Latin - Aldhelm - Carmen Rhythmicum

‘Rhythmic Verse’: A great storm blows the roof off the church

What shall I say about the mighty 
works of the High-Throned One [i.e. God], 
which in their number nobody can 
reckon by counting? 
Lo! many are now plainly 
apparent in this miracle [which follows here], 
by Christ’s clear clemency, 
through these recent events! 
When the fourth cockcrows, 
as if it were the fourth watch of the night, 
woke up with ringing  
songs the slumbering men, 
then, standing in two ranks 
singing together, we’re celebrating 
the melody of matins 
and the psalm-singing of the Office:
behold! suddenly with a blast [of wind] the columns 
were rocking out of their foundations;
whole beams with their 
mighty timbers shaken 
were tottering, on every 
side of the church, battered. 
At these towering tempests 
and terrifying twisters 
our hearts quaked 
when our eyes saw 
so many monstrous portents: 
the panels of the roof 
with horrific-sounding crashes 
and creaks, smitten. 
Then at length in a rush the crowd,
abandoning the shattered building,
made for the door of the church, 
as disaster wrought its havoc: 
thus dangers are averted 
by Mother’s aid! [i.e. the Virgin Mary] 
Some men, the peril, with two  
leaps escaping 
across the steep and slippery
sides of the sloping terrain,
were greatly afraid 
of the church destroyed by the uproar. 
Afterwards, when the black shadows 
had passed over, as darkness’s 
veil faded away, 
at the rising of the sun’s light, 
blind blackness rent asunder, 
as if [it were] death’s likeness, 
then, seeing, from the church,
the scattered fragments of wood,
I said ‘Look’! The night’s terrible 
spectacles are now plain to see! 
See, the roof-beams of the church 
tumbled right down to the foundations, 
where once the purest sweet delights [of praise? of the Eucharist?] 
were wont to be taken up.’

© Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic