Caedmon (600 - 670 / England)
Genesis BK VI
(ll. 246-260) The Holy Lord, All-wielding God, with mighty hand
had wrought ten angel-orders in whom He trusted well, that they
would do Him service, and work His will. Therefore God gave them
reason, with His own hands shaped them, and established them in
bliss. But one He made so great and strong of heart, He let him
wield such power in heaven next unto God, so radiant-hued He
wrought him, so fair his form in heaven which God had given, that
he was like unto the shining stars. He should have sung his
Maker's praise, and prized his bliss in heaven. He should have
thanked his Lord for the great boon He showered on him in the
heavenly light, and let him long enjoy. But he turned him to a
worse thing, and strove to stir up strife against the Highest
Lord of heaven, who sitteth on the throne of glory.
(ll. 261-276) Dear was he to our Lord. Nor could it long be hid
from God that pride was growing in His angel's heart. He set
himself against his Leader, scoffed at God with boasting, and
would not serve Him. He said his form was beautiful and bright,
gleaming and fair of hue. Nor could he find it in his heart to
serve the Lord God, or be subject to Him. It seemed to him that
he had greater strength and larger following than Holy God might
have. Many words the angel spake in his presumption. By his own
power alone he thought to build a stronger throne and mightier in
heaven. He said his heart was urging him to toil, to build a
stately palace in the north and west. He said he doubted in his
heart if he would still be subject unto God:
(ll. 277-291) "Why should I slave?" quoth he. "I need not serve a
master. My hands are strong to work full many a wonder. Power
enough have I to rear a goodlier throne, a higher in the heavens.
Why should I fawn for His favour, or yield Him such submission?
I may be God as well as He! Brave comrades stand about me;
stout-hearted heroes who will not fail me in the fray. These
valiant souls have chosen me their lord. With such peers one may
ponder counsel, and gain a following. Devoted are these friends
and faithful-hearted; and I may be their lord and rule this
realm. It seemeth no wise right to me that I should cringe a
whit to God for any good. I will not serve Him longer."
(ll. 292-298) Now when God had heard all this, how His angel was
beginning to make presumptuous head against his Leader, speaking
rash words of insolence against his Lord, needs must he make
atonement for that deed, endure the woe of strife, and bear his
punishment, most grievous of all deaths. And so doth every man
who wickedly thinketh to strive with God, the Lord of might.
(ll. 299-319) Then Almighty God, High Lord of heaven, was filled
with wrath, and hurled him from his lofty throne. He had gained
his Master's hate, and lost His favour. God's heart was hardened
against him. Wherefore he needs must sink into the pit of
torment because he strove against the Lord of heaven. He
banished him from grace and cast him into hell, into the deep
abyss where he became a devil. The Fiend and all his followers
fell from heaven; three nights and days the angels fell from
heaven into hell. God changed them all to devils. Because they
heeded not His deed and word, therefore Almighty God hurled them
into darkness, deep under earth, crushed them and set them in the
mirk of hell. There through the never-ending watches of the
night the fiends endure an unremitting fire. Then at the dawn
cometh an east wind, and bitter frost, ever a blast of fire or
storm of frost. And each must have his share of suffering
wrought for his punishment. Their world was changed when God
filled full the pit of hell with His foes!
(ll. 320-322) But the angels who kept their faith with God dwelt
in the heights of heaven.
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