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Translated by Gummere
Beowulf
Copyright statement:
This text is published free of charge and can be freely distributed and redistributed in any
medium without penalty. It is published under the fair use provision of United States
Copyright laws and is intended solely for non-profit, educational, scholarly and private
entertainment use.
Adobe PDF formatting by James M. Esch
published in 1999 by Orange Street Press
http://www.keystonenet.com/~jesch/osp/
sparks@eserver.org
Author of Beowulf is Anonymous. The text was probably written around 900 AD.
This text is based upon the edition prepared in July, 1997 [Etext #981] by Robin Katsuya-
Corbet (corbet@astro.psu.edu) from scanner output provided by Internet Wiretap.
NOTE that gaps exist in this text, due to the fact that the only extant manuscript was fire
damaged and is incomplete. This explains the broken sequence of chapter numbers.
Cover art: A buckle or reliquary from the age of Beowulf superimposed onto an image of
the Beowful manuscript itself.
3
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Contents
I........................................................................................................................................... 9
II ....................................................................................................................................... 14
III ...................................................................................................................................... 19
IV...................................................................................................................................... 24
V ....................................................................................................................................... 28
VI ...................................................................................................................................... 31
VII .................................................................................................................................... 37
VIII ................................................................................................................................... 40
IX...................................................................................................................................... 44
X ....................................................................................................................................... 50
XI ...................................................................................................................................... 53
XII .................................................................................................................................... 58
XIII ................................................................................................................................... 61
XIV................................................................................................................................... 67
XV .................................................................................................................................... 71
XVI ................................................................................................................................... 75
XVII ................................................................................................................................. 81
XVIII ................................................................................................................................ 86
XIX ................................................................................................................................... 90
XX..................................................................................................................................... 94
XXI ................................................................................................................................... 98
XXI ................................................................................................................................. 104
XXIII .............................................................................................................................. 109
XXIV .............................................................................................................................. 115
4
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XXV................................................................................................................................ 121
XXVI .............................................................................................................................. 126
XXVII ............................................................................................................................. 131
XXVIII ........................................................................................................................... 136
XXXI .............................................................................................................................. 147
XXXII ............................................................................................................................. 152
XXXIII ........................................................................................................................... 158
XXXIV ........................................................................................................................... 163
XXXV............................................................................................................................. 168
XXXVI ........................................................................................................................... 177
XXXVII .......................................................................................................................... 183
XXXVIII ........................................................................................................................ 187
XXXIX............................................................................................................................ 191
XL ................................................................................................................................... 196
XLI ................................................................................................................................. 200
XLII ................................................................................................................................ 207
XLIII .............................................................................................................................. 212
5
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PRELUDE OF THE FOUNDER OF THE DANISH HOUSE
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
till before him the folk, both far and near,
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
gave him gifts: a good king he!
To him an heir was afterward born,
a son in his halls, whom heaven sent
to favor the folk, feeling their woe
that erst they had lacked an earl for leader
so long a while; the Lord endowed him,
the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.
6
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Famed was this Beowulf:
1
far flew the boast of him,
son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.
So becomes it a youth to quit him well
with his father's friends, by fee and gift,
that to aid him, aged, in after days,
come warriors willing, should war draw nigh,
liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds
shall an earl have honor in every clan.
Forth he fared at the fated moment,
sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.
Then they bore him over to ocean's billow,
loving clansmen, as late he charged them,
while wielded words the winsome Scyld,
the leader beloved who long had ruled....
In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,
ice-flecked, outbound, atheling's barge:
there laid they down their darling lord
7
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on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,
2
by the mast the mighty one. Many a treasure
fetched from far was freighted with him.
No ship have I known so nobly dight
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,
with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay
a heaped hoard that hence should go
far o'er the flood with him floating away.
No less these loaded the lordly gifts,
thanes' huge treasure, than those had done
who in former time forth had sent him
sole on the seas, a suckling child.
High o'er his head they hoist the standard,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,
gave him to ocean. Grave were their spirits,
mournful their mood. No man is able
to say in sooth, no son of the halls,
no hero 'neath heaven, -- who harbored that freight!
8
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1
Not, of course, Beowulf the Great, hero of the epic.
2
Kenning for king or chieftain of a comitatus: he breaks off gold from the spiral
rings - often worn on the arm -- and so rewards his followers.
9
*-97.
1
Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
leader beloved, and long he ruled
in fame with all folk, since his father had gone
away from the world, till awoke an heir,
haughty Healfdene, who held through life,
sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.
Then, one after one, there woke to him,
to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:
Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;
and I heard that -- was -- 's queen,
the Heathoscylfing's helpmate dear.
To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,
such honor of combat, that all his kin
obeyed him gladly till great grew his band
of youthful comrades. It came in his mind
to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,
ia master mead-house, mightier far
I
10
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than ever was seen by the sons of earth,
and within it, then, to old and young
he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
save only the land and the lives of his men.
Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,
for many a tribe this mid-earth round,
to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,
in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,
of halls the noblest: Heorot
1
he named it
whose message had might in many a land.
Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,
treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,
high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting
of furious flame.
2
Nor far was that day
when father and son-in-law stood in feud
for warfare and hatred that woke again.
3
With envy and anger an evil spirit
endured the dole in his dark abode,
I
11
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that he heard each day the din of revel
high in the hall: there harps rang out,
clear song of the singer. He sang who knew
4
tales of the early time of man,
how the Almighty made the earth,
fairest fields enfolded by water,
set, triumphant, sun and moon
for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,
and braided bright the breast of earth
with limbs and leaves, made life for all
of mortal beings that breathe and move.
So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel
a winsome life, till one began
to fashion evils, that field of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
march-riever
5
mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
I
12
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since the Creator his exile doomed.
On kin of Cain was the killing avenged
by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.
Ill fared his feud,
6
and far was he driven,
for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men.
Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,
Etins
7
and elves and evil-spirits,
as well as the giants that warred with God
weary while: but their wage was paid them!
1
That is, "The Hart," or "Stag," so called from decorations in the gables that
resembled the antlers of a deer. This hall has been carefully described in a pam-
phlet by Heyne. The building was rectangular, with opposite doors -- mainly
west and east -- and a hearth in the middle of th single room. A row of pillars
down each side, at some distance from the walls, made a space which was raised a
little above the main floor, and was furnished with two rows of seats. On one
side, usually south, was the high-seat midway between the doors. Opposite this,
on the other raised space, was another seat of honor. At the banquet soon to be
described, Hrothgar sat in the south or chief high-seat, and Beowulf opposite to
him. The scene for a flying (see below, v.499) was thus very effectively set. Planks
on trestles -- the "board" of later English literature -- formed the tables just in
front of the long rows of seats, and were taken away after banquets, when the
retainers were ready to stretch them- selves out for sleep on the benches.
2
Fire was the usual end of these halls. See v. 781 below. One thinks of the splen-
did scene at the end of the Nibelungen, of the Nialssaga, of Saxo's story of
Amlethus, and many a less famous instance.
3
It is to be supposed that all hearers of this poem knew how Hrothgar's hall was
burnt, -- perhaps in the unsuccessful attack made on him by his son-in-law Ingeld.
I
13
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4
A skilled minstrel. The Danes are heathens, as one is told presently; but this lay of
beginnings is taken from Genesis.
5
A disturber of the border, one who sallies from his haunt in the fen and roams
over the country near by. This probably pagan nuisance is now furnished with
biblical credentials as a fiend or devil in good standing, so that all Christian
Englishmen might read about him. "Grendel" may mean one who grinds and
crushes.
6
Cain's.
7
Giants.
I
14
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11
WENT he forth to find at fall of night
that haughty house, and heed wherever
the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.
Found within it the atheling band
asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,
of human hardship. Unhallowed wight,
grim and greedy, he grasped betimes,
wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,
thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed
fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,
laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.
Then at the dawning, as day was breaking,
the might of Grendel to men was known;
then after wassail was wail uplifted,
loud moan in the morn. The mighty chief,
atheling excellent, unblithe sat,
labored in woe for the loss of his thanes,
II
15
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when once had been traced the trail of the fiend,
spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow,
too long, too loathsome. Not late the respite;
with night returning, anew began
ruthless murder; he recked no whit,
firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime.
They were easy to find who elsewhere sought
in room remote their rest at night,
bed in the bowers,
1
when that bale was shown,
was seen in sooth, with surest token, --
the hall-thane's
2
hate. Such held themselves
far and fast who the fiend outran!
Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill
one against all; until empty stood
that lordly building, and long it bode so.
Twelve years' tide the trouble he bore,
sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,
boundless cares. There came unhidden
II
16
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tidings true to the tribes of men,
in sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel
harassed Hrothgar, what hate he bore him,
what murder and massacre, many a year,
feud unfading, -- refused consent
to deal with any of Daneland's earls,
make pact of peace, or compound for gold:
still less did the wise men ween to get
great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.
But the evil one ambushed old and young
death-shadow dark, and dogged them still,
lured, or lurked in the livelong night
of misty moorlands: men may say not
where the haunts of these Hell-Runes
3
be.
Such heaping of horrors the hater of men,
lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,
harassings heavy. O'er Heorot he lorded,
gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;
II
17
*-97.
and ne'er could the prince
4
approach his throne,
-- 'twas judgment of God, -- or have joy in his hall.
Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings'-friend,
heart-rending misery. Many nobles
sat assembled, and searched out counsel
how it were best for bold-hearted men
against harassing terror to try their hand.
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes
altar-offerings, asked with words
5
that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them
for the pain of their people. Their practice this,
their heathen hope; 'twas Hell they thought of
in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not,
Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,
nor Heaven's-Helmet heeded they ever,
Wielder-of-Wonder. -- Woe for that man
who in harm and hatred hales his soul
to fiery embraces; -- nor favor nor change
II
18
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awaits he ever. But well for him
that after death-day may draw to his Lord,
and friendship find in the Father's arms!
1
The smaller buildings within the main enclosure but separate from the hall.
2
Grendel.
3
"Sorcerers-of-hell."
4
Hrothgar, who is the "Scyldings'-friend" of 170.
5
That is, in formal or prescribed phrase.
II
19
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111
THUS seethed unceasing the son of Healfdene
with the woe of these days; not wisest men
assuaged his sorrow; too sore the anguish,
loathly and long, that lay on his folk,
most baneful of burdens and bales of the night.
This heard in his home Hygelac's thane,
great among Geats, of Grendel's doings.
He was the mightiest man of valor
in that same day of this our life,
stalwart and stately. A stout wave-walker
he bade make ready. Yon battle-king, said he,
far o'er the swan-road he fain would seek,
the noble monarch who needed men!
The prince's journey by prudent folk
was little blamed, though they loved him dear;
they whetted the hero, and hailed good omens.
III
20
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And now the bold one from bands of Geats
comrades chose, the keenest of warriors
e'er he could find; with fourteen men
the sea-wood
1
he sought, and, sailor proved,
led them on to the land's confines.
Time had now flown;
2
afloat was the ship,
boat under bluff. On board they climbed,
warriors ready; waves were churning
sea with sand; the sailors bore
on the breast of the bark their bright array,
their mail and weapons: the men pushed off,
on its willing way, the well-braced craft.
Then moved o'er the waters by might of the wind
that bark like a bird with breast of foam,
till in season due, on the second day,
the curved prow such course had run
that sailors now could see the land,
sea-cliffs shining, steep high hills,
III
21
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headlands broad. Their haven was found,
their journey ended. Up then quickly
the Weders'
3
clansmen climbed ashore,
anchored their sea-wood, with armor clashing
and gear of battle: God they thanked
or passing in peace o'er the paths of the sea.
Now saw from the cliff a Scylding clansman,
a warden that watched the water-side,
how they bore o'er the gangway glittering shields,
war-gear in readiness; wonder seized him
to know what manner of men they were.
Straight to the strand his steed he rode,
Hrothgar's henchman; with hand of might
he shook his spear, and spake in parley.
"Who are ye, then, ye armed men,
mailed folk, that yon mighty vessel
have urged thus over the ocean ways,
here o'er the waters? A warden I,
III
22
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sentinel set o'er the sea-march here,
lest any foe to the folk of Danes
with harrying fleet should harm the land.
No aliens ever at ease thus bore them,
linden-wielders:
4
yet word-of-leave
clearly ye lack from clansmen here,
my folk's agreement. -- A greater ne'er saw I
of warriors in world than is one of you, --
yon hero in harness! No henchman he
worthied by weapons, if witness his features,
his peerless presence! I pray you, though, tell
your folk and home, lest hence ye fare
suspect to wander your way as spies
in Danish land. Now, dwellers afar,
ocean-travellers, take from me
simple advice: the sooner the better
I hear of the country whence ye came."
III
23
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1
Ship.
2
That is, since Beowulf selected his ship and led his men to the harbor.
3
One of the auxiliary names of the Geats.
4
Or: Not thus openly ever came warriors hither; yet...
III
24
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18
To him the stateliest spake in answer;
the warriors' leader his word-hoard unlocked: --
"We are by kin of the clan of Geats,
and Hygelac's own hearth-fellows we.
To folk afar was my father known,
noble atheling, Ecgtheow named.
Full of winters, he fared away
aged from earth; he is honored still
through width of the world by wise men all.
To thy lord and liege in loyal mood
we hasten hither, to Healfdene's son,
people-protector: be pleased to advise us!
To that mighty-one come we on mickle errand,
to the lord of the Danes; nor deem I right
that aught be hidden. We hear -- thou knowest
if sooth it is -- the saying of men,
that amid the Scyldings a scathing monster,
IV
25
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dark ill-doer, in dusky nights
shows terrific his rage unmatched,
hatred and murder. To Hrothgar I
in greatness of soul would succor bring,
so the Wise-and-Brave
1
may worst his foes, --
if ever the end of ills is fated,
of cruel contest, if cure shall follow,
and the boiling care-waves cooler grow;
else ever afterward anguish-days
he shall suffer in sorrow while stands in place
high on its hill that house unpeered!"
Astride his steed, the strand-ward answered,
clansman unquailing: "The keen-souled thane
must be skilled to sever and sunder duly
words and works, if he well intends.
I gather, this band is graciously bent
to the Scyldings' master. March, then, bearing
weapons and weeds the way I show you.
IV
26
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I will bid my men your boat meanwhile
to guard for fear lest foemen come, --
your new-tarred ship by shore of ocean
faithfully watching till once again
it waft o'er the waters those well-loved thanes,
-- winding-neck'd wood, -- to Weders' bounds,
heroes such as the hest of fate
shall succor and save from the shock of war."
They bent them to march, -- the boat lay still,
fettered by cable and fast at anchor,
broad-bosomed ship. -- Then shone the boars
2
over the cheek-guard; chased with gold,
keen and gleaming, guard it kept
o'er the man of war, as marched along
heroes in haste, till the hall they saw,
broad of gable and bright with gold:
that was the fairest, 'mid folk of earth,
of houses 'neath heaven, where Hrothgar lived,
IV
27
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and the gleam of it lightened o'er lands afar.
The sturdy shieldsman showed that bright
burg-of-the-boldest; bade them go
straightway thither; his steed then turned,
hardy hero, and hailed them thus: --
"Tis time that I fare from you. Father Almighty
in grace and mercy guard you well,
safe in your seekings. Seaward I go,
'gainst hostile warriors hold my watch."
1
Hrothgar.
2
Beowulf's helmet has several boar-images on it; he is the "man of war"; and the
boar-helmet guards him as typical representative of the marching party as a
whole. The boar was sacred to Freyr, who was the favorite god of the Germanic
tribes about the North Sea and the Baltic. Rude representations of warriors show
the boar on the helmet quite as large as the helmet itself.
IV
28
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8
STONE-BRIGHT the street:
1
it showed the way
to the crowd of clansmen. Corselets glistened
hand-forged, hard; on their harness bright
the steel ring sang, as they strode along
in mail of battle, and marched to the hall.
There, weary of ocean, the wall along
they set their bucklers, their broad shields, down,
and bowed them to bench: the breastplates clanged,
war-gear of men; their weapons stacked,
spears of the seafarers stood together,
gray-tipped ash: that iron band
was worthily weaponed! -- A warrior proud
asked of the heroes their home and kin.
"Whence, now, bear ye burnished shields,
harness gray and helmets grim,
spears in multitude? Messenger, I,
Hrothgar's herald! Heroes so many
V
29
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ne'er met I as strangers of mood so strong.
'Tis plain that for prowess, not plunged into exile,
for high-hearted valor, Hrothgar ye seek!"
Him the sturdy-in-war bespake with words,
proud earl of the Weders answer made,
hardy 'neath helmet: -- "Hygelac's, we,
fellows at board; I am Beowulf named.
I am seeking to say to the son of Healfdene
this mission of mine, to thy master-lord,
the doughty prince, if he deign at all
grace that we greet him, the good one, now."
Wulfgar spake, the Wendles' chieftain,
whose might of mind to many was known,
his courage and counsel: "The king of Danes,
the Scyldings' friend, I fain will tell,
the Breaker-of-Rings, as the boon thou askest,
the famed prince, of thy faring hither,
and, swiftly after, such answer bring
V
30
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as the doughty monarch may deign to give."
Hied then in haste to where Hrothgar sat
white-haired and old, his earls about him,
till the stout thane stood at the shoulder there
of the Danish king: good courtier he!
Wulfgar spake to his winsome lord: --
"Hither have fared to thee far-come men
o'er the paths of ocean, people of Geatland;
and the stateliest there by his sturdy band
is Beowulf named. This boon they seek,
that they, my master, may with thee
have speech at will: nor spurn their prayer
to give them hearing, gracious Hrothgar!
In weeds of the warrior worthy they,
methinks, of our liking; their leader most surely,
a hero that hither his henchmen has led."
1
Either merely paved, the strata via of the Romans, or else thought of as a sort of
mosaic, an extravagant touch like the reckless waste of gold on the walls and roofs
of a hall.
V
31
*-97.
81
HROTHGAR answered, helmet of Scyldings: --
"I knew him of yore in his youthful days;
his aged father was Ecgtheow named,
to whom, at home, gave Hrethel the Geat
his only daughter. Their offspring bold
fares hither to seek the steadfast friend.
And seamen, too, have said me this, --
who carried my gifts to the Geatish court,
thither for thanks, -- he has thirty men's
heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand,
the bold-in-battle. Blessed God
out of his mercy this man hath sent
to Danes of the West, as I ween indeed,
against horror of Grendel. I hope to give
the good youth gold for his gallant thought.
Be thou in haste, and bid them hither,
clan of kinsmen, to come before me;
VI
32
*-97.
and add this word, -- they are welcome guests
to folk of the Danes."
[To the door of the hall
Wulfgar went] and the word declared: --
"To you this message my master sends,
East-Danes' king, that your kin he knows,
hardy heroes, and hails you all
welcome hither o'er waves of the sea!
Ye may wend your way in war-attire,
and under helmets Hrothgar greet;
but let here the battle-shields bide your parley,
and wooden war-shafts wait its end."
Uprose the mighty one, ringed with his men,
brave band of thanes: some bode without,
battle-gear guarding, as bade the chief.
Then hied that troop where the herald led them,
under Heorot's roof: [the hero strode,]
hardy 'neath helm, till the hearth he neared.
VI
33
*-97.
Beowulf spake, -- his breastplate gleamed,
war-net woven by wit of the smith: --
"Thou Hrothgar, hail! Hygelac's I,
kinsman and follower. Fame a plenty
have I gained in youth! These Grendel-deeds
I heard in my home-land heralded clear.
Seafarers say how stands this hall,
of buildings best, for your band of thanes
empty and idle, when evening sun
in the harbor of heaven is hidden away.
So my vassals advised me well, --
brave and wise, the best of men, --
O sovran Hrothgar, to seek thee here,
for my nerve and my might they knew full well.
Themselves had seen me from slaughter come
blood-flecked from foes, where five I bound,
and that wild brood worsted. I' the waves I slew
nicors
1
by night, in need and peril
VI
34
*-97.
avenging the Weders,
2
whose woe they sought, --
crushing the grim ones. Grendel now,
monster cruel, be mine to quell
in single battle! So, from thee,
thou sovran of the Shining-Danes,
Scyldings'-bulwark, a boon I seek, --
and, Friend-of-the-folk, refuse it not,
O Warriors'-shield, now I've wandered far, --
that I alone with my liegemen here,
this hardy band, may Heorot purge!
More I hear, that the monster dire,
in his wanton mood, of weapons recks not;
hence shall I scorn -- so Hygelac stay,
king of my kindred, kind to me! --
brand or buckler to bear in the fight,
gold-colored targe: but with gripe alone
must I front the fiend and fight for life,
foe against foe. Then faith be his
VI
35
*-97.
in the doom of the Lord whom death shall take.
Fain, I ween, if the fight he win,
in this hall of gold my Geatish band
will he fearless eat, -- as oft before, --
my noblest thanes. Nor need'st thou then
to hide my head;
3
for his shall I be,
dyed in gore, if death must take me;
and my blood-covered body he'll bear as prey,
ruthless devour it, the roamer-lonely,
with my life-blood redden his lair in the fen:
no further for me need'st food prepare!
To Hygelac send, if Hild
4
should take me,
best of war-weeds, warding my breast,
armor excellent, heirloom of Hrethel
and work of Wayland.
5
Fares Wyrd
6
as she must."
1
The nicor, says Bugge, is a hippopotamus; a walrus, says ten Brink. But that
water-goblin who covers the space from Old Nick of jest to the Neckan and Nix
of poetry and tale, is all one needs, and Nicor is a good name for him.
2
His own people, the Geats.
VI
36
*-97.
3
That is, cover it as with a face-cloth. "There will be no need of funeral rites."
4
Personification of Battle.
5
The Germanic Vulcan.
6
This mighty power, whom the Christian poet can still revere, has here the general
force of "Destiny."
VI
37
*-97.
811
HROTHGAR spake, the Scyldings'-helmet: --
"For fight defensive, Friend my Beowulf,
to succor and save, thou hast sought us here.
Thy father's combat
1
a feud enkindled
when Heatholaf with hand he slew
among the Wylfings; his Weder kin
for horror of fighting feared to hold him.
Fleeing, he sought our South-Dane folk,
over surge of ocean the Honor-Scyldings,
when first I was ruling the folk of Danes,
wielded, youthful, this widespread realm,
this hoard-hold of heroes. Heorogar was dead,
my elder brother, had breathed his last,
Healfdene's bairn: he was better than I!
Straightway the feud with fee
2
I settled,
to the Wylfings sent, o'er watery ridges,
treasures olden: oaths he
3
swore me.
VII
38
*-97.
Sore is my soul to say to any
of the race of man what ruth for me
in Heorot Grendel with hate hath wrought,
what sudden harryings. Hall-folk fail me,
my warriors wane; for Wyrd hath swept them
into Grendel's grasp. But God is able
this deadly foe from his deeds to turn!
Boasted full oft, as my beer they drank,
earls o'er the ale-cup, armed men,
that they would bide in the beer-hall here,
Grendel's attack with terror of blades.
Then was this mead-house at morning tide
dyed with gore, when the daylight broke,
all the boards of the benches blood-besprinkled,
gory the hall: I had heroes the less,
doughty dear-ones that death had reft.
-- But sit to the banquet, unbind thy words,
hardy hero, as heart shall prompt thee."
VII
39
*-97.
Gathered together, the Geatish men
in the banquet-hall on bench assigned,
sturdy-spirited, sat them down,
hardy-hearted. A henchman attended,
carried the carven cup in hand,
served the clear mead. Oft minstrels sang
blithe in Heorot. Heroes revelled,
no dearth of warriors, Weder and Dane.
1
There is no irrelevance here. Hrothgar sees in Beowulf's mission a heritage of
duty, a return of the good offices which the Danish king rendered to Beowulf's
father in time of dire need.
2
Money, for wergild, or man-price.
3
Ecgtheow, Beowulf's sire.
VII
40
*-97.
8111
UNFERTH spake, the son of Ecglaf,
who sat at the feet of the Scyldings' lord,
unbound the battle-runes.
1
-- Beowulf's quest,
sturdy seafarer's, sorely galled him;
ever he envied that other men
should more achieve in middle-earth
of fame under heaven than he himself. --
"Art thou that Beowulf, Breca's rival,
who emulous swam on the open sea,
when for pride the pair of you proved the floods,
and wantonly dared in waters deep
to risk your lives? No living man,
or lief or loath, from your labor dire
could you dissuade, from swimming the main.
Ocean-tides with your arms ye covered,
with strenuous hands the sea-streets measured,
swam o'er the waters. Winter's storm
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41
*-97.
rolled the rough waves. In realm of sea
a sennight strove ye. In swimming he topped thee,
had more of main! Him at morning-tide
billows bore to the Battling Reamas,
whence he hied to his home so dear
beloved of his liegemen, to land of Brondings,
fastness fair, where his folk he ruled,
town and treasure. In triumph o'er thee
Beanstan's bairn
2
his boast achieved.
So ween I for thee a worse adventure
-- though in buffet of battle thou brave hast been,
in struggle grim, -- if Grendel's approach
thou darst await through the watch of night!"
Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"What a deal hast uttered, dear my Unferth,
drunken with beer, of Breca now,
told of his triumph! Truth I claim it,
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42
*-97.
that I had more of might in the sea
than any man else, more ocean-endurance.
We twain had talked, in time of youth,
and made our boast, -- we were merely boys,
striplings still, -- to stake our lives
far at sea: and so we performed it.
Naked swords, as we swam along,
we held in hand, with hope to guard us
against the whales. Not a whit from me
could he float afar o'er the flood of waves,
haste o'er the billows; nor him I abandoned.
Together we twain on the tides abode
five nights full till the flood divided us,
churning waves and chillest weather,
darkling night, and the northern wind
ruthless rushed on us: rough was the surge.
Now the wrath of the sea-fish rose apace;
yet me 'gainst the monsters my mailed coat,
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hard and hand-linked, help afforded, --
battle-sark braided my breast to ward,
garnished with gold. There grasped me firm
and haled me to bottom the hated foe,
with grimmest gripe. 'Twas granted me, though,
to pierce the monster with point of sword,
with blade of battle: huge beast of the sea
was whelmed by the hurly through hand of mine.
1
"Began the fight."
2
Breca.
VIII
44
*-97.
1:
ME thus often the evil monsters
thronging threatened. With thrust of my sword,
the darling, I dealt them due return!
Nowise had they bliss from their booty then
to devour their victim, vengeful creatures,
seated to banquet at bottom of sea;
but at break of day, by my brand sore hurt,
on the edge of ocean up they lay,
put to sleep by the sword. And since, by them
on the fathomless sea-ways sailor-folk
are never molested. -- Light from east,
came bright God's beacon; the billows sank,
so that I saw the sea-cliffs high,
windy walls. For Wyrd oft saveth
earl undoomed if he doughty be!
And so it came that I killed with my sword
nine of the nicors. Of night-fought battles
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ne'er heard I a harder 'neath heaven's dome,
nor adrift on the deep a more desolate man!
Yet I came unharmed from that hostile clutch,
though spent with swimming. The sea upbore me,
flood of the tide, on Finnish land,
the welling waters. No wise of thee
have I heard men tell such terror of falchions,
bitter battle. Breca ne'er yet,
not one of you pair, in the play of war
such daring deed has done at all
with bloody brand, -- I boast not of it! --
though thou wast the bane
1
of thy brethren dear,
thy closest kin, whence curse of hell
awaits thee, well as thy wit may serve!
For I say in sooth, thou son of Ecglaf,
never had Grendel these grim deeds wrought,
monster dire, on thy master dear,
in Heorot such havoc, if heart of thine
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46
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were as battle-bold as thy boast is loud!
But he has found no feud will happen;
from sword-clash dread of your Danish clan
he vaunts him safe, from the Victor-Scyldings.
He forces pledges, favors none
of the land of Danes, but lustily murders,
fights and feasts, nor feud he dreads
from Spear-Dane men. But speedily now
shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats,
shall bid him battle. Blithe to mead
go he that listeth, when light of dawn
this morrow morning o'er men of earth,
ether-robed sun from the south shall beam!"
Joyous then was the Jewel-giver,
hoar-haired, war-brave; help awaited
the Bright-Danes' prince, from Beowulf hearing,
folk's good shepherd, such firm resolve.
Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding
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with winsome words. Came Wealhtheow forth,
queen of Hrothgar, heedful of courtesy,
gold-decked, greeting the guests in hall;
and the high-born lady handed the cup
first to the East-Danes' heir and warden,
bade him be blithe at the beer-carouse,
the land's beloved one. Lustily took he
banquet and beaker, battle-famed king.
Through the hall then went the Helmings' Lady,
to younger and older everywhere
carried the cup, till come the moment
when the ring-graced queen, the royal-hearted,
to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead.
She greeted the Geats' lord, God she thanked,
in wisdom's words, that her will was granted,
that at last on a hero her hope could lean
for comfort in terrors. The cup he took,
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48
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hardy-in-war, from Wealhtheow's hand,
and answer uttered the eager-for-combat.
Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"This was my thought, when my thanes and I
bent to the ocean and entered our boat,
that I would work the will of your people
fully, or fighting fall in death,
in fiend's gripe fast. I am firm to do
an earl's brave deed, or end the days
of this life of mine in the mead-hall here."
Well these words to the woman seemed,
Beowulf's battle-boast. -- Bright with gold
the stately dame by her spouse sat down.
Again, as erst, began in hall
warriors' wassail and words of power,
the proud-band's revel, till presently
the son of Healfdene hastened to seek
rest for the night; he knew there waited
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49
*-97.
fight for the fiend in that festal hall,
when the sheen of the sun they saw no more,
and dusk of night sank darkling nigh,
and shadowy shapes came striding on,
wan under welkin. The warriors rose.
Man to man, he made harangue,
Hrothgar to Beowulf, bade him hail,
let him wield the wine hall: a word he added: --
"Never to any man erst I trusted,
since I could heave up hand and shield,
this noble Dane-Hall, till now to thee.
Have now and hold this house unpeered;
remember thy glory; thy might declare;
watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee
if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life."
1
Murder.
IX
50
*-97.
:
THEN Hrothgar went with his hero-train,
defence-of-Scyldings, forth from hall;
fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek,
couch of his queen. The King-of-Glory
against this Grendel a guard had set,
so heroes heard, a hall-defender,
who warded the monarch and watched for the monster.
In truth, the Geats' prince gladly trusted
his mettle, his might, the mercy of God!
Cast off then his corselet of iron,
helmet from head; to his henchman gave, --
choicest of weapons, -- the well-chased sword,
bidding him guard the gear of battle.
Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man,
Beowulf Geat, ere the bed be sought: --
"Of force in fight no feebler I count me,
in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.
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*-97.
Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death
his life will I give, though it lie in my power.
No skill is his to strike against me,
my shield to hew though he hardy be,
bold in battle; we both, this night,
shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,
unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,
sacred Lord, on which side soever
doom decree as he deemeth right."
Reclined then the chieftain, and cheek-pillows held
the head of the earl, while all about him
seamen hardy on hall-beds sank.
None of them thought that thence their steps
to the folk and fastness that fostered them,
to the land they loved, would lead them back!
Full well they wist that on warriors many
battle-death seized, in the banquet-hall,
of Danish clan. But comfort and help,
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war-weal weaving, to Weder folk
the Master gave, that, by might of one,
over their enemy all prevailed,
by single strength. In sooth 'tis told
that highest God o'er human kind
hath wielded ever! -- Thro' wan night striding,
came the walker-in-shadow. Warriors slept
whose hest was to guard the gabled hall, --
all save one. 'Twas widely known
that against God's will the ghostly ravager
him
1
could not hurl to haunts of darkness;
wakeful, ready, with warrior's wrath,
bold he bided the battle's issue.
1
Beowulf, -- the "one."
X
53
*-97.
:1
THEN from the moorland, by misty crags,
with God's wrath laden, Grendel came.
The monster was minded of mankind now
sundry to seize in the stately house.
Under welkin he walked, till the wine-palace there,
gold-hall of men, he gladly discerned,
flashing with fretwork. Not first time, this,
that he the home of Hrothgar sought, --
yet ne'er in his life-day, late or early,
such hardy heroes, such hall-thanes, found!
To the house the warrior walked apace,
parted from peace;
1
the portal opended,
though with forged bolts fast, when his fists had
struck it,
and baleful he burst in his blatant rage,
the house's mouth. All hastily, then,
o'er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on,
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54
*-97.
ireful he strode; there streamed from his eyes
fearful flashes, like flame to see.
He spied in hall the hero-band,
kin and clansmen clustered asleep,
hardy liegemen. Then laughed his heart;
for the monster was minded, ere morn should dawn,
savage, to sever the soul of each,
life from body, since lusty banquet
waited his will! But Wyrd forbade him
to seize any more of men on earth
after that evening. Eagerly watched
Hygelac's kinsman his cursed foe,
how he would fare in fell attack.
Not that the monster was minded to pause!
Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior
for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder,
the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams,
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*-97.
swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus
the lifeless corse was clear devoured,
e'en feet and hands. Then farther he hied;
for the hardy hero with hand he grasped,
felt for the foe with fiendish claw,
for the hero reclining, -- who clutched it boldly,
prompt to answer, propped on his arm.
Soon then saw that shepherd-of-evils
that never he met in this middle-world,
in the ways of earth, another wight
with heavier hand-gripe; at heart he feared,
sorrowed in soul, -- none the sooner escaped!
Fain would he flee, his fastness seek,
the den of devils: no doings now
such as oft he had done in days of old!
Then bethought him the hardy Hygelac-thane
of his boast at evening: up he bounded,
grasped firm his foe, whose fingers cracked.
XI
56
*-97.
The fiend made off, but the earl close followed.
The monster meant -- if he might at all --
to fling himself free, and far away
fly to the fens, -- knew his fingers' power
in the gripe of the grim one. Gruesome march
to Heorot this monster of harm had made!
Din filled the room; the Danes were bereft,
castle-dwellers and clansmen all,
earls, of their ale. Angry were both
those savage hall-guards: the house resounded.
Wonder it was the wine-hall firm
in the strain of their struggle stood, to earth
the fair house fell not; too fast it was
within and without by its iron bands
craftily clamped; though there crashed from sill
many a mead-bench -- men have told me --
gay with gold, where the grim foes wrestled.
So well had weened the wisest Scyldings
XI
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*-97.
that not ever at all might any man
that bone-decked, brave house break asunder,
crush by craft, -- unless clasp of fire
in smoke engulfed it. -- Again uprose
din redoubled. Danes of the North
with fear and frenzy were filled, each one,
who from the wall that wailing heard,
God's foe sounding his grisly song,
cry of the conquered, clamorous pain
from captive of hell. Too closely held him
he who of men in might was strongest
in that same day of this our life.
1
That is, he was a "lost soul," doomed to hell.
XI
58
*-97.
:11
NOT in any wise would the earls'-defence
1
suffer that slaughterous stranger to live,
useless deeming his days and years
to men on earth. Now many an earl
of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral,
fain the life of their lord to shield,
their praised prince, if power were theirs;
never they knew, -- as they neared the foe,
hardy-hearted heroes of war,
aiming their swords on every side
the accursed to kill, -- no keenest blade,
no farest of falchions fashioned on earth,
could harm or hurt that hideous fiend!
He was safe, by his spells, from sword of battle,
from edge of iron. Yet his end and parting
on that same day of this our life
woful should be, and his wandering soul
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far off flit to the fiends' domain.
Soon he found, who in former days,
harmful in heart and hated of God,
on many a man such murder wrought,
that the frame of his body failed him now.
For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac
held in hand; hateful alive
was each to other. The outlaw dire
took mortal hurt; a mighty wound
showed on his shoulder, and sinews cracked,
and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now
the glory was given, and Grendel thence
death-sick his den in the dark moor sought,
noisome abode: he knew too well
that here was the last of life, an end
of his days on earth. -- To all the Danes
by that bloody battle the boon had come.
From ravage had rescued the roving stranger
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Hrothgar's hall; the hardy and wise one
had purged it anew. His night-work pleased him,
his deed and its honor. To Eastern Danes
had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good,
all their sorrow and ills assuaged,
their bale of battle borne so long,
and all the dole they erst endured
pain a-plenty. -- 'Twas proof of this,
when the hardy-in-fight a hand laid down,
arm and shoulder, -- all, indeed,
of Grendel's gripe, -- 'neath the gabled roof.
1
Kenning for Beowulf.
XII
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*-97.
:111
MANY at morning, as men have told me,
warriors gathered the gift-hall round,
folk-leaders faring from far and near,
o'er wide-stretched ways, the wonder to view,
trace of the traitor. Not troublous seemed
the enemy's end to any man
who saw by the gait of the graceless foe
how the weary-hearted, away from thence,
baffled in battle and banned, his steps
death-marked dragged to the devils' mere.
Bloody the billows were boiling there,
turbid the tide of tumbling waves
horribly seething, with sword-blood hot,
by that doomed one dyed, who in den of the moor
laid forlorn his life adown,
his heathen soul, and hell received it.
Home then rode the hoary clansmen
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from that merry journey, and many a youth,
on horses white, the hardy warriors,
back from the mere. Then Beowulf's glory
eager they echoed, and all averred
that from sea to sea, or south or north,
there was no other in earth's domain,
under vault of heaven, more valiant found,
of warriors none more worthy to rule!
(On their lord beloved they laid no slight,
gracious Hrothgar: a good king he!)
From time to time, the tried-in-battle
their gray steeds set to gallop amain,
and ran a race when the road seemed fair.
From time to time, a thane of the king,
who had made many vaunts, and was mindful of verses,
stored with sagas and songs of old,
bound word to word in well-knit rime,
welded his lay; this warrior soon
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of Beowulf's quest right cleverly sang,
and artfully added an excellent tale,
in well-ranged words, of the warlike deeds
he had heard in saga of Sigemund.
Strange the story: he said it all, --
the Waelsing's wanderings wide, his struggles,
which never were told to tribes of men,
the feuds and the frauds, save to Fitela only,
when of these doings he deigned to speak,
uncle to nephew; as ever the twain
stood side by side in stress of war,
and multitude of the monster kind
they had felled with their swords. Of Sigemund grew,
when he passed from life, no little praise;
for the doughty-in-combat a dragon killed
that herded the hoard:
1
under hoary rock
the atheling dared the deed alone
fearful quest, nor was Fitela there.
XIII
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*-97.
Yet so it befell, his falchion pierced
that wondrous worm, -- on the wall it struck,
best blade; the dragon died in its blood.
Thus had the dread-one by daring achieved
over the ring-hoard to rule at will,
himself to pleasure; a sea-boat he loaded,
and bore on its bosom the beaming gold,
son of Waels; the worm was consumed.
He had of all heroes the highest renown
among races of men, this refuge-of-warriors,
for deeds of daring that decked his name
since the hand and heart of Heremod
grew slack in battle. He, swiftly banished
to mingle with monsters at mercy of foes,
to death was betrayed; for torrents of sorrow
had lamed him too long; a load of care
to earls and athelings all he proved.
Oft indeed, in earlier days,
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for the warrior's wayfaring wise men mourned,
who had hoped of him help from harm and bale,
and had thought their sovran's son would thrive,
follow his father, his folk protect,
the hoard and the stronghold, heroes' land,
home of Scyldings. -- But here, thanes said,
the kinsman of Hygelac kinder seemed
to all: the other
2
was urged to crime!
And afresh to the race,
3
the fallow roads
by swift steeds measured! The morning sun
was climbing higher. Clansmen hastened
to the high-built hall, those hardy-minded,
the wonder to witness. Warden of treasure,
crowned with glory, the king himself,
with stately band from the bride-bower strode;
and with him the queen and her crowd of maidens
measured the path to the mead-house fair.
XIII
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*-97.
1
"Guarded the treasure."
2
Sc. Heremod.
3
The singer has sung his lays, and the epic resumes its story. The time-relations are
not altogether good in this long passage which describes the rejoicings of "the
day after"; but the present shift from the riders on the road to the folk at the hall is
not very violent,and is of a piece with the general style.
XIII
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*-97.
:18
HROTHGAR spake, -- to the hall he went,
stood by the steps, the steep roof saw,
garnished with gold, and Grendel's hand: --
"For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler
be speedy thanks! A throng of sorrows
I have borne from Grendel; but God still works
wonder on wonder, the Warden-of-Glory.
It was but now that I never more
for woes that weighed on me waited help
long as I lived, when, laved in blood,
stood sword-gore-stained this stateliest house, --
widespread woe for wise men all,
who had no hope to hinder ever
foes infernal and fiendish sprites
from havoc in hall. This hero now,
by the Wielder's might, a work has done
that not all of us erst could ever do
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by wile and wisdom. Lo, well can she say
whoso of women this warrior bore
among sons of men, if still she liveth,
that the God of the ages was good to her
in the birth of her bairn. Now, Beowulf, thee,
of heroes best, I shall heartily love
as mine own, my son; preserve thou ever
this kinship new: thou shalt never lack
wealth of the world that I wield as mine!
Full oft for less have I largess showered,
my precious hoard, on a punier man,
less stout in struggle. Thyself hast now
fulfilled such deeds, that thy fame shall endure
through all the ages. As ever he did,
well may the Wielder reward thee still!"
Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"This work of war most willingly
we have fought, this fight, and fearlessly dared
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force of the foe. Fain, too, were I
hadst thou but seen himself, what time
the fiend in his trappings tottered to fall!
Swiftly, I thought, in strongest gripe
on his bed of death to bind him down,
that he in the hent of this hand of mine
should breathe his last: but he broke away.
Him I might not -- the Maker willed not --
hinder from flight, and firm enough hold
the life-destroyer: too sturdy was he,
the ruthless, in running! For rescue, however,
he left behind him his hand in pledge,
arm and shoulder; nor aught of help
could the cursed one thus procure at all.
None the longer liveth he, loathsome fiend,
sunk in his sins, but sorrow holds him
tightly grasped in gripe of anguish,
in baleful bonds, where bide he must,
XIV
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evil outlaw, such awful doom
as the Mighty Maker shall mete him out."
More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf
1
in boastful speech of his battle-deeds,
since athelings all, through the earl's great prowess,
