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

IV. Cornish: From ‘Origo Mundi,’ in the ‘Ordinalia’

By Celtic Literature

  • [Seth, being sent to fetch the oil of mercy from Paradise for his dying father, comes to the guardian cherub.]

  • CHERUBIN—Seth, what is thine errand,

    That thou comest so far?

    Tell me anon.

    Seth—O Angel, I will tell it thee:

    My father is old and weary;

    He wishes no longer to live;

    And through me he prayed thee

    To tell the truth

    Of the oil of mercy promised

    To him at the last day.

    Cherubin—Within the gate put thou thy head,

    And behold it all, nor fear,

    Whatever thou seest.

    And look on all sides,

    Spy out every detail,

    Search out everything carefully.

    Seth—Very gladly I will do it;

    I am glad to have permission

    To know what is there

    And tell it to my father.[And he looks and turns round, saying:

    Fair field to behold is this;

    Hapless he who lost the land.

    But for the tree I wonder greatly

    That it should be dry.

    But I trow that it went dry

    And all was made bare, for the sin

    Which my father and mother sinned.

    Like the prints of their feet,

    They all became dry as herbs,

    Alas, when the morsel was eaten.

    Cherubin—O Seth, thou art come

    Within the gate of Paradise:

    Tell me what thou sawest.

    Seth—All the beauty that I saw

    Tongue of man can never tell,

    Of good fruits and beauteous flowers,

    Of minstrels and sweet song,

    A fountain bright as silver,

    And flowing from it four great streams,

    That there is a desire to gaze upon them.

    In it there is a tree,

    High and with many boughs,

    But they are bare and leafless.

    Bark there is none around it;

    From the stem to the head

    All its branches are bare.

    And below when I looked,

    I saw its roots

    Even into hell descending,

    In the midst of great darkness;

    And its branches growing up

    Even to heaven high in light.

    And it was wholly without bark,

    Both the head and the boughs.

    Cherubin—Look yet again within,

    And all else thou shalt see

    Before thou come from it.

    Seth—I am happy to have leave;

    I will go to the gate at once,

    That I may see further good.[He goes and looks and returns.

    Cherubin—Dost thou see more now

    Than what there was just now?

    Seth—There is a serpent in the tree:

    Truly a hideous beast is he.

    Cherubin—Go yet the third time to it,

    And look better at the tree.

    Look what you can see on it

    Besides roots and branches.

    Seth—Cherubin, angel of the God of grace,

    High in the branches of the tree I saw

    A new-born child, wrapped in swaddling clothes

    And bound with bands.

    Cherubin—It was God’s son that thou sawest,

    Like a child in swaddling clothes.

    He will redeem Adam thy father

    With his flesh and blood likewise,

    When the time is come,

    And thy mother and all good people.

    He is the oil of mercy

    Which was promised to thy father.

    Through his death truly

    Shall all the world be saved.