SOUL AND BODY II

 

1                 Truly it profits every man

that he, his very self, should care for the soul’s fate.

When death spreads, how it is profound,

severing the peace, before then which was entire,

5          the body and soul. It is long afterwards

that the soul takes from the very triumphs

of praise, what the earthly body

formerly earned in the previous world.

10        Always every seventh twilight the soul meets with

the body who he formerly bore for an exhausting time

of three hundred years;

until that the Everlasting Lord,

Almighty God, produces Armageddon.

15        The soul must approach, clamorous with grief.

            Then cries out such a careworn, grim voice--

the soul speaks fiercely to the dust:

“Behold! You do suffer, and you afflict trifles upon me!

Earthen filth, all putrid,

20        likeness of clay! You barely considered

            forever-happenings to your soul’s dark fate,

when he would be lifted from the body!

Ah! You torment me, accursed! Indeed, you are truly refreshment of the worms.

Little you thought how this is long here,

25        And to you the Almighty Creator a soul sends,

through an angel out of heaven, through his own hand

from his great strength;

and then bought you with his holy blood

and you bind me with the severe hunger

30                and incarcerate me with hell plagues!

I, who dwelt inside you, who might not escape

being enveloped in flesh, and your sinful desires

thrust upon me. It very often seemed to me

that it were thirty thousand winters

35        to your death-day! Truly, I awaited the division of we two,

burdened with pain. It is not now the end for God!

You were proud of feasting and full of wine,

boasting gloriously. And I was suffering thirst for

the body of God, to absorb His soul.

40        If you had given thought then before, while alive,

when I had occupied you in this world,

that you were by means of flesh and lust

boldly forced and stabilized through me,

and I was the soul who was sent from God,

45        never would you have pressed me severely with hell-torments

because of the desire of your appetites.

Nevertheless, now you must endure dishonor for my shame

on that wondrous day, when mankind

all unites with the Only-Begotten One.

50        You are not now more loved, not by any

man among the living, not mother, not father,

nor none of your kinsmen, than the dark raven,

since I, alone, ventured out of you

by the same hand by which I was formerly sent forth.

55        Nor can the red possessions now be taken away from here,

not gold, not silver, nor any of thine goods.

Your bones stripped, even of your bride who must remain,

sinews slit. And your soul must,

often to my confusion and displeasure,

60                revile you with words, such as you toiled against me.

You are dumb and deaf, nor are naught your joys.

Still, I must seek you nightly of need,

afflicted by sins, and from you soon after

depart at cockcrow when holy men

65        make hymn to the living God,

visit the dwelling which you ordained for me here,

and the wicked habitation;

and many earthworms, swarthy creatures, must gnaw

and tear you from the sinews, with black punishments

70        gluttonous and greedy. Nor are naught your extravagances

that you here on earth displayed to men.

Therefore, it would prove quite better for you

than all the riches of the earth

(unless you had given them to God Himself)

75        if you had become, during the Creation, a bird or fish in the sea,

or a grazing beast of earth,

a field-moving cow without wisdom,

or the fiercest of wild beasts on wastelands,

if God had such will,

80        even if you were the worst of dragon-kind,

than that you ever became a man on the earth

or ever should have received baptism.

Then, you will have to answer for us both

on that great day when to all men

85        will be revealed the wounds which

wicked men earned long ago.

Then will the Lord Himself listen to the deeds

of the whole of mankind,

each one by mouth’s speech

90        for His requital wounds. But what will you there

utter to the Lord on Doomsday?

Then there is not one little joint that grows into a limb

but that you must pay a penalty for each

one separately. Then the Lord will be severe

95        of judgment. But what will we two do

when he has reunited us for another journey?

Then must we later bear together

such miseries as you imposed on us earlier.”

Thus it will revile the body, then it shall go away,

100      to seek not the joys of heaven,

but the grounds of hell, afflicted by deeds.

The dust remains where it was,

nor may it to him speak any answer, support or consolation,

no solace there or any promise

105            to the miserable ghost.

The head is split open, the hands cracked disjointedly,

the lips are yawning, the gums frayed asunder,

the tendons are sucked away, the neck is chewed scrupulously;

the tongue is gashed into ten slices as a relief

110      for the ravenous worms. Therefore it cannot efficiently

exchange words with the wretched soul.

Gluttony is the brand of the worm whose jaws are

sharper than a needle. It ventures forth,

sooner than the rest, into the grave.

115      He pulls open the tongue and penetrates through the teeth,

making room for the others to feast,

and eats through the eye, into the head,

a banquet for worms. When that weary

body has cooled, which was formerly

120      clothed with garments, then it will be worm’s tonic

in the earth.

 

May all of the wise be reminded of that.