beheld that hand, on the high roof gazing,
foeman's fingers, -- the forepart of each
of the sturdy nails to steel was likest, --
heathen's "hand-spear," hostile warrior's
claw uncanny. 'Twas clear, they said,
that him no blade of the brave could touch,
how keen soever, or cut away
that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe.
1
Unferth, Beowulf's sometime opponent in the flyting.
XIV
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*-97.
:8
THERE was hurry and hest in Heorot now
for hands to bedeck it, and dense was the throng
of men and women the wine-hall to cleanse,
the guest-room to garnish. Gold-gay shone the hangings
that were wove on the wall, and wonders many
to delight each mortal that looks upon them.
Though braced within by iron bands,
that building bright was broken sorely;
1
rent were its hinges; the roof alone
held safe and sound, when, seared with crime,
the fiendish foe his flight essayed,
of life despairing. -- No light thing that,
the flight for safety, -- essay it who will!
Forced of fate, he shall find his way
to the refuge ready for race of man,
for soul-possessors, and sons of earth;
and there his body on bed of death
XV
72
*-97.
shall rest after revel.
Arrived was the hour
when to hall proceeded Healfdene's son:
the king himself would sit to banquet.
Ne'er heard I of host in haughtier throng
more graciously gathered round giver-of-rings!
Bowed then to bench those bearers-of-glory,
fain of the feasting. Featly received
many a mead-cup the mighty-in-spirit,
kinsmen who sat in the sumptuous hall,
Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Heorot now
was filled with friends; the folk of Scyldings
ne'er yet had tried the traitor's deed.
To Beowulf gave the bairn of Healfdene
a gold-wove banner, guerdon of triumph,
broidered battle-flag, breastplate and helmet;
and a splendid sword was seen of many
borne to the brave one. Beowulf took
XV
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*-97.
cup in hall:
2
for such costly gifts
he suffered no shame in that soldier throng.
For I heard of few heroes, in heartier mood,
with four such gifts, so fashioned with gold,
on the ale-bench honoring others thus!
O'er the roof of the helmet high, a ridge,
wound with wires, kept ward o'er the head,
lest the relict-of-files
3
should fierce invade,
sharp in the strife, when that shielded hero
should go to grapple against his foes.
Then the earls'-defence
4
on the floor
5
bade lead
coursers eight, with carven head-gear,
adown the hall: one horse was decked
with a saddle all shining and set in jewels;
'twas the battle-seat of the best of kings,
when to play of swords the son of Healfdene
was fain to fare. Ne'er failed his valor
in the crush of combat when corpses fell.
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To Beowulf over them both then gave
the refuge-of-Ingwines right and power,
o'er war-steeds and weapons: wished him joy of them.
Manfully thus the mighty prince,
hoard-guard for heroes, that hard fight repaid
with steeds and treasures contemned by none
who is willing to say the sooth aright.
1
There is no horrible inconsistency here such as the critics strive and cry about. In
spite of the ruin that Grendel and Beowulf had made within the hall, the frame-
work and roof held firm, and swift repairs made the interior habitable. Tapestries
were hung on the walls, and willing hands prepared the banquet.
2
From its formal use in other places, this phrase, to take cup in hall, or "on the
floor," would seem to mean that Beowulf stood up to receive his gifts, drink to
the donor, and say thanks.
3
Kenning for sword.
4
Hrothgar. He is also the "refuge of the friends of Ing," below. Ing belongs to
myth.
5
Horses are frequently led or ridden into the hall where folk sit at banquet: so in
Chaucer's Squire's tale, in the ballad of King Estmere, and in the romances.
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:81
AND the lord of earls, to each that came
with Beowulf over the briny ways,
an heirloom there at the ale-bench gave,
precious gift; and the price
1
bade pay
in gold for him whom Grendel erst
murdered, -- and fain of them more had killed,
had not wisest God their Wyrd averted,
and the man's
2
brave mood. The Maker then
ruled human kind, as here and now.
Therefore is insight always best,
and forethought of mind. How much awaits him
of lief and of loath, who long time here,
through days of warfare this world endures!
Then song and music mingled sounds
in the presence of Healfdene's head-of-armies
3
and harping was heard with the hero-lay
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as Hrothgar's singer the hall-joy woke
along the mead-seats, making his song
of that sudden raid on the sons of Finn.
4
Healfdene's hero, Hnaef the Scylding,
was fated to fall in the Frisian slaughter.
5
Hildeburh needed not hold in value
her enemies' honor!
6
Innocent both
were the loved ones she lost at the linden-play,
bairn and brother, they bowed to fate,
stricken by spears; 'twas a sorrowful woman!
None doubted why the daughter of Hoc
bewailed her doom when dawning came,
and under the sky she saw them lying,
kinsmen murdered, where most she had kenned
of the sweets of the world! By war were swept, too,
Finn's own liegemen, and few were left;
in the parleying-place
7
he could ply no longer
weapon, nor war could he wage on Hengest,
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and rescue his remnant by right of arms
from the prince's thane. A pact he offered:
another dwelling the Danes should have,
hall and high-seat, and half the power
should fall to them in Frisian land;
and at the fee-gifts, Folcwald's son
day by day the Danes should honor,
the folk of Hengest favor with rings,
even as truly, with treasure and jewels,
with fretted gold, as his Frisian kin
he meant to honor in ale-hall there.
Pact of peace they plighted further
on both sides firmly. Finn to Hengest
with oath, upon honor, openly promised
that woful remnant, with wise-men's aid,
nobly to govern, so none of the guests
by word or work should warp the treaty,
8
or with malice of mind bemoan themselves
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as forced to follow their fee-giver's slayer,
lordless men, as their lot ordained.
Should Frisian, moreover, with foeman's taunt,
that murderous hatred to mind recall,
then edge of the sword must seal his doom.
Oaths were given, and ancient gold
heaped from hoard. -- The hardy Scylding,
battle-thane best,
9
on his balefire lay.
All on the pyre were plain to see
the gory sark, the gilded swine-crest,
boar of hard iron, and athelings many
slain by the sword: at the slaughter they fell.
It was Hildeburh's hest, at Hnaef's own pyre
the bairn of her body on brands to lay,
his bones to burn, on the balefire placed,
at his uncle's side. In sorrowful dirges
bewept them the woman: great wailing ascended.
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Then wound up to welkin the wildest of death-fires,
roared o'er the hillock:
10
heads all were melted,
gashes burst, and blood gushed out
from bites
11
of the body. Balefire devoured,
greediest spirit, those spared not by war
out of either folk: their flower was gone.
1
Man-price, wergild.
2
Beowulf's.
3
Hrothgar.
4
There is no need to assume a gap in the Ms. As before about Sigemund and
Heremod, so now, though at greater length, about Finn and his feud, a lay is
chanted or recited; and the epic poet, counting on his readers' familiarity with
the story, -- a fragment of it still exists, -- simply gives the headings.
5
The exact story to which this episode refers in summary is not to be deter-
mined, but the following account of it is reasonable and has good support
among scholars. Finn, a Frisian chieftain, who nevertheless has a "castle" outside
the Frisian border, marries Hildeburh, a Danish princess; and her brother,
Hnaef, with many other Danes, pays Finn a visit. Relations between the two
peoples have been strained before. Something starts the old feud anew; and the
visitors are attacked in their quarters. Hnaef is killed; so is a son of Hildeburh.
Many fall on both sides. Peace is patched up; a stately funeral is held; and the
surviving visitors become in a way vassals or liegemen of Finn, going back with
him to Frisia. So matters rest a while. Hengest is now leader of the Danes; but he
is set upon revenge for his former lord, Hnaef. Probably he is killed in feud; but
his clansmen, Guthlaf and Oslaf, gather at their home a force of sturdy Danes,
come back to Frisia, storm Finn's stronghold, kill him, and carry back their
kinswoman Hildeburh.
6
The "enemies" must be the Frisians.
7
Battlefield. -- Hengest is the "prince's thane," companion of Hnaef. "Folcwald's
son" is Finn.
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8
That is, Finn would govern in all honor the few Danish warriors who were left,
provided, of course, that none of them tried to renew the quarrel or avenge
Hnaef their fallen lord. If, again, one of Finn's Frisians began a quarrel, he
should die by the sword.
9
Hnaef.
10
The high place chosen for the funeral: see description of Beowulf's funeral-pile
at the end of the poem.
11
Wounds.
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:811
THEN hastened those heroes their home to see,
friendless, to find the Frisian land,
houses and high burg. Hengest still
through the death-dyed winter dwelt with Finn,
holding pact, yet of home he minded,
though powerless his ring-decked prow to drive
over the waters, now waves rolled fierce
lashed by the winds, or winter locked them
in icy fetters. Then fared another
year to men's dwellings, as yet they do,
the sunbright skies, that their season ever
duly await. Far off winter was driven;
fair lay earth's breast; and fain was the rover,
the guest, to depart, though more gladly he pondered
on wreaking his vengeance than roaming the deep,
and how to hasten the hot encounter
where sons of the Frisians were sure to be.
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So he escaped not the common doom,
when Hun with "Lafing," the light-of-battle,
best of blades, his bosom pierced:
its edge was famed with the Frisian earls.
On fierce-heart Finn there fell likewise,
on himself at home, the horrid sword-death;
for Guthlaf and Oslaf of grim attack
had sorrowing told, from sea-ways landed,
mourning their woes.
1
Finn's wavering spirit
bode not in breast. The burg was reddened
with blood of foemen, and Finn was slain,
king amid clansmen; the queen was taken.
To their ship the Scylding warriors bore
all the chattels the chieftain owned,
whatever they found in Finn's domain
of gems and jewels. The gentle wife
o'er paths of the deep to the Danes they bore,
led to her land.
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The lay was finished,
the gleeman's song. Then glad rose the revel;
bench-joy brightened. Bearers draw
from their "wonder-vats" wine. Comes Wealhtheow forth,
under gold-crown goes where the good pair sit,
uncle and nephew, true each to the other one,
kindred in amity. Unferth the spokesman
at the Scylding lord's feet sat: men had faith in his spirit,
his keenness of courage, though kinsmen had found him
unsure at the sword-play. The Scylding queen spoke:
"Quaff of this cup, my king and lord,
breaker of rings, and blithe be thou,
gold-friend of men; to the Geats here speak
such words of mildness as man should use.
Be glad with thy Geats; of those gifts be mindful,
or near or far, which now thou hast.
Men say to me, as son thou wishest
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yon hero to hold. Thy Heorot purged,
jewel-hall brightest, enjoy while thou canst,
with many a largess; and leave to thy kin
folk and realm when forth thou goest
to greet thy doom. For gracious I deem
my Hrothulf,
2
willing to hold and rule
nobly our youths, if thou yield up first,
prince of Scyldings, thy part in the world.
I ween with good he will well requite
offspring of ours, when all he minds
that for him we did in his helpless days
of gift and grace to gain him honor!"
Then she turned to the seat where her sons wereplaced,
Hrethric and Hrothmund, with heroes' bairns,
young men together: the Geat, too, sat there,
Beowulf brave, the brothers between.
1
That is, these two Danes, escaping home, had told the story of the attack on
Hnaef, the slaying of Hengest, and all the Danish woes. Collecting a force, they
return to Frisia and kill Finn in his home.
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2
Nephew to Hrothgar, with whom he subsequently quarrels, and elder cousin to
the two young sons of Hrothgar and Wealhtheow, -- their natural guardian in
the event of the king's death. There is something finely feminine in this speech
of Wealhtheow's, apart from its somewhat irregular and irrelevant sequence of
topics. Both she and her lord probably distrust Hrothulf; but she bids the king
to be of good cheer, and, turning to the suspect, heaps affectionate assurances
on his probity. "My own Hrothulf" will surely not forget these favors and ben-
efits of the past, but will repay them to the orphaned boy.
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:8111
A CUP she gave him, with kindly greeting
and winsome words. Of wounden gold,
she offered, to honor him, arm-jewels twain,
corselet and rings, and of collars the noblest
that ever I knew the earth around.
Ne'er heard I so mighty, 'neath heaven's dome,
a hoard-gem of heroes, since Hama bore
to his bright-built burg the Brisings' necklace,
jewel and gem casket. -- Jealousy fled he,
Eormenric's hate: chose help eternal.
Hygelac Geat, grandson of Swerting,
on the last of his raids this ring bore with him,
under his banner the booty defending,
the war-spoil warding; but Wyrd o'erwhelmed him
what time, in his daring, dangers he sought,
feud with Frisians. Fairest of gems
he bore with him over the beaker-of-waves,
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*-97.
sovran strong: under shield he died.
Fell the corpse of the king into keeping of Franks,
gear of the breast, and that gorgeous ring;
weaker warriors won the spoil,
after gripe of battle, from Geatland's lord,
and held the death-field.
Din rose in hall.
Wealhtheow spake amid warriors, and said: --
"This jewel enjoy in thy jocund youth,
Beowulf lov'd, these battle-weeds wear,
a royal treasure, and richly thrive!
Preserve thy strength, and these striplings here
counsel in kindness: requital be mine.
Hast done such deeds, that for days to come
thou art famed among folk both far and near,
so wide as washeth the wave of Ocean
his windy walls. Through the ways of life
prosper, O prince! I pray for thee
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rich possessions. To son of mine
be helpful in deed and uphold his joys!
Here every earl to the other is true,
mild of mood, to the master loyal!
Thanes are friendly, the throng obedient,
liegemen are revelling: list and obey!"
Went then to her place. -- That was proudest of feasts;
flowed wine for the warriors. Wyrd they knew not,
destiny dire, and the doom to be seen
by many an earl when eve should come,
and Hrothgar homeward hasten away,
royal, to rest. The room was guarded
by an army of earls, as erst was done.
They bared the bench-boards; abroad they spread
beds and bolsters. -- One beer-carouser
in danger of doom lay down in the hall. --
At their heads they set their shields of war,
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bucklers bright; on the bench were there
over each atheling, easy to see,
the high battle-helmet, the haughty spear,
the corselet of rings. 'Twas their custom so
ever to be for battle prepared,
at home, or harrying, which it were,
even as oft as evil threatened
their sovran king. -- They were clansmen good.
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:1:
THEN sank they to sleep. With sorrow one bought
his rest of the evening, -- as ofttime had happened
when Grendel guarded that golden hall,
evil wrought, till his end drew nigh,
slaughter for sins. 'Twas seen and told
how an avenger survived the fiend,
as was learned afar. The livelong time
after that grim fight, Grendel's mother,
monster of women, mourned her woe.
She was doomed to dwell in the dreary waters,
cold sea-courses, since Cain cut down
with edge of the sword his only brother,
his father's offspring: outlawed he fled,
marked with murder, from men's delights
warded the wilds. -- There woke from him
such fate-sent ghosts as Grendel, who,
war-wolf horrid, at Heorot found
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a warrior watching and waiting the fray,
with whom the grisly one grappled amain.
But the man remembered his mighty power,
the glorious gift that God had sent him,
in his Maker's mercy put his trust
for comfort and help: so he conquered the foe,
felled the fiend, who fled abject,
reft of joy, to the realms of death,
mankind's foe. And his mother now,
gloomy and grim, would go that quest
of sorrow, the death of her son to avenge.
To Heorot came she, where helmeted Danes
slept in the hall. Too soon came back
old ills of the earls, when in she burst,
the mother of Grendel. Less grim, though, that terror,
e'en as terror of woman in war is less,
might of maid, than of men in arms
when, hammer-forged, the falchion hard,
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sword gore-stained, through swine of the helm,
crested, with keen blade carves amain.
Then was in hall the hard-edge drawn,
the swords on the settles,
1
and shields a-many
firm held in hand: nor helmet minded
nor harness of mail, whom that horror seized.
Haste was hers; she would hie afar
and save her life when the liegemen saw her.
Yet a single atheling up she seized
fast and firm, as she fled to the moor.
He was for Hrothgar of heroes the dearest,
of trusty vassals betwixt the seas,
whom she killed on his couch, a clansman famous,
in battle brave. -- Nor was Beowulf there;
another house had been held apart,
after giving of gold, for the Geat renowned. --
Uproar filled Heorot; the hand all had viewed,
blood-flecked, she bore with her; bale was returned,
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dole in the dwellings: 'twas dire exchange
where Dane and Geat were doomed to give
the lives of loved ones. Long-tried king,
the hoary hero, at heart was sad
when he knew his noble no more lived,
and dead indeed was his dearest thane.
To his bower was Beowulf brought in haste,
dauntless victor. As daylight broke,
along with his earls the atheling lord,
with his clansmen, came where the king abode
waiting to see if the Wielder-of-All
would turn this tale of trouble and woe.
Strode o'er floor the famed-in-strife,
with his hand-companions, -- the hall resounded, --
wishing to greet the wise old king,
Ingwines' lord; he asked if the night
had passed in peace to the prince's mind.
1
They had laid their arms on the benches near where they slept.
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::
HROTHGAR spake, helmet-of-Scyldings: --
"Ask not of pleasure! Pain is renewed
to Danish folk. Dead is Aeschere,
of Yrmenlaf the elder brother,
my sage adviser and stay in council,
shoulder-comrade in stress of fight
when warriors clashed and we warded our heads,
hewed the helm-boars; hero famed
should be every earl as Aeschere was!
But here in Heorot a hand hath slain him
of wandering death-sprite. I wot not whither,
1
proud of the prey, her path she took,
fain of her fill. The feud she avenged
that yesternight, unyieldingly,
Grendel in grimmest grasp thou killedst, --
seeing how long these liegemen mine
he ruined and ravaged. Reft of life,
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in arms he fell. Now another comes,
keen and cruel, her kin to avenge,
faring far in feud of blood:
so that many a thane shall think, who e'er
sorrows in soul for that sharer of rings,
this is hardest of heart-bales. The hand lies low
that once was willing each wish to please.
Land-dwellers here
2
and liegemen mine,
who house by those parts, I have heard relate
that such a pair they have sometimes seen,
march-stalkers mighty the moorland haunting,
wandering spirits: one of them seemed,
so far as my folk could fairly judge,
of womankind; and one, accursed,
in man's guise trod the misery-track
of exile, though huger than human bulk.
Grendel in days long gone they named him,
folk of the land; his father they knew not,
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nor any brood that was born to him
of treacherous spirits. Untrod is their home;
by wolf-cliffs haunt they and windy headlands,
fenways fearful, where flows the stream
from mountains gliding to gloom of the rocks,
underground flood. Not far is it hence
in measure of miles that the mere expands,
and o'er it the frost-bound forest hanging,
sturdily rooted, shadows the wave.
By night is a wonder weird to see,
fire on the waters. So wise lived none
of the sons of men, to search those depths!
Nay, though the heath-rover, harried by dogs,
the horn-proud hart, this holt should seek,
long distance driven, his dear life first
on the brink he yields ere he brave the plunge
to hide his head: 'tis no happy place!
Thence the welter of waters washes up
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wan to welkin when winds bestir
evil storms, and air grows dusk,
and the heavens weep. Now is help once more
with thee alone! The land thou knowst not,
place of fear, where thou findest out
that sin-flecked being. Seek if thou dare!
I will reward thee, for waging this fight,
with ancient treasure, as erst I did,
with winding gold, if thou winnest back."
1
He surmises presently where she is.
2
The connection is not difficult. The words of mourning, of acute grief, are said;
and according to Germanic sequence of thought, inexorable here, the next and
only topic is revenge. But is it possible? Hrothgar leads up to his appeal and
promise with a skillful and often effective description of the horrors which sur-
round the monster's home and await the attempt of an avenging foe.
XX
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::1
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:
"Sorrow not, sage! It beseems us better
friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them.
Each of us all must his end abide
in the ways of the world; so win who may
glory ere death! When his days are told,
that is the warrior's worthiest doom.
Rise, O realm-warder! Ride we anon,
and mark the trail of the mother of Grendel.
No harbor shall hide her -- heed my promise! --
enfolding of field or forested mountain
or floor of the flood, let her flee where she will!
But thou this day endure in patience,
as I ween thou wilt, thy woes each one."
Leaped up the graybeard: God he thanked,
mighty Lord, for the man's brave words.
For Hrothgar soon a horse was saddled
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wave-maned steed. The sovran wise
stately rode on; his shield-armed men
followed in force. The footprints led
along the woodland, widely seen,
a path o'er the plain, where she passed, and trod
the murky moor; of men-at-arms
she bore the bravest and best one, dead,
him who with Hrothgar the homestead ruled.
On then went the atheling-born
o'er stone-cliffs steep and strait defiles,
narrow passes and unknown ways,
headlands sheer, and the haunts of the Nicors.
Foremost he
1
fared, a few at his side
of the wiser men, the ways to scan,
till he found in a flash the forested hill
hanging over the hoary rock,
a woful wood: the waves below
were dyed in blood. The Danish men
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had sorrow of soul, and for Scyldings all,
for many a hero, 'twas hard to bear,
ill for earls, when Aeschere's head
they found by the flood on the foreland there.
Waves were welling, the warriors saw,
hot with blood; but the horn sang oft
battle-song bold. The band sat down,
and watched on the water worm-like things,
sea-dragons strange that sounded the deep,
and nicors that lay on the ledge of the ness --
such as oft essay at hour of morn
on the road-of-sails their ruthless quest, --
and sea-snakes and monsters. These started away,
swollen and savage that song to hear,
that war-horn's blast. The warden of Geats,
with bolt from bow, then balked of life,
of wave-work, one monster, amid its heart
went the keen war-shaft; in water it seemed
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less doughty in swimming whom death had seized.
Swift on the billows, with boar-spears well
hooked and barbed, it was hard beset,
done to death and dragged on the headland,
wave-roamer wondrous. Warriors viewed
the grisly guest.
Then girt him Beowulf
in martial mail, nor mourned for his life.
His breastplate broad and bright of hues,
woven by hand, should the waters try;
well could it ward the warrior's body
that battle should break on his breast in vain
nor harm his heart by the hand of a foe.
And the helmet white that his head protected
was destined to dare the deeps of the flood,
through wave-whirl win: 'twas wound with chains,
decked with gold, as in days of yore
the weapon-smith worked it wondrously,
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with swine-forms set it, that swords nowise,
brandished in battle, could bite that helm.
Nor was that the meanest of mighty helps
which Hrothgar's orator offered at need:
"Hrunting" they named the hilted sword,
of old-time heirlooms easily first;
iron was its edge, all etched with poison,
with battle-blood hardened, nor blenched it at fight
in hero's hand who held it ever,
on paths of peril prepared to go
to folkstead
2
of foes. Not first time this
it was destined to do a daring task.
For he bore not in mind, the bairn of Ecglaf
sturdy and strong, that speech he had made,
drunk with wine, now this weapon he lent
to a stouter swordsman. Himself, though, durst not
under welter of waters wager his life
as loyal liegeman. So lost he his glory,
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honor of earls. With the other not so,
who girded him now for the grim encounter.
1
Hrothgar is probably meant.
2
Meeting place.
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::1
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"Have mind, thou honored offspring of Healfdene
gold-friend of men, now I go on this quest,
sovran wise, what once was said:
if in thy cause it came that I
should lose my life, thou wouldst loyal bide
to me, though fallen, in father's place!
Be guardian, thou, to this group of my thanes,
my warrior-friends, if War should seize me;
and the goodly gifts thou gavest me,
Hrothgar beloved, to Hygelac send!
Geatland's king may ken by the gold,
Hrethel's son see, when he stares at the treasure,
that I got me a friend for goodness famed,
and joyed while I could in my jewel-bestower.
And let Unferth wield this wondrous sword,
earl far-honored, this heirloom precious,
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hard of edge: with Hrunting I
seek doom of glory, or Death shall take me."
After these words the Weder-Geat lord
boldly hastened, biding never
answer at all: the ocean floods
closed o'er the hero. Long while of the day
fled ere he felt the floor of the sea.
Soon found the fiend who the flood-domain
sword-hungry held these hundred winters,
greedy and grim, that some guest from above,
some man, was raiding her monster-realm.
She grasped out for him with grisly claws,
and the warrior seized; yet scathed she not
his body hale; the breastplate hindered,
as she strove to shatter the sark of war,
the linked harness, with loathsome hand.
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Then bore this brine-wolf, when bottom she touched,
the lord of rings to the lair she haunted
whiles vainly he strove, though his valor held,
weapon to wield against wondrous monsters
that sore beset him; sea-beasts many
tried with fierce tusks to tear his mail,
and swarmed on the stranger. But soon he marked
he was now in some hall, he knew not which,
where water never could work him harm,
nor through the roof could reach him ever
fangs of the flood. Firelight he saw,
beams of a blaze that brightly shone.
Then the warrior was ware of that wolf-of-the-deep,
mere-wife monstrous. For mighty stroke
he swung his blade, and the blow withheld not.
Then sang on her head that seemly blade
its war-song wild. But the warrior found
the light-of-battle
1
was loath to bite,
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to harm the heart: its hard edge failed
the noble at need, yet had known of old
strife hand to hand, and had helmets cloven,
doomed men's fighting-gear. First time, this,
for the gleaming blade that its glory fell.
Firm still stood, nor failed in valor,
heedful of high deeds, Hygelac's kinsman;
flung away fretted sword, featly jewelled,
the angry earl; on earth it lay
steel-edged and stiff. His strength he trusted,
hand-gripe of might. So man shall do
whenever in war he weens to earn him
lasting fame, nor fears for his life!
Seized then by shoulder, shrank not from combat,
the Geatish war-prince Grendel's mother.
Flung then the fierce one, filled with wrath,
his deadly foe, that she fell to ground.
Swift on her part she paid him back
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with grisly grasp, and grappled with him.
Spent with struggle, stumbled the warrior,
fiercest of fighting-men, fell adown.
On the hall-guest she hurled herself, hent her short sword,
broad and brown-edged,
2
the bairn to avenge,
the sole-born son. -- On his shoulder lay
braided breast-mail, barring death,
withstanding entrance of edge or blade.
Life would have ended for Ecgtheow's son,
under wide earth for that earl of Geats,
had his armor of war not aided him,
battle-net hard, and holy God
wielded the victory, wisest Maker.
The Lord of Heaven allowed his cause;
and easily rose the earl erect.
1
Kenning for "sword." Hrunting is bewitched, laid under a spell of uselessness,
along with all other swords.
2
This brown of swords, evidently meaning burnished, bright, continues to be a
favorite adjective in the popular ballads.
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::111
'MID the battle-gear saw he a blade triumphant,
old-sword of Eotens, with edge of proof,
warriors' heirloom, weapon unmatched,
-- save only 'twas more than other men
to bandy-of-battle could bear at all --
as the giants had wrought it, ready and keen.
Seized then its chain-hilt the Scyldings' chieftain,
bold and battle-grim, brandished the sword,
reckless of life, and so wrathfully smote
that it gripped her neck and grasped her hard,
her bone-rings breaking: the blade pierced through
that fated-one's flesh: to floor she sank.
Bloody the blade: he was blithe of his deed.
Then blazed forth light. 'Twas bright within
as when from the sky there shines unclouded
heaven's candle. The hall he scanned.
By the wall then went he; his weapon raised
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high by its hilts the Hygelac-thane,
angry and eager. That edge was not useless
to the warrior now. He wished with speed
Grendel to guerdon for grim raids many,
for the war he waged on Western-Danes
oftener far than an only time,
when of Hrothgar's hearth-companions
he slew in slumber, in sleep devoured,
fifteen men of the folk of Danes,
and as many others outward bore,
his horrible prey. Well paid for that
the wrathful prince! For now prone he saw
Grendel stretched there, spent with war,
spoiled of life, so scathed had left him
Heorot's battle. The body sprang far
when after death it endured the blow,
sword-stroke savage, that severed its head.
Soon,
1
then, saw the sage companions
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who waited with Hrothgar, watching the flood,
that the tossing waters turbid grew,
blood-stained the mere. Old men together,
hoary-haired, of the hero spake;
the warrior would not, they weened, again,
proud of conquest, come to seek
their mighty master. To many it seemed
the wolf-of-the-waves had won his life.
The ninth hour came. The noble Scyldings
left the headland; homeward went
the gold-friend of men.
2
But the guests sat on,
stared at the surges, sick in heart,
and wished, yet weened not, their winsome lord
again to see.
Now that sword began,
from blood of the fight, in battle-droppings,
3
war-blade, to wane: 'twas a wondrous thing
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that all of it melted as ice is wont
when frosty fetters the Father loosens,
unwinds the wave-bonds, wielding all
seasons and times: the true God he!
Nor took from that dwelling the duke of the Geats
save only the head and that hilt withal
blazoned with jewels: the blade had melted,
burned was the bright sword, her blood was so hot,
so poisoned the hell-sprite who perished within there.
Soon he was swimming who safe saw in combat
downfall of demons; up-dove through the flood.
The clashing waters were cleansed now,
waste of waves, where the wandering fiend
her life-days left and this lapsing world.
Swam then to strand the sailors'-refuge,
sturdy-in-spirit, of sea-booty glad,
of burden brave he bore with him.
Went then to greet him, and God they thanked,
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the thane-band choice of their chieftain blithe,
that safe and sound they could see him again.
Soon from the hardy one helmet and armor
deftly they doffed: now drowsed the mere,
water 'neath welkin, with war-blood stained.
Forth they fared by the footpaths thence,
merry at heart the highways measured,
well-known roads. Courageous men
carried the head from the cliff by the sea,
an arduous task for all the band,
the firm in fight, since four were needed
on the shaft-of-slaughter
4
strenuously
to bear to the gold-hall Grendel's head.
So presently to the palace there
foemen fearless, fourteen Geats,
marching came. Their master-of-clan
mighty amid them the meadow-ways trod.
Strode then within the sovran thane
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fearless in fight, of fame renowned,
hardy hero, Hrothgar to greet.
And next by the hair into hall was borne
Grendel's head, where the henchmen were drinking,
an awe to clan and queen alike,
a monster of marvel: the men looked on.
1
After the killing of the monster and Grendel's decapitation.
2
Hrothgar.
3
The blade slowly dissolves in blood-stained drops like icicles.
4
Spear.
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::18
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"Lo, now, this sea-booty, son of Healfdene,
Lord of Scyldings, we've lustily brought thee,
sign of glory; thou seest it here.
Not lightly did I with my life escape!
In war under water this work I essayed
with endless effort; and even so
my strength had been lost had the Lord not shielded me.
Not a whit could I with Hrunting do
in work of war, though the weapon is good;
yet a sword the Sovran of Men vouchsafed me
to spy on the wall there, in splendor hanging,
old, gigantic, -- how oft He guides
the friendless wight! -- and I fought with that brand,
felling in fight, since fate was with me,
the house's wardens. That war-sword then
all burned, bright blade, when the blood gushed o'er it,
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battle-sweat hot; but the hilt I brought back
from my foes. So avenged I their fiendish deeds
death-fall of Danes, as was due and right.
And this is my hest, that in Heorot now
safe thou canst sleep with thy soldier band,
and every thane of all thy folk
both old and young; no evil fear,
Scyldings' lord, from that side again,
aught ill for thy earls, as erst thou must!"
Then the golden hilt, for that gray-haired leader,
hoary hero, in hand was laid,
giant-wrought, old. So owned and enjoyed it
after downfall of devils, the Danish lord,
wonder-smiths' work, since the world was rid
of that grim-souled fiend, the foe of God,
murder-marked, and his mother as well.
Now it passed into power of the people's king,
best of all that the oceans bound
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who have scattered their gold o'er Scandia's isle.
Hrothgar spake -- the hilt he viewed,
heirloom old, where was etched the rise
of that far-off fight when the floods o'erwhelmed,
raging waves, the race of giants
(fearful their fate!), a folk estranged
from God Eternal: whence guerdon due
in that waste of waters the Wielder paid them.
So on the guard of shining gold
in runic staves it was rightly said
for whom the serpent-traced sword was wrought,
best of blades, in bygone days,
and the hilt well wound. -- The wise-one spake,
son of Healfdene; silent were all: --
"Lo, so may he say who sooth and right
follows 'mid folk, of far times mindful,
a land-warden old,
1
that this earl belongs
to the better breed! So, borne aloft,
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thy fame must fly, O friend my Beowulf,
far and wide o'er folksteads many. Firmly thou
shalt all maintain,
mighty strength with mood of wisdom. Love of
mine will I assure thee,
as, awhile ago, I promised; thou shalt prove a stay
in future,
in far-off years, to folk of thine,
to the heroes a help. Was not Heremod thus
to offspring of Ecgwela, Honor-Scyldings,
nor grew for their grace, but for grisly slaughter,
for doom of death to the Danishmen.
He slew, wrath-swollen, his shoulder-comrades,
companions at board! So he passed alone,
chieftain haughty, from human cheer.
Though him the Maker with might endowed,
delights of power, and uplifted high
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above all men, yet blood-fierce his mind,
his breast-hoard, grew, no bracelets gave he
to Danes as was due; he endured all joyless
strain of struggle and stress of woe,
long feud with his folk. Here find thy lesson!
Of virtue advise thee! This verse I have said for thee,
wise from lapsed winters. Wondrous seems
how to sons of men Almighty God
in the strength of His spirit sendeth wisdom,
estate, high station: He swayeth all things.
Whiles He letteth right lustily fare
the heart of the hero of high-born race, --
in seat ancestral assigns him bliss,
his folk's sure fortress in fee to hold,
puts in his power great parts of the earth,
empire so ample, that end of it
this wanter-of-wisdom weeneth none.
So he waxes in wealth, nowise can harm him
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illness or age; no evil cares
shadow his spirit; no sword-hate threatens
from ever an enemy: all the world
wends at his will, no worse he knoweth,
till all within him obstinate pride
waxes and wakes while the warden slumbers,
the spirit's sentry; sleep is too fast
which masters his might, and the murderer nears,
stealthily shooting the shafts from his bow!
1
That is, "whoever has as wide authority as I have and can remember so far back
so many instances of heroism, may well say, as I say, that no better hero ever
lived than Beowulf."
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::8
"UNDER harness his heart then is hit indeed
by sharpest shafts; and no shelter avails
from foul behest of the hellish fiend.
1
Him seems too little what long he possessed.
Greedy and grim, no golden rings
he gives for his pride; the promised future
forgets he and spurns, with all God has sent him,
Wonder-Wielder, of wealth and fame.
Yet in the end it ever comes
that the frame of the body fragile yields,
fated falls; and there follows another
who joyously the jewels divides,
the royal riches, nor recks of his forebear.
Ban, then, such baleful thoughts, Beowulf dearest,
best of men, and the better part choose,
profit eternal; and temper thy pride,
warrior famous! The flower of thy might
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lasts now a while: but erelong it shall be
that sickness or sword thy strength shall minish,
or fang of fire, or flooding billow,
or bite of blade, or brandished spear,
or odious age; or the eyes' clear beam
wax dull and darken: Death even thee
in haste shall o'erwhelm, thou hero of war!
So the Ring-Danes these half-years a hundred I ruled,
wielded 'neath welkin, and warded them bravely
from mighty-ones many o'er middle-earth,
from spear and sword, till it seemed for me
no foe could be found under fold of the sky.
Lo, sudden the shift! To me seated secure
came grief for joy when Grendel began
to harry my home, the hellish foe;
for those ruthless raids, unresting I suffered
heart-sorrow heavy. Heaven be thanked,
Lord Eternal, for life extended
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that I on this head all hewn and bloody,
after long evil, with eyes may gaze!
-- Go to the bench now! Be glad at banquet,
warrior worthy! A wealth of treasure
at dawn of day, be dealt between us!"
Glad was the Geats' lord, going betimes
to seek his seat, as the Sage commanded.
Afresh, as before, for the famed-in-battle,
for the band of the hall, was a banquet dight
nobly anew. The Night-Helm darkened
dusk o'er the drinkers.
The doughty ones rose:
for the hoary-headed would hasten to rest,
aged Scylding; and eager the Geat,
shield-fighter sturdy, for sleeping yearned.
Him wander-weary, warrior-guest
from far, a hall-thane heralded forth,
who by custom courtly cared for all
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needs of a thane as in those old days
warrior-wanderers wont to have.
So slumbered the stout-heart. Stately the hall
rose gabled and gilt where the guest slept on
till a raven black the rapture-of-heaven
2
blithe-heart boded. Bright came flying
shine after shadow. The swordsmen hastened,
athelings all were eager homeward
forth to fare; and far from thence
the great-hearted guest would guide his keel.
Bade then the hardy-one Hrunting be brought
to the son of Ecglaf, the sword bade him take,
excellent iron, and uttered his thanks for it,
quoth that he counted it keen in battle,
"war-friend" winsome: with words he slandered not
edge of the blade: 'twas a big-hearted man!
Now eager for parting and armed at point
warriors waited, while went to his host
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that Darling of Danes. The doughty atheling
to high-seat hastened and Hrothgar greeted.
1
That is, he is now undefended by conscience from the temptations (shafts) of the
devil.
2
Kenning for the sun. -- This is a strange role for the raven. He is the warrior's
bird of battle, exults in slaughter and carnage; his joy here is a compliment to the
sunrise.
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*-97.
::81
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"Lo, we seafarers say our will,
far-come men, that we fain would seek
Hygelac now. We here have found
hosts to our heart: thou hast harbored us well.
If ever on earth I am able to win me
more of thy love, O lord of men,
aught anew, than I now have done,
for work of war I am willing still!
If it come to me ever across the seas
that neighbor foemen annoy and fright thee, --
as they that hate thee erewhile have used, --
thousands then of thanes I shall bring,
heroes to help thee. Of Hygelac I know,
ward of his folk, that, though few his years,
the lord of the Geats will give me aid
by word and by work, that well I may serve thee,
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wielding the war-wood to win thy triumph
and lending thee might when thou lackest men.
If thy Hrethric should come to court of Geats,
a sovran's son, he will surely there
find his friends. A far-off land
each man should visit who vaunts him brave."
Him then answering, Hrothgar spake: --
"These words of thine the wisest God
sent to thy soul! No sager counsel
from so young in years e'er yet have I heard.
Thou art strong of main and in mind art wary,
art wise in words! I ween indeed
if ever it hap that Hrethel's heir
by spear be seized, by sword-grim battle,
by illness or iron, thine elder and lord,
people's leader, -- and life be thine, --
no seemlier man will the Sea-Geats find
at all to choose for their chief and king,
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for hoard-guard of heroes, if hold thou wilt
thy kinsman's kingdom! Thy keen mind pleases me
the longer the better, Beowulf loved!
Thou hast brought it about that both our peoples,
sons of the Geat and Spear-Dane folk,
shall have mutual peace, and from murderous strife,
such as once they waged, from war refrain.
Long as I rule this realm so wide,
let our hoards be common, let heroes with gold
each other greet o'er the gannet's-bath,
and the ringed-prow bear o'er rolling waves
tokens of love. I trow my landfolk
towards friend and foe are firmly joined,
and honor they keep in the olden way."
To him in the hall, then, Healfdene's son
gave treasures twelve, and the trust-of-earls
bade him fare with the gifts to his folk beloved,
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hale to his home, and in haste return.
Then kissed the king of kin renowned,
Scyldings' chieftain, that choicest thane,
and fell on his neck. Fast flowed the tears
of the hoary-headed. Heavy with winters,
he had chances twain, but he clung to this,
1
--
that each should look on the other again,
and hear him in hall. Was this hero so dear to him.
his breast's wild billows he banned in vain;
safe in his soul a secret longing,
locked in his mind, for that loved man
burned in his blood. Then Beowulf strode,
glad of his gold-gifts, the grass-plot o'er,
warrior blithe. The wave-roamer bode
riding at anchor, its owner awaiting.
As they hastened onward, Hrothgar's gift
they lauded at length. -- 'Twas a lord unpeered,
every way blameless, till age had broken
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-- it spareth no mortal -- his splendid might.
1
That is, he might or might not see Beowulf again. Old as he was, the latter
chance was likely; but he clung to the former, hoping to see his young friend
again "and exchange brave words in the hall."
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::811
CAME now to ocean the ever-courageous
hardy henchmen, their harness bearing,
woven war-sarks. The warden marked,
trusty as ever, the earl's return.
From the height of the hill no hostile words
reached the guests as he rode to greet them;
but "Welcome!" he called to that Weder clan
as the sheen-mailed spoilers to ship marched on.
Then on the strand, with steeds and treasure
and armor their roomy and ring-dight ship
was heavily laden: high its mast
rose over Hrothgar's hoarded gems.
A sword to the boat-guard Beowulf gave,
mounted with gold; on the mead-bench since
he was better esteemed, that blade possessing,
heirloom old. -- Their ocean-keel boarding,
they drove through the deep, and Daneland left.
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A sea-cloth was set, a sail with ropes,
firm to the mast; the flood-timbers moaned;
1
nor did wind over billows that wave-swimmer blow
across from her course. The craft sped on,
foam-necked it floated forth o'er the waves,
keel firm-bound over briny currents,
till they got them sight of the Geatish cliffs,
home-known headlands. High the boat,
stirred by winds, on the strand updrove.
Helpful at haven the harbor-guard stood,
who long already for loved companions
by the water had waited and watched afar.
He bound to the beach the broad-bosomed ship
with anchor-bands, lest ocean-billows
that trusty timber should tear away.
Then Beowulf bade them bear the treasure,
gold and jewels; no journey far
was it thence to go to the giver of rings,
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Hygelac Hrethling: at home he dwelt
by the sea-wall close, himself and clan.
Haughty that house, a hero the king,
high the hall, and Hygd
2
right young,
wise and wary, though winters few
in those fortress walls she had found a home,
Haereth's daughter. Nor humble her ways,
nor grudged she gifts to the Geatish men,
of precious treasure. Not Thryth's pride showed she,
folk-queen famed, or that fell deceit.
Was none so daring that durst make bold
(save her lord alone) of the liegemen dear
that lady full in the face to look,
but forged fetters he found his lot,
bonds of death! And brief the respite;
soon as they seized him, his sword-doom was spoken,
and the burnished blade a baleful murder
proclaimed and closed. No queenly way
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for woman to practise, though peerless she,
that the weaver-of-peace
3
from warrior dear
by wrath and lying his life should reave!
But Hemming's kinsman hindered this. --
For over their ale men also told
that of these folk-horrors fewer she wrought,
onslaughts of evil, after she went,
gold-decked bride, to the brave young prince,
atheling haughty, and Offa's hall
o'er the fallow flood at her father's bidding
safely sought, where since she prospered,
royal, throned, rich in goods,
fain of the fair life fate had sent her,
and leal in love to the lord of warriors.
He, of all heroes I heard of ever
from sea to sea, of the sons of earth,
most excellent seemed. Hence Offa was praised
for his fighting and feeing by far-off men,
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the spear-bold warrior; wisely he ruled
over his empire. Eomer woke to him,
help of heroes, Hemming's kinsman,
Grandson of Garmund, grim in war.
1
With the speed of the boat.
2
Queen to Hygelac. She is praised by contrast with the antitype, Thryth, just as
Beowulf was praised by contrast with Heremod.
3
Kenning for "wife."
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::8111
HASTENED the hardy one, henchmen with him,
sandy strand of the sea to tread
and widespread ways. The world's great candle,
sun shone from south. They strode along
with sturdy steps to the spot they knew
where the battle-king young, his burg within,
slayer of Ongentheow, shared the rings,
shelter-of-heroes. To Hygelac
Beowulf's coming was quickly told, --
that there in the court the clansmen's refuge,
the shield-companion sound and alive,
hale from the hero-play homeward strode.
With haste in the hall, by highest order,
room for the rovers was readily made.
By his sovran he sat, come safe from battle,
kinsman by kinsman. His kindly lord
he first had greeted in gracious form,
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with manly words. The mead dispensing,
came through the high hall Haereth's daughter,
winsome to warriors, wine-cup bore
to the hands of the heroes. Hygelac then
his comrade fairly with question plied
in the lofty hall, sore longing to know
what manner of sojourn the Sea-Geats made.
"What came of thy quest, my kinsman Beowulf,
when thy yearnings suddenly swept thee yonder
battle to seek o'er the briny sea,
combat in Heorot? Hrothgar couldst thou
aid at all, the honored chief,
in his wide-known woes? With waves of care
my sad heart seethed; I sore mistrusted
my loved one's venture: long I begged thee
by no means to seek that slaughtering monster,
but suffer the South-Danes to settle their feud
themselves with Grendel. Now God be thanked
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that safe and sound I can see thee now!"
Beowulf spake, the bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"'Tis known and unhidden, Hygelac Lord,
to many men, that meeting of ours,
struggle grim between Grendel and me,
which we fought on the field where full too many
sorrows he wrought for the Scylding-Victors,
evils unending. These all I avenged.
No boast can be from breed of Grendel,
any on earth, for that uproar at dawn,
from the longest-lived of the loathsome race
in fleshly fold! -- But first I went
Hrothgar to greet in the hall of gifts,
where Healfdene's kinsman high-renowned,
soon as my purpose was plain to him,
assigned me a seat by his son and heir.
The liegemen were lusty; my life-days never
such merry men over mead in hall
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have I heard under heaven! The high-born queen,
people's peace-bringer, passed through the hall,
cheered the young clansmen, clasps of gold,
ere she sought her seat, to sundry gave.
Oft to the heroes Hrothgar's daughter,
to earls in turn, the ale-cup tendered, --
she whom I heard these hall-companions
Freawaru name, when fretted gold
she proffered the warriors. Promised is she,
gold-decked maid, to the glad son of Froda.
Sage this seems to the Scylding's-friend,
kingdom's-keeper: he counts it wise
the woman to wed so and ward off feud,
store of slaughter. But seldom ever
when men are slain, does the murder-spear sink
but briefest while, though the bride be fair!
1
"Nor haply will like it the Heathobard lord,
and as little each of his liegemen all,
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when a thane of the Danes, in that doughty throng,
goes with the lady along their hall,
and on him the old-time heirlooms glisten
hard and ring-decked, Heathobard's treasure,
weapons that once they wielded fair
until they lost at the linden-play
2
liegeman leal and their lives as well.
Then, over the ale, on this heirloom gazing,
some ash-wielder old who has all in mind
that spear-death of men,
3
-- he is stern of mood,
heavy at heart, -- in the hero young
tests the temper and tries the soul
and war-hate wakens, with words like these: --
Canst thou not, comrade, ken that sword
which to the fray thy father carried
in his final feud, 'neath the fighting-mask,
dearest of blades, when the Danish slew him
and wielded the war-place on Withergild's fall,
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after havoc of heroes, those hardy Scyldings?
Now, the son of a certain slaughtering Dane,
proud of his treasure, paces this hall,
joys in the killing, and carries the jewel
4
that rightfully ought to be owned by thee!_
Thus he urges and eggs him all the time
with keenest words, till occasion offers
that Freawaru's thane, for his father's deed,
after bite of brand in his blood must slumber,
losing his life; but that liegeman flies
living away, for the land he kens.
And thus be broken on both their sides
oaths of the earls, when Ingeld's breast
wells with war-hate, and wife-love now
after the care-billows cooler grows.
"So
5
I hold not high the Heathobards' faith
due to the Danes, or their during love
and pact of peace. -- But I pass from that,
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*-97.
turning to Grendel, O giver-of-treasure,
and saying in full how the fight resulted,
hand-fray of heroes. When heaven's jewel
had fled o'er far fields, that fierce sprite came,
night-foe savage, to seek us out
where safe and sound we sentried the hall.
To Hondscio then was that harassing deadly,
his fall there was fated. He first was slain,
girded warrior. Grendel on him
turned murderous mouth, on our mighty kinsman,
and all of the brave man's body devoured.
Yet none the earlier, empty-handed,
would the bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of bale,
outward go from the gold-decked hall:
but me he attacked in his terror of might,
with greedy hand grasped me. A glove hung by him
