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THE TALE OF BEOWULF Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats
WILLIAM MORRIS and A. J. WYATT
Longmans, Green, and Co. 39 Paternoster Row, London New York and Bombay MCMIV
First printed at the Kelmscott Press, January 1895 Ordinary Edition . . . . . . . . . . . August 1898 Reprinted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . August 1904
CONTENTS (table added by transcriber)
Chapter I. And First of the Kindred of Hrothgar.
II. Concerning Hrothgar, and How He Built the House Called Hart. Also Grendel Is Told of.
III. How Grendel Fell Upon Hart and Wasted It.
IV. Now Comes Beowulf Ecgtheow's Son to the Land of the Danes, and the Wall-Warden Speaketh With Him.
V. Here Beowulf Makes Answer to the Land-Warden, Who Showeth Him the Way to the King's Abode.
VI. Beowulf and the Geats Come Into Hart.
VII. Beowulf Speaketh With Hrothgar, and Telleth How He Will Meet Grendel.
VIII. Hrothgar Answereth Beowulf and Biddeth Him Sit to the Feast.
IX. Unferth Contendeth in Words With Beowulf.
X. Beowulf Makes An End of His Tale of the Swimming. Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's Queen, Greets Him; and Hrothgar Delivers to Him the Warding of the Hall.
XI. Now Is Beowulf Left in the Hall Alone With His Men.
XII. Grendel Cometh Into Hart: of the Strife Betwixt Him and Beowulf.
XIII. Beowulf Hath the Victory: Grendel Is Hurt Deadly and Leaveth Hand and Arm in the Hall.
XIV. The Danes Rejoice; They Go to Look on the Slot of Grendel, and Come Back to Hart, and on the Way Make Merry With Racing and the Telling of Tales.
XV. King Hrothgar and His Thanes Look on the Arm of Grendel. Converse Betwixt Hrothgar and Beowulf Concerning the Battle.
XVI. Hrothgar Giveth Gifts to Beowulf.
XVII. They Feast in Hart. The Gleeman Sings of Finn and Hengest.
XVIII. The Ending of the Tale of Finn.
XIX. More Gifts Are Given to Beowulf. The Brising Collar Told of.
XX. Grendel's Dam Breaks Into Hart and Bears Off Aeschere.
XXI. Hrothgar Laments the Slaying of Aeschere, and Tells of Grendel's Mother and Her Den.
XXII. They Follow Grendel's Dam to Her Lair.
XXIII. Beowulf Reacheth the Mere-Bottom in A Day's While, and Contends With Grendel's Dam.
XXIV. Beowulf Slayeth Grendel's Dam, Smiteth Off Grendel's Head, and Cometh Back With His Thanes to Hart.
XXV. Converse of Hrothgar With Beowulf.
XXVI. More Converse of Hrothgar and Beowulf: the Geats Make Them Ready For Departure.
XXVII. Beowulf Bids Hrothgar Farewell: the Geats Fare to Ship.
XXVIII. Beowulf Comes Back to His Land. of the Tale of Thrytho.
XXIX. Beowulf Tells Hygelac of Hrothgar: Also of Freawaru His Daughter.
XXX. Beowulf Forebodes Ill From the Wedding of Freawaru: He Tells of Grendel and His Dam.
XXXI. Beowulf Gives Hrothgar's Gifts to Hygelac, and By Him Is Rewarded. of the Death of Hygelac and of Heardred His Son, and How Beowulf Is King of the Geats: the Worm Is First Told of.
XXXII. How the Worm Came to the Howe, and How He Was Robbed of A Cup; and How He Fell on the Folk.
XXXIII. The Worm Burns Beowulf's House, and Beowulf Gets Ready to Go Against Him. Beowulf's Early Deeds in Battle With the Hetware Told of.
XXXIV. Beowulf Goes Against the Worm. He Tells of Herebeald and Haethcyn.
XXXV. Beowulf Tells of Past Feuds, and Bids Farewell to His Fellows: He Falls on the Worm, and the Battle of Them Begins.
XXXVI. Wiglaf Son of Weohstan Goes to the Help of Beowulf: Naegling, Beowulf's Sword, Is Broken on the Worm.
XXXVII. They Two Slay the Worm. Beowulf Is Wounded Deadly: He Biddeth Wiglaf Bear Out the Treasure.
XXXVIII. Beowulf Beholdeth the Treasure and Passeth Away.
XXXIX. Wiglaf Casteth Shame on Those Fleers.
XL. Wiglaf Sendeth Tiding to the Host: the Words of the Messenger.
XLI. More Words of the Messenger. How He Fears the Swedes When They Wot of Beowulf Dead.
XLII. They Go to Look on the Field of Deed.
XLIII. Of the Burial of Beowulf.
Persons and Places
The Meaning of Some Words
Hrothgar, king of the Danes, lives happily and peacefully, and bethinks him to build a glorious hall called Hart. But a little after, one Grendel, of the kindred of the evil wights that are come of Cain, hears the merry noise of Hart and cannot abide it; so he enters thereinto by night, and slays and carries off and devours thirty of Hrothgar's thanes. Thereby he makes Hart waste for twelve years, and the tidings of this mishap are borne wide about lands. Then comes to the helping of Hrothgar Beowulf, the son of Ecgtheow, a thane of King Hygelac of the Geats, with fourteen fellows. They are met on the shore by the land-warder, and by him shown to Hart and the stead of Hrothgar, who receives them gladly, and to whom Beowulf tells his errand, that he will help him against Grendel. They feast in the hall, and one Unferth, son of Ecglaf, taunts Beowulf through jealousy that he was outdone by Breca in swimming. Beowulf tells the true tale thereof. And a little after, at nightfall, Hrothgar and his folk leave the hall Hart, and it is given in charge to Beowulf, who with his Geats abides there the coming of Grendel.
Soon comes Grendel to the hall, and slays a man of the Geats, hight Handshoe, and then grapples with Beowulf, who will use no weapon against him: Grendel feels himself over-mastered and makes for the door, and gets out, but leaves his hand and arm behind him with Beowulf: men on the wall hear the great noise of this battle and the wailing of Grendel. In the morning the Danes rejoice, and follow the bloody slot of Grendel, and return to Hart racing and telling old tales, as of Sigemund and the Worm. Then come the king and his thanes to look on the token of victory, Grendel's hand and arm, which Beowulf has let fasten: to the hall-gable.
The king praises Beowulf and rewards him, and they feast in Hart, and the tale of Finn and Hengest is told. Then Hrothgar leaves Hart, and so does Beowulf also with his Geats, but the Danes keep guard there.
In the night comes in Grendel's Mother, and catches up Aeschere, a thane of Hrothgar, and carries him off to her lair. In the morning is Beowulf fetched to Hrothgar, who tells him of this new grief and craves his help.
Then they follow up the slot and come to a great water-side, and find thereby Aeschere's head, and the place is known for the lair of those two: monsters are playing in the deep, and Beowulf shoots one of them to death. Then Beowulf dights him and leaps into the water, and is a day's while reaching the bottom. There he is straightway caught hold of by Grendel's Mother, who bears him into her hall. When he gets free he falls on her, but the edge of the sword Hrunting (lent to him by Unferth) fails him, and she casts him to the ground and draws her sax to slay him; but he rises up, and sees an old sword of the giants hanging on the wall; he takes it and smites off her head therewith. He sees Grendel lying dead, and his head also he strikes off; but the blade of the sword is molten in his venomous blood. Then Beowulf strikes upward, taking with him the head of Grendel and the hilts of the sword. When he comes to the shore he finds his Geats there alone; for the Danes fled when they saw the blood floating in the water.
They go up to Hrothgar's stead, and four men must needs bear the head. They come to Hrothgar, and Beowulf gives him the hilts and tells him what he has done. Much praise is given to Beowulf; and they feast together.
On the morrow Beowulf bids farewell to Hrothgar, more gifts are given, and messages are sent to Hygelac: Beowulf departs with the full love of Hrothgar. The Geats come to their ship and reward the ship-warder, and put off and sail to their own land. Beowulf comes to Hygelac's house. Hygelac is told of, and his wife Hygd, and her good conditions, against whom is set as a warning the evil Queen Thrytho.
Beowulf tells all the tale of his doings in full to Hygelac, and gives him his gifts, and the precious-gemmed collar to Hygd. Here is told of Beowulf, and how he was contemned in his youth, and is now grown so renowned.
Time wears; Hygelac is slain in battle; Heardred, his son, reigns in his stead, he is slain by the Swedes, and Beowulf is made king. When he is grown old, and has been king for fifty years, come new tidings. A great dragon finds on the sea-shore a mound wherein is stored the treasure of ancient folk departed. The said dragon abides there, and broods the gold for 300 years.
Now a certain thrall, who had misdone against his lord and was fleeing from his wrath, haps on the said treasure and takes a cup thence, which he brings to his lord to appease his wrath. The Worm waketh, and findeth his treasure lessened, but can find no man who hath done the deed. Therefore he turns on the folk, and wars on them, and burns Beowulf's house.
Now Beowulf will go and meet the Worm. He has an iron shield made, and sets forth with eleven men and the thrall the thirteenth. He comes to the ness, and speaks to his men, telling them of his past days, and gives them his last greeting: then he cries out a challenge to the Worm, who comes forth, and the battle begins: Beowulf's sword will not bite on the Worm. Wiglaf eggs on the others to come to Beowulf's help, and goes himself straightway, and offers himself to Beowulf; the Worm comes on again, and Beowulf breaks his sword Naegling on him, and the Worm wounds Beowulf. Wiglaf smites the Worm in the belly; Beowulf draws his ax, and between them they slay the Worm.
Beowulf now feels his wounds, and knows that he is hurt deadly; he sits down by the wall, and Wiglaf bathes his wounds. Beowulf speaks, tells how he would give his armour to his son if he had one; thanks God that he has not sworn falsely or done guilefully; and prays Wiglaf to bear out the treasure that he may see it before he dies.
Wiglaf fetches out the treasure, and again bathes Beowulf's wounds; Beowulf speaks again, rejoices over the sight of the treasure; gives to Wiglaf his ring and his armour, and bids the manner of his bale-fire. With that he passes away. Now the dastards come thereto and find Wiglaf vainly bathing his dead lord. He casteth shame upon them with great wrath. Thence he sends a messenger to the barriers of the town, who comes to the host, and tells them of the death of Beowulf. He tells withal of the old feud betwixt the Geats and the Swedes, and how these, when they hear of the death of the king, will be upon them. The warriors go to look on Beowulf, and find him and the Worm lying dead together. Wiglaf chooses out seven of them to go void the treasure-house, after having bidden them gather wood for the bale-fire. They shove the Worm over the cliff into the sea, and bear off the treasure in wains. Then they bring Beowulf's corpse to bale, and they kindle it; a woman called the wife of aforetime, it may be Hygd, widow of Hygelac, bemoans him: and twelve children of the athelings ride round the bale, and bemoan Beowulf and praise him: and thus ends the poem.
