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From “Judith, An Old English Epic Fragment, Eidted, with Introduction, Facsimile, Translation, Complete Glossary, and Various Indexes, with English Translation, Introduction by Albert S. Cook; D. C. Heath & Co., Boston; 1904; pp. 3-27 [odd numbered pages only].



                                She doubted not His gifts
In this spacious realm; readily then she found
Favor from the famed Prince, when she felt the most need
Of grace from the greatest Judge,—that God the Creator
Might free her from fear. To her the Father in Heaven,
Glorious one, granted this boon, because of her great faith
Aye in the Highest. Holofernes (so heard I)
A wine-bidding wrought well, with wonders uncounted
Made ready a banquet; to this the bold captain
Summoned all his chief servants; with speed they obeyed,
The bearers of bucklers; came to the brave lord
The fighting folk-leaders. That was the fourth day
Since that Judith, in judgment wise,
The elf-bright damsel, erst had sought him.


Then they to that supper went to sit,
The overweening to the wine-feast, all his comrades in woe,
Bold byrnie-warriors. There were bumpers deep
Borne oft to the benches, with bowls and beakers
5 Full to the feasters, and fey they received it,
The spirited shield-warriors, though their sovereign weened it not,
Fierce ruler of heroes. Then Holofernes,
The gold-friend of men, was in glee o’er his cups;
Laughed he and shouted, he bawled and he called,
That men far off the mirth might hear,
How the stout-hearted cheered and stormed,
How, rampant and raving, he roused with his urging
The bench-sitting barons to clamor blithely.
So the hateful one through the whole day
Deluged with wine all of the drinkers,
The strong-souled wealth-lord, till in stupor they lay,
So drenched all his dukes as if death had them slain
Glutted with good things. The prince gave order
To fill for the feasters until the day faded,
The darksome night neared them. Then the pernicious one
Bade the blest maid be brought in haste,
The ring-adorned, to his resting-place,
The bracelet-laden. Forthwith obeyed they,
The servitors, what their sovereign bade,
The mailed warriors’ master: marched they quickly
To the guest-hall, where Judith they found
Prudent in mind, and promptly then
The buckler-bearers began to bring
The virgin bright to the vaulted tent,
Where Holofernes, hateful to God,
Rich in power, always rested,
Nightly reposed. There was of pure gold
A finely-wrought fly-net round the folk-leader’s
Royal bed hung, that the baleful one,
7 Leader of legions, through it might look
On every one that entered therein,
The children of heroes, but none on him
Of human kind, unless the haught one
Perchance invited some valiant soldier
To come to council. To the couch they brought
With speed the seeress; then went the stout-souled
Their prince to apprise that the holy maid
Was brought to his bower-tent. Then was the burg-lord,
The brave in heart, blithe; the bright virgin meant he
With foulness and filth to pollute; the Dispenser of fame would
Guardian of splendor, suffer that, but stayed him from it,
Wise Wielder of hosts. The wicked one passed thence;
The wanton caitiff, begirt with warriors.
The baleful his bed to seek, where life he should lose
In a single night; shocking the end
He awaited on earth, though this he had wrought out,
The dread king of men, while here he yet dwelt
In this world under welkin. So wine-drunken fell
The regal to rest, that no rede now remained
In the cell of his sense: the soldiers paced forth
Out of the hall with mickle haste,
The wine-sated warriors, who the word-breaker,
The terrible tyrant, to bed had attended
For the last time. Then the Lord’s servant
9 The matchless maiden, was wholly mindful
How most lightly to rob of life
That wicked one before he awoke,
The carnal caitiff. The curly-locked
Seized a sword of might, the Master’s maiden,
Sharp from scouring, and drew from the sheath
With her right hand. The Ruler of Heaven
By name she besought, the Saviour of all
Who dwell in the world, and spake these words:
‘O God of beginnings, and Giver of comfort,
The Almighty’s Son, I seek for thy mercy;
Be now benignant to me in need,
O Power of the Trinity. Terribly now
My heart is heated, and heavy my soul.
Sore troubled with sorrows; vouchsafe, Lord of Heaven,
True faith and full triumph, that I may o’erthrow
With this steel the destroyer; bestow on me weal.
O masterful Monarch, for ne’er of thy mercy
My need was more vast: revenge, mighty Lord,
Splendid glory-dispenser, the rage of my spirit,
In my bosom the burning.’ The highest and best Judge
Straight dowered her with daring, as each one he doth
Of those dwelling here who seek for his help
With reason and right faith. Her spirit dilated,
To the holy new hope came; she seized then the heathen
Hard by the hair; with her hands she there haled him
Disdainfully toward her, the treacherous man,
And laid him along, the bulk unlovely,
11 As she most meetly the wretch could manage,
The woful one wield. Then did the wavy-haired
Smite the foeman with flashing sword,
The hostile-minded, so that his head
Was half-way sundered, and he lay swooning,
Dire-wounded and drunken. Not yet was he dead,
Bereft of his soul; again she smote,
The valiant virgin, with nerve and vigor,
The heathen hound, so that his head rolled
Forth on the floor; the body so foul
Lay lifeless behind, but the soul sped away,
Sank beneath the abyss, and there was abased,
Ever thereafter pinioned with pangs,
Bewound by serpents and bound by torments,
Fastened firm in the flaming of hell,
Since hence he removed. Nor may he hope ever
That he shall evade from that vault of vipers,
But, drowned in darkness, there shall dwell,
Ever for ages without end,
In that black abode, bereft of bliss.


