Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem

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PREFACE.

The present work is a modest effort to reproduce approximately, in modern
measures, the venerable epic, Beowulf. Approximately, I repeat; for a very
close reproduction of Anglo-Saxon verse would, to a large extent, be prose to
a modern ear.

The Heyne-Socin text and glossary have been closely followed. Occasionally
a deviation has been made, but always for what seemed good and sufficient
reason. The translator does not aim to be an editor. Once in a while, however,
he has added a conjecture of his own to the emendations quoted from
the criticisms of other students of the poem.

This work is addressed to two classes of readers. From both of these alike
the translator begs sympathy and co-operation. The Anglo-Saxon scholar he
hopes to please by adhering faithfully to the original. The student of English
literature he aims to interest by giving him, in modern garb, the most ancient
epic of our race. This is a bold and venturesome undertaking; and yet there
must be some students of the Teutonic past willing to follow even a daring
guide, if they may read in modern phrases of the sorrows of Hrothgar, of the
prowess of Beowulf, and of the feelings that stirred the hearts of our forefathers
in their primeval homes.

In order to please the larger class of readers, a regular cadence has been
used, a measure which, while retaining the essential characteristics of the original,
permits the reader to see ahead of him in reading.

Perhaps every Anglo-Saxon scholar has his own theory as to how Beowulf
should be translated. Some have given us prose versions of what we believe
to be a great poem. Is it any reflection on our honored Kemble and Arnold
to say that their translations fail to show a layman that Beowulf is justly called
our first epic? Of those translators who have used verse, several have written

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from what would seem a mistaken point of view. Is it proper, for instance,
that the grave and solemn speeches of Beowulf and Hrothgar be put in ballad
measures, tripping lightly and airily along? Or, again, is it fitting that the
rough martial music of Anglo-Saxon verse be interpreted to us in the smooth
measures of modern blank verse? Do we hear what has been beautifully called
“the clanging tread of a warrior in mail”?

Of all English translations of Beowulf, that of Professor Garnett alone
gives any adequate idea of the chief characteristics of this great Teutonic
epic.

The measure used in the present translation is believed to be as near a
reproduction of the original as modern English affords. The cadences closely
resemble those used by Browning in some of his most striking poems. The
four stresses of the Anglo-Saxon verse are retained, and as much thesis and
anacrusis is allowed as is consistent with a regular cadence. Alliteration has
been used to a large extent; but it was thought that modern ears would hardly
tolerate it on every line. End-rhyme has been used occasionally; internal
rhyme, sporadically. Both have some warrant in Anglo-Saxon poetry. (For
end-rhyme, see 1 53, 1 54; for internal rhyme, 2 21, 6 40.)

What Gummere calls the “rime-giver” has been studiously kept; viz., the
first accented syllable in the second half-verse always carries the alliteration;
and the last accented syllable alliterates only sporadically. Alternate alliteration
is occasionally used as in the original. (See 7 61, 8 5.)

No two accented syllables have been brought together, except occasionally
after a cæsural pause. (See 2 19 and 12 1.)
Or, scientifically speaking, Sievers’s
C type has been avoided as not consonant with the plan of translation. Several
of his types, however, constantly occur; e.g. A and a variant
(/ x | / x) (/ x x | / x);
B and a variant (x / | x / ) (x x / | x / ); a variant of D (/ x | / x x);
E (/ x x | / ). Anacrusis gives further variety to the types used in the translation.

The parallelisms of the original have been faithfully preserved. (E.g., 1 16
and 1 17: “Lord” and “Wielder of Glory”; 1 30, 1 31, 1 32; 2 12 and 2 13;
2 27 and 2 28; 3 5 and 3 6.) Occasionally, some loss has been sustained; but,
on the other hand, a gain has here and there been made.

The effort has been made to give a decided flavor of archaism to the translation.
All words not in keeping with the spirit of the poem have been

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avoided. Again, though many archaic words have been used, there are none,
it is believed, which are not found in standard modern poetry.

With these preliminary remarks, it will not be amiss to give an outline of
the story of the poem.

THE STORY.