THE STORY OF BEOWULF
I. AND FIRST OF THE KINDRED OF HROTHGAR.
What! we of the Spear-Danes of yore days, so was it That we learn'd of the fair fame of kings of the folks And the athelings a-faring in framing of valour. Oft then Scyld the Sheaf-son from the hosts of the scathers, From kindreds a many the mead-settles tore; It was then the earl fear'd them, sithence was he first Found bare and all-lacking; so solace he bided, Wax'd under the welkin in worship to thrive, Until it was so that the round-about sitters All over the whale-road must hearken his will 10 And yield him the tribute. A good king was that, By whom then thereafter a son was begotten, A youngling in garth, whom the great God sent thither To foster the folk; and their crime-need he felt The load that lay on them while lordless they lived For a long while and long. He therefore, the Life-lord, The Wielder of glory, world's worship he gave him: Brim Beowulf waxed, and wide the weal upsprang Of the offspring of Scyld in the parts of the Scede-lands. Such wise shall a youngling with wealth be a-working 20 With goodly fee-gifts toward the friends of his father, That after in eld-days shall ever bide with him, Fair fellows well-willing when wendeth the war-tide, Their lief lord a-serving. By praise-deeds it shall be That in each and all kindreds a man shall have thriving. Then went his ways Scyld when the shapen while was, All hardy to wend him to the lord and his warding: Out then did they bear him to the side of the sea-flood, The dear fellows of him, as he himself pray'd them While yet his word wielded the friend of the Scyldings, 30 The dear lord of the land; a long while had he own'd it. With stem all be-ringed at the hythe stood the ship, All icy and out-fain, the Atheling's ferry. There then did they lay him, the lord well beloved, The gold-rings' bestower, within the ship's barm, The mighty by mast. Much there was the treasure, From far ways forsooth had the fret-work been led: Never heard I of keel that was comelier dighted With weapons of war, and with weed of the battle, With bills and with byrnies. There lay in his barm 40 Much wealth of the treasure that with him should be, And he into the flood's might afar to depart. No lesser a whit were the wealth-goods they dight him Of the goods of the folk, than did they who aforetime, When was the beginning, first sent him away Alone o'er the billows, and he but a youngling. Moreover they set him up there a sign golden High up overhead, and let the holm bear him, Gave all to the Spearman. Sad mind they had in them, And mourning their mood was. Now never knew men, 50 For sooth how to say it, rede-masters in hall, Or heroes 'neath heaven, to whose hands came the lading.
II. CONCERNING HROTHGAR, AND HOW HE BUILT THE HOUSE CALLED HART. ALSO GRENDEL IS TOLD OF.
In the burgs then was biding Beowulf the Scylding, Dear King of the people, for long was he dwelling Far-famed of folks (his father turn'd elsewhere, From his stead the Chief wended) till awoke to him after Healfdene the high, and long while he held it, Ancient and war-eager, o'er the glad Scyldings: Of his body four bairns are forth to him rimed; Into the world woke the leader of war-hosts 60 Heorogar; eke Hrothgar, and Halga the good; Heard I that Elan queen was she of Ongentheow, That Scylding of battle, the bed-mate behalsed. Then was unto Hrothgar the war-speed given, Such worship of war that his kin and well-willers Well hearken'd his will till the younglings were waxen, A kin-host a many. Then into his mind ran That he would be building for him now a hall-house, That men should be making a mead-hall more mighty Than the children of ages had ever heard tell of: 70 And there within eke should he be out-dealing To young and to old all things God had given, Save the share of the folk and the life-days of men. Then heard I that widely the work was a-banning To kindreds a many the Middle-garth over To fret o'er that folk-stead. So befell to him timely Right soon among men that made was it yarely The most of hall-houses, and Hart its name shap'd he, Who wielded his word full widely around. His behest he belied not; it was he dealt the rings, 80 The wealth at the high-tide. Then up rose the hall-house, High up and horn-gabled. Hot surges it bided Of fire-flame the loathly, nor long was it thenceforth Ere sorely the edge-hate 'twixt Son and Wife's Father After the slaughter-strife there should awaken. Then the ghost heavy-strong bore with it hardly E'en for a while of time, bider in darkness, That there on each day of days heard he the mirth-tide Loud in the hall-house. There was the harp's voice, And clear song of shaper. Said he who could it 90 To tell the first fashion of men from aforetime; Quoth how the Almighty One made the Earth's fashion, The fair field and bright midst the bow of the Waters, And with victory beglory'd set Sun and Moon, Bright beams to enlighten the biders on land: And how he adorned all parts of the earth With limbs and with leaves; and life withal shaped For the kindred of each thing that quick on earth wendeth. So liv'd on all happy the host of the kinsmen In game and in glee, until one wight began, 100 A fiend out of hell-pit, the framing of evil, And Grendel forsooth the grim guest was hight, The mighty mark-strider, the holder of moorland, The fen and the fastness. The stead of the fifel That wight all unhappy a while of time warded, Sithence that the Shaper him had for-written. On the kindred of Cain the Lord living ever Awreaked the murder of the slaying of Abel. In that feud he rejoic'd not, but afar him He banish'd, The Maker, from mankind for the crime he had wrought. 110 But offspring uncouth thence were they awoken Eotens and elf-wights, and ogres of ocean, And therewith the Giants, who won war against God A long while; but He gave them their wages therefor.
III. HOW GRENDEL FELL UPON HART AND WASTED IT.
Now went he a-spying, when come was the night-tide, The house on high builded, and how there the Ring-Danes Their beer-drinking over had boune them to bed; And therein he found them, the atheling fellows, Asleep after feasting. Then sorrow they knew not Nor the woe of mankind: but the wight of wealth's waning, 120 The grim and the greedy, soon yare was he gotten, All furious and fierce, and he raught up from resting A thirty of thanes, and thence aback got him Right fain of his gettings, and homeward to fare, Fulfilled of slaughter his stead to go look on. Thereafter at dawning, when day was yet early, The war-craft of Grendel to men grew unhidden, And after his meal was the weeping uphoven, Mickle voice of the morning-tide: there the Prince mighty, The Atheling exceeding good, unblithe he sat, 130 Tholing the heavy woe; thane-sorrow dreed he Since the slot of the loathly wight there they had look'd on, The ghost all accursed. O'er grisly the strife was, So loathly and longsome. No longer the frist was But after the wearing of one night; then fram'd he Murder-bales more yet, and nowise he mourned The feud and the crime; over fast therein was he. Then easy to find was the man who would elsewhere Seek out for himself a rest was more roomsome, Beds end-long the bowers, when beacon'd to him was, 140 And soothly out told by manifest token, The hate of the hell-thane. He held himself sithence Further and faster who from the fiend gat him. In such wise he rul'd it and wrought against right, But one against all, until idle was standing The best of hall-houses; and mickle the while was, Twelve winter-tides' wearing; and trouble he tholed, That friend of the Scyldings, of woes every one And wide-spreading sorrows: for sithence it fell That unto men's children unbidden 'twas known 150 Full sadly in singing, that Grendel won war 'Gainst Hrothgar a while of time, hate-envy waging, And crime-guilts and feud for seasons no few, And strife without stinting. For the sake of no kindness Unto any of men of the main-host of Dane-folk Would he thrust off the life-bale, or by fee-gild allay it, Nor was there a wise man that needed to ween The bright boot to have at the hand of the slayer. The monster the fell one afflicted them sorely, That death-shadow darksome the doughty and youthful 160 Enfettered, ensnared; night by night was he faring The moorlands the misty. But never know men Of spell-workers of Hell to and fro where they wander. So crime-guilts a many the foeman of mankind, The fell alone-farer, fram'd oft and full often, Cruel hard shames and wrongful, and Hart he abode in, The treasure-stain'd hall, in the dark of the night-tide; But never the gift-stool therein might he greet, The treasure before the Creator he trow'd not. Mickle wrack was it soothly for the friend of the Scyldings, 170 Yea heart and mood breaking. Now sat there a many Of the mighty in rune, and won them the rede Of what thing for the strong-soul'd were best of all things Which yet they might frame 'gainst the fear and the horror. And whiles they behight them at the shrines of the heathen To worship the idols; and pray'd they in words, That he, the ghost-slayer, would frame for them helping 'Gainst the folk-threats and evil So far'd they their wont, The hope of the heathen; nor hell they remember'd In mood and in mind. And the Maker they knew not, 180 The Doomer of deeds: nor of God the Lord wist they, Nor the Helm of the Heavens knew aught how to hery, The Wielder of Glory. Woe worth unto that man Who through hatred the baneful his soul shall shove into The fire's embrace; nought of fostering weens he, Nor of changing one whit. But well is he soothly That after the death-day shall seek to the Lord, In the breast of the Father all peace ever craving.
IV. NOW COMES BEOWULF ECGTHEOW'S SON TO THE LAND OF THE DANES, AND THE WALL-WARDEN SPEAKETH WITH HIM.
So care that was time-long the kinsman of Healfdene Still seeth'd without ceasing, nor might the wise warrior 190 Wend otherwhere woe, for o'er strong was the strife All loathly so longsome late laid on the people, Need-wrack and grim nithing, of night-bales the greatest. Now that from his home heard the Hygelac's thane, Good midst of the Geat-folk; of Grendel's deeds heard he. But he was of mankind of might and main mightiest In the day that we tell of, the day of this life, All noble, strong-waxen. He bade a wave-wearer Right good to be gear'd him, and quoth he that the war-king Over the swan-road he would be seeking, 200 The folk-lord far-famed, since lack of men had he. Forsooth of that faring the carles wiser-fashion'd Laid little blame on him, though lief to them was he; The heart-hardy whetted they, heeded the omen. There had the good one, e'en he of the Geat-folk, Champions out-chosen of them that he keenest Might find for his needs; and he then the fifteenth, Sought to the sound-wood. A swain thereon show'd him, A sea-crafty man, all the make of the land-marks. Wore then a while, on the waves was the floater, 210 The boat under the berg, and yare then the warriors Strode up on the stem; the streams were a-winding The sea 'gainst the sands. Upbore the swains then Up into the bark's barm the bright-fretted weapons, The war-array stately; then out the lads shov'd her, The folk on the welcome way shov'd out the wood-bound. Then by the wind driven out o'er the wave-holm Far'd the foamy-neck'd floater most like to a fowl, Till when was the same tide of the second day's wearing The wound-about-stemm'd one had waded her way, 220 So that then they that sail'd her had sight of the land, Bleak shine of the sea-cliffs, bergs steep up above, Sea-nesses wide reaching; the sound was won over, The sea-way was ended: then up ashore swiftly The band of the Weder-folk up on earth wended; They bound up the sea-wood, their sarks on them rattled, Their weed of the battle, and God there they thanked For that easy the wave-ways were waxen unto them. But now from the wall saw the Scylding-folks' warder, E'en he whom the holm-cliffs should ever be holding, 230 Men bear o'er the gangway the bright shields a-shining, Folk-host gear all ready. Then mind-longing wore him, And stirr'd up his mood to wot who were the men-folk. So shoreward down far'd he his fair steed a-riding, Hrothgar's Thane, and full strongly then set he a-quaking The stark wood in his hands, and in council-speech speer'd he: What men be ye then of them that have war-gear, With byrnies bewarded, who the keel high up-builded Over the Lake-street thus have come leading. Hither o'er holm-ways hieing in ring-stem? 240 End-sitter was I, a-holding the sea-ward, That the land of the Dane-folk none of the loathly Faring with ship-horde ever might scathe it. None yet have been seeking more openly hither Of shield-havers than ye, and ye of the leave-word Of the framers of war naught at all wotting, Or the manners of kinsmen. But no man of earls greater Saw I ever on earth than one of you yonder, The warrior in war-gear: no hall-man, so ween I, Is that weapon-beworthy'd, but his visage belie him, 250 The sight seen once only. Now I must be wotting The spring of your kindred ere further ye cast ye, And let loose your false spies in the Dane-land a-faring Yet further afield. So now, ye far-dwellers, Ye wenders o'er sea-flood, this word do ye hearken Of my one-folded thought: and haste is the handiest To do me to wit of whence is your coming.
