments of the earth. (240b-57a)

So the fowl, aged after its years, renewed in youth,
becomes clothed in flesh. He eats no food at all,
meat on this earth, except the bit of nectar he tastes,
which often falls in the midst of the night.
By this means the proud bird feeds his flesh,
until he soon seek his own lands, his ancient home. (257b-64)



Then the bird, proud in feathers, will grow amidst the herbs.
His spirit will be new and young, full of grace,
when he gathers his limb-crafty body from the earth,
that which the flame had destroyed before,
the remains of the fire, cunningly collected
the moldering bones after the pyre’s cruel grasp
and then he soon brings together bone and cinder,
the remains of the pyre, and then that dead corpse
is adorned with herbs, fairly ornamented.
Then he soon becomes eager to seek his own home.
Then he grasps the fire’s leavings with his feet,
seizing them with his talons, and soon his homeland,
his sun-bright abode, he seeks delightfully,
that blessed native country. All is renewed,
the soul and the feather-home, just as he was at the start,
when first God made him in that noble plain, triumph-fast. (265-82a)

The Phoenix brings his own bones to that place,
those that the torch’s surging enwrapped before
by the pyre in that sheltering stead, and the ashes besides.
Then battle-brave he buries all together, bone and cinder,
on that island. He is renewed by the sign of the sun,
when the light of the skies, the gladdest of gems,
joy of noble stars, up over the spear-waves, gleams from the east. (282b-90)

That fowl is fair of hue from the front
flecked with various colors about his breast before.
His head is green behind, wondrously varied
and blended with purple. Then is his tail fairly
colored, some brown, some red, some with black spots,
cunningly covered. Those wings are white at the back,
and the neck green below and above, and the beak
shines like glass or gemstone, his jaws sparkle
within and without. The nature of his eye is piercing
and much like the hue of a stone, a merry gem
when it is set into a golden vessel by the skill of smiths. (290-304)

About its neck, just like a ring of sunlight,
is set the brightest bracelet of feathers.
Wonderful is the belly beneath, wondrously fair,
bright and brilliant. His crest overhead
is fitted with ornaments over the bird’s back.
His legs are covered with scales, the fallow feet.
The fowl is absolutely unique in its hue,
much like the peacock, grown up in joys,
as the book tells us. He is not slothful
nor wanton, heavy nor sluggish like some birds,
which slowly flap their wings through the breeze,
but he is nimble and quick and so light,
lovely and delightful, marked out with glory.
Eternal is that noble who gives his that blessing! (305-19)

Then he seeks to go to the plains, his old home,
from this native ground. As the fowl flies, it appears
to the people, to many men throughout middle-earth,
then they assemble from the south and the north,
from east and west, in a band on horseback,
they travel far and near in a host of people
where they behold the gift of the Shaper
fair in that fowl, just as he established him at the start,
the Truth-King of Victories, the best of his species,
more lovely in adornments than the kindred of birds. (320-30)

Then men marvel across the earth at its beauty and form,
reveal it in writing, marking it by hand in marble stone,
the day and the season when it was revealed to the multitude,
swift-flighted in adornments. Then the kindred of birds
thronged in crowds on every side, flying in from the far-ways,
praising him in song, glorifying the proud one
with mighty voices, and so that holy bird is surrounded
by a ring, flying on the breeze. The Phoenix is in the middle,
encircled by a throng. The people gaze upon him,
looking at him in wonder, how that joyous band
worthies the wild one, one throng after the other,
proclaiming craftily and adoring him for their king,
the most loved of chiefs, led among delights,
the noble to his home, until that solitary bird flies away,
swift of feathers, so that he cannot be followed by them,
the exultant multitude, when the joy of the many
seeks his homeland from the ground of this earth. (331-49)



And so the blessed bird after the hour of his death
soon revisits his olden home, fairest on earth.
The birds return from that warfarer sad-minded again
to their homes. Then that noble one is young in his yard.
God alone knows, the King Almighty, what sex he is:
whether female or male. None of the kindred of men
knows that, except the Measurer alone, how those facts
are wonderful, the lovely and ancient decree of the bird’s gender.
There the blessed one may enjoy his homeland,
the welling waters within the wooded glade,
dwelling upon the plain until a thousand winters have run.
Then is the end of his life; the pyre will engulf him
through kindled flame. Yet will it be awakened again
miraculously and wonderfully back to life. (350-67)

