[The soul's anger at the sinful body is a very common subject in medieval literature. The grimness of the poem is a common mood in Old English poetry. The fragment describing the gratitude of the saved soul to the body for its self-denial on earth is a much rarer theme.)
VERILY it behoves every man that he himself should ponder his soul's state, how sound that is, when death comes, sunders the union which existed before, body and soul. Long is it after that till the soul receives from God Himself either bale or bliss, even as the body won for it erstwhile on earth. The spirit, the soul, shall come, loud in its sorrows, always on the seventh night, for three hundred years, to find the body which long since it wore, unless ere that the great King, Almighty God, the Lord of lords, will bring the end of the world. Then, most woeful, it will cry in a cold voice; the soul will speak sternly to the dust:
'What hast thou done, sorrowful one? What affliction hast thou caused me; the foulness of earth falls all to ruin, like unto clay. Little didst thou think what thing thy soul should afterwards become when freed from the body. What hadst thou to blame in me, accursed? Lo! thou didst little think to be the food of worms, when thou didst follow all the lures of pleasure; now in the earth thou shalt feed worms. Lo! in the world before little didst thou think how long this lasts. Lo! the Lord almighty by His own hand sent thee a soul by an angel from the heavens on high from His majesty and bought thee with the holy blood; and thou didst bind me with grievous hunger and fetter me with hell-torments. I dwelt within thee; compassed by flesh I could not come out of thee, and thy sinful lusts lay heavy upon me, so that full often it seemed to me that it would be thirty thousand years till thy death-day; ever with pain I waited till we two should part. Verily the end now is not over- good. Thou wert proud in thy food and glutted with wine; thou wert gloriously daring, and I was athirst for the body of God, for spiritual drink. Wherefore here in life, when I was
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Publication information: Book title: Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Contributors: R. K. Gordon - Translator, R. K. Gordon - Compiler. Publisher: J. M. Dent & Sons. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1954. Page number: 280.
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