V. HERE BEOWULF MAKES ANSWER TO THE LAND-WARDEN, WHO SHOWETH HIM THE WAY TO THE KING'S ABODE.
He then that was chiefest in thus wise he answer'd, The war-fellows' leader unlock'd he the word-hoard: We be a people of the Weder-Geats' man-kin 260 And of Hygelac be we the hearth-fellows soothly. My father before me of folks was well-famed Van-leader and atheling, Ecgtheow he hight. Many winters abode he, and on the way wended An old man from the garths, and him well remembers Every wise man well nigh wide yond o'er the earth. Through our lief mood and friendly the lord that is thine, Even Healfdene's son, are we now come a-seeking, Thy warder of folk. Learn us well with thy leading, For we have to the mighty an errand full mickle, 270 To the lord of the Dane-folk: naught dark shall it be, That ween I full surely. If it be so thou wottest, As soothly for our parts we now have heard say, That one midst of the Scyldings, who of scathers I wot not, A deed-hater secret, in the dark of the night-tide Setteth forth through the terror the malice untold of, The shame-wrong and slaughter. I therefore to Hrothgar Through my mind fashion'd roomsome the rede may now learn him, How he, old-wise and good, may get the fiend under, If once more from him awayward may turn 280 The business of bales, and the boot come again, And the weltering of care wax cooler once more; Or for ever sithence time of stress he shall thole, The need and the wronging, the while yet there abideth On the high stead aloft the best of all houses. Then spake out the warden on steed there a-sitting, The servant all un-fear'd: It shall be of either That the shield-warrior sharp the sundering wotteth, Of words and of works, if he think thereof well. I hear it thus said that this host here is friendly 290 To the lord of the Scyldings; forth fare ye then, bearing Your weed and your weapons, of the way will I wise you; Likewise mine own kinsmen I will now be bidding Against every foeman your floater before us, Your craft but new-tarred, the keel on the sand, With honour to hold, until back shall be bearing Over the lake-streams this one, the lief man, The wood of the wounden-neck back unto Wedermark. Unto such shall be granted amongst the good-doers To win the way out all whole from the war-race. 300 Then boun they to faring, the bark biding quiet; Hung upon hawser the wide-fathom'd ship Fast at her anchor. Forth shone the boar-shapes Over the check-guards golden adorned, Fair-shifting, fire-hard; ward held the farrow. Snorted the war-moody, hasten'd the warriors And trod down together until the hall timbered, Stately and gold-bestain'd, gat they to look on, That was the all-mightiest unto earth's dwellers Of halls 'neath the heavens, wherein bode the mighty; 310 Glisten'd the gleam thereof o'er lands a many. Unto them then the war-deer the court of the proud one Full clearly betaught it, that they therewithal Might wend their ways thither. Then he of the warriors Round wended his steed, and spake a word backward: Time now for my faring; but the Father All-wielder May He with all helping henceforward so hold you All whole in your wayfaring. Will I to sea-side Against the wroth folk to hold warding ever.
VI. BEOWULF AND THE GEATS COME INTO HART.
Stone-diverse the street was, straight uplong the path led 320 The warriors together. There shone the war-byrny The hard and the hand-lock'd; the ring-iron sheer Sang over their war-gear, when they to the hall first In their gear the all-fearful had gat them to ganging. So then the sea-weary their wide shields set down, Their war-rounds the mighty, against the hall's wall. Then bow'd they to bench, and rang there the byrnies, The war-weed of warriors, and up-stood the spears, The war-gear of the sea-folk all gather'd together. The ash-holt grey-headed; that host of the iron 330 With weapons was worshipful. There then a proud chief Of those lads of the battle speer'd after their line: Whence ferry ye then the shields golden-faced, The grey sarks therewith, and the helms all bevisor'd, And a heap of the war-shafts? Now am I of Hrothgar The man and the messenger: ne'er saw I of aliens So many of men more might-like of mood. I ween that for pride-sake, no wise for wrack-wending But for high might of mind, ye to Hrothgar have sought. Unto him then the heart-hardy answer'd and spake, 340 The proud earl of the Weders the word gave aback, The hardy neath helm: Now of Hygelac are we The board-fellows; Beowulf e'en is my name, And word will I say unto Healfdene's son, To the mighty, the folk-lord, what errand is mine, Yea unto thy lord, if to us he will grant it That him, who so good is, anon we may greet. Spake Wulfgar the word, a lord of the Wendels, And the mood of his heart of a many was kenned, His war and his wisdom: I therefore the Danes' friend 350 Will lightly be asking, of the lord of the Scyldings, The dealer of rings, since the boon thou art bidding, The mighty folk-lord, concerning thine errand, And swiftly the answer shall do thee to wit Which the good one to give thee aback may deem meetest. Then turn'd he in haste to where Hrothgar was sitting Right old and all hoary mid the host of his earl-folk: Went the valour-stark; stood he the shoulders before Of the Dane-lord: well could he the doughty ones' custom. So Wulfgar spake forth to his lord the well-friendly: 360 Hither are ferry'd now, come from afar off O'er the field of the ocean, a folk of the Geats; These men of the battle e'en Beowulf name they Their elder and chiefest, and to thee are they bidding That they, O dear lord, with thee may be dealing In word against word. Now win them no naysay Of thy speech again-given, O Hrothgar the glad-man: For they in their war-gear, methinketh, be worthy Of good deeming of earls; and forsooth naught but doughty Is he who hath led o'er the warriors hither. 370
VII. BEOWULF SPEAKETH WITH HROTHGAR, AND TELLETH HOW HE WILL MEET GRENDEL.
Word then gave out Hrothgar the helm of the Scyldings: I knew him in sooth when he was but a youngling, And his father, the old man, was Ecgtheow hight; Unto whom at his home gave Hrethel the Geat-lord His one only daughter; and now hath his offspring All hardy come hither a lief lord to seek him. For that word they spake then, the sea-faring men, E'en they who the gift-seat for the Geat-folk had ferry'd, Brought thither for thanks, that of thirty of menfolk The craft of might hath he within his own handgrip, 380 That war-strong of men. Now him holy God For kind help hath sent off here even to us, We men of the West Danes, as now I have weening, 'Gainst the terror of Grendel. So I to that good one For his mighty mood-daring shall the dear treasure bid. Haste now and be speedy, and bid them in straightway, The kindred-band gather'd together, to see us, And in words say thou eke that they be well comen To the folk of the Danes. To the door of the hall then Went Wulfgar, and words withinward he flitted: 390 He bade me to say you, my lord of fair battle, The elder of East-Danes, that he your blood knoweth, And that unto him are ye the sea-surges over, Ye lads hardy-hearted, well come to land hither; And now may ye wend you all in war-raiment Under the battle-mask Hrothgar to see. But here let your battle-boards yet be abiding, With your war-weed and slaughter-shafts, issue of words. Then rose up the rich one, much warriors around him, Chosen heap of the thanes, but there some abided 400 The war-gear to hold, as the wight one was bidding. Swift went they together, as the warrior there led them, Under Hart's roof: went the stout-hearted, The hardy neath helm, till he stood by the high-seat. Then Beowulf spake out, on him shone the byrny, His war-net besown by the wiles of the smith: Hail to thee, Hrothgar! I am of Hygelac Kinsman and folk-thane; fair deeds have I many Begun in my youth-tide, and this matter of Grendel On the turf of mine own land undarkly I knew. 410 'Tis the seafarers' say that standeth this hall, The best house forsooth, for each one of warriors All idle and useless, after the even-light Under the heaven-loft hidden becometh. Then lightly they learn'd me, my people, this lore, E'en the best that there be of the wise of the churls, O Hrothgar the kingly, that thee should I seek to, Whereas of the might of my craft were they cunning; For they saw me when came I from out of my wargear, Blood-stain'd from the foe whenas five had I bounden, 420 Quell'd the kin of the eotens, and in the wave slain The nicors by night-tide: strait need then I bore, Wreak'd the grief of the Weders, the woe they had gotten; I ground down the wrathful; and now against Grendel I here with the dread one alone shall be dooming, In Thing with the giant. I now then with thee, O lord of the bright Danes, will fall to my bidding, O berg of Scyldings, and bid thee one boon, Which, O refuge of warriors, gainsay me not now, Since, O free friend of folks, from afar have I come, 430 That I alone, I and my band of the earls, This hard heap of men, may cleanse Hart of ill. This eke have I heard say, that he, the fell monster, In his wan-heed recks nothing of weapons of war; Forgo I this therefore (if so be that Hygelac Will still be my man-lord, and he blithe of mood) To bear the sword with me, or bear the broad shield, Yellow-round to the battle; but with naught save the hand-grip With the foe shall I grapple, and grope for the life The loathly with loathly. There he shall believe 440 In the doom of the Lord whom death then shall take. Now ween I that he, if he may wield matters, E'en there in the war-hall the folk of the Geats Shall eat up unafear'd, as oft he hath done it With the might of the Hrethmen: no need for thee therefore My head to be hiding; for me will he have With gore all bestain'd, if the death of men get me; He will bear off my bloody corpse minded to taste it; Unmournfully then will the Lone-goer eat it, Will blood-mark the moor-ways; for the meat of my body 450 Naught needest thou henceforth in any wise grieve thee. But send thou to Hygelac, if the war have me, The best of all war-shrouds that now my breast wardeth, The goodliest of railings, the good gift of Hrethel, The hand-work of Weland. Weird wends as she willeth.
VIII. HROTHGAR ANSWERETH BEOWULF AND BIDDETH HIM SIT TO THE FEAST.
Spake out then Hrothgar the helm of the Scyldings: Thou Beowulf, friend mine, for battle that wardeth And for help that is kindly hast sought to us hither. Fought down thy father the most of all feuds; To Heatholaf was he forsooth for a hand-bane 460 Amidst of the Wylfings. The folk of the Weders Him for the war-dread that while might not hold. So thence did he seek to the folk of the South-Danes O'er the waves' wallow, to the Scyldings be-worshipped. Then first was I wielding the weal of the Dane-folk, That time was I holding in youth-tide the gem-rich Hoard-burg of the heroes. Dead then was Heorogar, Mine elder of brethren; unliving was he, The Healfdene's bairn that was better than I. That feud then thereafter with fee did I settle; 470 I sent to the Wylfing folk over the waters' back Treasures of old time; he swore the oaths to me. Sorrow is in my mind that needs must I say it To any of grooms, of Grendel what hath he Of shaming in Hart, and he with his hate-wiles Of sudden harms framed; the host of my hall-floor, The war-heap, is waned; Weird swept them away Into horror of Grendel. It is God now that may lightly The scather the doltish from deeds thrust aside. Full oft have they boasted with beer well bedrunken, 480 My men of the battle all over the ale-stoup, That they in the beer-hall would yet be abiding The onset of Grendel with the terror of edges. But then was this mead-hall in the tide of the morning, This warrior-hall, gore-stain'd when day at last gleamed, All the boards of the benches with blood besteam'd over, The hall laid with sword-gore: of lieges less had I Of dear and of doughty, for them death had gotten. Now sit thou to feast and unbind thy mood freely, Thy war-fame unto men as the mind of thee whetteth. 490 Then was for the Geat-folk and them all together There in the beer-hall a bench bedight roomsome, There the stout-hearted hied them to sitting Proud in their might: a thane minded the service, Who in hand upbare an ale-stoup adorned, Skinked the sheer mead; whiles sang the shaper Clear out in Hart-hall; joy was of warriors, Men doughty no little of Danes and of Weders.