Therefore he never fears drooping death,
the sore killing blow, because he knows that life
is always renewed after the flame’s wrack,
the soul after its fall, when it is swiftly restored
from the ashes through the bird’s nature,
rejuvenated under the sheltering sky.
He is both his own son and his dear father,
and always again heir to the remains of his life.
The Mighty Origin of Mankind grants him
that he so wonderfully must become again
the same that he was before, clothed
in feathers, though the fire took him. (368-80)

So every blessed man himself chooses eternal life
after the painful wrack through dark death,
so that he may enjoy the gifts of the Lord
in perpetual bliss after his past days,
and abide ever after in deeds of glory as reward.
The nature of this bird, much like the chosen
thanes of Christ in the cities, betokens how
they held bright joy through the father’s help
in this dangerous time under the heavens,
and how they secured the highest profit
for themselves in that heavenly homeland. (381-92)

We have learned that the Almighty made man and woman
through the fullness of his wonder, and they were
then established in that best corner of the earth,
that the children of men call Paradise-plain,
where there was no want of prosperity while
the word of the Eternal, his holy commandment
would be kept in the newness of their joy.
There hatred harmed them, the malice of their olden-foe,
who offered them eat the fruit of the tree, which they
both ate, with ill counsel over the mercy of God,
and they tasted the forbidden apple. There misery
became bitter for them after the eating and for their heirs,
a grievous feast for their sons and daughters. (393-406)

Their busy teeth were terribly punished after their guilt.
They held the wrath of God, a bitter and baleful sorrow.
Afterwards their child paid for their sorrow, they who
accepted that morsel over the word of the Eternal.
Therefore they must forsake sad-minded the joys of home
through the spite of the serpent, when it deceived
closely our forefather in days of old by its guileful heart,
so that they sought a dwelling far thence
in the valley of death, a sorrowful home.
A better life was hidden from them in shadow,
and that holy plain was closed up fast by the enemy’s wiles
for many winters, until the Glory-King, the Joy of Mankind,
Comforter of the Weary, and our Only Hope opened it
up again for the holy by his coming hither. (407-23)



This is most like, as learned men say to us wordfully
and reveal by writing, the journey of this bird,
when the aged Phoenix forsakes his home and native seat,
and is grown old. He departs weary-hearted,
weighed down by winters, to where he discovers
a high shelter in the woods, and in that he builds
with the most noble twigs and herbs a new abode,
a nest in the grove. There is a great desire in him
to be allowed, soul-young once again, to take up
through the blast of fire life after death and be renewed,
and then seek out his olden home, his sun-bright land
after the flaming bath. Just so when our forefathers,
Adam and Eve our ancestors, forsook that beautiful plain,
the seat of glory, lovely in their tracks, and undertook
the long journey in the harmer’s hand, where the hater,
the miserable wretch, often did them injury. (424-42)

Nevertheless there were many, who obeyed the Measurer
under the heavens with holy customs, glorious deeds,
so that the Lord, Heaven’s High-King, became kindly in his heart
towards them. That is the high tree in which the blessed
now make their abode, where the olden-foe cannot scathe
them a bit with venom, the sign of sin, in this terrible time. (443-50)

There a nest is wrought for them against every malice
by their glorious deeds and the champion of the Lord
when he gives out alms to the wretched, deprived of glory,
and invokes the Lord, the Father as a fulcrum,
and is well employed on forth, and wipes out the iniquities
of this loaned life, the dark deeds of evil,
and he holds the law of the Measurer bold in his breast,
and seeks out his prayers with clean thoughts,
and bends his knee, noble to the earth, and flies
from every evil, the grim guilts, for terror of God,
and yearns glad-minded to perform deeds of the most good.
The shield of God shall be theirs in every journey,
the Warden of Victories, the Will-Giver of Hosts. (451-65a)

These are the herbs, the fruits of the blossom,
which the wild fowl gather under the sky from far and wide
to his dwelling-place, where the Phoenix, fixed in wonder,
against every malice, constructs his nest.
So now in that place the champions of the Measurer
perform his pleasures with mind and might,
and strive for renown, for which the Eternal Almighty
wishes to repay them with blessed reward.
A home shall be established from these herbs for them
in a city of glory as recompense for their works,
because they have kept holy precept, hot at their heart,
welling in their mind, all day and all night,
and they love the Lord, choosing the light
and beloved belief over the worldly wealth.
They have no joyful hope that they will
live long in this loaned life. (465b-81)

