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Plano, Texas, United States
The Book, The Burial, by R. Penman Smith is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and directly from Tate Publishing. The Burial is a Spiritual Thriller with a dark twist and a redemptive outcome. The story springs out personal experience; ‘write what you know about’. Those who are comfortable with fantasy and are not afraid of the reality of the spiritual warfare inherent in Christian life will love this book.

Imagination is the faculty through which we discover the world around us, both the world we see, and that other unseen world that hovers on the fringe of sight. Love, joy and laughter, poetry and prose, are the gifts through which we approach that complex world. Through the gift of imagination we have stepped into an ever flowing river where the realm of Faerie touches Middle Earth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Battle of Maldon

[The following is for my own entertainment, and perhaps the entertainment of a very limited number of readers. The original poem, The Battle of Maldon, is a late Medieval poem reflecting the time of Viking invasion in England].

The Battle of Maldon

Manuscript: British Library, MS Cotton Otho A.xii (was partially destroyed by fire in 1731). The printed text of Thomas Hearne (1726) remained until recently the only known source for the poem. The Poem was attributed to the Monks of Ely. The beginning and the end of the poem were missing, but I have taken the considerable liberty of filling in the missing portion with my own addition,


I, Dom Siggeswick, lay brother
of Beesleigh Priory sing this lay.
I was but young when I stood boldly
upon the cold blood soaked strand.
Now my life is old and I am grey.
I sing a gryrelode sum of the days                  [terrible song]
of my liege Lord Aethelred.
I and my brother Sigebyhrt
We were fyrd warriors in the battle                [fyrd = army]
with seamen from the ashwood ships.
They came from the sea telling their lies,
promising us mercy for gold and for rings.
We rode fast from the shire-moot
to the long strand by the shore.
Byrhtnoth Aethelred's thegn                           thegn = retainer]
knew well that the oaths sworn
by seamen soon [Original text starts]: would be broken.
Then he commanded each young man
To leave his horse, to drive it far off,
and to go forth, with mind turned
to strong hands and good thoughts.
Then Offa's kinsman first discovered
that the great earl suffered no slackness;
he let from his hand, then, loved one fly,
hawk to the holt, and he stepped to battle.
So one could know that the lad wished not
to weaken in war, when he seized weapons.
And as for him, Eadric would follow his prince,
his lord to the fight; he bore forth, then,
spear to the battle. He had good thought
as long as he with hands could hold
board and bright sword: his boast he performed
when to the fight he came with his lord.
Then Byrhtnoth began to array men there,
rode and gave counsel, taught warriors
how they must stand and that stead hold,
bade them their round-shields rightly hold
fast with hands, not at all frightened.

…. [As the earl is slain and the battle nearly lost…]

Byrhtwold spoke, raised his shield--
he was an old retainer--shook his ash-spear;
full boldly he taught warriors:
"Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.
Here lies our prince all hewn,
good one on grit. He may always mourn
who from this war-play thinks now to turn.
My life is old: I will not away;
but I myself beside my lord,
by so loved a man, think to lie."
So Aethelgar's son emboldened them all,
Godric to battle. Often he let spear,
slaughter-spear, speed into those Vikings;
so among folk he went first,
hewed and humbled, until he in fight fell.
This was not the Godric who fled from battle.

[My added conclusion]:
Great was the slaughter, and great was the grief
Of our women who came to bury their dead,
and I lay astonied pierced through in pain
longing for my lord and the days that never
can be again.  Nothing can fill the longing,
or cover the shame when heroes are dead.

[Probably the most significant line is Byrhtwold’s declaration of loyalty until death.
"Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.]

Original Translation copyright © 1982, Jonathan A. Glenn

Additions copyright © 2008, R. Penman Smith

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