IX. UNFERTH CONTENDETH IN WORDS WITH BEOWULF.
Spake out then Unferth that bairn was of Ecglaf, And he sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, 500 He unbound the battle-rune; was Beowulf's faring, Of him the proud mere-farer, mickle unliking, Whereas he begrudg'd it of any man other That he glories more mighty the middle-garth over Should hold under heaven than he himself held: Art thou that Beowulf who won strife with Breca On the wide sea contending in swimming, When ye two for pride's sake search'd out the floods And for a dolt's cry into deep water Thrust both your life-days? No man the twain of you, 510 Lief or loth were he, might lay wyte to stay you Your sorrowful journey, when on the sea row'd ye; Then when the ocean-stream ye with your arms deck'd, Meted the mere-streets, there your hands brandish'd! O'er the Spearman ye glided; the sea with waves welter'd, The surge of the winter. Ye twain in the waves' might For a seven nights swink'd. He outdid thee in swimming, And the more was his might; but him in the morn-tide To the Heatho-Remes' land the holm bore ashore. And thence away sought he to his dear land and lovely, 520 The lief to his people sought the land of the Brondings, The fair burg peace-warding, where he the folk owned, The burg and the gold rings. What to theeward he boasted, Beanstan's son, for thee soothly he brought it about. Now ween I for thee things worser than erewhile, Though thou in the war-race wert everywhere doughty, In the grim war, if thou herein Grendel darest Night-long for a while of time nigh to abide. Then Beowulf spake out, the Ecgtheow's bairn: What! thou no few of things, O Unferth my friend, 530 And thou drunken with beer, about Breca hast spoken, Saidest out of his journey; so the sooth now I tell: To wit, that the more might ever I owned, Hard wearing on wave more than any man else. We twain then, we quoth it, while yet we were younglings, And we boasted between us, the twain of us being yet In our youth-days, that we out onto the Spearman Our lives would adventure; and e'en so we wrought It. We had a sword naked, when on the sound row'd we, Hard in hand, as we twain against the whale-fishes 540 Had mind to be warding us. No whit from me In the waves of the sea-flood afar might he float The hastier in holm, nor would I from him hie me. Then we two together, we were in the sea For a five nights, till us twain the flood drave asunder, The weltering of waves. Then the coldest of weathers In the dusking of night and the wind from the northward Battle-grim turn'd against us, rough grown were the billows. Of the mere-fishes then was the mood all up-stirred; There me 'gainst the loathly the body-sark mine, 550 The hard and the hand-lock'd, was framing me help, My battle-rail braided, it lay on my breast Gear'd graithly with gold. But me to the ground tugg'd A foe and fiend-scather; fast he had me In hold That grim one in grip: yet to me was it given. That the wretch there, the monster, with point might I reach, With my bill of the battle, and the war-race off bore The mighty mere-beast through the hand that was mine.
X. BEOWULF MAKES AN END OF HIS TALE OF THE SWIMMING. WEALHTHEOW, HROTHGAR'S QUEEN, GREETS HIM; AND HROTHGAR DELIVERS TO HIM THE WARDING OF THE HALL.
Thus oft and oft over the doers of evil They threatened me hard; thane-service I did them 560 With the dear sword of mine, as forsooth it was meet, That nowise of their fill did they win them the joy The evil fordoers in swallowing me down, Sitting round at the feast nigh the ground of the sea. Yea rather, a morning-tide, mangled by sword-edge Along the waves' leaving up there did they lie Lull'd asleep with the sword, so that never sithence About the deep floods for the farers o'er ocean The way have they letted. Came the light from the eastward, The bright beacon of God, and grew the seas calm, 570 So that the sea-nesses now might I look on, The windy walls. Thuswise Weird oft will be saving The earl that is unfey, when his valour availeth. Whatever, it happ'd me that I with the sword slew Nicors nine. Never heard I of fighting a night-tide 'Neath the vault of the heavens was harder than that, Nor yet on the sea-streams of woefuller wight. Whatever, forth won I with life from the foes' clutch All of wayfaring weary. But me the sea upbore, The flood downlong the tide with the weltering of waters, 580 All onto the Finnland. No whit of thee ever Mid such strife of the battle-gear have I heard say, Such terrors of bills. Nor never yet Breca In the play of the battle, nor both you, nor either, So dearly the deeds have framed forsooth With the bright flashing swords; though of this naught I boast me. But thou of thy brethren the banesman becamest, Yea thine head-kin forsooth, for which in hell shalt thou Dree weird of damnation, though doughty thy wit be; For unto thee say I forsooth, son of Ecglaf, 590 That so many deeds never Grendel had done, That monster the loathly, against thine own lord, The shaming in Hart-hall, if suchwise thy mind were, And thy soul e'en as battle-fierce, such as thou sayest. But he, he hath fram'd it that the feud he may heed not, The fearful edge-onset that is of thy folk, Nor sore need be fearful of the Victory-Scyldings. The need-pledges taketh he, no man he spareth Of the folk of the Danes, driveth war as he lusteth, Slayeth and feasteth unweening of strife 600 With them of the Spear-Danes. But I, I shall show it, The Geats' wightness and might ere the time weareth old, Shall bide him in war-tide. Then let him go who may go High-hearted to mead, sithence when the morn-light O'er the children of men of the second day hence, The sun clad in heaven's air, shines from the southward. Then merry of heart was the meter of treasures, The hoary-man'd war-renown'd, help now he trow'd in; The lord of the Bright-Danes on Beowulf hearken'd, The folk-shepherd knew him, his fast-ready mind. 610 There was laughter of heroes, and high the din rang And winsome the words were. Went Wealhtheow forth, The Queen she of Hrothgar, of courtesies mindful, The gold-array'd greeted the grooms in the hall, The free and frank woman the beaker there wended, And first to the East-Dane-folk's fatherland's warder, And bade him be blithe at the drinking of beer, To his people beloved, and lustily took he The feast and the hall-cup, that victory-fam'd King. Then round about went she, the Dame of the Helmings, 620 And to doughty and youngsome, each deal of the folk there, Gave cups of the treasure, till now it betid That to Beowulf duly the Queen the ring-dighted, Of mind high uplifted, the mead-beaker bare. Then she greeted the Geat-lord, and gave God the thank, She, the wisefast In words, that the will had wax'd in her In one man of the earls to have trusting and troth For comfort from crimes. But the cup then he took, The slaughter-fierce warrior, from Wealhtheow the Queen. And then rim'd he the word, making ready for war, 630 And Beowulf spake forth, the Ecgtheow's bairn: E'en that in mind had I when up on holm strode I, And in sea-boat sat down with a band of my men, That for once and for all the will of your people Would I set me to work, or on slaughter-field cringe Fast in grip of the fiend; yea and now shall I frame The valour of earl-folk, or else be abiding The day of mine end, here down in the mead-hall. To the wife those his words well liking they were, The big word of the Geat; and the gold-adorn'd wended, 640 The frank and free Queen to sit by her lord. And thereafter within the high hall was as erst The proud word outspoken and bliss on the people, Was the sound of the victory-folk, till on a sudden The Healfdene's son would now be a-seeking His rest of the even: wotted he for the Evil Within the high hall was the Hild-play bedight, Sithence that the sun-light no more should they see, When night should be darkening, and down over all The shapes of the shadow-helms should be a-striding 650 Wan under the welkin. Uprose then all war-folk; Then greeted the glad-minded one man the other, Hrothgar to Beowulf, bidding him hail, And the wine-hall to wield, and withal quoth the word: Never to any man erst have I given, Since the hand and the shield's round aloft might I heave, This high hall of the Dane-folk, save now unto thee. Have now and hold the best of all houses, Mind thee of fame, show the might of thy valour! Wake the wroth one: no lack shall there be to thy willing 660 If that wight work thou win and life therewithal.
XI. NOW IS BEOWULF LEFT IN THE HALL ALONE WITH HIS MEN.
Then wended him Hrothgar with the band of his warriors, The high-ward of the Scyldings from out of the hall, For then would the war-lord go seek unto Wealhtheow The Queen for a bed-mate. The glory of king-folk Against Grendel had set, as men have heard say, A hall-ward who held him a service apart In the house of the Dane-lord, for eoten-ward held he. Forsooth he, the Geat-lord, full gladly he trowed In the might of his mood and the grace of the Maker. 670 Therewith he did off him his byrny of iron And the helm from his head, and his dighted sword gave, The best of all irons, to the thane that abode him, And bade him to hold that harness of battle. Bespake then the good one, a big word he gave out, Beowulf the Geat, ere on the bed strode he: Nowise in war I deem me more lowly In the works of the battle than Grendel, I ween; So not with the sword shall I lull him to slumber, Or take his life thuswise, though to me were it easy; 680 Of that good wise he wots not, to get the stroke on me, To hew on my shield, for as stark as he shall be In the works of the foeman. So we twain a night-tide Shall forgo the sword, if he dare yet to seek The war without weapons. Sithence the wise God, The Lord that is holy, on which hand soever The glory may doom as due to him seemeth. Bowed down then the war-deer, the cheek-bolster took The face of the earl; and about him a many Of sea-warriors bold to their hall-slumber bow'd them; 690 No one of them thought that thence away should he Seek ever again to his home the beloved, His folk or his free burg, where erst he was fed; For of men had they learn'd that o'er mickle a many In that wine-hall aforetime the fell death had gotten Of the folk of the Danes; but the Lord to them gave it, To the folk of the Weders, the web of war-speeding, Help fair and good comfort, e'en so that their foeman Through the craft of one man all they overcame, By the self-might of one. So is manifest truth 700 That God the Almighty the kindred of men Hath wielded wide ever. Now by wan night there came, There strode in the shade-goer; slept there the shooters, They who that horn-house should be a-holding, All men but one man: to men was that known, That them indeed might not, since will'd not the Maker, The scather unceasing drag off 'neath the shadow; But he ever watching in wrath 'gainst the wroth one Mood-swollen abided the battle-mote ever.