By fight there gained she glory renowned,
By stoutness in strife, as God vouchsafed her,
Guardian of Heaven, granting her speed.
Then the prudent damsel promptly carried
The bold war-chieftain’s head so bloody,
Shut in that scrip in which her servant,
The fair-cheeked woman proficient in virtue,
13 Thither had brought the bread of them both.
To her aid she gave it, the gory head,
To the hand of the helpful to bear it home,
To her junior, Judith. Then went they joyful,
Brave women both, and bold of spirit,
Till the proud-souled and prosperous maids
Trode forth in triumph out from the troops,
And saw unveiled before their vision
The gleaming walls of the glorious city,
Bethulia. Then the bracelet-decked ones
Hasted forthright upon the footway,
Until the glad-minded at length had gone
Unto the wall-gate. There sat the warriors,
The heroes watching, holding their ward
Within the fortress, as erst to the folk,
The rueful-souled, Judith rightly bade,
The wily maid, when she went her way,
The daring damsel. She, dear to her people,
Had now returned, the tireless of thought,
And straight way commanded one of the men
To come from the mighty burg and meet her,
Then in great haste to hurry them in
Through the gate of the wall. These words then spake
To the triumphing people: ‘Now can I tell you
A mindworthy thing, that mournful of mood
Ye no longer may be: the Lord is blithe toward you,
The Splendor of kings; it is now spread abroad,
Far and wide through the world, that victory wondrous
15 And radiant awaits you; renown shall be wrought
For dole and distress which long ye endured.’
Then were blithe the dwellers in burg
When they had heard how the holy one spake
Over the high wall. The host was joyful;
To the fortress-gate hastened the folk
Men and women in multitudes many,
In throngs and bands, thousands in number.
They swarmed and surged towards the servant of God,.
Elders and youths: of every man
In the mead-city the mind was cheered,
As soon as they heard that to her home
Judith was come; full quickly then
In lowly wise they let her in.
Then the adroit one, adorned with gold,
Called to her servant, clever in mind,
The head to unhide of the leader of hosts,
Blood-stained as it was, and bear as a sign
How in battle she fared, to the dwellers in burg.
Then the noble one spake to the people unnumbered:
‘Here can ye clearly, conquering heroes,
Leaders of legions, gaze on the loathsome
Head of the heathen Holofernus,
Lacking life, and alarming no longer.
He, most of all men, wrought us murders and crimes,
Harrowing hardships, and higher had heaped them,
These galling griefs, but God vouchsafed him
No longer life, that he might vex us
17 With thrilling throes: I thrust him to death
Through the succor of God. Now will I beseech
Each buckler-bearer, each burgess among you,
To busk and bown him without delay,
Go forth to the fight; when the Maker of first things,
The King transcendent, hath sent from the East
The lustrous light, bring your linden-shields,
Breast-shielding bucklers and byrnie-coats,
Helmets aflame to the phalanx of foemen,
There to fell the folk-leaders with flashing swords,
The death-fated captains. Doomed are your haters,
Destined to die, while to you will redound
The boast of battle, as he has boded,
The Master of might, by this my hand.’
Then the host of the swift ones was speedily harnessed,
The dauntless to conflict; the daring ones stepped forth,
Brave soldiers and comrades, bore banners emblazoned,
Fared to the fight forth by the straight road,
Heroes with helms from that holy city,
At the day-dawning; shields loudly dinned,
Rang and resounded. Then reeled the lank one,
The wolf in the wood, with the wan bird, the raven,
Greedy of prey: well they both guessed
That to them the fighters meant to furnish
A feast on the fated; then flew the eagle
Hunger-driven, with hornèd beak,
Dewy-pinioned and dusk of apparel.
Sang the war-slogan. The soldiers marched forward,
The barons to battle, warded with bucklers,
19 Linden-shields curved, who a little before
Had suffered the scoff and the scorn of the stranger,
The hiss of the heathen; hard was the guerdon
Paid the Assyrians with play of the ash-spears,
After the host of the Hebrew people,
Gonfalon-guided, onward had gone
Against the camp. Then they with courage
Sharply let fly the showers of shafts,
Battle-adders from bows of horn,
Stoutest of arrows; loudly they stormed,
The warriors wrathful, winging their spears
At the horde of the hardy; the heroes were ireful,
The dwellers in land, ’gainst the direful race;
Marched the stern-souled ones, the stout of heart
Fiercely o’erwhelmed their long-standing foemen,
Drowsy with mead; then drew they with hand
Forth from their sheaths their finely-decked swords,
Trusty of edge; tirelessly slew they
The Assyrian chosen, champions all,
Nerved with malice; none did they spare
Among the myrmidons, mean nor mighty,
Of living men whom they might master.


