Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘Judith’
Anglo-Saxon Literature
Translation of James Mercer Garnett

  [The Assyrian officers, obeying the commands of Holofernes, come to the carouse.]

THEY then at the feast proceeded to sit,
The proud to the wine-drinking, all his comrades-in-ill,
Bold mailèd-warriors. There were lofty beakers
Oft borne along the benches, also were cups and flagons
Full to the hall-sitters borne. The fated partook of them,        5
Brave warriors-with-shields, though the mighty weened not of it,
Awful lord of earls. Then was Holofernes,
Gold-friend of men, full of wine-joy:
He laughed and clamored, shouted and dinned,
That children of men from afar might hear        10
How the strong-minded both stormed and yelled,
Moody and mead-drunken, often admonished
The sitters-on-benches to bear themselves well.
Thus did the hateful one during all day
His liege-men loyal keep plying with wine,        15
Stout-hearted giver of treasure, until they lay in a swoon.
  [Holofernes has been slain by Judith. The Hebrews, encouraged by her, surprise the drunken and sleeping Assyrians.]

Then the band of the brave was quickly prepared,
Of the bold for battle; stepped out the valiant
Men and comrades, bore their banners,
Went forth to fight straight on their way        20
The heroes ’neath helmets from the holy city
At the dawn itself; shields made a din,
Loudly resounded. Thereat laughed the lank
Wolf in the wood, and the raven wan,
Fowl greedy for slaughter: both of them knew        25
That for them the warriors thought to provide
Their fill on the fated; and flew on their track
The dewy-winged eagle eager for prey,
The dusky-coated sang his war-song,
The crooked-beaked. Stepped forth the warriors,        30
The heroes for battle with boards protected,
With hollow shields, who awhile before
The foreign-folk’s reproach endured,
The heathens’ scorn; fiercely was that
At the ash-spear’s play to them all repaid,        35
All the Assyrians, after the Hebrews
Under their banners had boldly advanced
To the army-camps. They bravely then
Forthright let fly showers of arrows,
Of battle-adders, out from the horn-bows,        40
Of strongly-made shafts; stormed they aloud,
The cruel warriors, sent forth their spears
Among the brave; the heroes were angry,
The dwellers-in-land, with the loathèd race;
The stern-minded stepped, the stout-in-heart,        45
Rudely awakened their ancient foes
Weary from mead; with hands drew forth
The men from the sheaths the brightly-marked swords
Most choice in their edges, eagerly struck
Of the host of Assyrians the battle-warriors,        50
The hostile-minded; not one they spared
Of the army-folk, nor low nor high
Of living men, whom they might subdue.

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