XII. GRENDEL COMETH INTO HART: OF THE STRIFE BETWIXT HIM AND BEOWULF.
Came then from the moor-land, all under the mist-bents, 710 Grendel a-going there, bearing God's anger. The scather the ill one was minded of mankind To have one in his toils from the high hall aloft. 'Neath the welkin he waded, to the place whence the wine-house, The gold-hall of men, most yarely he wist With gold-plates fair coloured; nor was it the first time That he unto Hrothgar's high home had betook him. Never he in his life-days, either erst or thereafter, Of warriors more hardy or hall-thanes had found. Came then to the house the wight on his ways, 720 Of all joys bereft; and soon sprang the door open, With fire-bands made fast, when with hand he had touch'd it; Brake the bale-heedy, he with wrath bollen, The mouth of the house there, and early thereafter On the shiny-fleck'd floor thereof trod forth the fiend; On went he then mood-wroth, and out from his eyes stood Likest to fire-flame light full unfair. In the high house beheld he a many of warriors, A host of men sib all sleeping together, Of man-warriors a heap; then laugh'd out his mood; 730 In mind deem'd he to sunder, or ever came day, The monster, the fell one, from each of the men there The life from the body; for befell him a boding Of fulfilment of feeding: but weird now it was not That he any more of mankind thenceforward Should eat, that night over. Huge evil beheld then The Hygelac's kinsman, and how the foul scather All with his fear-grips would fare there before him; How never the monster was minded to tarry, For speedily gat he, and at the first stour, 740 A warrior a-sleeping, and unaware slit him, Bit his bone-coffer, drank blood a-streaming, Great gobbets swallow'd in; thenceforth soon had he Of the unliving one every whit eaten To hands and feet even: then forth strode he nigher, And took hold with his hand upon him the highhearted. The warrior a-resting; reach'd out to himwards The fiend with his hand, gat fast on him rathely With thought of all evil, and besat him his arm. Then swiftly was finding the herdsman of fouldeeds 750 That forsooth he had met not in Middle-garth ever, In the parts of the earth, in any man else A hand-grip more mighty; then wax'd he of mood Heart-fearful, but none the more outward might he; Hence-eager his heart was to the darkness to hie him, And the devil-dray seek: not there was his service E'en such as he found in his life-days before. Then to heart laid the good one, the Hygelac's kinsman, His speech of the even-tide; uplong he stood And fast with him grappled, till bursted his fingers. 760 The eoten was out-fain, but on strode the earl. The mighty fiend minded was, whereso he might, To wind him about more widely away thence, And flee fenwards; he found then the might of his fingers In the grip of the fierce one; sorry faring was that Which he, the harm-scather, had taken to Hart. The warrior-hall dinn'd now; unto all Danes there waxed, To the castle-abiders, to each of the keen ones, To all earls, as an ale-dearth. Now angry were both Of the fierce mighty warriors, far rang out the hall-house; 770 Then mickle the wonder it was that the wine-hall Withstood the two war-deer, nor welter'd to earth The fair earthly dwelling; but all fast was it builded Within and without with the banding of iron By crafty thought smithy'd. But there from the sill bow'd Fell many a mead-bench, by hearsay of mine, With gold well adorned, where strove they the wrothful. Hereof never ween'd they, the wise of the Scyldings, That ever with might should any of men The excellent, bone-dight, break into pieces, 780 Or unlock with cunning, save the light fire's embracing In smoke should it swallow. So uprose the roar New and enough; now fell on the North-Danes Ill fear and the terror, on each and on all men, Of them who from wall-top hearken'd the weeping, Even God's foeman singing the fear-lay, The triumphless song, and the wound-bewailing Of the thrall of the Hell; for there now fast held him He who of men of main was the mightiest In that day which is told of, the day of this life. 790
XIII. BEOWULF HATH THE VICTORY: GRENDEL IS HURT DEADLY AND LEAVETH HAND AND ARM IN THE HALL.
Naught would the earls' help for anything thenceforth That murder-comer yet quick let loose of, Nor his life-days forsooth to any of folk Told he for useful. Out then drew full many Of Beowult's earls the heir-loom of old days, For their lord and their master's fair life would hey ward, That mighty of princes, if so might they do it. For this did they know not when they the strife dreed, Those hardy-minded men of the battle, And on every half there thought to be hewing, 800 And search out his soul, that the ceaseless scather Not any on earth of the choice of all irons, Not one of the war-bills, would greet home for ever. For he had forsworn him from victory-weapons, And each one of edges. But his sundering of soul In the days that we tell of, the day of this life, Should be weary and woeful, the ghost wending elsewhere To the wielding of fiends to wend him afar. Then found he out this, he who mickle erst made Out of mirth of his mood unto children of men 810 And had fram'd many crimes, he the foeman of God, That the body of him would not bide to avail him, But the hardy of mood, even Hygelac's kinsman, Had him fast by the hand: now was each to the other All loathly while living: his body-sore bided The monster: was manifest now on his shoulder The unceasing wound, sprang the sinews asunder, The bone-lockers bursted. To Beowulf now Was the battle-fame given; should Grendel thenceforth Flee life-sick awayward and under the fen-bents 820 Seek his unmerry stead: now wist he more surely That ended his life was, and gone over for ever, His day-tale told out. But was for all Dane-folk After that slaughter-race all their will done. Then had he cleans'd for them, he the far-comer, Wise and stout-hearted, the high hall of Hrothgar, And say'd it from war. So the night-work he joy'd in And his doughty deed done. Yea, but he for the East-Danes That lord of the Geat-folk his boast's end had gotten, Withal their woes bygone all had he booted, 830 And the sorrow hate-fashion'd that afore they had dreed, And the hard need and bitter that erst they must bear, The sorrow unlittle. Sithence was clear token When the deer of the battle laid down there the hand The arm and the shoulder, and all there together Of the grip of that Grendel 'neath the great roof upbuilded.
XIV. THE DANES REJOICE; THEY GO TO LOOK ON THE SLOT OF GRENDEL, AND COME BACK TO HART, AND ON THE WAY MAKE MERRY WITH RACING AND THE TELLING OF TALES.
There was then on the morning, as I have heard tell it, Round the gift-hall a many of men of the warriors: Were faring folk-leaders from far and from near O'er the wide-away roads the wonder to look on, 840 The track of the loathly: his life-sundering nowise Was deem'd for a sorrow to any of men there Who gaz'd on the track of the gloryless wight; How he all a-weary of mood thence awayward, Brought to naught in the battle, to the mere of the nicors, Now fey and forth-fleeing, his life-steps had flitted. There all in the blood was the sea-brim a-welling, The dread swing of the waves was washing all mingled With hot blood; with the gore of the sword was it welling; The death-doom'd had dyed it, sithence he unmerry 850 In his fen-hold had laid down the last of his life, His soul of the heathen, and hell gat hold on him. Thence back again far'd they those fellows of old, With many a young one, from their wayfaring merry, Full proud from the mere-side on mares there a-riding The warriors on white steeds. There then was of Beowulf Set forth the might mighty; oft quoth it a many That nor northward nor southward beside the twin sea-floods, Over all the huge earth's face now never another, Never under the heaven's breadth, was there a better, 860 Nor of wielders of war-shields a worthier of kingship; But neither their friendly lord blam'd they one whit, Hrothgar the glad, for good of kings was he. There whiles the warriors far-famed let leap Their fair fallow horses and fare into flyting Where unto them the earth-ways for fair-fashion'd seemed, Through their choiceness well kenned; and whiles a king's thane, A warrior vaunt-laden, of lays grown bemindful, E'en he who all many of tales of the old days A multitude minded, found other words also 870 Sooth-bounden, and boldly the man thus began E'en Beowulf's wayfare well wisely to stir, With good speed to set forth the spells well areded And to shift about words. And well of all told he That he of Sigemund erst had heard say, Of the deeds of his might; and many things uncouth: Of the strife of the Waelsing and his wide wayfarings, Of those that men's children not well yet they wist, The feud and the crimes, save Fitela with him; Somewhat of such things yet would he say, 880 The eme to the nephew; e'en as they aye were In all strife soever fellows full needful; And full many had they of the kin of the eotens Laid low with the sword. And to Sigemund upsprang After his death-day fair doom unlittle Sithence that the war-hard the Worm there had quelled, The herd of the hoard; he under the hoar stone, The bairn of the Atheling, all alone dar'd it, That wight deed of deeds; with him Fitela was not. But howe'er, his hap was that the sword so through-waded 890 The Worm the all-wondrous, that in the wall stood The iron dear-wrought: and the drake died the murder. There had the warrior so won by wightness, That he of the ring-hoard the use might be having All at his own will. The sea-boat he loaded, And into the ship's barm bore the bright fretwork Waels' son. In the hotness the Worm was to-molten. Now he of all wanderers was widely the greatest Through the peoples of man-kind, the warder of warriors, By mighty deeds; erst then and early he throve. 900 Now sithence the warfare of Heremod waned, His might and his valour, amidst of the eotens To the wielding of foemen straight was he betrayed, And speedily sent forth: by the surges of sorrow O'er-long was he lam'd, became he to his lieges, To all of the athelings, a life-care thenceforward. Withal oft bemoaned in times that were older The ways of that stout heart many a carle of the wisest. Who trow'd in him boldly for booting of bales, And had look'd that the king's bairn should ever be thriving, 910 His father's own lordship should take, hold the folk, The hoard and the ward-burg, and realm of the heroes, The own land of the Scyldings. To all men was Beowulf, The Hygelac's kinsman to the kindred of menfolk, More fair unto friends; but on Heremod crime fell. So whiles the men flyting the fallow street there With their mares were they meting. There then was the morn-light Thrust forth and hasten'd; went many a warrior All hardy of heart to the high hall aloft The rare wonder to see; and the King's self withal 920 From the bride-bower wended, the warder of ring-hoards, All glorious he trod and a mickle troop had he, He for choice ways beknown; and his Queen therewithal Meted the mead-path with a meyny of maidens.
XV. KING HROTHGAR AND HIS THANES LOOK ON THE ARM OF GRENDEL. CONVERSE BETWIXT HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF CONCERNING THE BATTLE.
Out then spake Hrothgar; for he to the hall went, By the staple a-standing the steep roof he saw Shining fair with the gold, and the hand there of Grendel: For this sight that I see to the All-wielder thanks Befall now forthwith, for foul evil I bided, All griefs from this Grendel; but God, glory's Herder, 930 Wonder on wonder ever can work. Unyore was it then when I for myself Might ween never more, wide all through my life-days, Of the booting of woes; when all blood-besprinkled The best of all houses stood sword-gory here; Wide then had the woe thrust off each of the wise Of them that were looking that never life-long That land-work of the folk they might ward from the loathly, From ill wights and devils. But now hath a warrior Through the might of the Lord a deed made thereunto 940 Which we, and all we together, in nowise By wisdom might work. What! well might be saying That maid whosoever this son brought to birth According to man's kind, if yet she be living, That the Maker of old time to her was all-gracious In the bearing of bairns. O Beowulf, I now Thee best of all men as a son unto me Will love in my heart, and hold thou henceforward Our kinship new-made now; nor to thee shall be lacking As to longings of world-goods whereof I have wielding; 950 Full oft I for lesser things guerdon have given, The worship of hoards, to a warrior was weaker, A worser in strife. Now thyself for thyself By deeds hast thou fram'd it that liveth thy fair fame For ever and ever. So may the All-wielder With good pay thee ever, as erst he hath done it. Then Beowulf spake out, the Ecgtheow's bairn: That work of much might with mickle of love We framed with fighting, and frowardly ventur'd The might of the uncouth; now I would that rather 960 Thou mightest have look'd on the very man there, The foe in his fret-gear all worn unto falling. There him in all haste with hard griping did I On the slaughter-bed deem it to bind him indeed, That he for my hand-grip should have to be lying All busy for life: but his body fled off. Him then, I might not (since would not the Maker) From his wayfaring sunder, nor naught so well sought I The life-foe; o'er-mickle of might was he yet, The foeman afoot: but his hand has he left us, 970 A life-ward, a-warding the ways of his wending, His arm and his shoulder therewith. Yet in nowise That wretch of the grooms any solace hath got him, Nor longer will live the loathly deed-doer, Beswinked with sins; for the sore hath him now In the grip of need grievous, in strait hold togather'd With bonds that be baleful: there shall he abide, That wight dyed with all evil-deeds, the doom mickle, For what wise to him the bright Maker will write it. Then a silenter man was the son there of Ecglaf 980 In the speech of the boasting of works of the battle, After when every atheling by craft of the earl Over the high roof had look'd on the hand there, Yea, the fiend's fingers before his own eyen, Each one of the nail-steads most like unto steel, Hand-spur of the heathen one; yea, the own claw Uncouth of the war-wight. But each one there quoth it, That no iron of the best, of the hardy of folk, Would touch him at all, which e'er of the monster The battle-hand bloody might bear away thence. 990