6
wide and wondrous, wound with bands;
and in artful wise it all was wrought,
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by devilish craft, of dragon-skins.
Me therein, an innocent man,
the fiendish foe was fain to thrust
with many another. He might not so,
when I all angrily upright stood.
'Twere long to relate how that land-destroyer
I paid in kind for his cruel deeds;
yet there, my prince, this people of thine
got fame by my fighting. He fled away,
and a little space his life preserved;
but there staid behind him his stronger hand
left in Heorot; heartsick thence
on the floor of the ocean that outcast fell.
Me for this struggle the Scyldings'-friend
paid in plenty with plates of gold,
with many a treasure, when morn had come
and we all at the banquet-board sat down.
Then was song and glee. The gray-haired Scylding,
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much tested, told of the times of yore.
Whiles the hero his harp bestirred,
wood-of-delight; now lays he chanted
of sooth and sadness, or said aright
legends of wonder, the wide-hearted king;
or for years of his youth he would yearn at times,
for strength of old struggles, now stricken with age,
hoary hero: his heart surged full
when, wise with winters, he wailed their flight.
Thus in the hall the whole of that day
at ease we feasted, till fell o'er earth
another night. Anon full ready
in greed of vengeance, Grendel's mother
set forth all doleful. Dead was her son
through war-hate of Weders; now, woman monstrous
with fury fell a foeman she slew,
avenged her offspring. From Aeschere old,
loyal councillor, life was gone;
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nor might they e'en, when morning broke,
those Danish people, their death-done comrade
burn with brands, on balefire lay
the man they mourned. Under mountain stream
she had carried the corpse with cruel hands.
For Hrothgar that was the heaviest sorrow
of all that had laden the lord of his folk.
The leader then, by thy life, besought me
(sad was his soul) in the sea-waves' coil
to play the hero and hazard my being
for glory of prowess: my guerdon he pledged.
I then in the waters -- 'tis widely known --
that sea-floor-guardian savage found.
Hand-to-hand there a while we struggled;
billows welled blood; in the briny hall
her head I hewed with a hardy blade
from Grendel's mother, -- and gained my life,
though not without danger. My doom was not yet.
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Then the haven-of-heroes, Healfdene's son,
gave me in guerdon great gifts of price.
1
Beowulf gives his uncle the king not mere gossip of his journey, but a statesman-
like forecast of the outcome of certain policies at the Danish court. Talk of inter-
polation here is absurd. As both Beowulf and Hygelac know, -- and the folk for
whom the Beowulf was put together also knew, -- Froda was king of the
Heathobards (probably the Langobards, once near neighbors of Angle and
Saxon tribes on the continent), and had fallen in fight with the Danes. Hrothgar
will set aside this feud by giving his daughter as "peace-weaver" and wife to the
young king Ingeld, son of the slain Froda. But Beowulf, on general principles
and from his observation of the particular case, foretells trouble.
2
Play of shields, battle. A Danish warrior cuts down Froda in the fight, and takes
his sword and armor, leaving them to a son. This son is selected to accompany
his mistress, the young princess Freawaru, to her new home when she is Ingeld's
queen. Heedlessly he wears the sword of Froda in hall. An old warrior points it
out to Ingeld, and eggs him on to vengeance. At his instigation the Dane is
killed; but the murderer, afraid of results, and knowing the land, escapes. So the
old feud must break out again.
3
That is, their disastrous battle and the slaying of their king.
4
The sword.
5
Beowulf returns to his forecast. Things might well go somewhat as follows, he
says; sketches a little tragic story; and with this prophecy by illustration returns
to the tale of his adventure.
6
Not an actual glove, but a sort of bag.
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:::1
"So held this king to the customs old,
that I wanted for nought in the wage I gained,
the meed of my might; he made me gifts,
Healfdene's heir, for my own disposal.
Now to thee, my prince, I proffer them all,
gladly give them. Thy grace alone
can find me favor. Few indeed
have I of kinsmen, save, Hygelac, thee!"
Then he bade them bear him the boar-head standard,
the battle-helm high, and breastplate gray,
the splendid sword; then spake in form: --
"Me this war-gear the wise old prince,
Hrothgar, gave, and his hest he added,
that its story be straightway said to thee. --
A while it was held by Heorogar king,
for long time lord of the land of Scyldings;
yet not to his son the sovran left it,
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to daring Heoroweard, -- dear as he was to him,
his harness of battle. -- Well hold thou it all!"
And I heard that soon passed o'er the path of this treasure,
all apple-fallow, four good steeds,
each like the others, arms and horses
he gave to the king. So should kinsmen be,
not weave one another the net of wiles,
or with deep-hid treachery death contrive
for neighbor and comrade. His nephew was ever
by hardy Hygelac held full dear,
and each kept watch o'er the other's weal.
I heard, too, the necklace to Hygd he presented,
wonder-wrought treasure, which Wealhtheow gave him
sovran's daughter: three steeds he added,
slender and saddle-gay. Since such gift
the gem gleamed bright on the breast of the queen.
Thus showed his strain the son of Ecgtheow
as a man remarked for mighty deeds
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and acts of honor. At ale he slew not
comrade or kin; nor cruel his mood,
though of sons of earth his strength was greatest,
a glorious gift that God had sent
the splendid leader. Long was he spurned,
and worthless by Geatish warriors held;
him at mead the master-of-clans
failed full oft to favor at all.
Slack and shiftless the strong men deemed him,
profitless prince; but payment came,
to the warrior honored, for all his woes. --
Then the bulwark-of-earls
1
bade bring within,
hardy chieftain, Hrethel's heirloom
garnished with gold: no Geat e'er knew
in shape of a sword a statelier prize.
The brand he laid in Beowulf's lap;
and of hides assigned him seven thousand,
2
with house and high-seat. They held in common
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land alike by their line of birth,
inheritance, home: but higher the king
because of his rule o'er the realm itself.
Now further it fell with the flight of years,
with harryings horrid, that Hygelac perished,
3
and Heardred, too, by hewing of swords
under the shield-wall slaughtered lay,
when him at the van of his victor-folk
sought hardy heroes, Heatho-Scilfings,
in arms o'erwhelming Hereric's nephew.
Then Beowulf came as king this broad
realm to wield; and he ruled it well
fifty winters,
4
a wise old prince,
warding his land, until One began
in the dark of night, a Dragon, to rage.
In the grave on the hill a hoard it guarded,
in the stone-barrow steep. A strait path reached it,
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unknown to mortals. Some man, however,
came by chance that cave within
to the heathen hoard.
5
In hand he took
a golden goblet, nor gave he it back,
stole with it away, while the watcher slept,
by thievish wiles: for the warden's wrath
prince and people must pay betimes!
1
Hygelac.
2
This is generally assumed to mean hides, though the text simply says "seven
thousand." A hide in England meant about 120 acres, though "the size of the
acre varied."
3
On the historical raid into Frankish territory between 512 and 520 A.D. The
subsequent course of events, as gathered from hints of this epic, is partly told in
Scandinavian legend.
4
The chronology of this epic, as scholars have worked it out, would make
Beowulf well over ninety years of age when he fights the dragon. But the fifty
years of his reign need not be taken as historical fact.
5
The text is here hopelessly illegible, and only the general drift of the meaning
can be rescued. For one thing, we have the old myth of a dragon who guards
hidden treasure. But with this runs the story of some noble, last of his race, who
hides all his wealth within this barrow and there chants his farewell to life's
glories. After his death the dragon takes possession of the hoard and watches
over it. A condemned or banished man, desperate, hides in the barrow, discovers
the treasure, and while the dragon sleeps, makes off with a golden beaker or the
like, and carries it for propitiation to his master. The dragon discovers the loss
and exacts fearful penalty from the people round about.
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:::11
THAT way he went with no will of his own,
in danger of life, to the dragon's hoard,
but for pressure of peril, some prince's thane.
He fled in fear the fatal scourge,
seeking shelter, a sinful man,
and entered in. At the awful sight
tottered that guest, and terror seized him;
yet the wretched fugitive rallied anon
from fright and fear ere he fled away,
and took the cup from that treasure-hoard.
Of such besides there was store enough,
heirlooms old, the earth below,
which some earl forgotten, in ancient years,
left the last of his lofty race,
heedfully there had hidden away,
dearest treasure. For death of yore
had hurried all hence; and he alone
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left to live, the last of the clan,
weeping his friends, yet wished to bide
warding the treasure, his one delight,
though brief his respite. The barrow, new-ready,
to strand and sea-waves stood anear,
hard by the headland, hidden and closed;
there laid within it his lordly heirlooms
and heaped hoard of heavy gold
that warden of rings. Few words he spake:
"Now hold thou, earth, since heroes may not,
what earls have owned! Lo, erst from thee
brave men brought it! But battle-death seized
and cruel killing my clansmen all,
robbed them of life and a liegeman's joys.
None have I left to lift the sword,
or to cleanse the carven cup of price,
beaker bright. My brave are gone.
And the helmet hard, all haughty with gold,
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shall part from its plating. Polishers sleep
who could brighten and burnish the battle-mask;
and those weeds of war that were wont to brave
over bicker of shields the bite of steel
rust with their bearer. The ringed mail
fares not far with famous chieftain,
at side of hero! No harp's delight,
no glee-wood's gladness! No good hawk now
flies through the hall! Nor horses fleet
stamp in the burgstead! Battle and death
the flower of my race have reft away."
Mournful of mood, thus he moaned his woe,
alone, for them all, and unblithe wept
by day and by night, till death's fell wave
o'erwhelmed his heart. His hoard-of-bliss
that old ill-doer open found,
who, blazing at twilight the barrows haunteth,
naked foe-dragon flying by night
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folded in fire: the folk of earth
dread him sore. 'Tis his doom to seek
hoard in the graves, and heathen gold
to watch, many-wintered: nor wins he thereby!
Powerful this plague-of-the-people thus
held the house of the hoard in earth
three hundred winters; till One aroused
wrath in his breast, to the ruler bearing
that costly cup, and the king implored
for bond of peace. So the barrow was plundered,
borne off was booty. His boon was granted
that wretched man; and his ruler saw
first time what was fashioned in far-off days.
When the dragon awoke, new woe was kindled.
O'er the stone he snuffed. The stark-heart found
footprint of foe who so far had gone
in his hidden craft by the creature's head. --
So may the undoomed easily flee
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evils and exile, if only he gain
the grace of The Wielder! -- That warden of gold
o'er the ground went seeking, greedy to find
the man who wrought him such wrong in sleep.
Savage and burning, the barrow he circled
all without; nor was any there,
none in the waste.... Yet war he desired,
was eager for battle. The barrow he entered,
sought the cup, and discovered soon
that some one of mortals had searched his treasure,
his lordly gold. The guardian waited
ill-enduring till evening came;
boiling with wrath was the barrow's keeper,
and fain with flame the foe to pay
for the dear cup's loss. -- Now day was fled
as the worm had wished. By its wall no more
was it glad to bide, but burning flew
folded in flame: a fearful beginning
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for sons of the soil; and soon it came,
in the doom of their lord, to a dreadful end.
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:::111
THEN the baleful fiend its fire belched out,
and bright homes burned. The blaze stood high
all landsfolk frighting. No living thing
would that loathly one leave as aloft it flew.
Wide was the dragon's warring seen,
its fiendish fury far and near,
as the grim destroyer those Geatish people
hated and hounded. To hidden lair,
to its hoard it hastened at hint of dawn.
Folk of the land it had lapped in flame,
with bale and brand. In its barrow it trusted,
its battling and bulwarks: that boast was vain!
To Beowulf then the bale was told
quickly and truly: the king's own home,
of buildings the best, in brand-waves melted,
that gift-throne of Geats. To the good old man
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sad in heart, 'twas heaviest sorrow.
The sage assumed that his sovran God
he had angered, breaking ancient law,
and embittered the Lord. His breast within
with black thoughts welled, as his wont was never.
The folk's own fastness that fiery dragon
with flame had destroyed, and the stronghold all
washed by waves; but the warlike king,
prince of the Weders, plotted vengeance.
Warriors'-bulwark, he bade them work
all of iron -- the earl's commander --
a war-shield wondrous: well he knew
that forest-wood against fire were worthless,
linden could aid not. -- Atheling brave,
he was fated to finish this fleeting life,
1
his days on earth, and the dragon with him,
though long it had watched o'er the wealth of thehoard! --
Shame he reckoned it, sharer-of-rings,
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to follow the flyer-afar with a host,
a broad-flung band; nor the battle feared he,
nor deemed he dreadful the dragon's warring,
its vigor and valor: ventures desperate
he had passed a-plenty, and perils of war,
contest-crash, since, conqueror proud,
Hrothgar's hall he had wholly purged,
and in grapple had killed the kin of Grendel,
loathsome breed! Not least was that
of hand-to-hand fights where Hygelac fell,
when the ruler of Geats in rush of battle,
lord of his folk, in the Frisian land,
son of Hrethel, by sword-draughts died,
by brands down-beaten. Thence Beowulf fled
through strength of himself and his swimming power,
though alone, and his arms were laden with thirty
coats of mail, when he came to the sea!
Nor yet might Hetwaras
2
haughtily boast
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their craft of contest, who carried against him
shields to the fight: but few escaped
from strife with the hero to seek their homes!
Then swam over ocean Ecgtheow's son
lonely and sorrowful, seeking his land,
where Hygd made him offer of hoard and realm,
rings and royal-seat, reckoning naught
the strength of her son to save their kingdom
from hostile hordes, after Hygelac's death.
No sooner for this could the stricken ones
in any wise move that atheling's mind
over young Heardred's head as lord
and ruler of all the realm to be:
yet the hero upheld him with helpful words,
aided in honor, till, older grown,
he wielded the Weder-Geats. -- Wandering exiles
sought him o'er seas, the sons of Ohtere,
who had spurned the sway of the Scylfings'-helmet,
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the bravest and best that broke the rings,
in Swedish land, of the sea-kings' line,
haughty hero.
3
Hence Heardred's end.
For shelter he gave them, sword-death came,
the blade's fell blow, to bairn of Hygelac;
but the son of Ongentheow sought again
house and home when Heardred fell,
leaving Beowulf lord of Geats
and gift-seat's master. -- A good king he!
1
Literally "loan-days," days loaned to man.
2
Chattuarii, a tribe that dwelt along the Rhine, and took part in repelling the raid
of (Hygelac) Chocilaicus.
3
Onla, son of Ongentheow, who pursues his two nephews Eanmund and Eadgils
to Heardred's court, where they have taken refuge after their unsuccessful rebel-
lion. In the fighting Heardred is killed.
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:::18
THE fall of his lord he was fain to requite
in after days; and to Eadgils he proved
friend to the friendless, and forces sent
over the sea to the son of Ohtere,
weapons and warriors: well repaid he
those care-paths cold when the king he slew.
1
Thus safe through struggles the son of Ecgtheow
had passed a plenty, through perils dire,
with daring deeds, till this day was come
that doomed him now with the dragon to strive.
With comrades eleven the lord of Geats
swollen in rage went seeking the dragon.
He had heard whence all the harm arose
and the killing of clansmen; that cup of price
on the lap of the lord had been laid by the finder.
In the throng was this one thirteenth man,
starter of all the strife and ill,
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care-laden captive; cringing thence
forced and reluctant, he led them on
till he came in ken of that cavern-hall,
the barrow delved near billowy surges,
flood of ocean. Within 'twas full
of wire-gold and jewels; a jealous warden,
warrior trusty, the treasures held,
lurked in his lair. Not light the task
of entrance for any of earth-born men!
Sat on the headland the hero king,
spake words of hail to his hearth-companions,
gold-friend of Geats. All gloomy his soul,
wavering, death-bound. Wyrd full nigh
stood ready to greet the gray-haired man,
to seize his soul-hoard, sunder apart
life and body. Not long would be
the warrior's spirit enwound with flesh.
Beowulf spake, the bairn of Ecgtheow: --
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"Through store of struggles I strove in youth,
mighty feuds; I mind them all.
I was seven years old when the sovran of rings,
friend-of-his-folk, from my father took me,
had me, and held me, Hrethel the king,
with food and fee, faithful in kinship.
Ne'er, while I lived there, he loathlier found me,
bairn in the burg, than his birthright sons,
Herebeald and Haethcyn and Hygelac mine.
For the eldest of these, by unmeet chance,
by kinsman's deed, was the death-bed strewn,
when Haethcyn killed him with horny bow,
his own dear liege laid low with an arrow,
missed the mark and his mate shot down,
one brother the other, with bloody shaft.
A feeless fight,
2
and a fearful sin,
horror to Hrethel; yet, hard as it was,
unavenged must the atheling die!
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Too awful it is for an aged man
to bide and bear, that his bairn so young
rides on the gallows. A rime he makes,
sorrow-song for his son there hanging
as rapture of ravens; no rescue now
can come from the old, disabled man!
Still is he minded, as morning breaks,
of the heir gone elsewhere;
3
another he hopes not
he will bide to see his burg within
as ward for his wealth, now the one has found
doom of death that the deed incurred.
Forlorn he looks on the lodge of his son,
wine-hall waste and wind-swept chambers
reft of revel. The rider sleepeth,
the hero, far-hidden;
4
no harp resounds,
in the courts no wassail, as once was heard.
1
That is, Beowulf supports Eadgils against Onela, who is slain by Eadgils in
revenge for the "care-paths" of exile into which Onela forced him.
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2
That is, the king could claim no wergild, or man-price, from one son for the
killing of the other.
3
Usual euphemism for death.
4
Sc. in the grave.
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:::8
"THEN he goes to his chamber, a grief-song chants
alone for his lost. Too large all seems,
homestead and house. So the helmet-of-Weders
hid in his heart for Herebeald
waves of woe. No way could he take
to avenge on the slayer slaughter so foul;
nor e'en could he harass that hero at all
with loathing deed, though he loved him not.
And so for the sorrow his soul endured,
men's gladness he gave up and God's light chose.
Lands and cities he left his sons
(as the wealthy do) when he went from earth.
There was strife and struggle 'twixt Swede and Geat
o'er the width of waters; war arose,
hard battle-horror, when Hrethel died,
and Ongentheow's offspring grew
strife-keen, bold, nor brooked o'er the seas
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pact of peace, but pushed their hosts
to harass in hatred by Hreosnabeorh.
Men of my folk for that feud had vengeance,
for woful war ('tis widely known),
though one of them bought it with blood of his heart,
a bargain hard: for Haethcyn proved
fatal that fray, for the first-of-Geats.
At morn, I heard, was the murderer killed
by kinsman for kinsman,
1
with clash of sword,
when Ongentheow met Eofor there.
Wide split the war-helm: wan he fell,
hoary Scylfing; the hand that smote him
of feud was mindful, nor flinched from the death-blow.
-- "For all that he
2
gave me, my gleaming sword
repaid him at war, -- such power I wielded, --
for lordly treasure: with land he entrusted me,
homestead and house. He had no need
from Swedish realm, or from Spear-Dane folk,
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or from men of the Gifths, to get him help, --
some warrior worse for wage to buy!
Ever I fought in the front of all,
sole to the fore; and so shall I fight
while I bide in life and this blade shall last
that early and late hath loyal proved
since for my doughtiness Daeghrefn fell,
slain by my hand, the Hugas' champion.
Nor fared he thence to the Frisian king
with the booty back, and breast-adornments;
but, slain in struggle, that standard-bearer
fell, atheling brave. Not with blade was he slain,
but his bones were broken by brawny gripe,
his heart-waves stilled. -- The sword-edge now,
hard blade and my hand, for the hoard shall strive."
Beowulf spake, and a battle-vow made
his last of all: "I have lived through many
wars in my youth; now once again,
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old folk-defender, feud will I seek,
do doughty deeds, if the dark destroyer
forth from his cavern come to fight me!"
Then hailed he the helmeted heroes all,
for the last time greeting his liegemen dear,
comrades of war: "I should carry no weapon,
no sword to the serpent, if sure I knew
how, with such enemy, else my vows
I could gain as I did in Grendel's day.
But fire in this fight I must fear me now,
and poisonous breath; so I bring with me
breastplate and board.
3
From the barrow's keeper
no footbreadth flee I. One fight shall end
our war by the wall, as Wyrd allots,
all mankind's master. My mood is bold
but forbears to boast o'er this battling-flyer.
-- Now abide by the barrow, ye breastplate-mailed,
ye heroes in harness, which of us twain
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better from battle-rush bear his wounds.
Wait ye the finish. The fight is not yours,
nor meet for any but me alone
to measure might with this monster here
and play the hero. Hardily I
shall win that wealth, or war shall seize,
cruel killing, your king and lord!"
Up stood then with shield the sturdy champion,
stayed by the strength of his single manhood,
and hardy 'neath helmet his harness bore
under cleft of the cliffs: no coward's path!
Soon spied by the wall that warrior chief,
survivor of many a victory-field
where foemen fought with furious clashings,
an arch of stone; and within, a stream
that broke from the barrow. The brooklet's wave
was hot with fire. The hoard that way
he never could hope unharmed to near,
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or endure those deeps,
4
for the dragon's flame.
Then let from his breast, for he burst with rage,
the Weder-Geat prince a word outgo;
stormed the stark-heart; stern went ringing
and clear his cry 'neath the cliff-rocks gray.
The hoard-guard heard a human voice;
his rage was enkindled. No respite now
for pact of peace! The poison-breath
of that foul worm first came forth from the cave,
hot reek-of-fight: the rocks resounded.
Stout by the stone-way his shield he raised,
lord of the Geats, against the loathed-one;
while with courage keen that coiled foe
came seeking strife. The sturdy king
had drawn his sword, not dull of edge,
heirloom old; and each of the two
felt fear of his foe, though fierce their mood.
Stoutly stood with his shield high-raised
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the warrior king, as the worm now coiled
together amain: the mailed-one waited.
Now, spire by spire, fast sped and glided
that blazing serpent. The shield protected,
soul and body a shorter while
for the hero-king than his heart desired,
could his will have wielded the welcome respite
but once in his life! But Wyrd denied it,
and victory's honors. -- His arm he lifted
lord of the Geats, the grim foe smote
with atheling's heirloom. Its edge was turned
brown blade, on the bone, and bit more feebly
than its noble master had need of then
in his baleful stress. -- Then the barrow's keeper
waxed full wild for that weighty blow,
cast deadly flames; wide drove and far
those vicious fires. No victor's glory
the Geats' lord boasted; his brand had failed,
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naked in battle, as never it should,
excellent iron! -- 'Twas no easy path
that Ecgtheow's honored heir must tread
over the plain to the place of the foe;
for against his will he must win a home
elsewhere far, as must all men, leaving
this lapsing life! -- Not long it was
ere those champions grimly closed again.
The hoard-guard was heartened; high heaved hisbreast
once more; and by peril was pressed again,
enfolded in flames, the folk-commander!
Nor yet about him his band of comrades,
sons of athelings, armed stood
with warlike front: to the woods they bent them,
their lives to save. But the soul of one
with care was cumbered. Kinship true
can never be marred in a noble mind!
XXXV
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1
Eofor for Wulf. -- The immediate provocation for Eofor in killing "the hoary
Scylfing," Ongentheow, is that the latter has just struck Wulf down; but the
king, Haethcyn, is also avenged by the blow. See the detailed description below.
2
Hygelac.
3
Shield.
4
The hollow passage.
XXXV
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:::81
WIGLAF his name was, Weohstan's son,
linden-thane loved, the lord of Scylfings,
Aelfhere's kinsman. His king he now saw
with heat under helmet hard oppressed.
He minded the prizes his prince had given him,
wealthy seat of the Waegmunding line,
and folk-rights that his father owned
Not long he lingered. The linden yellow,
his shield, he seized; the old sword he drew: --
as heirloom of Eanmund earth-dwellers knew it,
who was slain by the sword-edge, son of Ohtere,
friendless exile, erst in fray
killed by Weohstan, who won for his kin
brown-bright helmet, breastplate ringed,
old sword of Eotens, Onela's gift,
weeds of war of the warrior-thane,
battle-gear brave: though a brother's child
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had been felled, the feud was unfelt by Onela.
1
For winters this war-gear Weohstan kept,
breastplate and board, till his bairn had grown
earlship to earn as the old sire did:
then he gave him, mid Geats, the gear of battle,
portion huge, when he passed from life,
fared aged forth. For the first time now
with his leader-lord the liegeman young
was bidden to share the shock of battle.
Neither softened his soul, nor the sire's bequest
weakened in war.
2
So the worm found out
when once in fight the foes had met!
Wiglaf spake, -- and his words were sage;
sad in spirit, he said to his comrades: --
"I remember the time, when mead we took,
what promise we made to this prince of ours
in the banquet-hall, to our breaker-of-rings,
for gear of combat to give him requital,
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for hard-sword and helmet, if hap should bring
stress of this sort! Himself who chose us
from all his army to aid him now,
urged us to glory, and gave these treasures,
because he counted us keen with the spear
and hardy 'neath helm, though this hero-work
our leader hoped unhelped and alone
to finish for us, -- folk-defender
who hath got him glory greater than all men
for daring deeds! Now the day is come
that our noble master has need of the might
of warriors stout. Let us stride along
the hero to help while the heat is about him
glowing and grim! For God is my witness
I am far more fain the fire should seize
along with my lord these limbs of mine!
3
Unsuiting it seems our shields to bear
homeward hence, save here we essay
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to fell the foe and defend the life
of the Weders' lord. I wot 'twere shame
on the law of our land if alone the king
out of Geatish warriors woe endured
and sank in the struggle! My sword and helmet,
breastplate and board, for us both shall serve!"
Through slaughter-reek strode he to succor his chieftain,
his battle-helm bore, and brief words spake: --
"Beowulf dearest, do all bravely,
as in youthful days of yore thou vowedst
that while life should last thou wouldst let no wise
thy glory droop! Now, great in deeds,
atheling steadfast, with all thy strength
shield thy life! I will stand to help thee."
At the words the worm came once again,
murderous monster mad with rage,
with fire-billows flaming, its foes to seek,
the hated men. In heat-waves burned
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that board
4
to the boss, and the breastplate failed
to shelter at all the spear-thane young.
Yet quickly under his kinsman's shield
went eager the earl, since his own was now
all burned by the blaze. The bold king again
had mind of his glory: with might his glaive
was driven into the dragon's head, --
blow nerved by hate. But Naegling
5
was shivered,
broken in battle was Beowulf's sword,
old and gray. 'Twas granted him not
that ever the edge of iron at all
could help him at strife: too strong was his hand,
so the tale is told, and he tried too far
with strength of stroke all swords he wielded,
though sturdy their steel: they steaded him nought.
Then for the third time thought on its feud
that folk-destroyer, fire-dread dragon,
and rushed on the hero, where room allowed,
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battle-grim, burning; its bitter teeth
closed on his neck, and covered him
with waves of blood from his breast that welled.
1
That is, although Eanmund was brother's son to Onela, the slaying of the former
by Weohstan is not felt as cause of feud, and is rewarded by gift of the slain man's
weapons.
2
Both Wiglaf and the sword did their duty. -- The following is one of the classic
passages for illustrating the comitatus as the most conspicuous Germanic institu-
tion, and its underlying sense of duty, based partly on the idea of loyalty and
partly on the practical basis of benefits received and repaid.
3
Sc. "than to bide safely here," -- a common figure of incomplete comparison.
4
Wiglaf's wooden shield.
5
Gering would translate "kinsman of the nail," as both are made of iron.
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:::811
'TWAS now, men say, in his sovran's need
that the earl made known his noble strain,
craft and keenness and courage enduring.
Heedless of harm, though his hand was burned,
hardy-hearted, he helped his kinsman.
A little lower the loathsome beast
he smote with sword; his steel drove in
bright and burnished; that blaze began
to lose and lessen. At last the king
wielded his wits again, war-knife drew,
a biting blade by his breastplate hanging,
and the Weders'-helm smote that worm asunder,
felled the foe, flung forth its life.
So had they killed it, kinsmen both,
athelings twain: thus an earl should be
in danger's day! -- Of deeds of valor
this conqueror's-hour of the king was last,
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of his work in the world. The wound began,
which that dragon-of-earth had erst inflicted,
to swell and smart; and soon he found
in his breast was boiling, baleful and deep,
pain of poison. The prince walked on,
wise in his thought, to the wall of rock;
then sat, and stared at the structure of giants,
where arch of stone and steadfast column
upheld forever that hall in earth.
Yet here must the hand of the henchman peerless
lave with water his winsome lord,
the king and conqueror covered with blood,
with struggle spent, and unspan his helmet.
Beowulf spake in spite of his hurt,
his mortal wound; full well he knew
his portion now was past and gone
of earthly bliss, and all had fled
of his file of days, and death was near:
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"I would fain bestow on son of mine
this gear of war, were given me now
that any heir should after me come
of my proper blood. This people I ruled
fifty winters. No folk-king was there,
none at all, of the neighboring clans
who war would wage me with 'warriors'-friends'
1
and threat me with horrors. At home I bided
what fate might come, and I cared for mine own;
feuds I sought not, nor falsely swore
ever on oath. For all these things,
though fatally wounded, fain am I!
From the Ruler-of-Man no wrath shall seize me,
when life from my frame must flee away,
for killing of kinsmen! Now quickly go
and gaze on that hoard 'neath the hoary rock,
Wiglaf loved, now the worm lies low,
sleeps, heart-sore, of his spoil bereaved.
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And fare in haste. I would fain behold
the gorgeous heirlooms, golden store,
have joy in the jewels and gems, lay down
softlier for sight of this splendid hoard
my life and the lordship I long have held."
1
That is, swords.
XXXVII
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:::8111
I HAVE heard that swiftly the son of Weohstan
at wish and word of his wounded king, --
war-sick warrior, -- woven mail-coat,
battle-sark, bore 'neath the barrow's roof.
Then the clansman keen, of conquest proud,
passing the seat,
1
saw store of jewels
and glistening gold the ground along;
by the wall were marvels, and many a vessel
in the den of the dragon, the dawn-flier old:
unburnished bowls of bygone men
reft of richness; rusty helms
of the olden age; and arm-rings many
wondrously woven. -- Such wealth of gold,
booty from barrow, can burden with pride
each human wight: let him hide it who will! --
His glance too fell on a gold-wove banner
high o'er the hoard, of handiwork noblest,
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brilliantly broidered; so bright its gleam,
all the earth-floor he easily saw
and viewed all these vessels. No vestige now
was seen of the serpent: the sword had ta'en him.
Then, I heard, the hill of its hoard was reft,
old work of giants, by one alone;
he burdened his bosom with beakers and plate
at his own good will, and the ensign took,
brightest of beacons. -- The blade of his lord
-- its edge was iron -- had injured deep
one that guarded the golden hoard
many a year and its murder-fire
spread hot round the barrow in horror-billows
at midnight hour, till it met its doom.
Hasted the herald, the hoard so spurred him
his track to retrace; he was troubled by doubt,
high-souled hero, if haply he'd find
alive, where he left him, the lord of Weders,
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weakening fast by the wall of the cave.
So he carried the load. His lord and king
he found all bleeding, famous chief
at the lapse of life. The liegeman again
plashed him with water, till point of word
broke through the breast-hoard. Beowulf spake,
sage and sad, as he stared at the gold. --
"For the gold and treasure, to God my thanks,
to the Wielder-of-Wonders, with words I say,
for what I behold, to Heaven's Lord,
for the grace that I give such gifts to my folk
or ever the day of my death be run!
Now I've bartered here for booty of treasure
the last of my life, so look ye well
to the needs of my land! No longer I tarry.
A barrow bid ye the battle-fanned raise
for my ashes. 'Twill shine by the shore of the flood,
to folk of mine memorial fair
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on Hrones Headland high uplifted,
that ocean-wanderers oft may hail
Beowulf's Barrow, as back from far
they drive their keels o'er the darkling wave."
From his neck he unclasped the collar of gold,
valorous king, to his vassal gave it
with bright-gold helmet, breastplate, and ring,
to the youthful thane: bade him use them in joy.
"Thou art end and remnant of all our race
the Waegmunding name. For Wyrd hath swept them,
all my line, to the land of doom,
earls in their glory: I after them go."
This word was the last which the wise old man
harbored in heart ere hot death-waves
of balefire he chose. From his bosom fled
his soul to seek the saints' reward.
1
Where Beowulf lay.
XXXVIII
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:::1:
IT was heavy hap for that hero young
on his lord beloved to look and find him
lying on earth with life at end,
sorrowful sight. But the slayer too,
awful earth-dragon, empty of breath,
lay felled in fight, nor, fain of its treasure,
could the writhing monster rule it more.
For edges of iron had ended its days,
hard and battle-sharp, hammers' leaving;
1
and that flier-afar had fallen to ground
hushed by its hurt, its hoard all near,
no longer lusty aloft to whirl
at midnight, making its merriment seen,
proud of its prizes: prone it sank
by the handiwork of the hero-king.
Forsooth among folk but few achieve,
-- though sturdy and strong, as stories tell me,
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and never so daring in deed of valor, --
the perilous breath of a poison-foe
to brave, and to rush on the ring-board hall,
whenever his watch the warden keeps
bold in the barrow. Beowulf paid
the price of death for that precious hoard;
and each of the foes had found the end
of this fleeting life.
Befell erelong
that the laggards in war the wood had left,
trothbreakers, cowards, ten together,
fearing before to flourish a spear
in the sore distress of their sovran lord.
Now in their shame their shields they carried,
armor of fight, where the old man lay;
and they gazed on Wiglaf. Wearied he sat
at his sovran's shoulder, shieldsman good,
to wake him with water.
2
Nowise it availed.
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193
*-97.
Though well he wished it, in world no more
could he barrier life for that leader-of-battles
nor baffle the will of all-wielding God.
Doom of the Lord was law o'er the deeds
of every man, as it is to-day.
Grim was the answer, easy to get,
from the youth for those that had yielded to fear!
Wiglaf spake, the son of Weohstan, --
mournful he looked on those men unloved: --
"Who sooth will speak, can say indeed
that the ruler who gave you golden rings
and the harness of war in which ye stand
-- for he at ale-bench often-times
bestowed on hall-folk helm and breastplate,
lord to liegemen, the likeliest gear
which near of far he could find to give, --
threw away and wasted these weeds of battle,
on men who failed when the foemen came!
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Not at all could the king of his comrades-in-arms
venture to vaunt, though the Victory-Wielder,
God, gave him grace that he got revenge
sole with his sword in stress and need.
To rescue his life, 'twas little that I
could serve him in struggle; yet shift I made
(hopeless it seemed) to help my kinsman.
Its strength ever waned, when with weapon I struck
that fatal foe, and the fire less strongly
flowed from its head. -- Too few the heroes
in throe of contest that thronged to our king!
Now gift of treasure and girding of sword,
joy of the house and home-delight
shall fail your folk; his freehold-land
every clansman within your kin
shall lose and leave, when lords highborn
hear afar of that flight of yours,
a fameless deed. Yea, death is better
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*-97.
for liegemen all than a life of shame!"
1
What had been left or made by the hammer; well-forged.
2
Trying to revive him.
XXXIX
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*-97.
:
THAT battle-toil bade he at burg to announce,
at the fort on the cliff, where, full of sorrow,
all the morning earls had sat,
daring shieldsmen, in doubt of twain:
would they wail as dead, or welcome home,
their lord beloved? Little
1
kept back
of the tidings new, but told them all,
the herald that up the headland rode. --
"Now the willing-giver to Weder folk
in death-bed lies; the Lord of Geats
on the slaughter-bed sleeps by the serpent's deed!
And beside him is stretched that slayer-of-men
with knife-wounds sick:
2
no sword availed
on the awesome thing in any wise
to work a wound. There Wiglaf sitteth,
Weohstan's bairn, by Beowulf's side,
the living earl by the other dead,
XL
197
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and heavy of heart a head-watch
3
keeps
o'er friend and foe. -- Now our folk may look
for waging of war when once unhidden
to Frisian and Frank the fall of the king
is spread afar. -- The strife began
when hot on the Hugas
4
Hygelac fell
and fared with his fleet to the Frisian land.
Him there the Hetwaras humbled in war,
plied with such prowess their power o'erwhelming
that the bold-in-battle bowed beneath it
and fell in fight. To his friends no wise
could that earl give treasure! And ever since
the Merowings' favor has failed us wholly.
Nor aught expect I of peace and faith
from Swedish folk. 'Twas spread afar
how Ongentheow reft at Ravenswood
Haethcyn Hrethling of hope and life,
when the folk of Geats for the first time sought
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*-97.
in wanton pride the Warlike-Scylfings.
Soon the sage old sire
5
of Ohtere,
ancient and awful, gave answering blow;
the sea-king
6
he slew, and his spouse redeemed,
his good wife rescued, though robbed of her gold,
mother of Ohtere and Onela.
Then he followed his foes, who fled before him
sore beset and stole their way,
bereft of a ruler, to Ravenswood.
With his host he besieged there what swords had left,
the weary and wounded; woes he threatened
the whole night through to that hard-pressed throng:
some with the morrow his sword should kill,
some should go to the gallows-tree
for rapture of ravens. But rescue came
with dawn of day for those desperate men
when they heard the horn of Hygelac sound,
XL
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*-97.
tones of his trumpet; the trusty king
had followed their trail with faithful band.
1
Nothing.
2
Dead.
3
Death-watch, guard of honor, "lyke-wake."
4
A name for the Franks.
5
Ongentheow.
6
Haethcyn.
XL
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*-97.
:1
"THE bloody swath of Swedes and Geats
and the storm of their strife, were seen afar,
how folk against folk the fight had wakened.
The ancient king with his atheling band
sought his citadel, sorrowing much:
Ongentheow earl went up to his burg.
He had tested Hygelac's hardihood,
the proud one's prowess, would prove it no longer,
defied no more those fighting-wanderers
nor hoped from the seamen to save his hoard,
his bairn and his bride: so he bent him again,
old, to his earth-walls. Yet after him came
with slaughter for Swedes the standards of Hygelac
o'er peaceful plains in pride advancing,
till Hrethelings fought in the fenced town.
1
Then Ongentheow with edge of sword,
the hoary-bearded, was held at bay,
XLI
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and the folk-king there was forced to suffer
Eofor's anger. In ire, at the king
Wulf Wonreding with weapon struck;
and the chieftain's blood, for that blow, in streams
flowed 'neath his hair. No fear felt he,
stout old Scylfing, but straightway repaid
in better bargain that bitter stroke
and faced his foe with fell intent.
Nor swift enough was the son of Wonred
answer to render the aged chief;
too soon on his head the helm was cloven;
blood-bedecked he bowed to earth,
and fell adown; not doomed was he yet,
and well he waxed, though the wound was sore.
Then the hardy Hygelac-thane,
2
when his brother fell, with broad brand smote,
giants' sword crashing through giants'-helm
across the shield-wall: sank the king,
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his folk's old herdsman, fatally hurt.
There were many to bind the brother's wounds
and lift him, fast as fate allowed
his people to wield the place-of-war.
But Eofor took from Ongentheow,
earl from other, the iron-breastplate,
hard sword hilted, and helmet too,
and the hoar-chief's harness to Hygelac carried,
who took the trappings, and truly promised
rich fee 'mid folk, -- and fulfilled it so.
For that grim strife gave the Geatish lord,
Hrethel's offspring, when home he came,
to Eofor and Wulf a wealth of treasure,
Each of them had a hundred thousand
3
in land and linked rings; nor at less price reckoned
mid-earth men such mighty deeds!
And to Eofor he gave his only daughter
in pledge of grace, the pride of his home.
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*-97.
"Such is the feud, the foeman's rage,
death-hate of men: so I deem it sure
that the Swedish folk will seek us home
for this fall of their friends, the fighting-Scylfings,
when once they learn that our warrior leader
lifeless lies, who land and hoard
ever defended from all his foes,
furthered his folk's weal, finished his course
a hardy hero. -- Now haste is best,
that we go to gaze on our Geatish lord,
and bear the bountiful breaker-of-rings
to the funeral pyre. No fragments merely
shall burn with the warrior. Wealth of jewels,
gold untold and gained in terror,
treasure at last with his life obtained,
all of that booty the brands shall take,
fire shall eat it. No earl must carry
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memorial jewel. No maiden fair
shall wreathe her neck with noble ring:
nay, sad in spirit and shorn of her gold,
oft shall she pass o'er paths of exile
now our lord all laughter has laid aside,
all mirth and revel. Many a spear
morning-cold shall be clasped amain,
lifted aloft; nor shall lilt of harp
those warriors wake; but the wan-hued raven,
fain o'er the fallen, his feast shall praise
and boast to the eagle how bravely he ate
when he and the wolf were wasting the slain."
So he told his sorrowful tidings,
and little
4
he lied, the loyal man
of word or of work. The warriors rose;
sad, they climbed to the Cliff-of-Eagles,
went, welling with tears, the wonder to view.
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Found on the sand there, stretched at rest,
their lifeless lord, who had lavished rings
of old upon them. Ending-day
had dawned on the doughty-one; death had seized
in woful slaughter the Weders' king.
There saw they, besides, the strangest being,
loathsome, lying their leader near,
prone on the field. The fiery dragon,
fearful fiend, with flame was scorched.
Reckoned by feet, it was fifty measures
in length as it lay. Aloft erewhile
it had revelled by night, and anon come back,
seeking its den; now in death's sure clutch
it had come to the end of its earth-hall joys.
By it there stood the stoups and jars;
dishes lay there, and dear-decked swords
eaten with rust, as, on earth's lap resting,
a thousand winters they waited there.
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*-97.
For all that heritage huge, that gold
of bygone men, was bound by a spell,
5
so the treasure-hall could be touched by none
of human kind, -- save that Heaven's King,
God himself, might give whom he would,
Helper of Heroes, the hoard to open, --
even such a man as seemed to him meet.
1
The line may mean: till Hrethelings stormed on the hedged shields, -- i.e. the
shield-wall or hedge of defensive war -- Hrethelings, of course, are Geats.
2
Eofor, brother to Wulf Wonreding.
3
Sc. "value in" hides and the weight of the gold.
4
Not at all.
5
Laid on it when it was put in the barrow. This spell, or in our days the "curse,"
either prevented discovery or brought dire ills on the finder and taker.
XLI
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*-97.
:11
A PERILOUS path, it proved, he
1
trod
who heinously hid, that hall within,
wealth under wall! Its watcher had killed
one of a few,
2
and the feud was avenged
in woful fashion. Wondrous seems it,
what manner a man of might and valor
oft ends his life, when the earl no longer
in mead-hall may live with loving friends.
So Beowulf, when that barrow's warden
he sought, and the struggle; himself knew not
in what wise he should wend from the world at last.
For
3
princes potent, who placed the gold,
with a curse to doomsday covered it deep,
so that marked with sin the man should be,
hedged with horrors, in hell-bonds fast,
racked with plagues, who should rob their hoard.
Yet no greed for gold, but the grace of heaven,
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ever the king had kept in view.
4
Wiglaf spake, the son of Weohstan: --
"At the mandate of one, oft warriors many
sorrow must suffer; and so must we.
The people's-shepherd showed not aught
of care for our counsel, king beloved!
That guardian of gold he should grapple not, urged we,
but let him lie where he long had been
in his earth-hall waiting the end of the world,
the hest of heaven. -- This hoard is ours
but grievously gotten; too grim the fate
which thither carried our king and lord.
I was within there, and all I viewed,
the chambered treasure, when chance allowed me
(and my path was made in no pleasant wise)
under the earth-wall. Eager, I seized
such heap from the hoard as hands could bear
and hurriedly carried it hither back
XLII
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*-97.
to my liege and lord. Alive was he still,
still wielding his wits. The wise old man
spake much in his sorrow, and sent you greetings
and bade that ye build, when he breathed no more,
on the place of his balefire a barrow high,
memorial mighty. Of men was he
worthiest warrior wide earth o'er
the while he had joy of his jewels and burg.
Let us set out in haste now, the second time
to see and search this store of treasure,
these wall-hid wonders, -- the way I show you, --
where, gathered near, ye may gaze your fill
at broad-gold and rings. Let the bier, soon made,
be all in order when out we come,
our king and captain to carry thither
-- man beloved -- where long he shall bide
safe in the shelter of sovran God."
Then the bairn of Weohstan bade command,
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hardy chief, to heroes many
that owned their homesteads, hither to bring
firewood from far -- o'er the folk they ruled --
for the famed-one's funeral. " Fire shall devour
and wan flames feed on the fearless warrior
who oft stood stout in the iron-shower,
when, sped from the string, a storm of arrows
shot o'er the shield-wall: the shaft held firm,
featly feathered, followed the barb."
And now the sage young son of Weohstan
seven chose of the chieftain's thanes,
the best he found that band within,
and went with these warriors, one of eight,
under hostile roof. In hand one bore
a lighted torch and led the way.
No lots they cast for keeping the hoard
when once the warriors saw it in hall,
altogether without a guardian,
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*-97.
lying there lost. And little they mourned
when they had hastily haled it out,
dear-bought treasure! The dragon they cast,
the worm, o'er the wall for the wave to take,
and surges swallowed that shepherd of gems.
Then the woven gold on a wain was laden --
countless quite! -- and the king was borne,
hoary hero, to Hrones-Ness.
1
Probably the fugitive is meant who discovered the hoard. Ten Brink and Gering
assume that the dragon is meant. "Hid" may well mean here "took while in
hiding."
2
That is "one and a few others." But Beowulf seems to be indicated.
3
Ten Brink points out the strongly heathen character of this part of the epic.
Beowulf's end came, so the old tradition ran, from his unwitting interference
with spell-bound treasure.
4
A hard saying, variously interpreted. In any case, it is the somewhat clumsy
effort of the Christian poet to tone down the heathenism of his material by an
edifying observation.
XLII
212
*-97.
:111
THEN fashioned for him the folk of Geats
firm on the earth a funeral-pile,
and hung it with helmets and harness of war
and breastplates bright, as the boon he asked;
and they laid amid it the mighty chieftain,
heroes mourning their master dear.
Then on the hill that hugest of balefires
the warriors wakened. Wood-smoke rose
black over blaze, and blent was the roar
of flame with weeping (the wind was still),
till the fire had broken the frame of bones,
hot at the heart. In heavy mood
their misery moaned they, their master's death.
Wailing her woe, the widow
1
old,
her hair upbound, for Beowulf's death
sung in her sorrow, and said full oft
she dreaded the doleful days to come,
XLIII
213
*-97.
deaths enow, and doom of battle,
and shame. -- The smoke by the sky was devoured.
The folk of the Weders fashioned there
on the headland a barrow broad and high,
by ocean-farers far descried:
in ten days' time their toil had raised it,
the battle-brave's beacon. Round brands of the pyre
a wall they built, the worthiest ever
that wit could prompt in their wisest men.
They placed in the barrow that precious booty,
the rounds and the rings they had reft erewhile,
hardy heroes, from hoard in cave, --
trusting the ground with treasure of earls,
gold in the earth, where ever it lies
useless to men as of yore it was.
Then about that barrow the battle-keen rode,
atheling-born, a band of twelve,
lament to make, to mourn their king,
XLIII
214
*-97.
chant their dirge, and their chieftain honor.
They praised his earlship, his acts of prowess
worthily witnessed: and well it is
that men their master-friend mightily laud,
heartily love, when hence he goes
from life in the body forlorn away.
Thus made their mourning the men of Geatland,
for their hero's passing his hearth-companions:
quoth that of all the kings of earth,
of men he was mildest and most beloved,
to his kin the kindest, keenest for praise.
the end
1
Nothing is said of Beowulf's wife in the poem, but Bugge surmises that Beowulf
finally accepted Hygd's offer of kingdom and hoard, and, as was usual, took her
into the bargain.
XLIII

