Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Elders of the End of the World

More bitter to me than Death coming between my teeth are the folk that will come after me, who will be all of one kind.

Wicked is the time which will come then; envy, murder, oppression of the weak, every harm coming swiftly, and neither layman righteous nor righteous priest.

No king who concedes right or justice, no virgin bishop over the altar, no landowner who will raise tithes from his herds and his fine cattle.

The elders who did God's will at the beginning of time were bare-haunched, scurvy, muddy; they were not stout and fat.

The men of keen learning, who served the King of the Sun, did not molest boys or women; their natures were pure.

Scanty shirts, clumsy cloaks, hearts weary and piteous, short rough shocks of hair - and very rough monastic rules.

There will come here after that the elders of the latter-day world, with plunder, with cattle, with mitres, with rings, with chessboards,

With silk and sarsenet and satin, with delightful featherbeds after drinking, with contempt for the wisdom of beloved God - they shall be in the safe-keeping of the Devil.

I tell the seed of Adam, the hypocrites will come, they will assume the shapes of God - the slippery ones, the robbers.

They shall fade away with the same speed as grass and young corn in the green earth; they shall pass away together like the flower of the fields.

The imposters of the latter-day world shall all go on one path, into the grasp of the Devil, by God' will, into dark bitter torments.

Irish, author unknown, twelfth century?
From 'A Celtic Miscellany', Penguin Classics.

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