XVI. HROTHGAR GIVETH GIFTS TO BEOWULF.
Then was speedily bidden that Hart be withinward By hand of man well adorn'd; was there a many Of warriors and wives, who straightway that wine-house The guest-house, bedight them: there gold-shotten shone The webs over the walls, many wonders to look on For men every one who on such things will stare. Was that building the bright all broken about All withinward, though fast in the bands of the iron; Asunder the hinges rent, only the roof there Was saved all sound, when the monster of evil 1000 The guilty of crime-deeds had gat him to flight Never hoping for life. Nay, lightly now may not That matter be fled from, frame it whoso may frame it. But by strife man shall win of the bearers of souls, Of the children of men, compelled by need, The abiders on earth, the place made all ready, The stead where his body laid fast on his death-bed Shall sleep after feast. Now time and place was it When unto the hall went that Healfdene's son, And the King himself therein the feast should be sharing; 1010 Never heard I of men-folk in fellowship more About their wealth-giver so well themselves bearing. Then bow'd unto bench there the abounders in riches And were fain of their fill. Full fairly there took A many of mead-cups the kin of those men, The sturdy of heart in the hall high aloft, Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Hart there withinward Of friends was fulfilled; naught there that was guilesome The folk of the Scyldings for yet awhile framed. Gave then to Beowulf Healfdene's bairn 1020 A golden war-ensign, the victory's guerdon, A staff-banner fair-dight, a helm and a byrny: The great jewel-sword a many men saw them Bear forth to the hero. Then Beowulf took The cup on the floor, and nowise of that fee-gift Before the shaft-shooters the shame need he have. Never heard I how friendlier four of the treasures, All gear'd with the gold about, many men erewhile On the ale-bench have given to others of men. Round the roof of the helm, the burg of the head, 1030 A wale wound with wires held ward from without-ward, So that the file-leavings might not over fiercely, Were they never so shower-hard, scathe the shield-bold, When he 'gainst the angry in anger should get him. Therewith bade the earls' burg that eight of the horses With cheek-plates adorned be led down the floor In under the fences; on one thereof stood A saddle all craft-bedeck'd, seemly with treasure. That same was the war-seat of the high King full surely Whenas that the sword-play that Healfdene's son 1040 Would work; never failed in front of the war The wide-kenn'd one's war-might, whereas fell the slain. So to Beowulf thereon of either of both The Ingwines' high warder gave wielding to have, Both the war-steeds and weapons, and bade him well brook them. Thuswise and so manly the mighty of princes, Hoard-warden of heroes, the battle-race paid With mares and with gems, so as no man shall blame them, E'en he who will say sooth aright as it is.
XVII. THEY FEAST IN HART. THE GLEEMAN SINGS OF FINN AND HENGEST.
Then the lord of the earl-folk to every and each one 1050 Of them who with Beowulf the sea-ways had worn Then and there on the mead-bench did handsel them treasure, An heir-loom to wit; for him also he bade it That a were-gild be paid, whom Grendel aforetime By wickedness quell'd, as far more of them would he, Save from them God all-witting the weird away wended, And that man's mood withal. But the Maker all wielded Of the kindred of mankind, as yet now he doeth. Therefore through-witting will be the best everywhere And the forethought of mind. Many things must abide 1060 Of lief and of loth, he who here a long while In these days of the strife with the world shall be dealing. There song was and sound all gather'd together Of that Healfdene's warrior and wielder of battle, The wood of glee greeted, the lay wreaked often, Whenas the hall-game the minstrel of Hrothgar All down by the mead-bench tale must be making: By Finn's sons aforetime, when the fear gat them, The hero of Half-Danes, Hnaef of the Scyldings, On the slaughter-field Frisian needs must he fall. 1070 Forsooth never Hildeburh needed to hery The troth of the Eotens; she all unsinning Was lorne of her lief ones in that play of the linden, Her bairns and her brethren, by fate there they fell Spear-wounded. That was the all-woeful of women. Not unduly without cause the daughter of Hoc Mourn'd the Maker's own shaping, sithence came the morn When she under the heavens that tide came to see, Murder-bale of her kinsmen, where most had she erewhile? Of world's bliss. The war-tide took all men away 1080 Of Finn's thanes that were, save only a few; E'en so that he might not on the field of the meeting Hold Hengest a war-tide, or fight any whit, Nor yet snatch away thence by war the woe-leavings From the thane of the King; but terms now they bade him That for them other stead all for all should make room, A hall and high settle, whereof the half-wielding They with the Eotens' bairns henceforth might hold, And with fee-gifts moreover the son of Folkwalda Each day of the days the Danes should beworthy; 1090 The war-heap of Hengest with rings should he honour Even so greatly with treasure of treasures, Of gold all beplated, as he the kin Frisian Down in the beer-hall duly should dight. Troth then they struck there each of the two halves, A peace-troth full fast. There Finn unto Hengest Strongly, unstrifeful, with oath-swearing swore, That he the woe-leaving by the doom of the wise ones Should hold in ail honour, that never man henceforth With word or with work the troth should be breaking, 1100 Nor through craft of the guileful should undo it ever, Though their ring-giver's bane they must follow in rank All lordless, e'en so need is it to be: But if any of Frisians by over-bold speaking The murderful hatred should call unto mind, Then naught but the edge of the sword should avenge it. Then done was the oath there, and gold of the golden Heav'd up from the hoard. Of the bold Here-Scyldings All yare on the bale was the best battle-warrior; On the death-howe beholden was easily there 1110 The sark stain'd with war-sweat, the all-golden swine, The iron-hard boar; there was many an atheling With wounds all outworn; some on slaughter-field welter'd. But Hildeburh therewith on Hnaef's bale she bade them The own son of herself to set fast in the flame, His bone-vats to burn up and lay on the bale there: On his shoulder all woeful the woman lamented, Sang songs of bewailing, as the warrior strode upward, Wound up to the welkin that most of death-fires, Before the howe howled; there molten the heads were, 1120 The wound-gates burst open, there blood was out-springing From foe-bites of the body; the flame swallow'd all, The greediest of ghosts, of them that war gat him Of either of folks; shaken off was their life-breath.
XVIII. THE ENDING OF THE TALE OF FINN.
Departed the warriors their wicks to visit All forlorn of their friends now, Friesland to look on, Their homes and their high burg. Hengest a while yet Through the slaughter-dyed winter bode dwelling with Finn And all without strife: he remember'd his homeland, Though never he might o'er the mere be a-driving 1130 The high prow be-ringed: with storm the holm welter'd, Won war 'gainst the winds; winter locked the waves With bondage of ice, till again came another Of years into the garth, as yet it is ever, And the days which the season to watch never cease, The glory-bright weather; then gone was the winter, And fair was the earth's barm. Now hastened the exile. The guest from the garths; he on getting of vengeance Of harms thought more greatly than of the sea's highway, If he but a wrath-mote might yet be a-wending 1140 Where the bairns of the Eotens might he still remember. The ways of the world forwent he in nowise Then, whenas Hunlafing the light of the battle, The best of all bills, did into his breast, Whereof mid the Eotens were the edges well knowen. Withal to the bold-hearted Finn befell after Sword-bales the deadly at his very own dwelling, When the grim grip of war Guthlaf and Oslaf After the sea-fare lamented with sorrow And wyted him deal of their woes; nor then might he 1150 In his breast hold his wavering heart. Was the hall dight With the lives of slain foemen, and slain eke was Finn The King 'midst of his court-men; and there the Queen, taken, The shooters of the Scyldings ferry'd down to the sea-ships, And the house-wares and chattels the earth-king had had, E'en such as at Finn's home there might they find, Of collars and cunning gems. They on the sea-path The all-lordly wife to the Danes straightly wended, Led her home to their people. So sung was the lay, The song of the gleeman; then again arose game, 1160 The bench-voice wax'd brighter, gave forth the birlers Wine of the wonder-vats. Then came forth Wealhtheow Under gold ring a-going to where sat the two good ones, The uncle and nephew, yet of kindred unsunder'd, Each true to the other. Eke Unferth the spokesman Sat at feet of the Scyldings' lord; each of his heart trow'd That of mickle mood was he, though he to his kinsmen Were un-upright in edge-play. Spake the dame of the Scyldings: Now take thou this cup, my lord of the kingly, Bestower of treasures! Be thou in thy joyance, 1170 Thou gold-friend of men! and speak to these Geat-folk In mild words, as duly behoveth to do; Be glad toward the Geat-folk, and mindful of gifts; From anigh and from far peace hast thou as now. To me one hath said it, that thou for a son wouldst This warrior be holding. Lo! Hart now is cleansed, The ring-hall bright-beaming. Have joy while thou mayest In many a meed, and unto thy kinsmen Leave folk and dominion, when forth thou must fare To look on the Maker's own making. I know now 1180 My Hrothulf the gladsome, that he this young man Will hold in all honour if thou now before him, O friend of the Scyldings, shall fare from the world; I ween that good-will yet this man will be yielding To our offspring that after us be, if he mind him Of all that which we two, for good-will and for worship, Unto him erst a child yet have framed of kindness. Then along by the bench did she turn, where her boys were, Hrethric and Hrothmund, and the bairns of high warriors, The young ones together; and there sat the good one, 1190 Beowulf the Geat, betwixt the two brethren.
XIX. MORE GIFTS ARE GIVEN TO BEOWULF. THE BRISING COLLAR TOLD OF.
Borne to him then the cup was, and therewith friendly bidding In words was put forth; and gold about wounden All blithely they bade him bear; arm-gearings twain, Rail and rings, the most greatest of fashion of neck-rings Of them that on earth I have ever heard tell of: Not one under heaven wrought better was heard of Midst the hoard-gems of heroes, since bore away Hama To the bright burg and brave the neck-gear of the Brisings, The gem and the gem-chest: from the foeman's guile fled he 1200 Of Eormenric then, and chose rede everlasting. That ring Hygelac had, e'en he of the Geat-folk, The grandson of Swerting, the last time of all times When he under the war-sign his treasure defended, The slaughter-prey warded. Him weird bore away Sithence he for pride-sake the war-woe abided, The feud with the Frisians; the fretwork he flitted, The gem-stones much worthy, all over the waves' cup. The King the full mighty cring'd under the shield; Into grasp of the Franks the King's life was gotten 1210 With the gear of the breast and the ring altogether; It was worser war-wolves then reft gear from the slain After the war-shearing; there the Geats' war-folk Held the house of the dead men. The Hall took the voices; Spake out then Wealhtheow; before the host said she: Brook thou this roundel, lief Beowulf, henceforth, Dear youth, with all hail, and this rail be thou using, These gems of folk-treasures, and thrive thou well ever; Thy might then make manifest! Be to these lads here Kind of lore, and for that will I look to thy guerdon. 1220 Thou hast won by thy faring, that far and near henceforth, Through wide time to come, men will give thee the worship, As widely as ever the sea winds about The windy land-walls. Be the while thou art living An atheling wealthy, and well do I will thee Of good of the treasures; be thou to my son In deed ever friendly, and uphold thy joyance! Lo! each of the earls here to the other is trusty, And mild of his mood and to man-lord full faithful, Kind friends all the thanes are, the folk ever yare. 1230 Ye well drunk of folk-grooms, now do ye my biddings. To her settle then far'd she; was the feast of the choicest, The men drank the wine nothing wotting of weird, The grim shaping of old, e'en as forth it had gone To a many of earls; sithence came the even, And Hrothgar departed to his chamber on high, The rich to his rest; and aright the house warded Earls untold of number, as oft did they erewhile. The bench-boards they bar'd them, and there they spread over With beds and with bolsters. Of the beer-skinkers one 1240 Who fain was and fey bow'd adown to his floor-rest. At their heads then they rested their rounds of the battle, Their board-woods bright-shining. There on the bench was, Over the atheling, easy to look on The battle-steep war-helm, the byrny be-ringed, The wood of the onset, all-glorious. Their wont was That oft and oft were they all yare for the war-tide, Both at home and in hosting, were it one were it either, And for every such tide as their liege lord unto The need were befallen: right good was that folk. 1250
