Ancient chant called
Where be’th they, beforen us weren?
Where have they gone, who went before,
Who followed the hounds, forevermore?
Whose falcons turn and stoop* no more,
Their woods and fields now they lie within,
And we must become, as they have been;
As they are now so we shall be...
This poem belongs to a genre popular both in Latin and vernacular languages in the Middle Ages, "ubi sunt" (where are they now) verse. I started with the idea of translating a well-known Middle English poem, whose first line I have retained, but what you see is as far as I got.
* "stoop" is a falconers' term for the hawk's descent on its prey. I considered using "swoop" but thought it too hackneyed. A good friend of mine with excellent literary taste told me I made the wrong choice. She now lies within the woods and fields herself, so I know I wrong her by ignoring her view. Nevertheless, it is here as I wrote it, unfinished.