Copyright statement: This text is published free of charge and can be freely distributed and redistributed in any medium without penalty. It is published under the fair use provision of United States Copyright laws and is intended solely for non-profit, educational, scholarly and private entertainment use. Adobe PDF formatting by James M. Esch published in 1999 by Orange Street Press http://www.keystonenet.com/~jesch/osp/ sparks@eserver.org Author of Beowulf is Anonymous. The text was probably written around 900 AD. This text is based upon the edition prepared in July, 1997 [Etext #981] by Robin KatsuyaCorbet (corbet@astro.psu.edu) from scanner output provided by Internet Wiretap. NOTE that gaps exist in this text, due to the fact that the only extant manuscript was fire damaged and is incomplete. This explains the broken sequence of chapter numbers. Cover art: A buckle or reliquary from the age of Beowulf superimposed onto an image of the Beowful manuscript itself.

BEOWULF

Contents
I ........................................................................................................................................... 9 II ....................................................................................................................................... 14 III ...................................................................................................................................... 19 IV ...................................................................................................................................... 24 V ....................................................................................................................................... 28 VI ...................................................................................................................................... 31 VII .................................................................................................................................... 37 VIII ................................................................................................................................... 40 IX ...................................................................................................................................... 44 X ....................................................................................................................................... 50 XI ...................................................................................................................................... 53 XII .................................................................................................................................... 58 XIII ................................................................................................................................... 61 XIV ................................................................................................................................... 67 XV .................................................................................................................................... 71 XVI ................................................................................................................................... 75 XVII ................................................................................................................................. 81 XVIII ................................................................................................................................ 86 XIX ................................................................................................................................... 90 XX ..................................................................................................................................... 94 XXI ................................................................................................................................... 98 XXI ................................................................................................................................. 104 XXIII .............................................................................................................................. 109 XXIV .............................................................................................................................. 115 3

BEOWULF XXV ................................................................................................................................ 121 XXVI .............................................................................................................................. 126 XXVII ............................................................................................................................. 131 XXVIII ........................................................................................................................... 136 XXXI .............................................................................................................................. 147 XXXII ............................................................................................................................. 152 XXXIII ........................................................................................................................... 158 XXXIV ........................................................................................................................... 163 XXXV ............................................................................................................................. 168 XXXVI ........................................................................................................................... 177 XXXVII .......................................................................................................................... 183 XXXVIII ........................................................................................................................ 187 XXXIX ............................................................................................................................ 191 XL ................................................................................................................................... 196 XLI ................................................................................................................................. 200 XLII ................................................................................................................................ 207 XLIII .............................................................................................................................. 212

4

with world's renown.BEOWULF PRELUDE OF THE FOUNDER OF THE DANISH HOUSE LO. awing the earls. both far and near. from many a tribe. the Lord endowed him. we have heard. praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes. a son in his halls. who house by the whale-path. gave him gifts: a good king he! To him an heir was afterward born. in days long sped. a foundling. whom heaven sent to favor the folk. in wealth he throve. heard his mandate. till before him the folk. feeling their woe that erst they had lacked an earl for leader so long a while. Since erst he lay friendless. and what honor the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes. 5 . fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin. the mead-bench tore. the Wielder of Wonder.

