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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘Judith’

By Anglo-Saxon Literature

Translation of James Mercer Garnett

[The Assyrian officers, obeying the commands of Holofernes, come to the carouse.]

THEY then at the feast proceeded to sit,

The proud to the wine-drinking, all his comrades-in-ill,

Bold mailèd-warriors. There were lofty beakers

Oft borne along the benches, also were cups and flagons

Full to the hall-sitters borne. The fated partook of them,

Brave warriors-with-shields, though the mighty weened not of it,

Awful lord of earls. Then was Holofernes,

Gold-friend of men, full of wine-joy:

He laughed and clamored, shouted and dinned,

That children of men from afar might hear

How the strong-minded both stormed and yelled,

Moody and mead-drunken, often admonished

The sitters-on-benches to bear themselves well.

Thus did the hateful one during all day

His liege-men loyal keep plying with wine,

Stout-hearted giver of treasure, until they lay in a swoon.

[Holofernes has been slain by Judith. The Hebrews, encouraged by her, surprise the drunken and sleeping Assyrians.]

Then the band of the brave was quickly prepared,

Of the bold for battle; stepped out the valiant

Men and comrades, bore their banners,

Went forth to fight straight on their way

The heroes ’neath helmets from the holy city

At the dawn itself; shields made a din,

Loudly resounded. Thereat laughed the lank

Wolf in the wood, and the raven wan,

Fowl greedy for slaughter: both of them knew

That for them the warriors thought to provide

Their fill on the fated; and flew on their track

The dewy-winged eagle eager for prey,

The dusky-coated sang his war-song,

The crooked-beaked. Stepped forth the warriors,

The heroes for battle with boards protected,

With hollow shields, who awhile before

The foreign-folk’s reproach endured,

The heathens’ scorn; fiercely was that

At the ash-spear’s play to them all repaid,

All the Assyrians, after the Hebrews

Under their banners had boldly advanced

To the army-camps. They bravely then

Forthright let fly showers of arrows,

Of battle-adders, out from the horn-bows,

Of strongly-made shafts; stormed they aloud,

The cruel warriors, sent forth their spears

Among the brave; the heroes were angry,

The dwellers-in-land, with the loathèd race;

The stern-minded stepped, the stout-in-heart,

Rudely awakened their ancient foes

Weary from mead; with hands drew forth

The men from the sheaths the brightly-marked swords

Most choice in their edges, eagerly struck

Of the host of Assyrians the battle-warriors,

The hostile-minded; not one they spared

Of the army-folk, nor low nor high

Of living men, whom they might subdue.