XX. GRENDEL'S DAM BREAKS INTO HART AND BEARS OFF AESCHERE.
So sank they to slumber; but one paid full sorely For his rest of the even, as to them fell full often Sithence that the gold-hall Grendel had guarded, And won deed of unright, until that the end came And death after sinning: but clear was it shown now, Wide wotted of men, that e'en yet was a wreaker Living after the loathly, a long while of time After the battle-care, Grendel's own mother; The woman, the monster-wife, minded her woe, She who needs must in horror of waters be wonning, 1260 The streams all a-cold, sithence Cain was become For an edge-bane forsooth to his very own brother, The own son of his father. Forth bann'd then he fared, All marked by murder, from man's joy to flee, And dwelt in the waste-land. Thence woke there a many Ghosts shapen of old time, of whom one was Grendel, The fierce wolf, the hateful, who found him at Hart A man there a-watching, abiding the war-tide; Where to him the fell ogre to hand-grips befell; Howe'er he him minded of the strength of his might, 1270 The great gift set fast in him given of God, And trowed in grace by the All-wielder given, His fostering, his staying; so the fiend he o'ercame And bow'd down the Hell's ghost, that all humble he wended Fordone of all mirth death's house to go look on, That fiend of all mankind. But yet was his mother, The greedy, the glum-moody, fain to be going A sorrowful journey her son's death to wreak. So came she to Hart whereas now the Ring-Danes Were sleeping adown the hall; soon there befell 1280 Change of days to the earl-folk, when in she came thrusting, Grendel's mother: and soothly was minish'd the terror By even so much as the craft-work of maidens, The war-terror of wife, is beside the man weapon'd, When the sword all hard bounden, by hammers to-beaten, The sword all sweat-stain'd, through the swine o'er the war-helm With edges full doughty down rightly sheareth. But therewith in the hall was tugg'd out the hard edge, The sword o'er the settles, and wide shields a many Heaved fast in the hand: no one the helm heeded, 1290 Nor the byrny wide-wrought, when the wild fear fell on them. In haste was she then, and out would she thenceforth For the saving her life, whenas she should be found there. But one of the athelings she speedily handled And caught up full fast, and fenward so fared. But he was unto Hrothgar the liefest of heroes Of the sort of the fellows; betwixt the two sea-floods A mighty shield-warrior, whom she at rest brake up, A war-wight well famed. There Beowulf was not; Another house soothly had erewhile been dighted 1300 After gift of that treasure to that great one of Geats. Uprose cry then in Hart, all 'mid gore had she taken The hand, the well-known, and now care wrought anew In the wicks was arisen. Naught well was the bargain That on both halves they needs must be buying that tide With the life-days of friends. Then the lord king, the wise, The hoary of war-folk, was harmed of mood When his elder of thanes and he now unliving, The dearest of all, he knew to be dead. To the bower full swiftly was Beowulf brought now, 1310 The man victory-dower'd; together with day-dawn Went he, one of the earls, that champion beworthy'd, Himself with his fellows, where the wise was abiding To wot if the All-wielder ever will to him After the tale of woe happy change work. Then went down the floor he the war-worthy With the host of his hand, while high dinn'd the hall-wood, Till he there the wise one with words had well greeted, The lord of the Ingwines, and ask'd had the night been. Since sore he was summon'd, a night of sweet easement. 1320
XXI. HROTHGAR LAMENTS THE SLAYING OF AESCHERE, AND TELLS OF GRENDEL'S MOTHER AND HER DEN.
Spake out then Hrothgar the helm of the Scyldings: Ask no more after bliss; for new-made now is sorrow For the folk of the Danes; for Aeschere is dead, He who was Yrmenlaf's elder of brethren, My wise man of runes, my bearer of redes, Mine own shoulder-fellow, when we in the war-tide Warded our heads and the host on the host fell, And the boars were a-crashing; e'en such should an earl be, An atheling exceeding good, e'en as was Aeschere. Now in Hart hath befallen for a hand-bane unto him 1330 A slaughter-ghost wandering; naught wot I whither The fell one, the carrion-proud, far'd hath her back-fare, By her fill made all famous. That feud hath she wreaked Wherein yesternight gone by Grendel thou quelledst Through thy hardihood fierce with grips hard enow. For that he over-long the lief people of me Made to wane and undid. In the war then he cringed, Being forfeit of life. But now came another, An ill-scather mighty, her son to awreak; And further hath she now the feud set on foot, 1340 As may well be deemed of many a thane, Who after the wealth-giver weepeth in mind, A hard bale of heart. Now the hand lieth low Which well-nigh for every joy once did avail you. The dwellers in land here, my people indeed, The wise-of-rede hall-folk, have I heard say e'en this: That they have set eyes on two such-like erewhile, Two mickle mark-striders the moorland a-holding, Ghosts come from elsewhere, but of them one there was, As full certainly might they then know it to be, 1350 In the likeness of woman; and the other shap'd loathly All after man's image trod the tracks of the exile, Save that more was he shapen than any man other; And in days gone away now they named him Grendel, The dwellers in fold; they wot not if a father Unto him was born ever in the days of erewhile Of dark ghosts. They dwell in a dim hidden land, The wolf-bents they bide in, on the nesses the windy, The perilous fen-paths where the stream of the fell-side Midst the mists of the nesses wends netherward ever, 1360 The flood under earth. Naught far away hence, But a mile-mark forsooth, there standeth the mere, And over it ever hang groves all berimed, The wood fast by the roots over-helmeth the water. But each night may one a dread wonder there see, A fire in the flood. But none liveth so wise Of the bairns of mankind, that the bottom may know. Although the heath-stepper beswinked by hounds, The hart strong of horns, that holt-wood should seek to Driven fleeing from far, he shall sooner leave life, 1370 Leave life-breath on the bank, or ever will he Therein hide his head. No hallow'd stead is it: Thence the blending of water-waves ever upriseth Wan up to the welkin, whenso the wind stirreth Weather-storms loathly, until the lift darkens And weepeth the heavens. Now along the rede wendeth Of thee again only. Of that earth yet thou know'st not, The fearful of steads, wherein thou mayst find That much-sinning wight; seek then if thou dare, And thee for that feud will I guerdon with fee, 1380 The treasures of old time, as erst did I do, With the gold all-bewounden, if away thence thou get thee.
XXII. THEY FOLLOW GRENDEL'S DAM TO HER LAIR.
Spake out then Beowulf the Ecgtheow's bairn: O wise of men, mourn not; for to each man 'tis better That his friend he awreak than weep overmuch. Lo! each of us soothly abideth the ending Of the life of the world. Then let him work who work may High deeds ere the death: to the doughty of war-lads When he is unliving shall it best be hereafter. Rise up, warder of kingdom! and swiftly now wend we 1390 The Grendel Kinswoman's late goings to look on; And this I behote thee, that to holm shall she flee not, Nor into earth's fathom, nor into the fell-holt, Nor the grounds of the ocean, go whereas she will go. For this one of days patience dree thou a while then Of each one of thy woes, as I ween it of thee. Then leapt up the old man, and lightly gave God thank, That mighty of Lords, for the word which the man spake. And for Hrothgar straightway then was bitted a horse, A wave-maned steed: and the wise of the princes 1400 Went stately his ways; and stepp'd out the man-troop, The linden-board bearers. Now lightly the tracks were All through the woodland ways wide to be seen there, Her goings o'er ground; she had gotten her forthright Over the mirk-moor: bore she of kindred thanes The best that there was, all bare of his soul, Of them that with Hrothgar heeded the home. Overwent then that bairn of the athelings Steep bents of the stones, and stridings full narrow, Strait paths nothing pass'd over, ways all uncouth, 1410 Sheer nesses to wit, many houses of nicors. He one of the few was going before Of the wise of the men the meadow to look on, Until suddenly there the trees of the mountains Over the hoar-stone found he a-leaning, A wood without gladness: the water stood under Dreary and troubled. Unto all the Danes was it, To the friends of the Scyldings, most grievous in mood To many of thanes such a thing to be tholing, Sore evil to each one of earls, for of Aeschere 1420 The head did they find e'en there on the holm-cliff; The flood with gore welled (the folk looking on it), With hot blood. But whiles then the horn fell to singing A song of war eager. There sat down the band; They saw down the water a many of worm-kind, Sea-drakes seldom seen a-kenning the sound; Likewise on the ness-bents nicors a-lying, Who oft on the undern-tide wont are to hold them A course full of sorrow all over the sail-road. Now the worms and the wild-deer away did they speed 1430 Bitter and wrath-swollen all as they heard it, The war-horn a-wailing: but one the Geats' warden With his bow of the shafts from his life-days there sunder'd, From his strife of the waves; so that stood in his life-parts The hard arrow of war; and he in the holm was The slower in swimming as death away swept him. So swiftly in sea-waves with boar-spears forsooth Sharp-hook'd and hard-press'd was he thereupon, Set on with fierce battle, and on to the ness tugg'd, The wondrous wave-bearer; and men were beholding 1440 The grisly guest, Beowulf therewith he gear'd him With weed of the earls: nowise of life reck'd he: Needs must his war-byrny, braided by hands, Wide, many-colour'd by cunning, the sound seek, E'en that which his bone-coffer knew how to ward, So that the war-grip his heart ne'er a while, The foe-snatch of the wrathful his life ne'er should scathe; Therewith the white war-helm warded his head, E'en that which should mingle with ground of the mere, And seek the sound-welter, with treasure beworthy'd, 1450 All girt with the lordly chains, as in days gone by The weapon-smith wrought it most wondrously done, Beset with the swine-shapes, so that sithence The brand or the battle-blades never might bite it. Nor forsooth was that littlest of all of his mainstays, Which to him in his need lent the spokesman of Hrothgar, E'en the battle-sword hafted that had to name Hrunting, That in fore days was one of the treasures of old, The edges of iron with the poison twigs o'er-stain'd, With battle-sweat harden'd; in the brunt never fail'd he 1460 Any one of the warriors whose hand wound about him, Who in grisly wayfarings durst ever to wend him To the folk-stead of foemen. Not the first of times was it That battle-work doughty it had to be doing. Forsooth naught remember'd that son there of Ecglaf, The crafty in mighty deeds, what ere he quoth All drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent To a doughtier sword-wolf: himself naught he durst it Under war of the waves there his life to adventure And warrior-ship work. So forwent he the glory, 1470 The fair fame of valour. Naught far'd so the other Syth he to the war-tide had gear'd him to wend.