Then they bore him over to ocean's billow.. come warriors willing. loving clansmen. in the Scandian lands. as late he charged them. while wielded words the winsome Scyld.. by fee and gift. atheling's barge: there laid they down their darling lord 6 .. So becomes it a youth to quit him well with his father's friends. In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel. sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God. son of Scyld. outbound. should war draw nigh. ice-flecked.BEOWULF Famed was this Beowulf:1 far flew the boast of him. that to aid him. the leader beloved who long had ruled. Forth he fared at the fated moment. in after days. liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds shall an earl have honor in every clan. aged.

no son of the halls. thanes' huge treasure. than those had done who in former time forth had sent him sole on the seas. let billows take him. a gold-wove banner. mournful their mood. No ship have I known so nobly dight with weapons of war and weeds of battle.2 by the mast the mighty one. with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay a heaped hoard that hence should go far o'er the flood with him floating away. a suckling child. High o'er his head they hoist the standard. Many a treasure fetched from far was freighted with him. gave him to ocean. No man is able to say in sooth.BEOWULF on the breast of the boat. the breaker-of-rings. No less these loaded the lordly gifts.who harbored that freight! 7 . no hero 'neath heaven. -. Grave were their spirits.

8 . hero of the epic. 2 Kenning for king or chieftain of a comitatus: he breaks off gold from the spiral rings . Beowulf the Great. of course.often worn on the arm -.and so rewards his followers.BEOWULF 1 Not.

mightier far 9 . who held through life.'s queen. then Hrothgar. Then. leader beloved.BEOWULF I I Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings. To Hrothgar was given such glory of war. one after one. the Heathoscylfing's helpmate dear. sage and sturdy. to the chieftain of clansmen. the Scyldings glad. that all his kin obeyed him gladly till great grew his band of youthful comrades. children four: Heorogar. and long he ruled in fame with all folk. ia master mead-house. haughty Healfdene.was -. since his father had gone away from the world. and I heard that -. such honor of combat. It came in his mind to bid his henchmen a hall uprear. then Halga brave. till awoke an heir. there woke to him.

Wide. high. save only the land and the lives of his men.BEOWULF I than ever was seen by the sons of earth. for many a tribe this mid-earth round. It fell. I heard. of halls the noblest: Heorot1 he named it whose message had might in many a land. in rapid achievement that ready it stood there. and within it. to fashion the folkstead. the hot surge waiting of furious flame. to old and young he would all allot that the Lord had sent him. then. gabled wide. 10 . Not reckless of promise. as he ordered.3 With envy and anger an evil spirit endured the dole in his dark abode. treasure at banquet: there towered the hall. was the work commanded. the rings he dealt.2 Nor far was that day when father and son-in-law stood in feud for warfare and hatred that woke again.

fief of the giants the hapless wight a while had kept 11 . Grendel this monster grim was called. triumphant. that field of hell. clear song of the singer. made life for all of mortal beings that breathe and move. till one began to fashion evils. fairest fields enfolded by water. sun and moon for a light to lighten the land-dwellers. in fen and fastness. He sang who knew4 tales of the early time of man. how the Almighty made the earth. march-riever5 mighty.BEOWULF I that he heard each day the din of revel high in the hall: there harps rang out. So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel a winsome life. set. in moorland living. and braided bright the breast of earth with limbs and leaves.

at some distance from the walls. 2 Fire was the usual end of these halls. -. v. On kin of Cain was the killing avenged by sovran God for slaughtered Abel. and was furnished with two rows of seats.selves out for sleep on the benches. On one side. 12 . of the Nialssaga. One thinks of the splendid scene at the end of the Nibelungen. made a space which was raised a little above the main floor. of Saxo's story of Amlethus.formed the tables just in front of the long rows of seats. and were taken away after banquets." so called from decorations in the gables that resembled the antlers of a deer. as well as the giants that warred with God weary while: but their wage was paid them! 1 That is. Opposite this. This hall has been carefully described in a pamphlet by Heyne." or "Stag.6 and far was he driven. on the other raised space. Planks on trestles -. Ill fared his feud. was another seat of honor. when the retainers were ready to stretch them. At the banquet soon to be described.perhaps in the unsuccessful attack made on him by his son-in-law Ingeld. 781 below. Etins7 and elves and evil-spirits. and Beowulf opposite to him. See v. Of Cain awoke all that woful breed. was the high-seat midway between the doors. for the slaughter's sake. and many a less famous instance.499) was thus very effectively set. Hrothgar sat in the south or chief high-seat. The building was rectangular. from sight of men. "The Hart.the "board" of later English literature -.and a hearth in the middle of th single room. The scene for a flying (see below. A row of pillars down each side. with opposite doors -.BEOWULF I since the Creator his exile doomed. 3 It is to be supposed that all hearers of this poem knew how Hrothgar's hall was burnt.mainly west and east -. usually south.

as one is told presently. "Grendel" may mean one who grinds and crushes. The Danes are heathens. 5 A disturber of the border. so that all Christian Englishmen might read about him. one who sallies from his haunt in the fen and roams over the country near by. but this lay of beginnings is taken from Genesis. Giants. 7 13 . This probably pagan nuisance is now furnished with biblical credentials as a fiend or devil in good standing.BEOWULF 4 I A skilled minstrel. 6 Cain's.

BEOWULF II II WENT he forth to find at fall of night that haughty house. atheling excellent. loud moan in the morn. Unhallowed wight. he grasped betimes. Then at the dawning. his lair to seek. grim and greedy. laden with slaughter. to rest had gone. faring homeward. as day was breaking. labored in woe for the loss of his thanes. Found within it the atheling band asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow. and thence he rushed fain of his fell spoil. reckless. outrevelled. of human hardship. The mighty chief. thirty of the thanes. wrathful. 14 . unblithe sat. the might of Grendel to men was known. from resting-places. and heed wherever the Ring-Danes. then after wassail was wail uplifted.

he recked no whit.1 when that bale was shown. Twelve years' tide the trouble he bore. Not late the respite. They were easy to find who elsewhere sought in room remote their rest at night. firm in his guilt. boundless cares. -the hall-thane's2 hate. anew began ruthless murder. of the feud and crime. There came unhidden 15 . with surest token. Such held themselves far and fast who the fiend outran! Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill one against all. sorrows in plenty.BEOWULF II when once had been traced the trail of the fiend. was seen in sooth. with night returning. bed in the bowers. too long. too loathsome. until empty stood that lordly building. spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow. and long it bode so. sovran of Scyldings.

gold-bright hall. what hate he bore him. -. and dogged them still. what murder and massacre. lonely roamer. lured. in gloomy nights. make pact of peace. or lurked in the livelong night of misty moorlands: men may say not where the haunts of these Hell-Runes3 be. many a year. 16 . harassings heavy.refused consent to deal with any of Daneland's earls.BEOWULF II tidings true to the tribes of men. in sorrowful songs. or compound for gold: still less did the wise men ween to get great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands. how ceaselessly Grendel harassed Hrothgar. O'er Heorot he lorded. feud unfading. wrought unceasing. Such heaping of horrors the hater of men. But the evil one ambushed old and young death-shadow dark.

Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord. -.or have joy in his hall. Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings'-friend. asked with words5 that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them for the pain of their people. -.nor favor nor change 17 . Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes altar-offerings. -. heart-rending misery. Wielder-of-Wonder. Their practice this.'twas judgment of God. nor Heaven's-Helmet heeded they ever.BEOWULF II and ne'er could the prince4 approach his throne. -. and searched out counsel how it were best for bold-hearted men against harassing terror to try their hand. their heathen hope.Woe for that man who in harm and hatred hales his soul to fiery embraces. 'twas Hell they thought of in mood of their mind. Many nobles sat assembled. Almighty they knew not.

and friendship find in the Father's arms! 1 The smaller buildings within the main enclosure but separate from the hall." Hrothgar. 2 3 4 5 18 . who is the "Scyldings'-friend" of 170. But well for him that after death-day may draw to his Lord. in formal or prescribed phrase. That is.BEOWULF II awaits he ever. Grendel. "Sorcerers-of-hell.

the noble monarch who needed men! The prince's journey by prudent folk was little blamed. This heard in his home Hygelac's thane. though they loved him dear. far o'er the swan-road he fain would seek. He was the mightiest man of valor in that same day of this our life. A stout wave-walker he bade make ready. Yon battle-king. great among Geats. that lay on his folk. 19 . they whetted the hero. not wisest men assuaged his sorrow. stalwart and stately. of Grendel's doings. and hailed good omens. loathly and long. said he. most baneful of burdens and bales of the night.BEOWULF III III THUS seethed unceasing the son of Healfdene with the woe of these days. too sore the anguish.

Time had now flown. steep high hills. sea-cliffs shining. 20 . their mail and weapons: the men pushed off. waves were churning sea with sand. led them on to the land's confines. the curved prow such course had run that sailors now could see the land. till in season due. boat under bluff. and. sailor proved.BEOWULF III And now the bold one from bands of Geats comrades chose. the keenest of warriors e'er he could find.2 afloat was the ship. on the second day. the sailors bore on the breast of the bark their bright array. on its willing way. with fourteen men the sea-wood1 he sought. On board they climbed. the well-braced craft. Then moved o'er the waters by might of the wind that bark like a bird with breast of foam. warriors ready.

21 . here o'er the waters? A warden I. Hrothgar's henchman. "Who are ye. with armor clashing and gear of battle: God they thanked or passing in peace o'er the paths of the sea. wonder seized him to know what manner of men they were. and spake in parley. then. ye armed men. with hand of might he shook his spear. that yon mighty vessel have urged thus over the ocean ways. war-gear in readiness. Their haven was found. Now saw from the cliff a Scylding clansman. their journey ended. Up then quickly the Weders'3 clansmen climbed ashore. mailed folk.BEOWULF III headlands broad. anchored their sea-wood. a warden that watched the water-side. Straight to the strand his steed he rode. how they bore o'er the gangway glittering shields.

lest any foe to the folk of Danes with harrying fleet should harm the land. -yon hero in harness! No henchman he worthied by weapons.A greater ne'er saw I of warriors in world than is one of you.BEOWULF III sentinel set o'er the sea-march here." 22 . Now. take from me simple advice: the sooner the better I hear of the country whence ye came. tell your folk and home. lest hence ye fare suspect to wander your way as spies in Danish land. dwellers afar. his peerless presence! I pray you. No aliens ever at ease thus bore them. if witness his features. my folk's agreement. though. linden-wielders:4 yet word-of-leave clearly ye lack from clansmen here. -. ocean-travellers.

2 3 4 23 ... That is. One of the auxiliary names of the Geats. yet. Or: Not thus openly ever came warriors hither.BEOWULF 1 III Ship. since Beowulf selected his ship and led his men to the harbor.

to the lord of the Danes. To folk afar was my father known. 24 . Full of winters. noble atheling. he is honored still through width of the world by wise men all. that amid the Scyldings a scathing monster.the saying of men.thou knowest if sooth it is -. Ecgtheow named.BEOWULF IV IV To him the stateliest spake in answer. he fared away aged from earth. and Hygelac's own hearth-fellows we. nor deem I right that aught be hidden. To thy lord and liege in loyal mood we hasten hither. people-protector: be pleased to advise us! To that mighty-one come we on mickle errand. the warriors' leader his word-hoard unlocked: -"We are by kin of the clan of Geats. to Healfdene's son. We hear -.

this band is graciously bent to the Scyldings' master. if cure shall follow. if he well intends. and the boiling care-waves cooler grow. the strand-ward answered. bearing weapons and weeds the way I show you. hatred and murder. -if ever the end of ills is fated. then. in dusky nights shows terrific his rage unmatched. of cruel contest. else ever afterward anguish-days he shall suffer in sorrow while stands in place high on its hill that house unpeered!" Astride his steed. To Hrothgar I in greatness of soul would succor bring. clansman unquailing: "The keen-souled thane must be skilled to sever and sunder duly words and works. so the Wise-and-Brave1 may worst his foes. 25 . March.BEOWULF IV dark ill-doer. I gather.

-. -. where Hrothgar lived. 'mid folk of earth.winding-neck'd wood. keen and gleaming. -. heroes such as the hest of fate shall succor and save from the shock of war. till the hall they saw. as marched along heroes in haste. guard it kept o'er the man of war. chased with gold. of houses 'neath heaven." They bent them to march.the boat lay still. 26 . -. -your new-tarred ship by shore of ocean faithfully watching till once again it waft o'er the waters those well-loved thanes.to Weders' bounds.BEOWULF IV I will bid my men your boat meanwhile to guard for fear lest foemen come.Then shone the boars2 over the cheek-guard. broad-bosomed ship. fettered by cable and fast at anchor. broad of gable and bright with gold: that was the fairest.

Seaward I go. he is the "man of war". The boar was sacred to Freyr.BEOWULF IV and the gleam of it lightened o'er lands afar. his steed then turned. and the boar-helmet guards him as typical representative of the marching party as a whole. safe in your seekings. bade them go straightway thither. Rude representations of warriors show the boar on the helmet quite as large as the helmet itself. who was the favorite god of the Germanic tribes about the North Sea and the Baltic. and hailed them thus: -"Tis time that I fare from you. The sturdy shieldsman showed that bright burg-of-the-boldest. 27 . Father Almighty in grace and mercy guard you well." 1 Hrothgar. 2 Beowulf's helmet has several boar-images on it. 'gainst hostile warriors hold my watch. hardy hero.

harness gray and helmets grim. gray-tipped ash: that iron band was worthily weaponed! -. as they strode along in mail of battle. I. There. weary of ocean. spears in multitude? Messenger. now. spears of the seafarers stood together. and bowed them to bench: the breastplates clanged.A warrior proud asked of the heroes their home and kin.BEOWULF V V STONE-BRIGHT the street:1 it showed the way to the crowd of clansmen. war-gear of men. their weapons stacked. bear ye burnished shields. their broad shields. on their harness bright the steel ring sang. hard. down. and marched to the hall. Hrothgar's herald! Heroes so many 28 . the wall along they set their bucklers. "Whence. Corselets glistened hand-forged.

such answer bring 29 ." Wulfgar spake. whose might of mind to many was known. hardy 'neath helmet: -. Hrothgar ye seek!" Him the sturdy-in-war bespake with words. his courage and counsel: "The king of Danes. the Scyldings' friend. as the boon thou askest. and. swiftly after. I am seeking to say to the son of Healfdene this mission of mine."Hygelac's. fellows at board. the doughty prince. the Wendles' chieftain. if he deign at all grace that we greet him. for high-hearted valor. I fain will tell. we. now. the good one. the famed prince. of thy faring hither. to thy master-lord. 'Tis plain that for prowess. not plunged into exile. the Breaker-of-Rings. I am Beowulf named.BEOWULF V ne'er met I as strangers of mood so strong. proud earl of the Weders answer made.

may with thee have speech at will: nor spurn their prayer to give them hearing. a hero that hither his henchmen has led. his earls about him. or else thought of as a sort of mosaic. gracious Hrothgar! In weeds of the warrior worthy they. and the stateliest there by his sturdy band is Beowulf named. people of Geatland.BEOWULF V as the doughty monarch may deign to give. my master. an extravagant touch like the reckless waste of gold on the walls and roofs of a hall." Hied then in haste to where Hrothgar sat white-haired and old. This boon they seek. methinks. of our liking." 1 Either merely paved. the strata via of the Romans. their leader most surely. that they. 30 . till the stout thane stood at the shoulder there of the Danish king: good courtier he! Wulfgar spake to his winsome lord: -"Hither have fared to thee far-come men o'er the paths of ocean.

I hope to give the good youth gold for his gallant thought. and bid them hither. to come before me. Their offspring bold fares hither to seek the steadfast friend. as I ween indeed. have said me this. too. to whom. thither for thanks. 31 . Be thou in haste. gave Hrethel the Geat his only daughter. against horror of Grendel. -. Blessed God out of his mercy this man hath sent to Danes of the West. his aged father was Ecgtheow named. helmet of Scyldings: -"I knew him of yore in his youthful days. at home. the bold-in-battle. clan of kinsmen. -who carried my gifts to the Geatish court.he has thirty men's heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand.BEOWULF VI VI HROTHGAR answered. And seamen.

battle-gear guarding. till the hearth he neared. under Heorot's roof: [the hero strode.BEOWULF VI and add this word. and under helmets Hrothgar greet. but let here the battle-shields bide your parley. that your kin he knows. East-Danes' king. 32 . and hails you all welcome hither o'er waves of the sea! Ye may wend your way in war-attire. hardy heroes. ringed with his men.] hardy 'neath helm. -. as bade the chief." [To the door of the hall Wulfgar went] and the word declared: -"To you this message my master sends.they are welcome guests to folk of the Danes. brave band of thanes: some bode without. Then hied that troop where the herald led them. and wooden war-shafts wait its end." Uprose the mighty one.

Themselves had seen me from slaughter come blood-flecked from foes. -brave and wise. the best of men. I' the waves I slew nicors1 by night.BEOWULF VI Beowulf spake.his breastplate gleamed. kinsman and follower. -O sovran Hrothgar. when evening sun in the harbor of heaven is hidden away. where five I bound. war-net woven by wit of the smith: -"Thou Hrothgar. Fame a plenty have I gained in youth! These Grendel-deeds I heard in my home-land heralded clear. and that wild brood worsted. -. of buildings best. hail! Hygelac's I. for your band of thanes empty and idle. in need and peril 33 . to seek thee here. Seafarers say how stands this hall. So my vassals advised me well. for my nerve and my might they knew full well.

in his wanton mood. Scyldings'-bulwark. Friend-of-the-folk. monster cruel. -crushing the grim ones. foe against foe. this hardy band. thou sovran of the Shining-Danes.so Hygelac stay. -and. from thee. may Heorot purge! More I hear.BEOWULF VI avenging the Weders. O Warriors'-shield. now I've wandered far. be mine to quell in single battle! So. of weapons recks not. -that I alone with my liegemen here.2 whose woe they sought. that the monster dire. gold-colored targe: but with gripe alone must I front the fiend and fight for life. Then faith be his 34 . kind to me! -brand or buckler to bear in the fight. hence shall I scorn -. refuse it not. king of my kindred. a boon I seek. Grendel now.

is a hippopotamus. and Nicor is a good name for him. the roamer-lonely. if the fight he win.as oft before. Fain. and my blood-covered body he'll bear as prey. if death must take me. 35 . 2 His own people. says ten Brink. if Hild4 should take me. But that water-goblin who covers the space from Old Nick of jest to the Neckan and Nix of poetry and tale. the Geats. ruthless devour it. dyed in gore." 1 The nicor. a walrus. is all one needs. -my noblest thanes. says Bugge. in this hall of gold my Geatish band will he fearless eat.3 for his shall I be.BEOWULF VI in the doom of the Lord whom death shall take. -. with my life-blood redden his lair in the fen: no further for me need'st food prepare! To Hygelac send. heirloom of Hrethel and work of Wayland. best of war-weeds. Nor need'st thou then to hide my head. warding my breast.5 Fares Wyrd6 as she must. armor excellent. I ween.

BEOWULF 3 VI That is." 36 . The Germanic Vulcan. 4 5 6 This mighty power. whom the Christian poet can still revere." Personification of Battle. cover it as with a face-cloth. "There will be no need of funeral rites. has here the general force of "Destiny.

this widespread realm. 37 .BEOWULF VII VII HROTHGAR spake. the Scyldings'-helmet: -"For fight defensive. his Weder kin for horror of fighting feared to hold him. youthful. Thy father's combat1 a feud enkindled when Heatholaf with hand he slew among the Wylfings. he sought our South-Dane folk. Friend my Beowulf. to the Wylfings sent. treasures olden: oaths he3 swore me. Heorogar was dead. wielded. when first I was ruling the folk of Danes. over surge of ocean the Honor-Scyldings. thou hast sought us here. my elder brother. had breathed his last. to succor and save. Fleeing. this hoard-hold of heroes. Healfdene's bairn: he was better than I! Straightway the feud with fee2 I settled. o'er watery ridges.

Grendel's attack with terror of blades. gory the hall: I had heroes the less. earls o'er the ale-cup. as my beer they drank. doughty dear-ones that death had reft. Then was this mead-house at morning tide dyed with gore. that they would bide in the beer-hall here.But sit to the banquet. hardy hero. unbind thy words. But God is able this deadly foe from his deeds to turn! Boasted full oft." 38 . as heart shall prompt thee. for Wyrd hath swept them into Grendel's grasp. when the daylight broke. all the boards of the benches blood-besprinkled. what sudden harryings. my warriors wane.BEOWULF VII Sore is my soul to say to any of the race of man what ruth for me in Heorot Grendel with hate hath wrought. -. armed men. Hall-folk fail me.

Beowulf's sire. served the clear mead. Heroes revelled. Weder and Dane. no dearth of warriors. for wergild. sat them down. hardy-hearted. Oft minstrels sang blithe in Heorot. a return of the good offices which the Danish king rendered to Beowulf's father in time of dire need. Hrothgar sees in Beowulf's mission a heritage of duty. carried the carven cup in hand. Ecgtheow.BEOWULF VII Gathered together. 3 39 . 1 There is no irrelevance here. the Geatish men in the banquet-hall on bench assigned. 2 Money. A henchman attended. or man-price. sturdy-spirited.

who emulous swam on the open sea. or lief or loath. -"Art thou that Beowulf. Breca's rival.1 -. sturdy seafarer's. Winter's storm 40 . with strenuous hands the sea-streets measured. from your labor dire could you dissuade. Ocean-tides with your arms ye covered. from swimming the main. sorely galled him.Beowulf's quest. ever he envied that other men should more achieve in middle-earth of fame under heaven than he himself. when for pride the pair of you proved the floods. swam o'er the waters. who sat at the feet of the Scyldings' lord. unbound the battle-runes. and wantonly dared in waters deep to risk your lives? No living man.BEOWULF VIII VIII UNFERTH spake. the son of Ecglaf.

in struggle grim. where his folk he ruled. of Breca now. bairn of Ecgtheow: -"What a deal hast uttered. had more of main! Him at morning-tide billows bore to the Battling Reamas.though in buffet of battle thou brave hast been. fastness fair. -. to land of Brondings. In realm of sea a sennight strove ye. told of his triumph! Truth I claim it. drunken with beer. 41 .BEOWULF VIII rolled the rough waves. dear my Unferth. So ween I for thee a worse adventure -. town and treasure.if Grendel's approach thou darst await through the watch of night!" Beowulf spake. In triumph o'er thee Beanstan's bairn2 his boast achieved. In swimming he topped thee. whence he hied to his home so dear beloved of his liegemen.

BEOWULF VIII that I had more of might in the sea than any man else. and the northern wind ruthless rushed on us: rough was the surge. Now the wrath of the sea-fish rose apace. Naked swords. Not a whit from me could he float afar o'er the flood of waves. 42 . nor him I abandoned. We twain had talked. in time of youth. with hope to guard us against the whales. and made our boast. haste o'er the billows. -. -. yet me 'gainst the monsters my mailed coat. churning waves and chillest weather. more ocean-endurance. striplings still. as we swam along.we were merely boys. we held in hand. Together we twain on the tides abode five nights full till the flood divided us. darkling night.to stake our lives far at sea: and so we performed it.

though. There grasped me firm and haled me to bottom the hated foe." Breca. with grimmest gripe. -battle-sark braided my breast to ward. help afforded. to pierce the monster with point of sword. 'Twas granted me. 1 "Began the fight.BEOWULF VIII hard and hand-linked. with blade of battle: huge beast of the sea was whelmed by the hurly through hand of mine. 2 43 . garnished with gold.

by my brand sore hurt. put to sleep by the sword. the billows sank. on the edge of ocean up they lay. -. seated to banquet at bottom of sea. And since. vengeful creatures.Light from east. came bright God's beacon. With thrust of my sword.BEOWULF IX IX ME thus often the evil monsters thronging threatened. For Wyrd oft saveth earl undoomed if he doughty be! And so it came that I killed with my sword nine of the nicors. Of night-fought battles 44 . the darling. but at break of day. so that I saw the sea-cliffs high. by them on the fathomless sea-ways sailor-folk are never molested. I dealt them due return! Nowise had they bliss from their booty then to devour their victim. windy walls.

No wise of thee have I heard men tell such terror of falchions. whence curse of hell awaits thee. in Heorot such havoc. -. though spent with swimming. on Finnish land. not one of you pair. nor adrift on the deep a more desolate man! Yet I came unharmed from that hostile clutch. well as thy wit may serve! For I say in sooth. flood of the tide. thou son of Ecglaf. never had Grendel these grim deeds wrought.BEOWULF IX ne'er heard I a harder 'neath heaven's dome. thy closest kin. bitter battle.I boast not of it! -though thou wast the bane1 of thy brethren dear. The sea upbore me. in the play of war such daring deed has done at all with bloody brand. if heart of thine 45 . on thy master dear. Breca ne'er yet. monster dire. the welling waters.

folk's good shepherd. Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding 46 . help awaited the Bright-Danes' prince. favors none of the land of Danes. shall bid him battle. But speedily now shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats. such firm resolve. from sword-clash dread of your Danish clan he vaunts him safe. war-brave. when light of dawn this morrow morning o'er men of earth. fights and feasts. nor feud he dreads from Spear-Dane men. but lustily murders. ether-robed sun from the south shall beam!" Joyous then was the Jewel-giver. from Beowulf hearing. Blithe to mead go he that listeth. from the Victor-Scyldings.BEOWULF IX were as battle-bold as thy boast is loud! But he has found no feud will happen. He forces pledges. hoar-haired.

till come the moment when the ring-graced queen. She greeted the Geats' lord. to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead. to younger and older everywhere carried the cup. greeting the guests in hall. that her will was granted. God she thanked. The cup he took. queen of Hrothgar. the land's beloved one. gold-decked. heedful of courtesy.BEOWULF IX with winsome words. and the high-born lady handed the cup first to the East-Danes' heir and warden. the royal-hearted. 47 . that at last on a hero her hope could lean for comfort in terrors. Came Wealhtheow forth. bade him be blithe at the beer-carouse. Lustily took he banquet and beaker. in wisdom's words. Through the hall then went the Helmings' Lady. battle-famed king.

began in hall warriors' wassail and words of power. or end the days of this life of mine in the mead-hall here.Bright with gold the stately dame by her spouse sat down. Again. in fiend's gripe fast. as erst. and answer uttered the eager-for-combat.BEOWULF IX hardy-in-war. the proud-band's revel. that I would work the will of your people fully. -. bairn of Ecgtheow: -"This was my thought. he knew there waited 48 . I am firm to do an earl's brave deed." Well these words to the woman seemed. or fighting fall in death. till presently the son of Healfdene hastened to seek rest for the night. Beowulf spake. when my thanes and I bent to the ocean and entered our boat. Beowulf's battle-boast. from Wealhtheow's hand.

remember thy glory. Man to man. watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life. wan under welkin. and shadowy shapes came striding on. till now to thee. this noble Dane-Hall. and dusk of night sank darkling nigh. 49 .BEOWULF IX fight for the fiend in that festal hall. bade him hail. since I could heave up hand and shield. thy might declare. Have now and hold this house unpeered. Hrothgar to Beowulf. The warriors rose. let him wield the wine hall: a word he added: -"Never to any man erst I trusted." 1 Murder. when the sheen of the sun they saw no more. he made harangue.

the mercy of God! Cast off then his corselet of iron. so heroes heard. in grim war-deeds. than Grendel deems him. the Geats' prince gladly trusted his mettle. -choicest of weapons. 50 . In truth. bidding him guard the gear of battle. his might. The King-of-Glory against this Grendel a guard had set.the well-chased sword. couch of his queen. -. defence-of-Scyldings. forth from hall.BEOWULF X X THEN Hrothgar went with his hero-train. ere the bed be sought: -"Of force in fight no feebler I count me. a hall-defender. Beowulf Geat. to his henchman gave. who warded the monarch and watched for the monster. fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek. helmet from head. Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man.

sacred Lord. though it lie in my power. and cheek-pillows held the head of the earl. in the banquet-hall. to sleep of death his life will I give. of Danish clan. would lead them back! Full well they wist that on warriors many battle-death seized. my shield to hew though he hardy be. then. Let wisest God. shall spurn the sword. on which side soever doom decree as he deemeth right. for war. unweaponed. this night. But comfort and help. No skill is his to strike against me. if he seek me here. we both." Reclined then the chieftain. while all about him seamen hardy on hall-beds sank. None of them thought that thence their steps to the folk and fastness that fostered them. to the land they loved.BEOWULF X Not with the sword. 51 . bold in battle.

'Twas widely known that against God's will the ghostly ravager him1 could not hurl to haunts of darkness." 52 . came the walker-in-shadow.the "one. -all save one. to Weder folk the Master gave. wakeful. ready. 1 Beowulf. -.BEOWULF X war-weal weaving. by might of one. with warrior's wrath. bold he bided the battle's issue. by single strength. Warriors slept whose hest was to guard the gabled hall. In sooth 'tis told that highest God o'er human kind hath wielded ever! -.Thro' wan night striding. that. over their enemy all prevailed.

53 . then. Under welkin he walked. such hall-thanes. Not first time. found! To the house the warrior walked apace.1 the portal opended. this. till the wine-palace there. he gladly discerned. The monster was minded of mankind now sundry to seize in the stately house. parted from peace. gold-hall of men. All hastily. that he the home of Hrothgar sought. though with forged bolts fast. by misty crags. -yet ne'er in his life-day. o'er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on. such hardy heroes. the house's mouth. when his fists had struck it. flashing with fretwork. Grendel came. and baleful he burst in his blatant rage. late or early. with God's wrath laden.BEOWULF XI XI THEN from the moorland.

since lusty banquet waited his will! But Wyrd forbade him to seize any more of men on earth after that evening.BEOWULF XI ireful he strode. drank blood in streams. He spied in hall the hero-band. Not that the monster was minded to pause! Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior for the first. for the monster was minded. there streamed from his eyes fearful flashes. savage. kin and clansmen clustered asleep. Then laughed his heart. and tore him fiercely asunder. to sever the soul of each. how he would fare in fell attack. 54 . hardy liegemen. Eagerly watched Hygelac's kinsman his cursed foe. the bone-frame bit. like flame to see. ere morn should dawn. life from body.