Hrothgar, king of the Danes, or Scyldings, builds a great mead-hall, or
palace, in which he hopes to feast his liegemen and to give them presents. The
joy of king and retainers is, however, of short duration. Grendel, the monster,
is seized with hateful jealousy. He cannot brook the sounds of joyance that
reach him down in his fen-dwelling near the hall. Oft and anon he goes to
the joyous building, bent on direful mischief. Thane after thane is ruthlessly
carried off and devoured, while no one is found strong enough and bold enough
to cope with the monster. For twelve years he persecutes Hrothgar and his
vassals.

Over sea, a day’s voyage off, Beowulf, of the Geats, nephew of Higelac,
king of the Geats, hears of Grendel’s doings and of Hrothgar’s misery. He
resolves to crush the fell monster and relieve the aged king. With fourteen
chosen companions, he sets sail for Dane-land. Reaching that country, he soon
persuades Hrothgar of his ability to help him. The hours that elapse before
night are spent in beer-drinking and conversation. When Hrothgar’s bedtime
comes he leaves the hall in charge of Beowulf, telling him that never before has
he given to another the absolute wardship of his palace. All retire to rest,
Beowulf, as it were, sleeping upon his arms.

Grendel comes, the great march-stepper, bearing God’s anger. He seizes
and kills one of the sleeping warriors. Then he advances towards Beowulf.
A fierce and desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensues. No arms are used, both
combatants trusting to strength and hand-grip. Beowulf tears Grendel’s
shoulder from its socket, and the monster retreats to his den, howling and
yelling with agony and fury. The wound is fatal.

The next morning, at early dawn, warriors in numbers flock to the hall
Heorot, to hear the news. Joy is boundless. Glee runs high. Hrothgar and
his retainers are lavish of gratitude and of gifts.

Grendel’s mother, however, comes the next night to avenge his death. She
is furious and raging. While Beowulf is sleeping in a room somewhat apart

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from the quarters of the other warriors, she seizes one of Hrothgar’s favorite
counsellors, and carries him off and devours him. Beowulf is called. Determined
to leave Heorot entirely purified, he arms himself, and goes down to look
for the female monster. After traveling through the waters many hours, he
meets her near the sea-bottom. She drags him to her den. There he sees
Grendel lying dead. After a desperate and almost fatal struggle with the
woman, he slays her, and swims upward in triumph, taking with him Grendel’s
head.

Joy is renewed at Heorot. Congratulations crowd upon the victor.
Hrothgar literally pours treasures into the lap of Beowulf; and it is agreed
among the vassals of the king that Beowulf will be their next liegelord.

Beowulf leaves Dane-land. Hrothgar weeps and laments at his departure.

When the hero arrives in his own land, Higelac treats him as a distinguished
guest. He is the hero of the hour.

Beowulf subsequently becomes king of his own people, the Geats. After he
has been ruling for fifty years, his own neighborhood is wofully harried by a
fire-spewing dragon. Beowulf determines to kill him. In the ensuing struggle
both Beowulf and the dragon are slain. The grief of the Geats is inexpressible.
They determine, however, to leave nothing undone to honor the memory
of their lord. A great funeral-pyre is built, and his body is burnt. Then a
memorial-barrow is made, visible from a great distance, that sailors afar may
be constantly reminded of the prowess of the national hero of Geatland.

The poem closes with a glowing tribute to his bravery, his gentleness, his
goodness of heart, and his generosity.

It is the devout desire of this translator to hasten the day when the story
of Beowulf shall be as familiar to English-speaking peoples as that of the Iliad.
Beowulf is our first great epic. It is an epitomized history of the life of the
Teutonic races. It brings vividly before us our forefathers of pre-Alfredian
eras, in their love of war, of sea, and of adventure.

My special thanks are due to Professors Francis A. March and James A.
Harrison, for advice, sympathy, and assistance.

J.L. HALL.

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ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE NOTES.

B. = Bugge. C. = Cosijn. Gr. = Grein. Grdvtg. = Grundtvig. H. = Heyne. H. and
S. = Harrison and Sharp. H.-So. = Heyne-Socin. K.= Kemble. Kl. = Kluge. M.=
Müllenhoff. R. = Rieger. S. = Sievers. Sw. = Sweet. t.B. = ten Brink. Th. = Thorpe.
W. = Wülcker.

