augury doggerel

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Super flumina Babylonis

Slaves in an alien landscape refuse to perform for their captors.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

A lonely old slave song, but the song of slaves in defiance, a song of frightening wished vengeance.

By the waters of Babylon we sat downe and weapte, when we remembered the, O Syon. As for our harpes, we hanged them up upon the trees, that are therein. Then they that led us awaye captyve, required of us a songe and melody in our hevynes: synge us one of the songes of Sion. How shall we synge the Lordes songe in a straunge lande. If I forget the, O Jerusalem, let my righte hande be forgotten. If I do not remembre the, let my tongue cleve to the rofe of my mouth: yee yf I preferre not Jerusalem in my myrth. Remembre the chyldren of Edom, O Lorde, in the daye of Jerusalem, how they sayd: downe with it, downe with it, even to the grounde. O daughter of Babylon, thou shalt come to misery thy selfe: yee, happy shall he be, that rewardeth the as thou hast served us. Blessed shall he be, that taketh thy chyldren, and throweth them agaynst the stones.

It doesn't matter who were the slaves and who were the slavers. It's all forever ago. Only the rivers and the stones are the same.

Ofer Babilone bradum streame,
��r we sitta� and sare wepa�,
�onne we Sion gemunan swi�e georne.
On salig we sarige swi�e gelome

ure organan up ahengan.
For�on us ��r frunon f�cnum wordum,
woh meldedan, �a us on weg l�ddan:
"Singa� us ymnum ealdra sanga
�e ge on Sione sungan geneahhige."

Hu magon we singan sangas drihtne
on ��re foldan �e us fremde is?
Gif ic �in, Hierusalem, forgyten h�bbe,
forgyte min seo swy�re symble �t �earfe;
�tfeole min tunge f�ste gomum,

gif ic ofergittol �in �fre weor�e,
Gif ic ne forsette �e symble �t frym�e;
ac ic on Hierusalem georne blissie.
Gemune �u, drihten, manigra bearna,
�e on Edom synt eal lifigende,

�onne �u Hierusalem gegodie;
�a nu oft cwe�a�: "Wutun hi idle gedon,
o���t hi heora eard geceosan."
Hw�t, �u eart Babilone bitere �tf�sted
�nge and yfele, hire earm dohter;

eadig by� hw��ere se �e eft gylde�
�a �u him on ealdre �r forgeafe
and us eallum eac gesealdest.
Eadig by� se �e nime� and eac sete�
his agen bearn on �one ��elan stan.

There is no negotiation, no reconciliation, no understanding, when life comes to this. You wait a few thousand years and hope people forget.


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