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The Seven Deadly Sins A line-by-line translation by Sujaan Mukherjee
The proud(s) are his trumpeters, draw wind inward with worldly (OE woroldlic) praise (OE herian + word) and often with idle (vain) boasting (OE gielp) puff it outward as the trumpeters do, make noise and loud sound to display (OE sceawian) their pride (OE orgel). But if they thought well of God¶s trumpeters, of the angels trumpeting which should in the four quarters of the world, before the dreadful judgement day, grimly blow, ³Arise! Dead, arise! Come to Lord¶s judgement in order to be deemed/judged, where no proud trumpeter shall be saved!´ ± if they thought this well (contemplated this carefully), they would soon enough in the devil¶s service more quietly be. Of these tricks St Jerome said: A wild ass accustomed to the wilderness in the desire of his heart snuffed up the wind of his heart ± about the wind being out for love of praise, he says what I said. Some clowns (OF juglere, joglere) are the «. perform no other entertainment but making faces, twist (OE wrencan) the mouth / distorting the mouth, squinting with the eye. Of this master serve the wretched (OE unsælig) envious people (OE anda) in the devil¶s court, to make laugh their malicious lord. If I say that others do well, he may not in any way look there with right eye of good heart, but wink in that half and look and with the left if there is anything to criticize, or shall [look at] that with ill will with both. When they hear anything good, flap their ears down; but the left is always wide open towards evil. Then he wrenches the mouth when he turns good to evil, and if it is some part evil, through more detraction (ON lasta) drags it to worse. These are forecasters, prophets of their own doom; These portend before they who horribly (ætelic) devil¶s shall yet terrify them with their gnashing of teeth, and who shall himself gnash and snivel and make rueful faces (OF semblaunt) for the much anguish (OF anguisse) in the pain of hell. But because they are the less to be pitied in as much as they before hand learn [from?] their master to make grim faces. The wrathful before the fiend tosses (AN askirmir) knives and in his knife-throwing, and plays with swords, bores (a hole?) them with the sharp point up on his tongue. Sword and knife both both represent sharp and cutting (OE ceorfan) words that he throws from him and
throws towards others; and he portends how the devil shall play with him with their sharp flesh hooks (OE wol), toss with him around and fling like a bit of old fur each towards [the] other, and with the swords of hell pierce him through and through, that are keen and horrible and cutting sharp (ppl. Adj. OE ceorfan) pains. The slothful lie and sleep in the devil¶s bosom as his dear darling and the devil tells his lies down to his ear and lies to him all that he will. For so it is certainly to whom who is idle of good: the fiend speaks eagerly and the idle receives lovingly his learning. Idle and heedless is the devil¶s son¶s sleep, but he shall on Doomsday grimly awaken from the dreadful sound of the angel blowing and in hell¶s misery (ON vantrædi) awaken. ³Arise´, they say, ³arise you dead, and come to the judgement of the Saviour.´ The miser is his ash-fool, busies himself with ashes and busily occupies himself to heap together great and many heaps, blows in them and blinds himself, stirs and makes in them arithmetical figures as the calculators do and they have much to calculate. This is all the fool¶s bliss, and the fiend beholds this game and laughs till he bursts. Each wise man well understands that gold and silver too and each earthly possession is nothing but earth and ash that blind each man who in them blows, that is, the who puffs himself up pride of heart as a consequence of them. And all he heaps and gathers together and retains of anything that is nothing but ash over and above what is essential, shall in hell become for him (weor[th]an) toads (OE t dige) and adders (OE næddre); and also, as Isiah says, shall be of worms his bedspread (OF couveture) and his blanket, who would not therewith the needful feed and clothe. ³Under thee shall the moth be strewed, and worms shall be your covering.´ The greedy (ivere from OE g fre) glutton is the devil¶s manciple1, but he sticks (OE stician) ever to the cellar or in the kitchen; his heart is in the dishes, his thought all in the cups, his life in the barrel (OE tunne), his soul in the jug. [He] Comes before his lord besmeared and beslobbered, a dish in his hand, a bowl (ON scál) in his other, pronounces bad words, staggers (MLG wiggelen) as a fore-drunk man who is about to fall. [The devil] Beholds his great stomach, and the devil laughs. Through Isiah, God threatens these: My servants shall eat, and you shall be hungry, etc. µMy men shall eat and you (dative ow) shall always be hungry¶, and you shall be on fiend¶s food till the world ends, eternally (OE b tan). ³As much
One who buys provisions for the household. French word, first known usage.
as she has glorified herself and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her. In the apocalypse. IN return for one cup wherein she hath mingled, mingle ye double unto her¶. If the boozer (OE celc + pot) boiling brass drinks. Pour in his wide throat that inside may melt. In return for one, give him two! Such is God¶s judgement against gluttons and drunken in the Apocalypse. The lechers in the devil¶s court have rightly their own name, for in these great courts (AN curt) those are called lechers who have so lost (OE forleosan) shame that to them there is(not) nothing of shame, but [they] seek whom they may the greatest villainy work. The lecher in the devil¶s court befouls himself fully and his fellows (OE feolaga < ON felagi) all, stink of that filth, and gratifies well his lord with that stinking breath better than he should with any sweet riches. How he stinks to God in Vitas Patrum (Lives of the Fathers) the angel showed it, who holds his nose when there comes the proud lecher riding, and not for the rotted body that he helps the holy hermit to bury. Of all the other then have these that foulest master in the fiend¶s court who so befouls himself, and he shall befoul them, pain them with eternal stench in the pit of hell. Now you who have any part heard, my dear sisters, of those which we call the seven mother sins and of their brood, and of which masters these each men serve in the devil¶s court who have married those seven hags, and which of they are greatly to hate and to shun. You are very far from them, our Lord be thanked; but that foul breath of this last vice, that is lechery, stinks the best by far, because the field sows it, and blows it over all, that I am some-part afraid lest it rise some time into our heart¶s nose. Stench rises (OE st gan) upwards, and you be climbed high where the wind is greatly of strong temptations. Our Lord give us good strength to withstand!
From A book of Middle English, 3rd edition, ed. J.A. Burrow and Thorlac Turville-Petre.