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ANGLO-SAXON DESCRIPTION OF PARADISE.
The Phænix, a Paraphrase of the Carmen de Phænice, ascribed to Lactantius,
Codex Exoniensis. Tr. by B. Thorpe, p. 197.
I have heard tell, that there is far hence in eastern parts a land most noble, amongst men renowned. That tract of earth is not over mid-earth fellow to many peopled lands; but it is withdrawn through the Creator's might from wicked doers. Beauteous is all the plain, with delights blessed, with the sweetest of earth's odors : unique is that island, noble the Maker, lofty, in powers abounding, who the land founded. There is oft open towards the happy, unclosed, (delight of sounds !) heaven-kingdom's door. That is a pleasant plain, green wolds, spacious under heaven; there may not rain nor snow, nor rage of frost, nor fire's blast, nor fall of hail, nor descent of rime, nor heat of sun, nor perpetual cold, nor warm weather, nor winter shower, aught injure; but the plain rests happy and healthful. That noble land is with blossoms flowered :
nor hills nor mountains there stand steep, nor stony cliffs tower high, as here with us; nor dells nor dales, nor mountain-caves, risings nor hilly chains ; nor thereon rests aught unsmooth, but the noble field flourishes under the skies with delights blooming. That glorious land is higher by twelve fold of fathom measure, (as us the skilful have informed, sages through wisdom in writings show,) than any of those hills that brightly here with us tower high, under the stars of heaven. Serene is the glorious plain, the sunny bower glitters, the woody holt, joyously ; the fruits fall not, the bright products, but the trees ever stand green, as them God hath commanded ; in winter and in summer the forest is alike hung with fruits, never fade the leaves in air, nor will Aame them injure, ever throughout ages, ere that an end to the world shall be. What time of old the water's mass
all mid-earth, the sea-flood decked the earth's circumference, then the noble plain in all ways secure against the billowy course stood preserved, of the rough waves, happy, inviolate, through God's favor : it shall abide thus blooming, until the coming of the fire of the Lord's doom ; when the death-houses, men's dark chambers, shall be opened. There is not in that land hateful enmity, nor wail nor vengeance, evil-token none, old age nor misery, nor the narrow death, nor loss of life, nor coming of enemy, nor sin nor strife, nor painful exile, nor poor one's toil, nor desire of wealth, nor care nor sleep, nor grievous sickness, nor winter's darts, nor dread of tempests rough under heaven, nor the hard frost with cold chill icicles striketh any. There nor hail nor rime on the land descend, nor windy cloud, nor there water falls agitated in air, but there liquid streams wonderously curious,
wells spring forth with fair bubblings from earth; o'er the soil glide pleasant waters from the wood's midst; there each month from the turf of earth sea-cold they burst, all the grove pervade at times abundantly. It is God's behest, that twelve times the glorious land sports over the joy of water-floods. The groves are with produce hung, with beauteous fruits ; there wane not holy under heaven the holt's decorations, nor fall there on earth the fallow blossoms, beauty of forest-trees, but there wonderously on the trees ever the laden branches, the renovated fruit, at all times on the grassy plain stand green, gloriously adorned through the Holy's might, brightest of groves ! Not broken is the wood in aspect : there a holy fragrance rests o'er the pleasant land. That shall not be changed forever throughout ages, until shall end his wise work of yore he who at first created it.
END OF VOL. I.