Thus the blessed man earns in courage eternal joy
and a heavenly home with the High-King,
until the end of the count of days will come,
when death, a slaughter-greedy warrior, will seize
armed with many weapons, the lives of everyone,
and into the bosom of the earth swiftly send
the captured souls and loaned life-houses,
where they will be covered by loam for a long time
until the coming of the fire. (482-90)

Then many will be led to the moot, the kindred of men—
the Father of Angels, the Truth-King of Victories,
the Lord of Armies will hold council and judge them
with righteousness. Then all men of earth shall all
experience resurrection, just as the Mighty King
commanded, the Lord of Angels, with a trumpet’s voice
across the broad ground, the Savior of Souls.
Through the Lord’s power dark death will be ended
for the blessed. Nobly they shall turn, thronging in crowds,
when this sin-working world shall burns in shame,
kindled in the pyre. Everyone shall become fearful
in their souls when the fire destroys this loaned land-wealth,
the flames consuming all the treasures of earth,
appled gold gripped greedily, speedily swallowed
the adornments of this world. Then in that revelatory hour
the fair and joyous symbol of that bird shall come
into the light for all these men, when all that power shall be raised
from the tombs, gathering up the bones and the body’s limbs
alike, and the spirit of life before the knee of Christ.
Majestically the King from his high throne will shine
upon the holy, the beautiful Gem of Glory.
It would be well for him to be allowed to be
pleasing to God on that sorrowful day. (491-517)



There those life-homes, clean of their sins shall go
glad-minded, turning their spirits in their bone-vessels,
when the burning ascends high to the heavens.
Many will be hot, terrifyingly kindled when every one
the truthfast and the sinning, soul with the body,
from the mouldy grave shall seek the glory of the Lord,
terrified. The flames will be in motion, ignited by sin.
There those blessed men shall be, after their season of exile,
clothed by their works, their own deeds.
That is what those noble and winsome herbs betoken,
that wild fowl among them, his own nest surrounding him without,
which is suddenly burned by the fire, scorched under the sun,
and himself therein, and then after the flames
life is again taken up renewed. So will be any one
of the kindred of men clothed in flesh, unique
and revived, who works his own will here on earth
so that the mighty Glory-King at the judgment
shall become merciful unto him. Then the holy souls
shall sing, the spirits truthfast, heaving up their song,
the pure and the elect, praising the majesty of the King,
voice after voice, ascending to glory—
lovely scented amid their good deeds.
Then the ghosts of men shall be cleansed,
brightly purified by the burning flames. (518-45)

Let none of the sons of men reckon that I render
with false words this song, or write only in verse-craft.
Hear the prophecy of the story of Job.
By the fruit of the soul he was inspired in his breast,
speaking boldly, worthying in glory, and he spoke these words:
“I do not reject it with the thoughts of my heart,
so that in my nest I choose my death-bed, a life-weary man,
and depart thence abjected upon a lengthy journey,
covered by loam, miserable of my former deeds,
in the embrace of earth—and then after death
through the Lord’s gift, just as the Phoenix bird
is allowed to possess life again renewed
after its resurrection, joys with the Lord,
where that beloved throng praised the loved.
I cannot wait for the end of this life forever,
of light and bliss. Though my body must decay
in its mouldy hall, the pleasure of worms,
yet the God of Hosts after the season of death
will release my soul and wake it in glory.
My hope will never be found wanting in my breast,
for which I have everlasting delight fixed in the Lord of Angels.” (546-69)

Thus the aged man in his elder-days sang wise-minded,
God’s messenger, about his resurrection into eternal life,
so that we could understand the more eagerly
the glory-fixed sign that the bright bird betokens
by its burning. The remains of its bones, ashes, and cinders,
he gathers together after the fire-lighting, afterwards
the bird bears them in his claws to the home of his Lord,
towards the sun. There they dwell after for many winters,
renewed with blossoms, everything rejuvenated,
where nothing can menace them with harm in that land.
So now after death through the power of the Lord
soul fares together with body, fairly ornamented,
much like the bird in blessedness with noble scents,
where the lovely and truth-fast sun shines
over the multitude in the city of glory. (570-88)