XXIII. BEOWULF REACHETH THE MERE-BOTTOM IN A DAY'S WHILE, AND CONTENDS WITH GRENDEL'S DAM.
Out then spake Beowulf, Ecgtheow's bairn: Forsooth be thou mindful, O great son of Healfdene, O praise of the princes, now way-fain am I, O gold-friend of men, what we twain spake aforetime: If to me for thy need it might so befall That I cease from my life-days, thou shouldest be ever To me, forth away wended, in the stead of a father. Do thou then bear in hand these thanes of my kindred, 1480 My hand-fellows, if so be battle shall have me; Those same treasures withal, which thou gavest me erst, O Hrothgar the lief, unto Hygelac send thou; By that gold then shall wot the lord of the Geat-folk, Shall Hrethel's son see, when he stares on the treasure, That I in fair man-deeds a good one have found me, A ring-giver; while I might, joy made I thereof. And let thou then Unferth the ancient loom have, The wave-sword adorned, that man kenned widely, The blade of hard edges; for I now with Hrunting 1490 Will work me the glory, or else shall death get me. So after these words the Weder-Geats' chieftain With might of heart hasten'd; nor for answer then would he Aught tarry; the sea-welter straightway took hold on The warrior of men: wore the while of a daytide Or ever the ground-plain might he set eyes on. Soon did she find, she who the flood-ring Sword-ravening had held for an hundred of seasons, Greedy and grim, that there one man of grooms The abode of the alien-wights sought from above; 1500 Then toward him she grasp'd and gat hold on the warrior With fell clutch, but no sooner she scathed withinward The hale body; rings from without-ward it warded, That she could in no wise the war-skin clutch through, The fast locked limb-sark, with fingers all loathly. So bare then that sea-wolf when she came unto bottom The king of the rings to the court-hall adown In such wise that he might not, though hard-moody was he, Be wielding of weapons. But a many of wonders In sea-swimming swink'd him, and many a sea-deer 1510 With his war-tusks was breaking his sark of the battle; The fell wights him follow'd. 'Twas then the earl found it That in foe-hall there was he, I wot not of which, Where never the water might scathe him a whit, Nor because of the roof-hall might reach to him there The fear-grip of the flood. Now fire-light he saw, The bleak beam forsooth all brightly a-shining. Then the good one, he saw the wolf of the ground, The mere-wife the mighty, and main onset made he With his battle-bill; never his hand withheld sword-swing 1520 So that there on her head sang the ring-sword forsooth The song of war greedy. But then found the guest That the beam of the battle would bite not therewith, Or scathe life at all, but there failed the edge The king in his need. It had ere thol'd a many Of meetings of hand; oft it sheared the helm, The host-rail of the fey one; and then was the first time For that treasure dear lov'd that its might lay a-low. But therewithal steadfast, naught sluggish of valour, All mindful of high deeds was Hygelac's kinsman. 1530 Cast then the wounden blade bound with the gem-stones The warrior all angry, that it lay on the earth there, Stiff-wrought and steel-edged. In strength now he trusted, The hard hand-grip of might and main; so shall a man do When he in the war-tide yet looketh to winning The praise that is longsome, nor aught for life careth. Then fast by the shoulder, of the feud nothing recking, The lord of the War-Geats clutch'd Grendel's mother, Cast down the battle-hard, bollen with anger, That foe of the life, till she bow'd to the floor; 1540 But swiftly to him gave she back the hand-guerdon With hand-graspings grim, and griped against him; Then mood-weary stumbled the strongest of warriors, The foot-kemp, until that adown there he fell. Then she sat on the hall-guest and tugg'd out her sax, The broad and brown-edged, to wreak her her son, Her offspring her own. But lay yet on his shoulder The breast-net well braided, the berg of his life, That 'gainst point and 'gainst edge the entrance withstood. Gone amiss then forsooth had been Ecgtheow's son 1550 Underneath the wide ground there, the kemp of the Geats, Save to him his war-byrny had fram'd him a help, The hard host-net; and save that the Lord God the Holy Had wielded the war-gain, the Lord the All-wise; Save that the skies' Ruler had rightwisely doom'd it All easily. Sithence he stood up again.
XXIV. BEOWULF SLAYETH GRENDEL'S DAM, SMITETH OFF GRENDEL'S HEAD, AND COMETH BACK WITH HIS THANES TO HART.
Midst the war-gear he saw then a bill victory-wealthy, An old sword of eotens full doughty of edges, The worship of warriors. That was choice of all weapons, Save that more was it made than any man other 1560 In the battle-play ever might bear it afield, So goodly, all glorious, the work of the giants. Then the girdled hilt seiz'd he, the Wolf of the Scyldings, The rough and the sword-grim, and drew forth the ring-sword, Naught weening of life, and wrathful he smote then So that there on her halse the hard edge begripped, And brake through the bone-rings: the bill all through-waded Her flesh-sheathing fey; cring'd she down on the floor; The sword was war-sweaty, the man in his work joy'd. The bright beam shone forth, the light stood withinward, 1570 E'en as down from the heavens' clear high aloft shineth The sky's candle. He all along the house scanned; Then turn'd by the wall along, heav'd up his weapon Hard by the hilts the Hygelac's thane there, Ireful one-reded; naught worthless the edge was Unto the warrior; but rathely now would he To Grendel make payment of many war-onsets, Of them that he wrought on the folk of the West Danes Oftener by mickle than one time alone, Whenas he the hearthfellows of Hrothgar the King 1580 Slew in their slumber and fretted them sleeping, Men fifteen to wit of the folk of the Danes, And e'en such another deal ferry'd off outward, Loathly prey. Now he paid him his guerdon therefor, The fierce champion; so well, that abed there he saw Where Grendel war-weary was lying adown Forlorn of his life, as him ere had scathed The battle at Hart; sprang wide the body, Sithence after death he suffer'd the stroke, The hard swing of sword. Then he smote the head off him. 1590 Now soon were they seeing, those sage of the carles, E'en they who with Hrothgar gaz'd down on the holm, That the surge of the billows was blended about, The sea stain'd with blood. Therewith the hoar-blended, The old men, of the good one gat talking together That they of the Atheling ween'd never eft-soon That he, glad in his war-gain, should wend him a-seeking The mighty king, since unto many it seemed That him the mere-she-wolf had sunder'd and broken. Came then nones of the day, and the ness there they gave up, 1600 The Scyldings the brisk; and then busk'd him home thence-ward The gold-friend of men. But the guests, there they sat All sick of their mood, and star'd on the mere; They wist not, they ween'd not if him their own friend-lord Himself they should see. Now that sword began Because of the war-sweat into icicles war-made, The war-bill, to wane: that was one of the wonders That it melted away most like unto ice When the bond of the frost the Father lets loosen, Unwindeth the wave-ropes, e'en he that hath wielding 1610 Of times and of seasons, who is the sooth Shaper. In those wicks there he took not, the Weder-Geats' champion, Of treasure-wealth more, though he saw there a many, Than the off-smitten head and the sword-hilts together With treasure made shifting; for the sword-blade was molten, The sword broider'd was burn'd up, so hot was that blood, So poisonous the alien ghost there that had died. Now soon was a-swimming he who erst in the strife bode The war-onset of wrath ones; he div'd up through the water; And now were the wave-welters cleansed full well, 1620 Yea the dwellings full wide, where the ghost of elsewhither Let go of his life-days and the waning of living. Came then unto land the helm of the ship-lads Swimming stout-hearted, glad of his sea-spoil, The burden so mighty of that which he bore there. Yode then against him and gave thanks to God That fair heap of thanes, and were fain of their lord, For that hale and sound now they might see him with eyen; Then was from the bold one the helm and the byrny All speedily loosen'd. The lake now was laid, 1630 The water 'neath welkin with war-gore bestained. Forth then they far'd them alongst of the foot-tracks, Men fain of heart all, as they meted the earth-way, The street the well known; then those king-bold of men Away from the holm-cliff the head there they bore Uneasily ever to each one that bore it, The full stout-heart of men: it was four of them needs must On the stake of the slaughter with strong toil there ferry Unto the gold-hall the head of that Grendel; Until forthright in haste came into that hall, 1640 Fierce, keen in the hosting, a fourteen of men Of the Geat-folk a-ganging; and with them their lord, The moody amidst of the throng, trod the mead-plains; Came then in a-wending the foreman of thanes, The man keen of his deeds all beworshipp'd of doom, The hero, the battle-deer, Hrothgar to greet. Then was by the fell borne in onto the floor Grendel's head, whereas men were a-drinking in hall, Aweful before the earls, yea and the woman. The sight wondrous to see the warriors there look'd on. 1650
XXV. CONVERSE OF HROTHGAR WITH BEOWULF.
Spake out then Beowulf, Ecgtheow's bairn: What! we the sea-spoils here to thee, son of Healfdene, High lord of the Scyldings, with lust have brought hither For a token of glory, e'en these thou beholdest. Now I all unsoftly with life I escaped, In war under the water dar'd I the work Full hard to be worked, and well-nigh there was The sundering of strife, save that me God had shielded. So it is that in battle naught might I with Hrunting One whit do the work, though the weapon be doughty; 1660 But to me then he granted, the Wielder of men, That on wall I beheld there all beauteous hanging An ancient sword, might-endow'd (often he leadeth right The friendless of men); so forth drew I that weapon. In that onset I slew there, as hap then appaid me, The herd of the house; then that bill of the host, The broider'd sword, burn'd up, and that blood sprang forth The hottest of battle-sweats; but the hilts thereof thenceforth From the foemen I ferry'd. I wreaked the foul deeds, The death-quelling of Danes, e'en as duly behoved. 1670 Now this I behote thee, that here in Hart mayst thou Sleep sorrowless henceforth with the host of thy men And the thanes every one that are of thy people Of doughty and young; that for them need thou dread not, O high lord of Scyldings, on that behalf soothly Life-bale for the earls as erst thou hast done. Then was the hilt golden to the ancient of warriors, The hoary of host-leaders, into hand given, The old work of giants; it turn'd to the owning, After fall of the Devils, of the lord of the Danes, 1680 That work of the wonder-smith, syth gave up the world The fierce-hearted groom, the foeman of God, The murder-beguilted, and there eke his mother; Unto the wielding of world-kings it turned, The best that there be betwixt of the sea-floods Of them that in Scaney dealt out the scat. Now spake out Hrothgar, as he look'd on the hilts there, The old heir-loom whereon was writ the beginning Of the strife of the old time, whenas the flood slew, The ocean a-gushing, that kin of the giants 1690 As fiercely they fared. That was a folk alien To the Lord everlasting; so to them a last guerdon Through the welling of waters the Wielder did give. So was on the sword-guards all of the sheer gold By dint of the rune-staves rightly bemarked, Set down and said for whom first was that sword wrought, And the choice of all irons erst had been done, Wreath-hilted and worm-adorn'd. Then spake the wise one, Healfdene's son, and all were gone silent: Lo that may he say, who the right and the soothfast 1700 Amid the folk frameth, and far back all remembers, The old country's warden, that as for this earl here Born better was he. Uprear'd is the fame-blast Through wide ways far yonder, O Beowulf, friend mine, Of thee o'er all peoples. Thou hold'st all with patience, Thy might with mood-wisdom; I shall make thee my love good, As we twain at first spake it. For a comfort thou shalt be Granted long while and long unto thy people, For a help unto heroes. Naught such became Heremod To Ecgwela's offspring, the honourful Scyldings; 1710 For their welfare naught wax'd he, but for felling in slaughter, For the quelling of death to the folk of the Danes. Mood-swollen he brake there his board-fellows soothly, His shoulder-friends, until he sunder'd him lonely, That mighty of princes, from the mirth of all men-folk. Though him God the mighty in the joyance of might, In main strength, exalted high over all-men, And framed him forth, yet fast in his heart grew A breast-hoard blood-fierce; none of fair rings he gave To the Danes as due doom would. Unmerry he dured 1720 So that yet of that strife the trouble he suffer'd. A folk-bale so longsome. By such do thou learn thee, Get thee hold of man-valour: this tale for thy teaching Old in winters I tell thee. 'Tis wonder to say it, How the high God almighty to the kindred of mankind Through his mind the wide-fashion'd deals wisdom about, Home and earlship; he owneth the wielding of all. At whiles unto love he letteth to turn The mood-thought of a man that Is mighty of kindred, And in his land giveth him joyance of earth, 1730 And to have and to hold the high ward-burg of men, And sets so 'neath his wielding the deals of the world, Dominion wide reaching, that he himself may not In all his unwisdom of the ending bethink him. He wonneth well-faring, nothing him wasteth Sickness nor eld, nor the foe-sorrow to him Dark in mind waxeth, nor strife any where, The edge-hate, appeareth; but all the world for him Wends as he willeth, and the worse naught he wotteth.