You may need: Adobe Flash Player.
THE VICTORY TREE
Copyright Â© 2009 Cameron Hawke Smith
.. this andwearde lif manna on eorthan
to withmetennesse thaere tide the us uncuth is,
swelce thu aet swaesendum sitte..
and an spearwa thanon utane cume and hraedlice
tha healle thurh fleoge, and cume thurh othre duru inn,
thurh othre ut gewite.
'Measured against the time that is unknown to us, our present life on earth is but the flash of an eye, as if a sparrow should fly through the dining hall in winter, in through one door and out through another.'1
Then they set up for him a warrior leader's
golden staff, high overhead,
letting the ship take him, giving his body up
to the sea. So Shield was delivered to the waves.
Their hearts were saddened, their mood one of mourning.
Men cannot say â€” whether they be prudent landlubbers,
or bold men under open skies â€” who will retrieve that load.2
Syllic waes se sigebeam3
We watch the waters, we see a clean parchment,
perfect geometries fall
and hold against one another, a lattice of roundels,
scripts of fifty, embarked generations.
While the lord, his elders and thanes sit feasting by the kindled fire, the sparrow flies from the rain and snow and hail, out of one winter and into another.4
King Oswald, schooled amongst Gaelic seabirds
on the rock of Iona, marches
to meet King Cadwalla in battle at Heofenfeld,
a little beyond the Wall,
and raises up in his realm of mossy Northumbria
his Christ Cross staff.5
I thought I saw a marvellous tree
lifted in the air, wound about with light
brightest of beams, a beacon of gold.
The young hero that was God, all-mighty,
ungirdled himself, strong and eager,
and climbed the gallows tree.6
A stone carver took that tree and made of it
a speaking monument,
winding about it undulant branches, like words
illuminated, a resting place
for nibbling creatures.7
So slight is the life of man, what has gone before and what thereafter follows, we do not know.
Syllic waes se sigebeam
Wonderful was that victory tree.