[Christ and Satan is in three parts; or perhaps it comprises three poem. The first deals with the Fall of the Angels. Satan here is a very different figure from the Satan of the other Old English poem on the Fall of the Angels (Genesis -- B). We have here a sentimental lamenting outcast, reproached by his followers, and stretching his hands in entreaty to the light above him. In the other poem we see Satan surrounded by loyal though suffering comrades, lifting his hands in defiance, and showing

'the unconquerable will, And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield.'

The second poem is on Christ's Harrowing of Hell. The story of Christ's triumphant invasion of the underworld during the interval between His crucifixion and resurrection was no doubt inspired by passages in the New Testament such as 1 Peter iii. 19. It was a favourite subject in medieval art and literature. Its dramatic possibilities made it a common theme for miracle plays. References to Christ's Descent occur in Elene, Christ, and other Old English poems. The subject of the third poem is Christ's Temptation. The first poem and part of the second are translated here.]

IT became known to dwellers on earth that God had might and power when He established the regions of earth. He Himself placed sun and moon, stones and earth, the current out in the sea, water and cloud, by His wondrous might. God in His power encompasses the deep circuit of ocean and the whole world. He Himself, God's own. Son, can look through the sea, through the ocean depths, and. He can count every drop of the rain showers. He Himself appointed by His true power the number of days, when the Creator by His glorious spirit on high in heaven devised and established in six days the regions of the earth, the deep sea. Who possesses pure intelligence save eternal God? He gave delights, powers, and language to Adam first and that noble lineage to the chief of angels who afterwards fell to ruin. It seemed to them in their hearts that it might be that they themselves should be the rulers of heaven, the sovereigns of glory. A worse fate befell them, when one after the other they set up their abode in hell, in that dread den, where they were doomed to bide in surge of fire, in sore grief, not at all to possess celestial light on high in heaven; but they were doomed to be plunged in the deep surge down under the headlands in the low abyss,


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Anglo-Saxon Poetry


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