Poem: Alasdair Gray © 2005

13 Ė Genesis, attributed to Caedmon, translation of the start


We are mighty right††††† that to the sky-warden

mankindís king††††† we lift up our words

with mindís of love!††††† He is greatest wealth,

chieftain of all††††† the high creation,

lord almighty††††† none ever formed him

or protected††††† nor now end come

to eternal rightness††††† but he be a kingship

over the heavenly seats.††††† The highest throne

truthfast and strong formed††††† sunbossomed he held

then were seated††††† wide on all side

through the realm of god††††† splenders born of

the ghostly word.††††† Having gleam and song

and appointed order††††† angel legions

berthed in bliss.††††† Was there glory mighty!


Then considered††††† our commander,

mind conceiving††††† how he the grand creationís

noble chairs††††† again get filled,

by the sunbright seat††††† with a better race

than who boastfully scorned††††† the rejected chief

high in the heaven.††††† Forthwith holy god

under heavenís hand†† †††(that mighty kingdom)

willed him that earth††††† and upper sky

and wide water††††† get set by his word

in a world created††††† the bad to repay,

they that withheld††††† from shelter given.

Nor was there yet††††† unless darkly cold

creature bespoken,††† ††but this wide ground

stood deep and dim,††††† sternly framed,

idle and useless.††††† On that turned his eye

the strong king††††† and the place beheld

soundless,††††† seeing dark that work

as middle night††††† black under heaven

blind and waste††††† until this creation

through word got worth††††† from the glorious king.

Here first††††† eternal order,

helmet of all things,††††† heaven and earth,

sky-ceiling reared††††† and this roomy land

over-arched††††† strong and mighty

from the almighty.††††† Earth was still yet

of grass ungreen;††††† spearmanís weather

black as night,††††† height and width

dark in all ways.††††† Then was the glory bright

heavenward ghost††††† over the waves born,

mightily sped.††††† Creator of angel troops,

life-bringer,††††† light forthcoming

over the plain ground.††††† Soon was fulfilled

high kingís behest;††††† of him was holy light

over the wastes,††††† as so the maker bade.