-.none the sooner escaped! Fain would he flee. his fastness seek. in the ways of earth. e'en feet and hands. whose fingers cracked.BEOWULF XI swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus the lifeless corse was clear devoured. -. Soon then saw that shepherd-of-evils that never he met in this middle-world. grasped firm his foe.who clutched it boldly. propped on his arm. felt for the foe with fiendish claw. prompt to answer. for the hardy hero with hand he grasped. the den of devils: no doings now such as oft he had done in days of old! Then bethought him the hardy Hygelac-thane of his boast at evening: up he bounded. 55 . sorrowed in soul. at heart he feared. another wight with heavier hand-gripe. for the hero reclining. Then farther he hied.

men have told me -gay with gold. the Danes were bereft. The monster meant -.BEOWULF XI The fiend made off. to earth the fair house fell not. but the earl close followed. where the grim foes wrestled. castle-dwellers and clansmen all. of their ale. though there crashed from sill many a mead-bench -.if he might at all -to fling himself free. Angry were both those savage hall-guards: the house resounded. So well had weened the wisest Scyldings 56 . Wonder it was the wine-hall firm in the strain of their struggle stood.knew his fingers' power in the gripe of the grim one. too fast it was within and without by its iron bands craftily clamped. earls. -. and far away fly to the fens. Gruesome march to Heorot this monster of harm had made! Din filled the room.

cry of the conquered. Too closely held him he who of men in might was strongest in that same day of this our life. clamorous pain from captive of hell.unless clasp of fire in smoke engulfed it. 57 .BEOWULF XI that not ever at all might any man that bone-decked. 1 That is. he was a "lost soul. crush by craft. Danes of the North with fear and frenzy were filled.Again uprose din redoubled." doomed to hell. who from the wall that wailing heard. each one. God's foe sounding his grisly song. -. brave house break asunder. -.

could harm or hurt that hideous fiend! He was safe. no farest of falchions fashioned on earth. never they knew. by his spells. aiming their swords on every side the accursed to kill. useless deeming his days and years to men on earth. from sword of battle. fain the life of their lord to shield.no keenest blade.BEOWULF XII XII NOT in any wise would the earls'-defence1 suffer that slaughterous stranger to live. if power were theirs. -. their praised prince. Now many an earl of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral. -. Yet his end and parting on that same day of this our life woful should be. hardy-hearted heroes of war. and his wandering soul 58 .as they neared the foe. from edge of iron.

For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac held in hand. To Beowulf now the glory was given. a mighty wound showed on his shoulder. From ravage had rescued the roving stranger 59 . hateful alive was each to other. -. and the bone-frame burst. who in former days. and sinews cracked. an end of his days on earth. on many a man such murder wrought. that the frame of his body failed him now. noisome abode: he knew too well that here was the last of life. harmful in heart and hated of God. Soon he found.BEOWULF XII far off flit to the fiends' domain.To all the Danes by that bloody battle the boon had come. and Grendel thence death-sick his den in the dark moor sought. The outlaw dire took mortal hurt.

His night-work pleased him.'neath the gabled roof.BEOWULF XII Hrothgar's hall. the hardy and wise one had purged it anew. 1 Kenning for Beowulf. 60 . -. all their sorrow and ills assuaged. arm and shoulder. To Eastern Danes had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good. -. when the hardy-in-fight a hand laid down. -. of Grendel's gripe.'Twas proof of this. his deed and its honor. indeed.all. their bale of battle borne so long. and all the dole they erst endured pain a-plenty.

by that doomed one dyed. o'er wide-stretched ways. turbid the tide of tumbling waves horribly seething. Not troublous seemed the enemy's end to any man who saw by the gait of the graceless foe how the weary-hearted. the wonder to view. his heathen soul. who in den of the moor laid forlorn his life adown. baffled in battle and banned. his steps death-marked dragged to the devils' mere. as men have told me. Home then rode the hoary clansmen 61 . with sword-blood hot. warriors gathered the gift-hall round.BEOWULF XIII XIII MANY at morning. folk-leaders faring from far and near. trace of the traitor. Bloody the billows were boiling there. away from thence. and hell received it.

under vault of heaven. on horses white. the hardy warriors. Then Beowulf's glory eager they echoed. stored with sagas and songs of old. gracious Hrothgar: a good king he!) From time to time. and ran a race when the road seemed fair. of warriors none more worthy to rule! (On their lord beloved they laid no slight. welded his lay. bound word to word in well-knit rime. or south or north.BEOWULF XIII from that merry journey. back from the mere. this warrior soon 62 . and many a youth. more valiant found. a thane of the king. From time to time. and all averred that from sea to sea. who had made many vaunts. there was no other in earth's domain. and was mindful of verses. the tried-in-battle their gray steeds set to gallop amain.

Strange the story: he said it all. uncle to nephew. save to Fitela only. 63 . the feuds and the frauds. no little praise.BEOWULF XIII of Beowulf's quest right cleverly sang. his struggles. and artfully added an excellent tale. when of these doings he deigned to speak. nor was Fitela there. when he passed from life. of the warlike deeds he had heard in saga of Sigemund. as ever the twain stood side by side in stress of war. Of Sigemund grew. for the doughty-in-combat a dragon killed that herded the hoard:1 under hoary rock the atheling dared the deed alone fearful quest. which never were told to tribes of men. -the Waelsing's wanderings wide. in well-ranged words. and multitude of the monster kind they had felled with their swords.

the worm was consumed. 64 . to death was betrayed. and bore on its bosom the beaming gold. swiftly banished to mingle with monsters at mercy of foes. a load of care to earls and athelings all he proved. Oft indeed. Thus had the dread-one by daring achieved over the ring-hoard to rule at will. -.BEOWULF XIII Yet so it befell. for torrents of sorrow had lamed him too long. He had of all heroes the highest renown among races of men. son of Waels. his falchion pierced that wondrous worm. a sea-boat he loaded. He. the dragon died in its blood. in earlier days. himself to pleasure.on the wall it struck. this refuge-of-warriors. best blade. for deeds of daring that decked his name since the hand and heart of Heremod grew slack in battle.

3 the fallow roads by swift steeds measured! The morning sun was climbing higher. thanes said. Warden of treasure. his folk protect. -. the hoard and the stronghold. crowned with glory. follow his father.But here. the wonder to witness.BEOWULF XIII for the warrior's wayfaring wise men mourned. the king himself. 65 . heroes' land. the kinsman of Hygelac kinder seemed to all: the other2 was urged to crime! And afresh to the race. Clansmen hastened to the high-built hall. who had hoped of him help from harm and bale. and had thought their sovran's son would thrive. with stately band from the bride-bower strode. home of Scyldings. and with him the queen and her crowd of maidens measured the path to the mead-house fair. those hardy-minded.

and is of a piece with the general style. The time-relations are not altogether good in this long passage which describes the rejoicings of "the day after". but the present shift from the riders on the road to the folk at the hall is not very violent. 2 3 The singer has sung his lays.BEOWULF 1 XIII "Guarded the treasure. 66 . Heremod." Sc. and the epic resumes its story.

a work has done that not all of us erst could ever do 67 . stood by the steps. laved in blood. and Grendel's hand: -"For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler be speedy thanks! A throng of sorrows I have borne from Grendel. This hero now. but God still works wonder on wonder. -.BEOWULF XIV XIV HROTHGAR spake. the Warden-of-Glory. when. by the Wielder's might. the steep roof saw. It was but now that I never more for woes that weighed on me waited help long as I lived. garnished with gold. stood sword-gore-stained this stateliest house.to the hall he went. who had no hope to hinder ever foes infernal and fiendish sprites from havoc in hall. -widespread woe for wise men all.

BEOWULF XIV by wile and wisdom. As ever he did. well can she say whoso of women this warrior bore among sons of men. Now. thee. this fight. if still she liveth. Lo. well may the Wielder reward thee still!" Beowulf spake. and fearlessly dared 68 . preserve thou ever this kinship new: thou shalt never lack wealth of the world that I wield as mine! Full oft for less have I largess showered. I shall heartily love as mine own. that the God of the ages was good to her in the birth of her bairn. my precious hoard. of heroes best. my son. bairn of Ecgtheow: -"This work of war most willingly we have fought. on a punier man. Beowulf. that thy fame shall endure through all the ages. less stout in struggle. Thyself hast now fulfilled such deeds.

the ruthless. arm and shoulder. and firm enough hold the life-destroyer: too sturdy was he. Fain. were I hadst thou but seen himself. 69 . nor aught of help could the cursed one thus procure at all. he left behind him his hand in pledge.BEOWULF XIV force of the foe. Him I might not -. None the longer liveth he. but sorrow holds him tightly grasped in gripe of anguish. too. in running! For rescue. what time the fiend in his trappings tottered to fall! Swiftly. in baleful bonds. that he in the hent of this hand of mine should breathe his last: but he broke away. where bide he must. loathsome fiend. sunk in his sins. in strongest gripe on his bed of death to bind him down.the Maker willed not -hinder from flight. I thought. however.

'Twas clear. -. 1 Unferth. 70 . Beowulf's sometime opponent in the flyting." hostile warrior's claw uncanny. on the high roof gazing. foeman's fingers. -heathen's "hand-spear. they said. how keen soever.BEOWULF XIV evil outlaw. since athelings all. or cut away that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe." More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf1 in boastful speech of his battle-deeds. such awful doom as the Mighty Maker shall mete him out. that him no blade of the brave could touch. beheld that hand. through the earl's great prowess.the forepart of each of the sturdy nails to steel was likest.

No light thing that. Though braced within by iron bands. the roof alone held safe and sound.1 rent were its hinges.BEOWULF XV XV THERE was hurry and hest in Heorot now for hands to bedeck it. -. that building bright was broken sorely. and sons of earth. of life despairing. -.essay it who will! Forced of fate. the flight for safety. Gold-gay shone the hangings that were wove on the wall. seared with crime. and there his body on bed of death 71 . and wonders many to delight each mortal that looks upon them. and dense was the throng of men and women the wine-hall to cleanse. he shall find his way to the refuge ready for race of man. when. the guest-room to garnish. for soul-possessors. the fiendish foe his flight essayed.

guerdon of triumph. fain of the feasting. To Beowulf gave the bairn of Healfdene a gold-wove banner. and a splendid sword was seen of many borne to the brave one. the folk of Scyldings ne'er yet had tried the traitor's deed. kinsmen who sat in the sumptuous hall. Heorot now was filled with friends. Featly received many a mead-cup the mighty-in-spirit. breastplate and helmet. Arrived was the hour when to hall proceeded Healfdene's son: the king himself would sit to banquet. Ne'er heard I of host in haughtier throng more graciously gathered round giver-of-rings! Bowed then to bench those bearers-of-glory. Beowulf took 72 .BEOWULF XV shall rest after revel. Hrothgar and Hrothulf. broidered battle-flag.

with carven head-gear. when to play of swords the son of Healfdene was fain to fare. so fashioned with gold. lest the relict-of-files3 should fierce invade.BEOWULF XV cup in hall:2 for such costly gifts he suffered no shame in that soldier throng. Then the earls'-defence4 on the floor5 bade lead coursers eight. sharp in the strife. 73 . For I heard of few heroes. with four such gifts. Ne'er failed his valor in the crush of combat when corpses fell. in heartier mood. 'twas the battle-seat of the best of kings. on the ale-bench honoring others thus! O'er the roof of the helmet high. when that shielded hero should go to grapple against his foes. adown the hall: one horse was decked with a saddle all shining and set in jewels. wound with wires. a ridge. kept ward o'er the head.

drink to the donor." would seem to mean that Beowulf stood up to receive his gifts. and willing hands prepared the banquet.BEOWULF XV To Beowulf over them both then gave the refuge-of-Ingwines right and power. 4 Hrothgar." below. 2 From its formal use in other places. Tapestries were hung on the walls. in the ballad of King Estmere. In spite of the ruin that Grendel and Beowulf had made within the hall. this phrase. 3 Kenning for sword. and say thanks. o'er war-steeds and weapons: wished him joy of them. and in the romances. Ing belongs to myth. 74 . the framework and roof held firm. to take cup in hall. 1 There is no horrible inconsistency here such as the critics strive and cry about. hoard-guard for heroes. and swift repairs made the interior habitable. Manfully thus the mighty prince. 5 Horses are frequently led or ridden into the hall where folk sit at banquet: so in Chaucer's Squire's tale. that hard fight repaid with steeds and treasures contemned by none who is willing to say the sooth aright. He is also the "refuge of the friends of Ing. or "on the floor.

BEOWULF XVI XVI AND the lord of earls. and the man's2 brave mood. as here and now. an heirloom there at the ale-bench gave. and forethought of mind. who long time here. How much awaits him of lief and of loath. to each that came with Beowulf over the briny ways.and fain of them more had killed. and the price1 bade pay in gold for him whom Grendel erst murdered. precious gift. Therefore is insight always best. The Maker then ruled human kind. had not wisest God their Wyrd averted. -. through days of warfare this world endures! Then song and music mingled sounds in the presence of Healfdene's head-of-armies3 and harping was heard with the hero-lay 75 .

in the parleying-place7 he could ply no longer weapon. Finn's own liegemen. and under the sky she saw them lying.5 Hildeburh needed not hold in value her enemies' honor!6 Innocent both were the loved ones she lost at the linden-play. too. was fated to fall in the Frisian slaughter. nor war could he wage on Hengest. bairn and brother. Hnaef the Scylding.BEOWULF XVI as Hrothgar's singer the hall-joy woke along the mead-seats. where most she had kenned of the sweets of the world! By war were swept. kinsmen murdered. and few were left. stricken by spears. making his song of that sudden raid on the sons of Finn.4 Healfdene's hero. 'twas a sorrowful woman! None doubted why the daughter of Hoc bewailed her doom when dawning came. they bowed to fate. 76 .

with wise-men's aid. and half the power should fall to them in Frisian land. A pact he offered: another dwelling the Danes should have. hall and high-seat. upon honor. Folcwald's son day by day the Danes should honor.8 or with malice of mind bemoan themselves 77 . nobly to govern. even as truly. so none of the guests by word or work should warp the treaty.BEOWULF XVI and rescue his remnant by right of arms from the prince's thane. as his Frisian kin he meant to honor in ale-hall there. Finn to Hengest with oath. and at the fee-gifts. with fretted gold. openly promised that woful remnant. with treasure and jewels. Pact of peace they plighted further on both sides firmly. the folk of Hengest favor with rings.

the gilded swine-crest. boar of hard iron. It was Hildeburh's hest. with foeman's taunt. then edge of the sword must seal his doom.BEOWULF XVI as forced to follow their fee-giver's slayer. on the balefire placed. All on the pyre were plain to see the gory sark.9 on his balefire lay. Oaths were given. and athelings many slain by the sword: at the slaughter they fell. battle-thane best. Should Frisian. his bones to burn. that murderous hatred to mind recall. as their lot ordained. moreover. and ancient gold heaped from hoard. at his uncle's side. In sorrowful dirges bewept them the woman: great wailing ascended. -. lordless men. at Hnaef's own pyre the bairn of her body on brands to lay.The hardy Scylding. 78 .

Hengest is the "prince's thane.a fragment of it still exists. a lay is chanted or recited.simply gives the headings. gather at their home a force of sturdy Danes. -. and blood gushed out from bites11 of the body. so now. Finn. 7 Battlefield. greediest spirit. and carry back their kinswoman Hildeburh. about Finn and his feud. and the surviving visitors become in a way vassals or liegemen of Finn. a stately funeral is held." companion of Hnaef. 1 Man-price. counting on his readers' familiarity with the story. storm Finn's stronghold. gashes burst. and her brother. kill him. come back to Frisia. 5 The exact story to which this episode refers in summary is not to be determined. those spared not by war out of either folk: their flower was gone. Guthlaf and Oslaf. -. so is a son of Hildeburh. pays Finn a visit. Many fall on both sides. roared o'er the hillock:10 heads all were melted. but the following account of it is reasonable and has good support among scholars. and the epic poet. Probably he is killed in feud. a Frisian chieftain. 79 . Something starts the old feud anew. Hrothgar. 6 The "enemies" must be the Frisians. 2 3 4 There is no need to assume a gap in the Ms. Hnaef is killed. marries Hildeburh.BEOWULF XVI Then wound up to welkin the wildest of death-fires. wergild. and the visitors are attacked in their quarters. -. with many other Danes. As before about Sigemund and Heremod. but his clansmen. Peace is patched up. though at greater length. who nevertheless has a "castle" outside the Frisian border. Hengest is now leader of the Danes. Balefire devoured. going back with him to Frisia. Beowulf's. So matters rest a while. Hnaef. a Danish princess. but he is set upon revenge for his former lord. Hnaef. Relations between the two peoples have been strained before. "Folcwald's son" is Finn.

11 10 Wounds. The high place chosen for the funeral: see description of Beowulf's funeral-pile at the end of the poem. he should die by the sword. of course. provided. again. 9 Hnaef. one of Finn's Frisians began a quarrel. If. that none of them tried to renew the quarrel or avenge Hnaef their fallen lord.BEOWULF 8 XVI That is. 80 . Finn would govern in all honor the few Danish warriors who were left.

though more gladly he pondered on wreaking his vengeance than roaming the deep. and how to hasten the hot encounter where sons of the Frisians were sure to be. fair lay earth's breast. to find the Frisian land. Then fared another year to men's dwellings. 81 . yet of home he minded. friendless. houses and high burg. holding pact. Hengest still through the death-dyed winter dwelt with Finn. as yet they do. though powerless his ring-decked prow to drive over the waters. now waves rolled fierce lashed by the winds.BEOWULF XVII XVII THEN hastened those heroes their home to see. or winter locked them in icy fetters. to depart. the sunbright skies. Far off winter was driven. and fain was the rover. the guest. that their season ever duly await.

On fierce-heart Finn there fell likewise. on himself at home. best of blades. 82 . To their ship the Scylding warriors bore all the chattels the chieftain owned. his bosom pierced: its edge was famed with the Frisian earls. The burg was reddened with blood of foemen. king amid clansmen. the queen was taken. from sea-ways landed.BEOWULF XVII So he escaped not the common doom." the light-of-battle. for Guthlaf and Oslaf of grim attack had sorrowing told. mourning their woes. whatever they found in Finn's domain of gems and jewels. when Hun with "Lafing. The gentle wife o'er paths of the deep to the Danes they bore.1 Finn's wavering spirit bode not in breast. the horrid sword-death. and Finn was slain. led to her land.

of those gifts be mindful. Men say to me. Unferth the spokesman at the Scylding lord's feet sat: men had faith in his spirit. Comes Wealhtheow forth. bench-joy brightened. Be glad with thy Geats. my king and lord. or near or far. as son thou wishest 83 . though kinsmen had found him unsure at the sword-play.BEOWULF XVII The lay was finished. the gleeman's song. and blithe be thou. uncle and nephew. kindred in amity. Bearers draw from their "wonder-vats" wine. under gold-crown goes where the good pair sit. to the Geats here speak such words of mildness as man should use. gold-friend of men. true each to the other one. his keenness of courage. breaker of rings. Then glad rose the revel. which now thou hast. The Scylding queen spoke: "Quaff of this cup.

the brothers between. escaping home. they return to Frisia and kill Finn in his home. and all the Danish woes.BEOWULF XVII yon hero to hold. too. Thy Heorot purged. 1 That is. when all he minds that for him we did in his helpless days of gift and grace to gain him honor!" Then she turned to the seat where her sons wereplaced. young men together: the Geat. the slaying of Hengest. sat there. jewel-hall brightest. Hrethric and Hrothmund. with many a largess. I ween with good he will well requite offspring of ours. prince of Scyldings. 84 . and leave to thy kin folk and realm when forth thou goest to greet thy doom. had told the story of the attack on Hnaef. Beowulf brave. thy part in the world. if thou yield up first. Collecting a force. with heroes' bairns. these two Danes. For gracious I deem my Hrothulf.2 willing to hold and rule nobly our youths. enjoy while thou canst.

BEOWULF 2 XVII Nephew to Hrothgar. turning to the suspect. 85 .their natural guardian in the event of the king's death. and elder cousin to the two young sons of Hrothgar and Wealhtheow. but she bids the king to be of good cheer. Both she and her lord probably distrust Hrothulf. There is something finely feminine in this speech of Wealhtheow's. -. but will repay them to the orphaned boy. "My own Hrothulf" will surely not forget these favors and benefits of the past. heaps affectionate assurances on his probity. with whom he subsequently quarrels. and. apart from its somewhat irregular and irrelevant sequence of topics.

Ne'er heard I so mighty. arm-jewels twain. since Hama bore to his bright-built burg the Brisings' necklace. but Wyrd o'erwhelmed him what time. to honor him. on the last of his raids this ring bore with him. 86 . she offered. jewel and gem casket. 'neath heaven's dome. and of collars the noblest that ever I knew the earth around. a hoard-gem of heroes.Jealousy fled he. Fairest of gems he bore with him over the beaker-of-waves. in his daring. the war-spoil warding. -. with kindly greeting and winsome words. dangers he sought. corselet and rings. Hygelac Geat. under his banner the booty defending. Eormenric's hate: chose help eternal. feud with Frisians. Of wounden gold.BEOWULF XVIII XVIII A CUP she gave him. grandson of Swerting.

that for days to come thou art famed among folk both far and near. these battle-weeds wear. Fell the corpse of the king into keeping of Franks. O prince! I pray for thee 87 . Beowulf lov'd. after gripe of battle. and that gorgeous ring. weaker warriors won the spoil. Hast done such deeds. so wide as washeth the wave of Ocean his windy walls. gear of the breast.BEOWULF XVIII sovran strong: under shield he died. from Geatland's lord. Wealhtheow spake amid warriors. and these striplings here counsel in kindness: requital be mine. and held the death-field. and said: -"This jewel enjoy in thy jocund youth. a royal treasure. Din rose in hall. and richly thrive! Preserve thy strength. Through the ways of life prosper.

and the doom to be seen by many an earl when eve should come. the throng obedient.That was proudest of feasts. Wyrd they knew not. 88 . The room was guarded by an army of earls. to the master loyal! Thanes are friendly. -- At their heads they set their shields of war. -.BEOWULF XVIII rich possessions. flowed wine for the warriors. mild of mood. and Hrothgar homeward hasten away. royal. destiny dire. abroad they spread beds and bolsters. as erst was done. to rest. They bared the bench-boards. liegemen are revelling: list and obey!" Went then to her place.One beer-carouser in danger of doom lay down in the hall. -. To son of mine be helpful in deed and uphold his joys! Here every earl to the other is true.

the high battle-helmet. 89 . on the bench were there over each atheling.BEOWULF XVIII bucklers bright. at home. -. the haughty spear. or harrying. the corselet of rings. 'Twas their custom so ever to be for battle prepared.They were clansmen good. easy to see. even as oft as evil threatened their sovran king. which it were.

till his end drew nigh. evil wrought. mourned her woe. from men's delights warded the wilds. -. -. monster of women. slaughter for sins. With sorrow one bought his rest of the evening. at Heorot found 90 . who. 'Twas seen and told how an avenger survived the fiend.as ofttime had happened when Grendel guarded that golden hall. his father's offspring: outlawed he fled.There woke from him such fate-sent ghosts as Grendel.BEOWULF XIX XIX THEN sank they to sleep. cold sea-courses. The livelong time after that grim fight. war-wolf horrid. Grendel's mother. She was doomed to dwell in the dreary waters. as was learned afar. marked with murder. since Cain cut down with edge of the sword his only brother.

BEOWULF XIX a warrior watching and waiting the fray. in his Maker's mercy put his trust for comfort and help: so he conquered the foe. gloomy and grim. who fled abject. the death of her son to avenge. the glorious gift that God had sent him. 91 . reft of joy. felled the fiend. where helmeted Danes slept in the hall. To Heorot came she. e'en as terror of woman in war is less. that terror. hammer-forged. with whom the grisly one grappled amain. Less grim. mankind's foe. though. But the man remembered his mighty power. the mother of Grendel. would go that quest of sorrow. the falchion hard. And his mother now. when in she burst. Too soon came back old ills of the earls. than of men in arms when. might of maid. to the realms of death.

blood-flecked. -Uproar filled Heorot.BEOWULF XIX sword gore-stained. Haste was hers. whom that horror seized. -. bale was returned. through swine of the helm. crested. she bore with her. Yet a single atheling up she seized fast and firm.Nor was Beowulf there. the hand all had viewed. He was for Hrothgar of heroes the dearest. Then was in hall the hard-edge drawn. a clansman famous. the swords on the settles. in battle brave. 92 . whom she killed on his couch. as she fled to the moor. after giving of gold. for the Geat renowned. she would hie afar and save her life when the liegemen saw her. another house had been held apart.1 and shields a-many firm held in hand: nor helmet minded nor harness of mail. of trusty vassals betwixt the seas. with keen blade carves amain.

1 They had laid their arms on the benches near where they slept. -. with his clansmen. -wishing to greet the wise old king. Ingwines' lord. the hoary hero. along with his earls the atheling lord.the hall resounded. with his hand-companions. Long-tried king. 93 . dauntless victor. he asked if the night had passed in peace to the prince's mind. To his bower was Beowulf brought in haste. came where the king abode waiting to see if the Wielder-of-All would turn this tale of trouble and woe. at heart was sad when he knew his noble no more lived. As daylight broke. and dead indeed was his dearest thane. Strode o'er floor the famed-in-strife.BEOWULF XIX dole in the dwellings: 'twas dire exchange where Dane and Geat were doomed to give the lives of loved ones.

1 proud of the prey. of Yrmenlaf the elder brother. Dead is Aeschere. my sage adviser and stay in council. fain of her fill. The feud she avenged that yesternight. Reft of life. shoulder-comrade in stress of fight when warriors clashed and we warded our heads. -seeing how long these liegemen mine he ruined and ravaged. hero famed should be every earl as Aeschere was! But here in Heorot a hand hath slain him of wandering death-sprite. I wot not whither. helmet-of-Scyldings: -"Ask not of pleasure! Pain is renewed to Danish folk. hewed the helm-boars. 94 . unyieldingly. Grendel in grimmest grasp thou killedst. her path she took.BEOWULF XX XX HROTHGAR spake.

this is hardest of heart-bales. who house by those parts. Land-dwellers here2 and liegemen mine. of womankind. in man's guise trod the misery-track of exile. wandering spirits: one of them seemed. I have heard relate that such a pair they have sometimes seen. faring far in feud of blood: so that many a thane shall think. The hand lies low that once was willing each wish to please. 95 . though huger than human bulk. Now another comes. march-stalkers mighty the moorland haunting. so far as my folk could fairly judge. keen and cruel. Grendel in days long gone they named him. folk of the land.BEOWULF XX in arms he fell. accursed. who e'er sorrows in soul for that sharer of rings. his father they knew not. and one. her kin to avenge.

shadows the wave. his dear life first on the brink he yields ere he brave the plunge to hide his head: 'tis no happy place! Thence the welter of waters washes up 96 . the horn-proud hart. though the heath-rover. and o'er it the frost-bound forest hanging. this holt should seek.BEOWULF XX nor any brood that was born to him of treacherous spirits. By night is a wonder weird to see. fenways fearful. harried by dogs. sturdily rooted. underground flood. to search those depths! Nay. where flows the stream from mountains gliding to gloom of the rocks. Not far is it hence in measure of miles that the mere expands. by wolf-cliffs haunt they and windy headlands. fire on the waters. So wise lived none of the sons of men. long distance driven. Untrod is their home.

and air grows dusk. and the heavens weep. inexorable here. But is it possible? Hrothgar leads up to his appeal and promise with a skillful and often effective description of the horrors which surround the monster's home and await the attempt of an avenging foe. The words of mourning. Now is help once more with thee alone! The land thou knowst not. if thou winnest back.BEOWULF XX wan to welkin when winds bestir evil storms. 97 . are said." 1 He surmises presently where she is. place of fear. where thou findest out that sin-flecked being. the next and only topic is revenge. and according to Germanic sequence of thought. Seek if thou dare! I will reward thee. as erst I did. for waging this fight. with winding gold. of acute grief. 2 The connection is not difficult. with ancient treasure.

let her flee where she will! But thou this day endure in patience.heed my promise! -enfolding of field or forested mountain or floor of the flood. bairn of Ecgtheow: "Sorrow not. as I ween thou wilt. No harbor shall hide her -. and mark the trail of the mother of Grendel. that is the warrior's worthiest doom. so win who may glory ere death! When his days are told. For Hrothgar soon a horse was saddled 98 . sage! It beseems us better friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them. thy woes each one. Each of us all must his end abide in the ways of the world. O realm-warder! Ride we anon.BEOWULF XXI XXI BEOWULF spake. Rise. for the man's brave words." Leaped up the graybeard: God he thanked. mighty Lord.

The sovran wise stately rode on. narrow passes and unknown ways. his shield-armed men followed in force. headlands sheer. and trod the murky moor. a woful wood: the waves below were dyed in blood. Foremost he1 fared. and the haunts of the Nicors. till he found in a flash the forested hill hanging over the hoary rock. of men-at-arms she bore the bravest and best one. dead.BEOWULF XXI wave-maned steed. The footprints led along the woodland. where she passed. The Danish men 99 . widely seen. him who with Hrothgar the homestead ruled. the ways to scan. On then went the atheling-born o'er stone-cliffs steep and strait defiles. a few at his side of the wiser men. a path o'er the plain.

of wave-work. that war-horn's blast. These started away. with bolt from bow. ill for earls. Waves were welling. and for Scyldings all. The warden of Geats. in water it seemed 100 . the warriors saw. when Aeschere's head they found by the flood on the foreland there. for many a hero. amid its heart went the keen war-shaft. -and sea-snakes and monsters. swollen and savage that song to hear. sea-dragons strange that sounded the deep. 'twas hard to bear. and nicors that lay on the ledge of the ness -such as oft essay at hour of morn on the road-of-sails their ruthless quest. hot with blood.BEOWULF XXI had sorrow of soul. The band sat down. but the horn sang oft battle-song bold. then balked of life. and watched on the water worm-like things. one monster.

through wave-whirl win: 'twas wound with chains. nor mourned for his life. should the waters try. And the helmet white that his head protected was destined to dare the deeps of the flood. well could it ward the warrior's body that battle should break on his breast in vain nor harm his heart by the hand of a foe. Warriors viewed the grisly guest. as in days of yore the weapon-smith worked it wondrously. His breastplate broad and bright of hues. done to death and dragged on the headland. it was hard beset. Then girt him Beowulf in martial mail. woven by hand. with boar-spears well hooked and barbed. 101 . wave-roamer wondrous. decked with gold.BEOWULF XXI less doughty in swimming whom death had seized. Swift on the billows.

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with swine-forms set it, that swords nowise, brandished in battle, could bite that helm. Nor was that the meanest of mighty helps which Hrothgar's orator offered at need: "Hrunting" they named the hilted sword, of old-time heirlooms easily first; iron was its edge, all etched with poison, with battle-blood hardened, nor blenched it at fight in hero's hand who held it ever, on paths of peril prepared to go to folkstead2 of foes. Not first time this it was destined to do a daring task. For he bore not in mind, the bairn of Ecglaf sturdy and strong, that speech he had made, drunk with wine, now this weapon he lent to a stouter swordsman. Himself, though, durst not under welter of waters wager his life as loyal liegeman. So lost he his glory,

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honor of earls. With the other not so, who girded him now for the grim encounter.

1

Hrothgar is probably meant. Meeting place.

2

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BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: -"Have mind, thou honored offspring of Healfdene gold-friend of men, now I go on this quest, sovran wise, what once was said: if in thy cause it came that I should lose my life, thou wouldst loyal bide to me, though fallen, in father's place! Be guardian, thou, to this group of my thanes, my warrior-friends, if War should seize me; and the goodly gifts thou gavest me, Hrothgar beloved, to Hygelac send! Geatland's king may ken by the gold, Hrethel's son see, when he stares at the treasure, that I got me a friend for goodness famed, and joyed while I could in my jewel-bestower. And let Unferth wield this wondrous sword, earl far-honored, this heirloom precious,

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hard of edge: with Hrunting I seek doom of glory, or Death shall take me."

After these words the Weder-Geat lord boldly hastened, biding never answer at all: the ocean floods closed o'er the hero. Long while of the day fled ere he felt the floor of the sea.

Soon found the fiend who the flood-domain sword-hungry held these hundred winters, greedy and grim, that some guest from above, some man, was raiding her monster-realm. She grasped out for him with grisly claws, and the warrior seized; yet scathed she not his body hale; the breastplate hindered, as she strove to shatter the sark of war, the linked harness, with loathsome hand.