Then holy Christ, high over its roofs, will shine
upon the sooth-fast souls. Brilliant birds follow him,
brightly renewed, exultant in bliss in the gladsome home,
selected spirits, eternal forever. There evil cannot
do him injury, the stained fiend with malicious crimes,
yet there an illuminated host lives forever,
just as that bird the Phoenix, in the peace of the Lord,
lovely in glory. The deeds of each one sparkles
brightly in that blissful home ever in concord,
before the face of the Eternal Lord, just like the sun.
There the brightest bracelet, set with wondrous
precious stones, each one blessed, towering overhead.
Their heads glisten, covered by majesty.
The wonderful crown of the Prince graces each one
of the sooth-fast, light in their life, where that lengthy joy,
eternal and forever young, will never diminish,
but they will abide in beauty, arrayed in glory,
with lovely ornaments, by the Father of Angels. (589-610)

Nor will there be anything in that place to sorrow them
evil nor poverty nor days of struggle, burning hunger
nor severe thirst, misery nor old age. The Noble King
shall grant them every good thing. There the flock of souls
shall exalt the Savior and shall celebrate the power
of the Heaven-King, mounting praises to the Measurer.
The heavenly host shall sing the greatest of songs,
clear about the holy throne of God, blessing the best
and joyous Lord, abounding amid the angels,
speaking thus in harmonious voices:
“Peace be to you, true God, and your wisdom-craft,
and thanks be to you sitting in majesty for these fresh gifts,
each one good! Great strength and unmatched in power,
high and holy! The heavens are filled with your fairness,
Father Almighty, majesty of all majesties, with your glory
up among the angels and upon the earth at the same time.
Protect us, Shaper of Beginnings! You are our Father
Almighty in your heights, the Warden of Heaven!” (611-31)

Thus regale the right-doing, cleansed of their evils,
in the famous city. They proclaim the kingly majesty,
singing the praises of the Emperor in the skies,
the multitude of the truth-fast, for whom alone
is their honor perpetual forwards without end.
There was never a start, a beginning of his blessing.
Though he was conceived in childhood here on earth,
in the middle-land, yet the bounty of his power,
holy and high over heaven, remains, a glory unending.
Though he must suffer the blow of death on the rood tree,
that terrible torment, by the third day after his body’s fall
he assumed life again through the help of the Father.
So the Phoenix signifies, fresh in the fold, the might
of the God-child, when he rises once more from the ashes
into the life of lives, equipped with his limbs.
So the Savior effected us aid, through the parting
of his life, life without end, so the bird lades
his two wings with sweet and pleasant herbs,
with fair earth-fruits, when he becomes incited. (632-54)

Those are the words, just as the books say to us,
the speech of the sainted, whose heart will be kindled
to heaven, to the merciful God, into the joy of joys,
where they bring to their Lord, to their Measurer,
the wholesome scent of their words and deeds
as a gift into that famous creation, into that light life.
May their praises to him be enduring through this world of worlds,
and the fruit of glory, power and honor,
in the lofty kingdom of heaven. He is by rights
the King of middle-earth and the power majestic,
wound about with glory in that beautiful city. (655-66)

The author of light has granted us
that we may here obtain
attain with good deeds joy in heaven
that we may in the greatest kingdom
seek out and occupy in that high seat,
live in the delight of light and peace
possess a home of pleasant gladness
enjoy fruiting days gracious and mild
see the Lord of Victories with everlasting praise
blessed amid the angels. Hallelujah! (667-77)


  • Wow! Such an incredibly important text! I have a pretty good repertoire of Old and Middle English texts, and certainly I was aware that the Phoenix “rose from the ashes,” and as a result was a symbol of resilience and survival, but I did not realize in was such a parallel to the resurrection. I’ll have to call “duh” on myself that I didn’t equate an Old English text to religion. A beautiful text that demonstrates the beauty of language. The allusions are incredible. How on earth did this text escape me? A watered down curriculum and a society that lacks the intellect to look at a text with an unbiased perspective of religious philosophy. Sigh.

    • I’m glad you discovered The Phoenix through my site. The poem is actually a translation of a late Antique Latin poem called De ave phoenice by Lactantius (early 4th c.), and everything you see in my translation can be found there.

      Most OE poetry is explicitly religious, and I agree that The Phoenix is exceptionally beautiful among them.

      About the rest of your comment I have no idea what you’re talking about. There aren’t classes on OE poetry? [shrugs]

  • This whole poem is figurative language. Which kind of made it hard to understand. The wording is beautiful but if I wouldn’t read this voluntarily.

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