So the retainers at morning-tide
Harassed the strangers through the whole season,
Till at length they felt, the furious foemen,
The chiefest champions of the army,
That sturdy were the sword-strokes dealt them
By Hebrew heroes. They hurried off
The princeliest vassals to apprise,
21 Inform with words; they woke the chieftains,
And timidly told them the tidings of fear,
To the wearied by mead the woes of the morning,
The direful sword-play. Straightway I learned
That the slaughter-doomèd roused them from sleep,
The men with heart-throes hastened in throngs
To the pavilion of him the revengeful,
Holofernes; they hoped forthwith
The battle to bode to the baleful prince,
Ere upon him fell the force of the Hebrews,
The dread of their down-rush. For so they all deemed,
That the lord of men and the lovely maid
In the gorgeous tent together were,
Judith the worthy and he, the wanton,
Frightful and fierce; found was no man
Who dared the warrior to awake,
Or seek to know how they had sped,
The martial of mood and the holy virgin,
The maid of God. In their might they drew nigh,
The Hebrew folk, and fiercely they fought
With hard-tempered weapons; they hotly repaid
Their former feuds with hostile falchions,
Their grudges deep-grounded; Assyria’s glory
Was weakened and wasted by that day’s work,
Its haughtiness humbled. The heroes stood
Round their ruler’s tent mightily roused,
Woful in mind. Then one and all,
By God forsaken, began to storm,
23 Loudly to noise, and eke to gnash,
With their teeth enduring wrath; here ended their triumph,
Their prosperous prowess. The heroes proposed
Their ruler to rouse; success was not wrought them.
At length one ventured, though late his valor,
A battle-man, to enter the bower-tent,
Nerved for the peril, since prompted by need;
There found he his gold-lord lorn of his ghost,
Stretched on his pallet, pallid of hue,
Relinquished by life. Then fell he belive
Agrised to the ground, ungoverned of mood,
Gan tearing at once his hair and attire,
And spake this word unto the warriors,
Who, sombre of spirit, were waiting outside:
‘Here is predicted our own perdition,
Tokens are toward that near is the time
Full of afflictions, and now pressing forward,
When we shall lose our lives together,
Sink in the strife: hewn with the sword here
Lies headless your chief.’ Cheerless they then
Hurled down their weapons, and, weary at heart,
Hurried to flight. Behind them were fighting
The mighty people, until the most part
Of the pagan legion lay low in the battle
On the conquest-plain, carved by the sword,
At the will of the wolves, and none the less welcome
25 To ravening ravens. Away fled the remnant
Of hostile shield-soldiers. Behind them pursued
The troops of the Hebrews, enhanced by their triumph,
And graced with new glory; their God gave them help,
Became their ally, the Lord Almighty.
Gallantly then with gleaming blades
The high-souled heroes hewed out a war-path
Through forces of foemen, shore down the phalanx,
Shivered the shields; the shooters were
Embittered by battle, the Hebrew barons;
The thanes at that time were mightily thirsting
For death-play with darts. There fell in the dust
The principal part of all their poll,
The high in rank of the hostile race,
Assyrian soldiers: to their own soil
Came back few survivors. The valiant ones wheeled,
The conquerors returned through the midst of the carnage,
Through blood-reeking bodies; away they could bear,
The dwellers in land from those unloving,
Their ole-time foes, baleful and odious,
Bloody booty and trappings brilliant,
Bucklers and broadswords and brown-hued helmets,
Treasures of price. Powerfully had they
On that folkstead their foes overcome,
The home-defenders their hates of old
Had slain with the sword: in their footsteps they stayed,
Those who in life were to them most malign
Of living races. The whole array,
27 The most noted of nations, for fully a month,
The lordly and curly-locked carried and led
To Bethulia, the brightest of burgs,
Helmets and hip-swords and hoary corselets,
The deckings of fighters, adorned with gold,
Costlier treasures than could be recounted
By any man of those who are mindful;
All that the doughty by daring won,
Brave under banners amid the battle,
Through the wise judgment of Judith their guide,
The mettlesome maid. They bought as her meed,
From the foray afar to the virgin fair,
The spear-stanch men, Holofernes’ sword,
His blood-stained helmet and broad-spreading hauberks,
Graced with red gold, and all that the great prince,
The haughty of mood, had of treasure or hoard,
Of bracelets or bright gems, this to the bright damsel
They gave, to the prudent. Judith praised for all this
Him, Sabaoth’s Lord, who bestowed on her honor,
On earth highest worship, reward eke in Heaven,
Meed of triumph in glory, because she had true faith
Ay in the Almighty; at the end no doubt made she
Of the long-desired guerdon. For this to the loved Lord
Be world-during glory, who wind and air wrought,
Rolling skies, roomy plains, with raging streams,
And Heaven’s mirth, through his own mild mercy!


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