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nor through the roof could reach him ever fangs of the flood. where water never could work him harm. 106 .BEOWULF XXI Then bore this brine-wolf. Firelight he saw. But the warrior found the light-of-battle1 was loath to bite. when bottom she touched. though his valor held. he knew not which. beams of a blaze that brightly shone. For mighty stroke he swung his blade. and the blow withheld not. But soon he marked he was now in some hall. the lord of rings to the lair she haunted whiles vainly he strove. mere-wife monstrous. Then sang on her head that seemly blade its war-song wild. sea-beasts many tried with fierce tusks to tear his mail. and swarmed on the stranger. weapon to wield against wondrous monsters that sore beset him. Then the warrior was ware of that wolf-of-the-deep.

heedful of high deeds. Firm still stood. on earth it lay steel-edged and stiff. Flung then the fierce one. hand-gripe of might. Hygelac's kinsman. and had helmets cloven. this. the Geatish war-prince Grendel's mother. Swift on her part she paid him back 107 . for the gleaming blade that its glory fell. featly jewelled.BEOWULF XXI to harm the heart: its hard edge failed the noble at need. yet had known of old strife hand to hand. shrank not from combat. So man shall do whenever in war he weens to earn him lasting fame. his deadly foe. His strength he trusted. that she fell to ground. First time. filled with wrath. nor fears for his life! Seized then by shoulder. doomed men's fighting-gear. the angry earl. flung away fretted sword. nor failed in valor.

battle-net hard. fiercest of fighting-men. Spent with struggle. evidently meaning burnished. barring death. fell adown. continues to be a favorite adjective in the popular ballads. broad and brown-edged. the sole-born son. hent her short sword. 2 This brown of swords. On the hall-guest she hurled herself. The Lord of Heaven allowed his cause. withstanding entrance of edge or blade. wisest Maker.BEOWULF XXI with grisly grasp.On his shoulder lay braided breast-mail.2 the bairn to avenge. laid under a spell of uselessness. had his armor of war not aided him. 1 Kenning for "sword. along with all other swords. Life would have ended for Ecgtheow's son. -. and holy God wielded the victory. 108 . under wide earth for that earl of Geats." Hrunting is bewitched. and easily rose the earl erect. bright. stumbled the warrior. and grappled with him.

save only 'twas more than other men to bandy-of-battle could bear at all -as the giants had wrought it. weapon unmatched. his weapon raised 109 .BEOWULF XXIII XXIII 'MID the battle-gear saw he a blade triumphant. with edge of proof. bold and battle-grim. Bloody the blade: he was blithe of his deed. warriors' heirloom. ready and keen. Seized then its chain-hilt the Scyldings' chieftain. By the wall then went he. The hall he scanned. reckless of life. -. and so wrathfully smote that it gripped her neck and grasped her hard. old-sword of Eotens. her bone-rings breaking: the blade pierced through that fated-one's flesh: to floor she sank. Then blazed forth light. 'Twas bright within as when from the sky there shines unclouded heaven's candle. brandished the sword.

that severed its head. sword-stroke savage. spent with war. saw the sage companions 110 . He wished with speed Grendel to guerdon for grim raids many. spoiled of life. and as many others outward bore. so scathed had left him Heorot's battle. his horrible prey.1 then. angry and eager. That edge was not useless to the warrior now. fifteen men of the folk of Danes. when of Hrothgar's hearth-companions he slew in slumber. in sleep devoured. Well paid for that the wrathful prince! For now prone he saw Grendel stretched there. Soon. The body sprang far when after death it endured the blow.BEOWULF XXIII high by its hilts the Hygelac-thane. for the war he waged on Western-Danes oftener far than an only time.

yet weened not. The noble Scyldings left the headland. sick in heart. stared at the surges. Old men together. of the hero spake. again. Now that sword began. come to seek their mighty master. the warrior would not. To many it seemed the wolf-of-the-waves had won his life.BEOWULF XXIII who waited with Hrothgar.2 But the guests sat on.3 war-blade. from blood of the fight. blood-stained the mere. their winsome lord again to see. homeward went the gold-friend of men. to wane: 'twas a wondrous thing 111 . proud of conquest. in battle-droppings. that the tossing waters turbid grew. and wished. they weened. The ninth hour came. hoary-haired. watching the flood.

burned was the bright sword. her blood was so hot. wielding all seasons and times: the true God he! Nor took from that dwelling the duke of the Geats save only the head and that hilt withal blazoned with jewels: the blade had melted. so poisoned the hell-sprite who perished within there. sturdy-in-spirit. Went then to greet him. unwinds the wave-bonds. Swam then to strand the sailors'-refuge. up-dove through the flood. of burden brave he bore with him. 112 . of sea-booty glad.BEOWULF XXIII that all of it melted as ice is wont when frosty fetters the Father loosens. waste of waves. and God they thanked. where the wandering fiend her life-days left and this lapsing world. The clashing waters were cleansed now. Soon he was swimming who safe saw in combat downfall of demons.

Courageous men carried the head from the cliff by the sea. Forth they fared by the footpaths thence. since four were needed on the shaft-of-slaughter4 strenuously to bear to the gold-hall Grendel's head. Soon from the hardy one helmet and armor deftly they doffed: now drowsed the mere. well-known roads.BEOWULF XXIII the thane-band choice of their chieftain blithe. water 'neath welkin. merry at heart the highways measured. Strode then within the sovran thane 113 . marching came. that safe and sound they could see him again. an arduous task for all the band. So presently to the palace there foemen fearless. Their master-of-clan mighty amid them the meadow-ways trod. the firm in fight. with war-blood stained. fourteen Geats.

Hrothgar.BEOWULF XXIII fearless in fight. And next by the hair into hall was borne Grendel's head. an awe to clan and queen alike. where the henchmen were drinking. The blade slowly dissolves in blood-stained drops like icicles. hardy hero. Hrothgar to greet. Spear. 2 3 4 114 . 1 After the killing of the monster and Grendel's decapitation. a monster of marvel: the men looked on. of fame renowned.

the house's wardens. gigantic. when the blood gushed o'er it. Not a whit could I with Hrunting do in work of war. That war-sword then all burned. yet a sword the Sovran of Men vouchsafed me to spy on the wall there.and I fought with that brand. we've lustily brought thee.how oft He guides the friendless wight! -. bairn of Ecgtheow: -"Lo. since fate was with me. -. old. in splendor hanging. thou seest it here. son of Healfdene. felling in fight. 115 . sign of glory. this sea-booty. Lord of Scyldings. and even so my strength had been lost had the Lord not shielded me. bright blade. now.BEOWULF XXIV XXIV BEOWULF spake. though the weapon is good. Not lightly did I with my life escape! In war under water this work I essayed with endless effort.

the Danish lord. Scyldings' lord. as was due and right. in hand was laid. And this is my hest. the foe of God. old. wonder-smiths' work. murder-marked. So avenged I their fiendish deeds death-fall of Danes. hoary hero.BEOWULF XXIV battle-sweat hot. that in Heorot now safe thou canst sleep with thy soldier band. best of all that the oceans bound 116 . So owned and enjoyed it after downfall of devils. from that side again. as erst thou must!" Then the golden hilt. no evil fear. but the hilt I brought back from my foes. giant-wrought. and every thane of all thy folk both old and young. since the world was rid of that grim-souled fiend. and his mother as well. for that gray-haired leader. aught ill for thy earls. Now it passed into power of the people's king.

-. silent were all: -"Lo. the race of giants (fearful their fate!). heirloom old.The wise-one spake. so may he say who sooth and right follows 'mid folk.the hilt he viewed. son of Healfdene.1 that this earl belongs to the better breed! So. best of blades. and the hilt well wound. 117 . So on the guard of shining gold in runic staves it was rightly said for whom the serpent-traced sword was wrought. a land-warden old. of far times mindful. Hrothgar spake -. in bygone days.BEOWULF XXIV who have scattered their gold o'er Scandia's isle. where was etched the rise of that far-off fight when the floods o'erwhelmed. raging waves. borne aloft. a folk estranged from God Eternal: whence guerdon due in that waste of waters the Wielder paid them.

to folk of thine. from human cheer. and uplifted high 118 . as. far and wide o'er folksteads many. awhile ago. Firmly thou shalt all maintain. delights of power. Honor-Scyldings. his shoulder-comrades. Love of mine will I assure thee. but for grisly slaughter.BEOWULF XXIV thy fame must fly. chieftain haughty. He slew. thou shalt prove a stay in future. for doom of death to the Danishmen. mighty strength with mood of wisdom. Though him the Maker with might endowed. I promised. in far-off years. wrath-swollen. companions at board! So he passed alone. to the heroes a help. Was not Heremod thus to offspring of Ecgwela. nor grew for their grace. O friend my Beowulf.

long feud with his folk. puts in his power great parts of the earth. Whiles He letteth right lustily fare the heart of the hero of high-born race. Wondrous seems how to sons of men Almighty God in the strength of His spirit sendeth wisdom. his breast-hoard. empire so ample. estate. -in seat ancestral assigns him bliss. nowise can harm him 119 . grew. So he waxes in wealth. no bracelets gave he to Danes as was due. yet blood-fierce his mind. Here find thy lesson! Of virtue advise thee! This verse I have said for thee. his folk's sure fortress in fee to hold. high station: He swayeth all things. he endured all joyless strain of struggle and stress of woe.BEOWULF XXIV above all men. that end of it this wanter-of-wisdom weeneth none. wise from lapsed winters.

no evil cares shadow his spirit." 120 .BEOWULF XXIV illness or age. as I say. and the murderer nears. till all within him obstinate pride waxes and wakes while the warden slumbers. stealthily shooting the shafts from his bow! 1 That is. no sword-hate threatens from ever an enemy: all the world wends at his will. sleep is too fast which masters his might. "whoever has as wide authority as I have and can remember so far back so many instances of heroism. that no better hero ever lived than Beowulf. the spirit's sentry. no worse he knoweth. may well say.

then. fated falls. with all God has sent him. Wonder-Wielder. the royal riches. and no shelter avails from foul behest of the hellish fiend. no golden rings he gives for his pride. and there follows another who joyously the jewels divides. Yet in the end it ever comes that the frame of the body fragile yields. of wealth and fame. Greedy and grim. nor recks of his forebear. Beowulf dearest. and temper thy pride. the promised future forgets he and spurns.BEOWULF XXV XXV "UNDER harness his heart then is hit indeed by sharpest shafts. Ban. best of men. profit eternal. warrior famous! The flower of thy might 121 . such baleful thoughts. and the better part choose.1 Him seems too little what long he possessed.

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lasts now a while: but erelong it shall be that sickness or sword thy strength shall minish, or fang of fire, or flooding billow, or bite of blade, or brandished spear, or odious age; or the eyes' clear beam wax dull and darken: Death even thee in haste shall o'erwhelm, thou hero of war! So the Ring-Danes these half-years a hundred I ruled, wielded 'neath welkin, and warded them bravely from mighty-ones many o'er middle-earth, from spear and sword, till it seemed for me no foe could be found under fold of the sky. Lo, sudden the shift! To me seated secure came grief for joy when Grendel began to harry my home, the hellish foe; for those ruthless raids, unresting I suffered heart-sorrow heavy. Heaven be thanked, Lord Eternal, for life extended

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that I on this head all hewn and bloody, after long evil, with eyes may gaze! -- Go to the bench now! Be glad at banquet, warrior worthy! A wealth of treasure at dawn of day, be dealt between us!" Glad was the Geats' lord, going betimes to seek his seat, as the Sage commanded. Afresh, as before, for the famed-in-battle, for the band of the hall, was a banquet dight nobly anew. The Night-Helm darkened dusk o'er the drinkers. The doughty ones rose: for the hoary-headed would hasten to rest, aged Scylding; and eager the Geat, shield-fighter sturdy, for sleeping yearned. Him wander-weary, warrior-guest from far, a hall-thane heralded forth, who by custom courtly cared for all

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needs of a thane as in those old days warrior-wanderers wont to have. So slumbered the stout-heart. Stately the hall rose gabled and gilt where the guest slept on till a raven black the rapture-of-heaven2 blithe-heart boded. Bright came flying shine after shadow. The swordsmen hastened, athelings all were eager homeward forth to fare; and far from thence the great-hearted guest would guide his keel. Bade then the hardy-one Hrunting be brought to the son of Ecglaf, the sword bade him take, excellent iron, and uttered his thanks for it, quoth that he counted it keen in battle, "war-friend" winsome: with words he slandered not edge of the blade: 'twas a big-hearted man! Now eager for parting and armed at point warriors waited, while went to his host

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that Darling of Danes. The doughty atheling to high-seat hastened and Hrothgar greeted.

1

That is, he is now undefended by conscience from the temptations (shafts) of the devil.
2

Kenning for the sun. -- This is a strange role for the raven. He is the warrior's bird of battle, exults in slaughter and carnage; his joy here is a compliment to the sunrise.

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XXVI
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: -"Lo, we seafarers say our will, far-come men, that we fain would seek Hygelac now. We here have found hosts to our heart: thou hast harbored us well. If ever on earth I am able to win me more of thy love, O lord of men, aught anew, than I now have done, for work of war I am willing still! If it come to me ever across the seas that neighbor foemen annoy and fright thee, -as they that hate thee erewhile have used, -thousands then of thanes I shall bring, heroes to help thee. Of Hygelac I know, ward of his folk, that, though few his years, the lord of the Geats will give me aid by word and by work, that well I may serve thee,

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BEOWULF XXVI wielding the war-wood to win thy triumph and lending thee might when thou lackest men. -no seemlier man will the Sea-Geats find at all to choose for their chief and king. he will surely there find his friends. -. Hrothgar spake: -"These words of thine the wisest God sent to thy soul! No sager counsel from so young in years e'er yet have I heard. by sword-grim battle. 127 . by illness or iron. thine elder and lord." Him then answering.and life be thine. A far-off land each man should visit who vaunts him brave. art wise in words! I ween indeed if ever it hap that Hrethel's heir by spear be seized. If thy Hrethric should come to court of Geats. Thou art strong of main and in mind art wary. a sovran's son. people's leader.

from war refrain. and the trust-of-earls bade him fare with the gifts to his folk beloved. sons of the Geat and Spear-Dane folk. Long as I rule this realm so wide. if hold thou wilt thy kinsman's kingdom! Thy keen mind pleases me the longer the better. and honor they keep in the olden way. Beowulf loved! Thou hast brought it about that both our peoples. and from murderous strife. 128 . shall have mutual peace.BEOWULF XXVI for hoard-guard of heroes. and the ringed-prow bear o'er rolling waves tokens of love. Healfdene's son gave treasures twelve. I trow my landfolk towards friend and foe are firmly joined. let heroes with gold each other greet o'er the gannet's-bath." To him in the hall. then. such as once they waged. let our hoards be common.

safe in his soul a secret longing. and hear him in hall. Fast flowed the tears of the hoary-headed. and fell on his neck. Heavy with winters. that choicest thane. but he clung to this. Scyldings' chieftain. the grass-plot o'er. warrior blithe. till age had broken 129 . The wave-roamer bode riding at anchor. its owner awaiting.'Twas a lord unpeered. locked in his mind. he had chances twain. Was this hero so dear to him. his breast's wild billows he banned in vain. Hrothgar's gift they lauded at length. As they hastened onward.1 -that each should look on the other again. Then Beowulf strode. -. and in haste return. Then kissed the king of kin renowned. glad of his gold-gifts.BEOWULF XXVI hale to his home. every way blameless. for that loved man burned in his blood.

the latter chance was likely. hoping to see his young friend again "and exchange brave words in the hall. 1 That is." 130 . but he clung to the former. Old as he was.it spareth no mortal -. he might or might not see Beowulf again.BEOWULF XXVI -.his splendid might.

131 . mounted with gold. Then on the strand. they drove through the deep. The warden marked. -. that blade possessing.BEOWULF XXVII XXVII CAME now to ocean the ever-courageous hardy henchmen. woven war-sarks. on the mead-bench since he was better esteemed. and Daneland left.Their ocean-keel boarding. with steeds and treasure and armor their roomy and ring-dight ship was heavily laden: high its mast rose over Hrothgar's hoarded gems. From the height of the hill no hostile words reached the guests as he rode to greet them. their harness bearing. but "Welcome!" he called to that Weder clan as the sheen-mailed spoilers to ship marched on. trusty as ever. heirloom old. the earl's return. A sword to the boat-guard Beowulf gave.

132 . Then Beowulf bade them bear the treasure. stirred by winds. on the strand updrove. keel firm-bound over briny currents. The craft sped on. no journey far was it thence to go to the giver of rings. lest ocean-billows that trusty timber should tear away. firm to the mast. the flood-timbers moaned. foam-necked it floated forth o'er the waves. He bound to the beach the broad-bosomed ship with anchor-bands. Helpful at haven the harbor-guard stood.1 nor did wind over billows that wave-swimmer blow across from her course.BEOWULF XXVII A sea-cloth was set. a sail with ropes. till they got them sight of the Geatish cliffs. who long already for loved companions by the water had waited and watched afar. gold and jewels. home-known headlands. High the boat.

his sword-doom was spoken. himself and clan. Nor humble her ways. and the burnished blade a baleful murder proclaimed and closed. Haughty that house. but forged fetters he found his lot. Not Thryth's pride showed she. of precious treasure. nor grudged she gifts to the Geatish men. bonds of death! And brief the respite. Haereth's daughter. Was none so daring that durst make bold (save her lord alone) of the liegemen dear that lady full in the face to look. a hero the king. folk-queen famed. and Hygd2 right young.BEOWULF XXVII Hygelac Hrethling: at home he dwelt by the sea-wall close. high the hall. wise and wary. soon as they seized him. No queenly way 133 . though winters few in those fortress walls she had found a home. or that fell deceit.

-For over their ale men also told that of these folk-horrors fewer she wrought. He. throned. atheling haughty. after she went. most excellent seemed. and leal in love to the lord of warriors. and Offa's hall o'er the fallow flood at her father's bidding safely sought. to the brave young prince. Hence Offa was praised for his fighting and feeing by far-off men. 134 . fain of the fair life fate had sent her. where since she prospered. gold-decked bride. though peerless she. that the weaver-of-peace3 from warrior dear by wrath and lying his life should reave! But Hemming's kinsman hindered this.BEOWULF XXVII for woman to practise. of the sons of earth. onslaughts of evil. royal. rich in goods. of all heroes I heard of ever from sea to sea.

Hemming's kinsman. Thryth. 2 Queen to Hygelac. 1 With the speed of the boat. just as Beowulf was praised by contrast with Heremod. 3 Kenning for "wife." 135 . wisely he ruled over his empire.BEOWULF XXVII the spear-bold warrior. Eomer woke to him. She is praised by contrast with the antitype. Grandson of Garmund. help of heroes. grim in war.

slayer of Ongentheow. come safe from battle. With haste in the hall. The world's great candle. By his sovran he sat. by highest order. kinsman by kinsman. 136 . room for the rovers was readily made. sandy strand of the sea to tread and widespread ways. They strode along with sturdy steps to the spot they knew where the battle-king young. his burg within. His kindly lord he first had greeted in gracious form. shared the rings. hale from the hero-play homeward strode. To Hygelac Beowulf's coming was quickly told.BEOWULF XXVIII XXVIII HASTENED the hardy one. henchmen with him. shelter-of-heroes. -that there in the court the clansmen's refuge. sun shone from south. the shield-companion sound and alive.

but suffer the South-Danes to settle their feud themselves with Grendel. The mead dispensing. Hygelac then his comrade fairly with question plied in the lofty hall. the honored chief. my kinsman Beowulf. sore longing to know what manner of sojourn the Sea-Geats made. in his wide-known woes? With waves of care my sad heart seethed. "What came of thy quest. combat in Heorot? Hrothgar couldst thou aid at all. when thy yearnings suddenly swept thee yonder battle to seek o'er the briny sea.BEOWULF XXVIII with manly words. came through the high hall Haereth's daughter. winsome to warriors. wine-cup bore to the hands of the heroes. Now God be thanked 137 . I sore mistrusted my loved one's venture: long I begged thee by no means to seek that slaughtering monster.

No boast can be from breed of Grendel. any on earth. The liegemen were lusty. soon as my purpose was plain to him. assigned me a seat by his son and heir. which we fought on the field where full too many sorrows he wrought for the Scylding-Victors. the bairn of Ecgtheow: -"'Tis known and unhidden. for that uproar at dawn. from the longest-lived of the loathsome race in fleshly fold! -. Hygelac Lord. struggle grim between Grendel and me. that meeting of ours.BEOWULF XXVIII that safe and sound I can see thee now!" Beowulf spake. my life-days never such merry men over mead in hall 138 . to many men. where Healfdene's kinsman high-renowned.But first I went Hrothgar to greet in the hall of gifts. These all I avenged. evils unending.

139 . to the glad son of Froda. passed through the hall. when fretted gold she proffered the warriors. cheered the young clansmen. to sundry gave. Sage this seems to the Scylding's-friend.BEOWULF XXVIII have I heard under heaven! The high-born queen. people's peace-bringer. and as little each of his liegemen all. the ale-cup tendered. kingdom's-keeper: he counts it wise the woman to wed so and ward off feud. to earls in turn. though the bride be fair!1 "Nor haply will like it the Heathobard lord. does the murder-spear sink but briefest while. clasps of gold. gold-decked maid. But seldom ever when men are slain. ere she sought her seat. -she whom I heard these hall-companions Freawaru name. Oft to the heroes Hrothgar's daughter. store of slaughter. Promised is she.

-. when the Danish slew him and wielded the war-place on Withergild's fall. in that doughty throng.BEOWULF XXVIII when a thane of the Danes. 'neath the fighting-mask. ken that sword which to the fray thy father carried in his final feud.3 -.in the hero young tests the temper and tries the soul and war-hate wakens. some ash-wielder old who has all in mind that spear-death of men. with words like these: -Canst thou not. goes with the lady along their hall. comrade. weapons that once they wielded fair until they lost at the linden-play2 liegeman leal and their lives as well. Then. and on him the old-time heirlooms glisten hard and ring-decked. Heathobard's treasure. 140 . over the ale.he is stern of mood. dearest of blades. on this heirloom gazing. heavy at heart.

when Ingeld's breast wells with war-hate. "So5 I hold not high the Heathobards' faith due to the Danes. and carries the jewel4 that rightfully ought to be owned by thee!_ Thus he urges and eggs him all the time with keenest words. -. till occasion offers that Freawaru's thane. 141 . paces this hall.But I pass from that. after bite of brand in his blood must slumber. for the land he kens. those hardy Scyldings? Now. joys in the killing. and wife-love now after the care-billows cooler grows. And thus be broken on both their sides oaths of the earls.BEOWULF XXVIII after havoc of heroes. but that liegeman flies living away. or their during love and pact of peace. losing his life. proud of his treasure. for his father's deed. the son of a certain slaughtering Dane.

and saying in full how the fight resulted. on our mighty kinsman. would the bloody-toothed murderer. A glove hung by him6 wide and wondrous. and all of the brave man's body devoured.BEOWULF XXVIII turning to Grendel. to seek us out where safe and sound we sentried the hall. with greedy hand grasped me. outward go from the gold-decked hall: but me he attacked in his terror of might. O giver-of-treasure. When heaven's jewel had fled o'er far fields. night-foe savage. wound with bands. his fall there was fated. girded warrior. empty-handed. hand-fray of heroes. Yet none the earlier. and in artful wise it all was wrought. mindful of bale. To Hondscio then was that harassing deadly. He first was slain. 142 . that fierce sprite came. Grendel on him turned murderous mouth.

my prince.BEOWULF XXVIII by devilish craft. 143 . this people of thine got fame by my fighting. 'Twere long to relate how that land-destroyer I paid in kind for his cruel deeds. He might not so. He fled away. of dragon-skins. when I all angrily upright stood. the fiendish foe was fain to thrust with many another. but there staid behind him his stronger hand left in Heorot. an innocent man. and a little space his life preserved. heartsick thence on the floor of the ocean that outcast fell. Me therein. Then was song and glee. with many a treasure. The gray-haired Scylding. yet there. Me for this struggle the Scyldings'-friend paid in plenty with plates of gold. when morn had come and we all at the banquet-board sat down.

or said aright legends of wonder. or for years of his youth he would yearn at times. avenged her offspring. wood-of-delight. life was gone. told of the times of yore. hoary hero: his heart surged full when. Dead was her son through war-hate of Weders. the wide-hearted king. he wailed their flight. From Aeschere old. now stricken with age. Thus in the hall the whole of that day at ease we feasted. Grendel's mother set forth all doleful. 144 . Anon full ready in greed of vengeance. woman monstrous with fury fell a foeman she slew. now. loyal councillor. wise with winters. for strength of old struggles. Whiles the hero his harp bestirred. till fell o'er earth another night. now lays he chanted of sooth and sadness.BEOWULF XXVIII much tested.

BEOWULF XXVIII nor might they e'en. billows welled blood. though not without danger. besought me (sad was his soul) in the sea-waves' coil to play the hero and hazard my being for glory of prowess: my guerdon he pledged. 145 .and gained my life. My doom was not yet. in the briny hall her head I hewed with a hardy blade from Grendel's mother. Under mountain stream she had carried the corpse with cruel hands.'tis widely known -that sea-floor-guardian savage found. Hand-to-hand there a while we struggled. For Hrothgar that was the heaviest sorrow of all that had laden the lord of his folk. I then in the waters -. The leader then. -. when morning broke. by thy life. those Danish people. their death-done comrade burn with brands. on balefire lay the man they mourned.

battle. Things might well go somewhat as follows. The sword. 2 Play of shields. gave me in guerdon great gifts of price. 1 Beowulf gives his uncle the king not mere gossip of his journey. he says. As both Beowulf and Hygelac know. their disastrous battle and the slaying of their king. -. and eggs him on to vengeance. the young princess Freawaru. An old warrior points it out to Ingeld. -. foretells trouble. 146 .BEOWULF XXVIII Then the haven-of-heroes. This son is selected to accompany his mistress. escapes. and knowing the land. A Danish warrior cuts down Froda in the fight. but a sort of bag. but the murderer. afraid of results. son of the slain Froda. Talk of interpolation here is absurd. But Beowulf. 4 5 Beowulf returns to his forecast. 3 That is. once near neighbors of Angle and Saxon tribes on the continent).and the folk for whom the Beowulf was put together also knew. on general principles and from his observation of the particular case. Hrothgar will set aside this feud by giving his daughter as "peace-weaver" and wife to the young king Ingeld. but a statesmanlike forecast of the outcome of certain policies at the Danish court. and had fallen in fight with the Danes.Froda was king of the Heathobards (probably the Langobards. leaving them to a son. and takes his sword and armor. Heedlessly he wears the sword of Froda in hall. So the old feud must break out again. and with this prophecy by illustration returns to the tale of his adventure. At his instigation the Dane is killed. 6 Not an actual glove. Healfdene's son. sketches a little tragic story. to her new home when she is Ingeld's queen.

that its story be straightway said to thee. the meed of my might. thee!" Then he bade them bear him the boar-head standard. then spake in form: -"Me this war-gear the wise old prince. for long time lord of the land of Scyldings. gave. Few indeed have I of kinsmen. Thy grace alone can find me favor. Hygelac. and breastplate gray.BEOWULF XXXI XXXI "So held this king to the customs old. my prince. yet not to his son the sovran left it. save. -A while it was held by Heorogar king. for my own disposal. he made me gifts. that I wanted for nought in the wage I gained. Now to thee. Hrothgar. gladly give them. the battle-helm high. the splendid sword. I proffer them all. and his hest he added. 147 . Healfdene's heir.

arms and horses he gave to the king. Thus showed his strain the son of Ecgtheow as a man remarked for mighty deeds 148 . and each kept watch o'er the other's weal. or with deep-hid treachery death contrive for neighbor and comrade. Since such gift the gem gleamed bright on the breast of the queen. wonder-wrought treasure. each like the others.dear as he was to him. -. which Wealhtheow gave him sovran's daughter: three steeds he added. So should kinsmen be. his harness of battle. four good steeds. not weave one another the net of wiles. -. too. slender and saddle-gay. all apple-fallow.Well hold thou it all!" And I heard that soon passed o'er the path of this treasure. the necklace to Hygd he presented. His nephew was ever by hardy Hygelac held full dear. I heard.BEOWULF XXXI to daring Heoroweard.

to the warrior honored. profitless prince. and of hides assigned him seven thousand. Long was he spurned. though of sons of earth his strength was greatest. but payment came. Slack and shiftless the strong men deemed him. a glorious gift that God had sent the splendid leader.2 with house and high-seat. him at mead the master-of-clans failed full oft to favor at all. Hrethel's heirloom garnished with gold: no Geat e'er knew in shape of a sword a statelier prize. They held in common 149 . for all his woes. and worthless by Geatish warriors held. At ale he slew not comrade or kin. The brand he laid in Beowulf's lap. -Then the bulwark-of-earls1 bade bring within. nor cruel his mood. hardy chieftain.BEOWULF XXXI and acts of honor.

A strait path reached it. home: but higher the king because of his rule o'er the realm itself. in arms o'erwhelming Hereric's nephew.BEOWULF XXXI land alike by their line of birth. in the stone-barrow steep.3 and Heardred. Then Beowulf came as king this broad realm to wield. Now further it fell with the flight of years. when him at the van of his victor-folk sought hardy heroes. a Dragon. that Hygelac perished. until One began in the dark of night. inheritance. 150 . and he ruled it well fifty winters. In the grave on the hill a hoard it guarded. warding his land. Heatho-Scilfings. by hewing of swords under the shield-wall slaughtered lay.4 a wise old prince. too. to rage. with harryings horrid.

would make Beowulf well over ninety years of age when he fights the dragon. makes off with a golden beaker or the like. and carries it for propitiation to his master. as scholars have worked it out. and while the dragon sleeps. while the watcher slept. however. stole with it away. desperate.5 In hand he took a golden goblet. For one thing. though "the size of the acre varied. by thievish wiles: for the warden's wrath prince and people must pay betimes! 1 Hygelac." 3 On the historical raid into Frankish territory between 512 and 520 A. 2 This is generally assumed to mean hides. is partly told in Scandinavian legend. A condemned or banished man. we have the old myth of a dragon who guards hidden treasure. though the text simply says "seven thousand. The dragon discovers the loss and exacts fearful penalty from the people round about.D. 151 . The subsequent course of events. But with this runs the story of some noble. 5 The text is here hopelessly illegible. hides in the barrow. Some man. who hides all his wealth within this barrow and there chants his farewell to life's glories." A hide in England meant about 120 acres. last of his race. After his death the dragon takes possession of the hoard and watches over it. nor gave he it back. 4 The chronology of this epic. discovers the treasure. But the fifty years of his reign need not be taken as historical fact.BEOWULF XXXI unknown to mortals. and only the general drift of the meaning can be rescued. as gathered from hints of this epic. came by chance that cave within to the heathen hoard.

which some earl forgotten. For death of yore had hurried all hence. but for pressure of peril. the earth below. some prince's thane.BEOWULF XXXII XXXII THAT way he went with no will of his own. dearest treasure. in ancient years. left the last of his lofty race. yet the wretched fugitive rallied anon from fright and fear ere he fled away. heirlooms old. At the awful sight tottered that guest. Of such besides there was store enough. seeking shelter. He fled in fear the fatal scourge. to the dragon's hoard. and entered in. in danger of life. and terror seized him. a sinful man. heedfully there had hidden away. and he alone 152 . and took the cup from that treasure-hoard.

since heroes may not. though brief his respite. his one delight. robbed them of life and a liegeman's joys. 153 . to strand and sea-waves stood anear. Few words he spake: "Now hold thou. hidden and closed. The barrow. My brave are gone. all haughty with gold. or to cleanse the carven cup of price. beaker bright. And the helmet hard. there laid within it his lordly heirlooms and heaped hoard of heavy gold that warden of rings.BEOWULF XXXII left to live. erst from thee brave men brought it! But battle-death seized and cruel killing my clansmen all. yet wished to bide warding the treasure. the last of the clan. earth. None have I left to lift the sword. weeping his friends. new-ready. what earls have owned! Lo. hard by the headland.

Polishers sleep who could brighten and burnish the battle-mask. who. blazing at twilight the barrows haunteth. and those weeds of war that were wont to brave over bicker of shields the bite of steel rust with their bearer. at side of hero! No harp's delight." Mournful of mood. for them all. till death's fell wave o'erwhelmed his heart. naked foe-dragon flying by night 154 . His hoard-of-bliss that old ill-doer open found. The ringed mail fares not far with famous chieftain. thus he moaned his woe. no glee-wood's gladness! No good hawk now flies through the hall! Nor horses fleet stamp in the burgstead! Battle and death the flower of my race have reft away. and unblithe wept by day and by night.BEOWULF XXXII shall part from its plating. alone.

and heathen gold to watch. When the dragon awoke. new woe was kindled. -So may the undoomed easily flee 155 . till One aroused wrath in his breast. O'er the stone he snuffed. and the king implored for bond of peace. borne off was booty. The stark-heart found footprint of foe who so far had gone in his hidden craft by the creature's head. and his ruler saw first time what was fashioned in far-off days. 'Tis his doom to seek hoard in the graves. to the ruler bearing that costly cup. many-wintered: nor wins he thereby! Powerful this plague-of-the-people thus held the house of the hoard in earth three hundred winters. His boon was granted that wretched man.BEOWULF XXXII folded in fire: the folk of earth dread him sore. So the barrow was plundered.

boiling with wrath was the barrow's keeper. none in the waste. Yet war he desired..Now day was fled as the worm had wished. The guardian waited ill-enduring till evening came. greedy to find the man who wrought him such wrong in sleep. Savage and burning. if only he gain the grace of The Wielder! -. By its wall no more was it glad to bide. and discovered soon that some one of mortals had searched his treasure. and fain with flame the foe to pay for the dear cup's loss. -.. his lordly gold. The barrow he entered. was eager for battle..BEOWULF XXXII evils and exile. nor was any there.That warden of gold o'er the ground went seeking. sought the cup. but burning flew folded in flame: a fearful beginning 156 . the barrow he circled all without.

and soon it came. in the doom of their lord.BEOWULF XXXII for sons of the soil. to a dreadful end. 157 .

as the grim destroyer those Geatish people hated and hounded. of buildings the best. No living thing would that loathly one leave as aloft it flew. To the good old man 158 . In its barrow it trusted. Wide was the dragon's warring seen. and bright homes burned. To hidden lair. its battling and bulwarks: that boast was vain! To Beowulf then the bale was told quickly and truly: the king's own home. The blaze stood high all landsfolk frighting. to its hoard it hastened at hint of dawn. with bale and brand.BEOWULF XXXIII XXXIII THEN the baleful fiend its fire belched out. that gift-throne of Geats. in brand-waves melted. Folk of the land it had lapped in flame. its fiendish fury far and near.

but the warlike king. 'twas heaviest sorrow. linden could aid not. Warriors'-bulwark. 159 . and the stronghold all washed by waves. breaking ancient law. prince of the Weders.Atheling brave. he was fated to finish this fleeting life. sharer-of-rings.the earl's commander -a war-shield wondrous: well he knew that forest-wood against fire were worthless. and embittered the Lord.BEOWULF XXXIII sad in heart. as his wont was never. -. plotted vengeance. and the dragon with him.1 his days on earth. The folk's own fastness that fiery dragon with flame had destroyed. though long it had watched o'er the wealth of thehoard! -Shame he reckoned it. he bade them work all of iron -. His breast within with black thoughts welled. The sage assumed that his sovran God he had angered.

son of Hrethel. contest-crash.BEOWULF XXXIII to follow the flyer-afar with a host. nor the battle feared he. loathsome breed! Not least was that of hand-to-hand fights where Hygelac fell. conqueror proud. when he came to the sea! Nor yet might Hetwaras2 haughtily boast 160 . by brands down-beaten. a broad-flung band. by sword-draughts died. lord of his folk. nor deemed he dreadful the dragon's warring. and in grapple had killed the kin of Grendel. when the ruler of Geats in rush of battle. and perils of war. though alone. Hrothgar's hall he had wholly purged. in the Frisian land. Thence Beowulf fled through strength of himself and his swimming power. since. and his arms were laden with thirty coats of mail. its vigor and valor: ventures desperate he had passed a-plenty.

till. No sooner for this could the stricken ones in any wise move that atheling's mind over young Heardred's head as lord and ruler of all the realm to be: yet the hero upheld him with helpful words. 161 . where Hygd made him offer of hoard and realm.Wandering exiles sought him o'er seas. older grown. who carried against him shields to the fight: but few escaped from strife with the hero to seek their homes! Then swam over ocean Ecgtheow's son lonely and sorrowful. reckoning naught the strength of her son to save their kingdom from hostile hordes. he wielded the Weder-Geats. rings and royal-seat. who had spurned the sway of the Scylfings'-helmet. the sons of Ohtere.BEOWULF XXXIII their craft of contest. seeking his land. aided in honor. -. after Hygelac's death.

