Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Hrothgar's Homily

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Hrothgar's Homily

Article excerpt

I tell you this tale as I mull and marvel

how the Almighty metes to mankind

the blessings of reason, rule, and realm.

He arranges it all. For a time He allows

the mind of a man to linger in love

with earthly honors. He offers him homeland

to hold and enjoy, a fort full of fighters,

men to command and might in the world,

wide kingdoms won to his will.

In his folly, the fool imagines no ending.

He dwells in delight without thought of his lot.

Illness, old age, anguish, or envy:

none of these gnaw by night at his mind.

Nowhere are swords brandished in anger;

for him the whole world wends as he wishes.

He knows nothing worse till his portion of pride

waxes within him. His soul is asleep;

his gate, unguarded. He slumbers too soundly,

sunk in small cares. The slayer creeps close

and shoots a shaft from the baneful bow.

The bitter arrow bites through his armor,

piercing the heart he neglected to guard

from crooked counsel and evil impulse. …

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