-.3 Hence Heardred's end.A good king he! 1 Literally "loan-days. In the fighting Heardred is killed. leaving Beowulf lord of Geats and gift-seat's master.BEOWULF XXXIII the bravest and best that broke the rings. to bairn of Hygelac. For shelter he gave them." days loaned to man. in Swedish land. where they have taken refuge after their unsuccessful rebellion. haughty hero. 162 . and took part in repelling the raid of (Hygelac) Chocilaicus. sword-death came. but the son of Ongentheow sought again house and home when Heardred fell. 2 Chattuarii. of the sea-kings' line. the blade's fell blow. a tribe that dwelt along the Rhine. who pursues his two nephews Eanmund and Eadgils to Heardred's court. son of Ongentheow. 3 Onla.

that cup of price on the lap of the lord had been laid by the finder. and to Eadgils he proved friend to the friendless. starter of all the strife and ill. In the throng was this one thirteenth man. 163 . through perils dire. weapons and warriors: well repaid he those care-paths cold when the king he slew. till this day was come that doomed him now with the dragon to strive. With comrades eleven the lord of Geats swollen in rage went seeking the dragon. with daring deeds.BEOWULF XXXIV XXXIV THE fall of his lord he was fain to requite in after days.1 Thus safe through struggles the son of Ecgtheow had passed a plenty. and forces sent over the sea to the son of Ohtere. He had heard whence all the harm arose and the killing of clansmen.

sunder apart life and body. Beowulf spake. the treasures held. spake words of hail to his hearth-companions. wavering. the bairn of Ecgtheow: -- 164 .BEOWULF XXXIV care-laden captive. death-bound. Not light the task of entrance for any of earth-born men! Sat on the headland the hero king. a jealous warden. to seize his soul-hoard. Wyrd full nigh stood ready to greet the gray-haired man. flood of ocean. Not long would be the warrior's spirit enwound with flesh. warrior trusty. All gloomy his soul. gold-friend of Geats. Within 'twas full of wire-gold and jewels. he led them on till he came in ken of that cavern-hall. the barrow delved near billowy surges. cringing thence forced and reluctant. lurked in his lair.

and held me. he loathlier found me. hard as it was. mighty feuds. was the death-bed strewn. one brother the other. with bloody shaft.BEOWULF XXXIV "Through store of struggles I strove in youth. from my father took me. For the eldest of these. Herebeald and Haethcyn and Hygelac mine. his own dear liege laid low with an arrow. while I lived there. with food and fee. unavenged must the atheling die! 165 . by kinsman's deed. A feeless fight. yet. faithful in kinship. had me. than his birthright sons.2 and a fearful sin. by unmeet chance. Ne'er. Hrethel the king. bairn in the burg. friend-of-his-folk. I mind them all. missed the mark and his mate shot down. when Haethcyn killed him with horny bow. horror to Hrethel. I was seven years old when the sovran of rings.

far-hidden. of the heir gone elsewhere. as morning breaks. sorrow-song for his son there hanging as rapture of ravens. disabled man! Still is he minded. 166 . Beowulf supports Eadgils against Onela.3 another he hopes not he will bide to see his burg within as ward for his wealth. in the courts no wassail. who is slain by Eadgils in revenge for the "care-paths" of exile into which Onela forced him. as once was heard. no rescue now can come from the old.4 no harp resounds. the hero. that his bairn so young rides on the gallows. Forlorn he looks on the lodge of his son. A rime he makes. now the one has found doom of death that the deed incurred. 1 That is. wine-hall waste and wind-swept chambers reft of revel. The rider sleepeth.BEOWULF XXXIV Too awful it is for an aged man to bide and bear.

from one son for the killing of the other. or man-price. 3 Usual euphemism for death.BEOWULF 2 XXXIV That is. 4 167 . Sc. the king could claim no wergild. in the grave.

And so for the sorrow his soul endured. So the helmet-of-Weders hid in his heart for Herebeald waves of woe. bold. war arose. when Hrethel died. a grief-song chants alone for his lost.BEOWULF XXXV XXXV "THEN he goes to his chamber. No way could he take to avenge on the slayer slaughter so foul. nor brooked o'er the seas 168 . and Ongentheow's offspring grew strife-keen. men's gladness he gave up and God's light chose. nor e'en could he harass that hero at all with loathing deed. Lands and cities he left his sons (as the wealthy do) when he went from earth. homestead and house. There was strife and struggle 'twixt Swede and Geat o'er the width of waters. though he loved him not. hard battle-horror. Too large all seems.

a bargain hard: for Haethcyn proved fatal that fray.such power I wielded. my gleaming sword repaid him at war. I heard. nor flinched from the death-blow. He had no need from Swedish realm.1 with clash of sword. At morn. -. -. for the first-of-Geats. hoary Scylfing. when Ongentheow met Eofor there. was the murderer killed by kinsman for kinsman. the hand that smote him of feud was mindful. Men of my folk for that feud had vengeance. for woful war ('tis widely known). -for lordly treasure: with land he entrusted me."For all that he2 gave me. though one of them bought it with blood of his heart. 169 . Wide split the war-helm: wan he fell. or from Spear-Dane folk. homestead and house.BEOWULF XXXV pact of peace. but pushed their hosts to harass in hatred by Hreosnabeorh.

slain in struggle. hard blade and my hand. Not with blade was he slain. slain by my hand. -some warrior worse for wage to buy! Ever I fought in the front of all. but his bones were broken by brawny gripe. that standard-bearer fell. to get him help. now once again. and so shall I fight while I bide in life and this blade shall last that early and late hath loyal proved since for my doughtiness Daeghrefn fell. but. for the hoard shall strive. Nor fared he thence to the Frisian king with the booty back.The sword-edge now. -. and a battle-vow made his last of all: "I have lived through many wars in my youth.BEOWULF XXXV or from men of the Gifths." Beowulf spake. sole to the fore. and breast-adornments. atheling brave. his heart-waves stilled. 170 . the Hugas' champion.

But fire in this fight I must fear me now.Now abide by the barrow. if the dark destroyer forth from his cavern come to fight me!" Then hailed he the helmeted heroes all. ye breastplate-mailed. One fight shall end our war by the wall. My mood is bold but forbears to boast o'er this battling-flyer.3 From the barrow's keeper no footbreadth flee I. all mankind's master. -. for the last time greeting his liegemen dear. else my vows I could gain as I did in Grendel's day.BEOWULF XXXV old folk-defender. do doughty deeds. which of us twain 171 . with such enemy. feud will I seek. as Wyrd allots. so I bring with me breastplate and board. no sword to the serpent. if sure I knew how. ye heroes in harness. and poisonous breath. comrades of war: "I should carry no weapon.

your king and lord!" Up stood then with shield the sturdy champion. The fight is not yours. Hardily I shall win that wealth. an arch of stone. and hardy 'neath helmet his harness bore under cleft of the cliffs: no coward's path! Soon spied by the wall that warrior chief. stayed by the strength of his single manhood. 172 . nor meet for any but me alone to measure might with this monster here and play the hero. survivor of many a victory-field where foemen fought with furious clashings. The brooklet's wave was hot with fire. cruel killing. Wait ye the finish. a stream that broke from the barrow. or war shall seize. The hoard that way he never could hope unharmed to near.BEOWULF XXXV better from battle-rush bear his wounds. and within.

hot reek-of-fight: the rocks resounded. Then let from his breast. lord of the Geats. Stoutly stood with his shield high-raised 173 .BEOWULF XXXV or endure those deeps. heirloom old. while with courage keen that coiled foe came seeking strife. stern went ringing and clear his cry 'neath the cliff-rocks gray. against the loathed-one. The sturdy king had drawn his sword. Stout by the stone-way his shield he raised. for he burst with rage. though fierce their mood. the Weder-Geat prince a word outgo. his rage was enkindled. and each of the two felt fear of his foe. No respite now for pact of peace! The poison-breath of that foul worm first came forth from the cave. not dull of edge.4 for the dragon's flame. The hoard-guard heard a human voice. stormed the stark-heart.

could his will have wielded the welcome respite but once in his life! But Wyrd denied it. -.BEOWULF XXXV the warrior king. The shield protected. spire by spire.Then the barrow's keeper waxed full wild for that weighty blow. and victory's honors. on the bone. Its edge was turned brown blade. wide drove and far those vicious fires. -. fast sped and glided that blazing serpent. Now. soul and body a shorter while for the hero-king than his heart desired. 174 . cast deadly flames. his brand had failed. the grim foe smote with atheling's heirloom. as the worm now coiled together amain: the mailed-one waited. No victor's glory the Geats' lord boasted.His arm he lifted lord of the Geats. and bit more feebly than its noble master had need of then in his baleful stress.

armed stood with warlike front: to the woods they bent them.'Twas no easy path that Ecgtheow's honored heir must tread over the plain to the place of the foe.Not long it was ere those champions grimly closed again. Kinship true can never be marred in a noble mind! 175 . But the soul of one with care was cumbered. for against his will he must win a home elsewhere far. as must all men. sons of athelings. as never it should. The hoard-guard was heartened. the folk-commander! Nor yet about him his band of comrades. their lives to save. enfolded in flames.BEOWULF XXXV naked in battle. high heaved hisbreast once more. excellent iron! -. leaving this lapsing life! -. and by peril was pressed again.

The hollow passage. 3 4 176 . -. 2 Hygelac. Haethcyn. See the detailed description below." Ongentheow. is also avenged by the blow. but the king. Shield.The immediate provocation for Eofor in killing "the hoary Scylfing. is that the latter has just struck Wulf down.BEOWULF 1 XXXV Eofor for Wulf.

Weohstan's son. He minded the prizes his prince had given him. who was slain by the sword-edge. breastplate ringed. Onela's gift. weeds of war of the warrior-thane.BEOWULF XXXVI XXXVI WIGLAF his name was. and folk-rights that his father owned Not long he lingered. old sword of Eotens. battle-gear brave: though a brother's child 177 . The linden yellow. linden-thane loved. Aelfhere's kinsman. who won for his kin brown-bright helmet. the old sword he drew: -as heirloom of Eanmund earth-dwellers knew it. friendless exile. son of Ohtere. the lord of Scylfings. His king he now saw with heat under helmet hard oppressed. his shield. erst in fray killed by Weohstan. he seized. wealthy seat of the Waegmunding line.

178 . till his bairn had grown earlship to earn as the old sire did: then he gave him.2 So the worm found out when once in fight the foes had met! Wiglaf spake. the gear of battle. Neither softened his soul. mid Geats. the feud was unfelt by Onela. when mead we took. fared aged forth.1 For winters this war-gear Weohstan kept. when he passed from life. what promise we made to this prince of ours in the banquet-hall. sad in spirit. to our breaker-of-rings. -. breastplate and board.and his words were sage. portion huge. he said to his comrades: -"I remember the time. nor the sire's bequest weakened in war. for gear of combat to give him requital. For the first time now with his leader-lord the liegeman young was bidden to share the shock of battle.BEOWULF XXXVI had been felled.

and gave these treasures. though this hero-work our leader hoped unhelped and alone to finish for us.BEOWULF XXXVI for hard-sword and helmet. because he counted us keen with the spear and hardy 'neath helm. Let us stride along the hero to help while the heat is about him glowing and grim! For God is my witness I am far more fain the fire should seize along with my lord these limbs of mine!3 Unsuiting it seems our shields to bear homeward hence. if hap should bring stress of this sort! Himself who chose us from all his army to aid him now. urged us to glory. -.folk-defender who hath got him glory greater than all men for daring deeds! Now the day is come that our noble master has need of the might of warriors stout. save here we essay 179 .

atheling steadfast. murderous monster mad with rage. do all bravely. its foes to seek. the hated men. In heat-waves burned 180 . for us both shall serve!" Through slaughter-reek strode he to succor his chieftain. his battle-helm bore. with fire-billows flaming. with all thy strength shield thy life! I will stand to help thee." At the words the worm came once again. I wot 'twere shame on the law of our land if alone the king out of Geatish warriors woe endured and sank in the struggle! My sword and helmet. as in youthful days of yore thou vowedst that while life should last thou wouldst let no wise thy glory droop! Now.BEOWULF XXXVI to fell the foe and defend the life of the Weders' lord. and brief words spake: -"Beowulf dearest. breastplate and board. great in deeds.

The bold king again had mind of his glory: with might his glaive was driven into the dragon's head.BEOWULF XXXVI that board4 to the boss. where room allowed. 181 . Then for the third time thought on its feud that folk-destroyer. and he tried too far with strength of stroke all swords he wielded. old and gray. since his own was now all burned by the blaze. broken in battle was Beowulf's sword. fire-dread dragon. But Naegling5 was shivered. and the breastplate failed to shelter at all the spear-thane young. so the tale is told. though sturdy their steel: they steaded him nought. -blow nerved by hate. Yet quickly under his kinsman's shield went eager the earl. and rushed on the hero. 'Twas granted him not that ever the edge of iron at all could help him at strife: too strong was his hand.

Wiglaf's wooden shield. its bitter teeth closed on his neck. and its underlying sense of duty. 1 That is. burning. 3 Sc." as both are made of iron. "than to bide safely here. based partly on the idea of loyalty and partly on the practical basis of benefits received and repaid. although Eanmund was brother's son to Onela. the slaying of the former by Weohstan is not felt as cause of feud. 2 Both Wiglaf and the sword did their duty." -.The following is one of the classic passages for illustrating the comitatus as the most conspicuous Germanic institution. 4 5 182 .BEOWULF XXXVI battle-grim. Gering would translate "kinsman of the nail.a common figure of incomplete comparison. and is rewarded by gift of the slain man's weapons. -. and covered him with waves of blood from his breast that welled.

men say.BEOWULF XXXVII XXXVII 'TWAS now.Of deeds of valor this conqueror's-hour of the king was last. craft and keenness and courage enduring. that blaze began to lose and lessen. felled the foe. and the Weders'-helm smote that worm asunder. war-knife drew. in his sovran's need that the earl made known his noble strain. At last the king wielded his wits again. athelings twain: thus an earl should be in danger's day! -. he helped his kinsman. though his hand was burned. kinsmen both. A little lower the loathsome beast he smote with sword. So had they killed it. 183 . hardy-hearted. his steel drove in bright and burnished. a biting blade by his breastplate hanging. flung forth its life. Heedless of harm.

his mortal wound. the king and conqueror covered with blood. Beowulf spake in spite of his hurt. and stared at the structure of giants. wise in his thought. then sat. The wound began. and death was near: 184 . with struggle spent. to the wall of rock. and soon he found in his breast was boiling. and unspan his helmet. The prince walked on. baleful and deep. and all had fled of his file of days. where arch of stone and steadfast column upheld forever that hall in earth. to swell and smart. Yet here must the hand of the henchman peerless lave with water his winsome lord.BEOWULF XXXVII of his work in the world. full well he knew his portion now was past and gone of earthly bliss. pain of poison. which that dragon-of-earth had erst inflicted.

BEOWULF XXXVII "I would fain bestow on son of mine this gear of war. for killing of kinsmen! Now quickly go and gaze on that hoard 'neath the hoary rock. when life from my frame must flee away. Wiglaf loved. sleeps. For all these things. No folk-king was there. of his spoil bereaved. 185 . though fatally wounded. and I cared for mine own. At home I bided what fate might come. heart-sore. This people I ruled fifty winters. fain am I! From the Ruler-of-Man no wrath shall seize me. none at all. feuds I sought not. now the worm lies low. nor falsely swore ever on oath. of the neighboring clans who war would wage me with 'warriors'-friends'1 and threat me with horrors. were given me now that any heir should after me come of my proper blood.

I would fain behold the gorgeous heirlooms. have joy in the jewels and gems. swords. 186 . golden store. lay down softlier for sight of this splendid hoard my life and the lordship I long have held." 1 That is.BEOWULF XXXVII And fare in haste.

rusty helms of the olden age. and many a vessel in the den of the dragon. booty from barrow. bore 'neath the barrow's roof.1 saw store of jewels and glistening gold the ground along. can burden with pride each human wight: let him hide it who will! -His glance too fell on a gold-wove banner high o'er the hoard. 187 . battle-sark. passing the seat. -.BEOWULF XXXVIII XXXVIII I HAVE heard that swiftly the son of Weohstan at wish and word of his wounded king. the dawn-flier old: unburnished bowls of bygone men reft of richness. and arm-rings many wondrously woven. by the wall were marvels.woven mail-coat. of conquest proud. of handiwork noblest. -.Such wealth of gold. -war-sick warrior. Then the clansman keen.

he burdened his bosom with beakers and plate at his own good will.BEOWULF XXXVIII brilliantly broidered. Then. -.had injured deep one that guarded the golden hoard many a year and its murder-fire spread hot round the barrow in horror-billows at midnight hour. the hill of its hoard was reft. 188 . Hasted the herald. where he left him. he was troubled by doubt.its edge was iron -. so bright its gleam. old work of giants. I heard. the hoard so spurred him his track to retrace. high-souled hero. and the ensign took. brightest of beacons. all the earth-floor he easily saw and viewed all these vessels. by one alone. the lord of Weders. till it met its doom.The blade of his lord -. if haply he'd find alive. No vestige now was seen of the serpent: the sword had ta'en him.

to folk of mine memorial fair 189 . for the grace that I give such gifts to my folk or ever the day of my death be run! Now I've bartered here for booty of treasure the last of my life. to the Wielder-of-Wonders. famous chief at the lapse of life. 'Twill shine by the shore of the flood. to God my thanks. for what I behold. so look ye well to the needs of my land! No longer I tarry. sage and sad. with words I say. So he carried the load. to Heaven's Lord. His lord and king he found all bleeding. -"For the gold and treasure. as he stared at the gold. Beowulf spake. The liegeman again plashed him with water. A barrow bid ye the battle-fanned raise for my ashes.BEOWULF XXXVIII weakening fast by the wall of the cave. till point of word broke through the breast-hoard.

to the land of doom. that ocean-wanderers oft may hail Beowulf's Barrow. and ring. earls in their glory: I after them go. For Wyrd hath swept them. From his bosom fled his soul to seek the saints' reward. valorous king. 190 .BEOWULF XXXVIII on Hrones Headland high uplifted. all my line. as back from far they drive their keels o'er the darkling wave. to his vassal gave it with bright-gold helmet. breastplate." This word was the last which the wise old man harbored in heart ere hot death-waves of balefire he chose. to the youthful thane: bade him use them in joy. "Thou art end and remnant of all our race the Waegmunding name." From his neck he unclasped the collar of gold. 1 Where Beowulf lay.

hammers' leaving. no longer lusty aloft to whirl at midnight.1 and that flier-afar had fallen to ground hushed by its hurt. lay felled in fight. fain of its treasure. its hoard all near. empty of breath. But the slayer too. For edges of iron had ended its days. -. could the writhing monster rule it more. as stories tell me. 191 . awful earth-dragon. hard and battle-sharp. proud of its prizes: prone it sank by the handiwork of the hero-king. making its merriment seen.BEOWULF XXXIX XXXIX IT was heavy hap for that hero young on his lord beloved to look and find him lying on earth with life at end.though sturdy and strong. sorrowful sight. nor. Forsooth among folk but few achieve.

and they gazed on Wiglaf. trothbreakers.BEOWULF XXXIX and never so daring in deed of valor. whenever his watch the warden keeps bold in the barrow. 192 . Now in their shame their shields they carried. ten together. armor of fight. to wake him with water. and to rush on the ring-board hall. where the old man lay.2 Nowise it availed. shieldsman good. -the perilous breath of a poison-foe to brave. fearing before to flourish a spear in the sore distress of their sovran lord. cowards. Befell erelong that the laggards in war the wood had left. Wearied he sat at his sovran's shoulder. Beowulf paid the price of death for that precious hoard. and each of the foes had found the end of this fleeting life.

Grim was the answer. lord to liegemen.for he at ale-bench often-times bestowed on hall-folk helm and breastplate. as it is to-day.BEOWULF XXXIX Though well he wished it. Doom of the Lord was law o'er the deeds of every man. can say indeed that the ruler who gave you golden rings and the harness of war in which ye stand -. from the youth for those that had yielded to fear! Wiglaf spake. the likeliest gear which near of far he could find to give. in world no more could he barrier life for that leader-of-battles nor baffle the will of all-wielding God. -threw away and wasted these weeds of battle. -mournful he looked on those men unloved: -"Who sooth will speak. the son of Weohstan. on men who failed when the foemen came! 193 . easy to get.

gave him grace that he got revenge sole with his sword in stress and need. his freehold-land every clansman within your kin shall lose and leave. 'twas little that I could serve him in struggle. death is better 194 . a fameless deed. Yea. when lords highborn hear afar of that flight of yours. Its strength ever waned. though the Victory-Wielder. and the fire less strongly flowed from its head.BEOWULF XXXIX Not at all could the king of his comrades-in-arms venture to vaunt. -. God. To rescue his life. yet shift I made (hopeless it seemed) to help my kinsman. joy of the house and home-delight shall fail your folk. when with weapon I struck that fatal foe.Too few the heroes in throe of contest that thronged to our king! Now gift of treasure and girding of sword.

well-forged.BEOWULF XXXIX for liegemen all than a life of shame!" 1 What had been left or made by the hammer. 2 Trying to revive him. 195 .

the herald that up the headland rode. in doubt of twain: would they wail as dead. their lord beloved? Little1 kept back of the tidings new. by Beowulf's side. 196 . full of sorrow.BEOWULF XL XL THAT battle-toil bade he at burg to announce. at the fort on the cliff. daring shieldsmen. or welcome home. the living earl by the other dead. where. all the morning earls had sat. the Lord of Geats on the slaughter-bed sleeps by the serpent's deed! And beside him is stretched that slayer-of-men with knife-wounds sick:2 no sword availed on the awesome thing in any wise to work a wound. There Wiglaf sitteth. but told them all. Weohstan's bairn. -"Now the willing-giver to Weder folk in death-bed lies.

-. -. plied with such prowess their power o'erwhelming that the bold-in-battle bowed beneath it and fell in fight. Nor aught expect I of peace and faith from Swedish folk.BEOWULF XL and heavy of heart a head-watch3 keeps o'er friend and foe. Him there the Hetwaras humbled in war.Now our folk may look for waging of war when once unhidden to Frisian and Frank the fall of the king is spread afar. To his friends no wise could that earl give treasure! And ever since the Merowings' favor has failed us wholly. when the folk of Geats for the first time sought 197 .The strife began when hot on the Hugas4 Hygelac fell and fared with his fleet to the Frisian land. 'Twas spread afar how Ongentheow reft at Ravenswood Haethcyn Hrethling of hope and life.

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in wanton pride the Warlike-Scylfings. Soon the sage old sire5 of Ohtere, ancient and awful, gave answering blow; the sea-king6 he slew, and his spouse redeemed, his good wife rescued, though robbed of her gold, mother of Ohtere and Onela. Then he followed his foes, who fled before him sore beset and stole their way, bereft of a ruler, to Ravenswood.

With his host he besieged there what swords had left, the weary and wounded; woes he threatened the whole night through to that hard-pressed throng: some with the morrow his sword should kill, some should go to the gallows-tree for rapture of ravens. But rescue came with dawn of day for those desperate men when they heard the horn of Hygelac sound,

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tones of his trumpet; the trusty king had followed their trail with faithful band.

1

Nothing. Dead. Death-watch, guard of honor, "lyke-wake." A name for the Franks. Ongentheow.

2

3

4

5

6

Haethcyn.

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"THE bloody swath of Swedes and Geats and the storm of their strife, were seen afar, how folk against folk the fight had wakened. The ancient king with his atheling band sought his citadel, sorrowing much: Ongentheow earl went up to his burg. He had tested Hygelac's hardihood, the proud one's prowess, would prove it no longer, defied no more those fighting-wanderers nor hoped from the seamen to save his hoard, his bairn and his bride: so he bent him again, old, to his earth-walls. Yet after him came with slaughter for Swedes the standards of Hygelac o'er peaceful plains in pride advancing, till Hrethelings fought in the fenced town.1 Then Ongentheow with edge of sword, the hoary-bearded, was held at bay,

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and the folk-king there was forced to suffer Eofor's anger. In ire, at the king Wulf Wonreding with weapon struck; and the chieftain's blood, for that blow, in streams flowed 'neath his hair. No fear felt he, stout old Scylfing, but straightway repaid in better bargain that bitter stroke and faced his foe with fell intent. Nor swift enough was the son of Wonred answer to render the aged chief; too soon on his head the helm was cloven; blood-bedecked he bowed to earth, and fell adown; not doomed was he yet, and well he waxed, though the wound was sore. Then the hardy Hygelac-thane,2 when his brother fell, with broad brand smote, giants' sword crashing through giants'-helm across the shield-wall: sank the king,

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Each of them had a hundred thousand3 in land and linked rings. There were many to bind the brother's wounds and lift him. fatally hurt. when home he came. and truly promised rich fee 'mid folk. 202 . hard sword hilted. But Eofor took from Ongentheow. who took the trappings. Hrethel's offspring. -. earl from other. to Eofor and Wulf a wealth of treasure. nor at less price reckoned mid-earth men such mighty deeds! And to Eofor he gave his only daughter in pledge of grace. and the hoar-chief's harness to Hygelac carried. For that grim strife gave the Geatish lord.BEOWULF XLI his folk's old herdsman.and fulfilled it so. fast as fate allowed his people to wield the place-of-war. the pride of his home. and helmet too. the iron-breastplate.

death-hate of men: so I deem it sure that the Swedish folk will seek us home for this fall of their friends. who land and hoard ever defended from all his foes. fire shall eat it.Now haste is best. No earl must carry 203 . the fighting-Scylfings. treasure at last with his life obtained. finished his course a hardy hero. -. the foeman's rage. and bear the bountiful breaker-of-rings to the funeral pyre. gold untold and gained in terror. No fragments merely shall burn with the warrior. Wealth of jewels. when once they learn that our warrior leader lifeless lies. that we go to gaze on our Geatish lord.BEOWULF XLI "Such is the feud. furthered his folk's weal. all of that booty the brands shall take.

welling with tears. the loyal man of word or of work. his feast shall praise and boast to the eagle how bravely he ate when he and the wolf were wasting the slain. The warriors rose.BEOWULF XLI memorial jewel. they climbed to the Cliff-of-Eagles. sad. went. the wonder to view. fain o'er the fallen. all mirth and revel. oft shall she pass o'er paths of exile now our lord all laughter has laid aside. but the wan-hued raven." So he told his sorrowful tidings. and little4 he lied. sad in spirit and shorn of her gold. lifted aloft. Many a spear morning-cold shall be clasped amain. 204 . No maiden fair shall wreathe her neck with noble ring: nay. nor shall lilt of harp those warriors wake.

Reckoned by feet. besides.BEOWULF XLI Found on the sand there. on earth's lap resting. and dear-decked swords eaten with rust. 205 . with flame was scorched. prone on the field. seeking its den. who had lavished rings of old upon them. loathsome. a thousand winters they waited there. dishes lay there. and anon come back. it was fifty measures in length as it lay. now in death's sure clutch it had come to the end of its earth-hall joys. stretched at rest. lying their leader near. fearful fiend. By it there stood the stoups and jars. There saw they. The fiery dragon. Aloft erewhile it had revelled by night. as. Ending-day had dawned on the doughty-one. the strangest being. death had seized in woful slaughter the Weders' king. their lifeless lord.

-.save that Heaven's King. the hoard to open. brother to Wulf Wonreding. 2 Eofor. This spell. might give whom he would. Sc.5 so the treasure-hall could be touched by none of human kind. that gold of bygone men. 3 4 5 Laid on it when it was put in the barrow.Hrethelings. -even such a man as seemed to him meet. the shield-wall or hedge of defensive war -. or in our days the "curse. God himself. "value in" hides and the weight of the gold. are Geats.i. Helper of Heroes. Not at all. -. 206 . was bound by a spell.e." either prevented discovery or brought dire ills on the finder and taker. 1 The line may mean: till Hrethelings stormed on the hedged shields. of course.BEOWULF XLI For all that heritage huge.

Wondrous seems it. who should rob their hoard. when the earl no longer in mead-hall may live with loving friends.2 and the feud was avenged in woful fashion. when that barrow's warden he sought. so that marked with sin the man should be. he1 trod who heinously hid. with a curse to doomsday covered it deep. For3 princes potent.BEOWULF XLII XLII A PERILOUS path. racked with plagues. but the grace of heaven. So Beowulf. 207 . and the struggle. in hell-bonds fast. wealth under wall! Its watcher had killed one of a few. Yet no greed for gold. hedged with horrors. that hall within. himself knew not in what wise he should wend from the world at last. it proved. who placed the gold. what manner a man of might and valor oft ends his life.

I was within there. and all I viewed. I seized such heap from the hoard as hands could bear and hurriedly carried it hither back 208 . the hest of heaven. but let him lie where he long had been in his earth-hall waiting the end of the world. the chambered treasure. oft warriors many sorrow must suffer. urged we.4 Wiglaf spake. -. the son of Weohstan: -"At the mandate of one. too grim the fate which thither carried our king and lord. Eager. king beloved! That guardian of gold he should grapple not. The people's-shepherd showed not aught of care for our counsel.This hoard is ours but grievously gotten. and so must we. when chance allowed me (and my path was made in no pleasant wise) under the earth-wall.BEOWULF XLII ever the king had kept in view.

-. ye may gaze your fill at broad-gold and rings. gathered near. our king and captain to carry thither -.where long he shall bide safe in the shelter of sovran God. Of men was he worthiest warrior wide earth o'er the while he had joy of his jewels and burg. soon made. still wielding his wits. Let the bier. the second time to see and search this store of treasure. The wise old man spake much in his sorrow.man beloved -. -where. be all in order when out we come." Then the bairn of Weohstan bade command. on the place of his balefire a barrow high. memorial mighty. 209 .the way I show you.BEOWULF XLII to my liege and lord. when he breathed no more. and sent you greetings and bade that ye build. Let us set out in haste now. these wall-hid wonders. Alive was he still.

and went with these warriors. altogether without a guardian. to heroes many that owned their homesteads. followed the barb. 210 . the best he found that band within. In hand one bore a lighted torch and led the way. " Fire shall devour and wan flames feed on the fearless warrior who oft stood stout in the iron-shower. under hostile roof. No lots they cast for keeping the hoard when once the warriors saw it in hall. when. hither to bring firewood from far -.o'er the folk they ruled -for the famed-one's funeral. featly feathered. sped from the string. one of eight." And now the sage young son of Weohstan seven chose of the chieftain's thanes. a storm of arrows shot o'er the shield-wall: the shaft held firm.BEOWULF XLII hardy chief.

4 A hard saying. Beowulf's end came. to Hrones-Ness. it is the somewhat clumsy effort of the Christian poet to tone down the heathenism of his material by an edifying observation. Ten Brink and Gering assume that the dragon is meant. variously interpreted. "Hid" may well mean here "took while in hiding. 1 Probably the fugitive is meant who discovered the hoard. from his unwitting interference with spell-bound treasure. In any case. 211 . 3 Ten Brink points out the strongly heathen character of this part of the epic. and surges swallowed that shepherd of gems." 2 That is "one and a few others. hoary hero. the worm. And little they mourned when they had hastily haled it out. dear-bought treasure! The dragon they cast. Then the woven gold on a wain was laden -countless quite! -.BEOWULF XLII lying there lost.and the king was borne. so the old tradition ran." But Beowulf seems to be indicated. o'er the wall for the wave to take.

Wailing her woe. till the fire had broken the frame of bones. and said full oft she dreaded the doleful days to come. their master's death. for Beowulf's death sung in her sorrow. as the boon he asked. and they laid amid it the mighty chieftain. and blent was the roar of flame with weeping (the wind was still). hot at the heart.BEOWULF XLIII XLIII THEN fashioned for him the folk of Geats firm on the earth a funeral-pile. the widow1 old. Wood-smoke rose black over blaze. her hair upbound. Then on the hill that hugest of balefires the warriors wakened. heroes mourning their master dear. In heavy mood their misery moaned they. and hung it with helmets and harness of war and breastplates bright. 212 .

The smoke by the sky was devoured. the worthiest ever that wit could prompt in their wisest men. and doom of battle. -. The folk of the Weders fashioned there on the headland a barrow broad and high. Then about that barrow the battle-keen rode. 213 . hardy heroes. a band of twelve. by ocean-farers far descried: in ten days' time their toil had raised it. the rounds and the rings they had reft erewhile. atheling-born. gold in the earth. where ever it lies useless to men as of yore it was. and shame.BEOWULF XLIII deaths enow. They placed in the barrow that precious booty. -trusting the ground with treasure of earls. Round brands of the pyre a wall they built. from hoard in cave. lament to make. to mourn their king. the battle-brave's beacon.

of men he was mildest and most beloved. and. for their hero's passing his hearth-companions: quoth that of all the kings of earth. took her into the bargain. 214 . when hence he goes from life in the body forlorn away. They praised his earlship. his acts of prowess worthily witnessed: and well it is that men their master-friend mightily laud. Thus made their mourning the men of Geatland. heartily love. as was usual. the end 1 Nothing is said of Beowulf's wife in the poem. to his kin the kindest. and their chieftain honor. keenest for praise.BEOWULF XLIII chant their dirge. but Bugge surmises that Beowulf finally accepted Hygd's offer of kingdom and hoard.

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