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TRANSLATIONS.

Arnold, Thomas.—Beowulf. A heroic poem of the eighth century. London, 1876.
With English translation. Prose.

Botkine, L.—Beowulf. Epopée Anglo-Saxonne. Havre, 1877. First French translation.
Passages occasionally omitted.

Conybeare, J.J.—Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London, 1826. Full Latin
translation, and some passages translated into English blank-verse.

Ettmuller, L.—Beowulf, stabreimend übersetzt. Zürich, 1840.

Garnett, J.M.—Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon Poem, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Boston,
1882. An accurate line-for-line translation, using alliteration occasionally, and sometimes
assuming a metrical cadence.

Grein, C.W.M.—Dichtungen der Angelsachsen, stabreimend übersetzt. 2 Bde.
Göttingen, 1857-59.

Grion, Giusto.—Beovulf, poema epico anglo-sassone del VII. secolo, tradotto e illustrato.
Lucca, 1883. First Italian translation.

Grundtvig, N.F.S.—Bjowulfs Drape. Copenhagen, 1820.

Heyne, M.—A translation in iambic measures. Paderborn, 1863.

Kemble, J.M.—The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Traveller’s Song, and the
Battle of Finnsburg. London, 1833. The second edition contains a prose translation of
Beowulf.

Leo, H.—Ueber Beowulf. Halle, 1839. Translations of extracts.

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Lumsden, H.W.—Beowulf, translated into modern rhymes. London, 1881. Ballad
measures. Passages occasionally omitted.

Sandras, G.S.—De carminibus Cædmoni adjudicatis. Paris, 1859. An extract from
Beowulf, with Latin translation.

Schaldmose, F.—Beowulf og Scopes Widsith, to Angelsaxiske Digte. Copenhagen,
1847.

Simrock, K.—Beowulf. Uebersetzt und erläutert. Stuttgart und Augsburg, 1859.
Alliterative measures.

Thorkelin, G.J.—De Danorum rebus gestis secul. III. et IV. poema Danicum dialecto
Anglosaxonica. Havniæ, 1815. Latin translation.

Thorpe, B.—The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Scôp or Gleeman’s Tale, and
the Fight at Finnsburg. Oxford, 1855. English translation in short lines, generally containing
two stresses.

Wackerbarth, A.D.—Beowulf, translated into English verse. London, 1849.

Wickberg, R.—Beowulf, en fornengelsk hjeltedikt, öfersatt. Westervik. First Swedish
translation.

von Wolzogen, H.—Beowulf, in alliterative measures. Leipzig.

Zinsser, G.—Der Kampf Beowulfs mit Grendel. Jahresbericht of the Realschule at
Forbach, 1881.

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GLOSSARY OF PROPER NAMES.

[The figures refer to the divisions of the poem in which the respective names occur. The large figures refer
to fitts, the small, to lines in the fitts.]

Ælfhere.—A kinsman of Wiglaf.—36 3.

Æschere.—Confidential friend of King Hrothgar. Elder brother of Yrmenlaf. Killed by
Grendel.—21 3; 30 89.

Beanstan.—Father of Breca.—9 26.

Beowulf.—Son of Scyld, the founder of the dynasty of Scyldings. Father of Healfdene,
and grandfather of Hrothgar.—1 18; 2 1.

Beowulf.—The hero of the poem. Sprung from the stock of Geats, son of Ecgtheow.
Brought up by his maternal grandfather Hrethel, and figuring in manhood as a
devoted liegeman of his uncle Higelac. A hero from his youth. Has the strength
of thirty men. Engages in a swimming-match with Breca. Goes to the help of
Hrothgar against the monster Grendel. Vanquishes Grendel and his mother.
Afterwards becomes king of the Geats. Late in life attempts to kill a fire-spewing
dragon, and is slain. Is buried with great honors. His memorial mound.—6 26;
7 2; 7 9; 9 3; 9 8; 12 28; 12 43; 23 1, etc.

Breca.—Beowulf’s opponent in the famous swimming-match.—9 8; 9 19; 9 21; 9 22.

Brondings.—A people ruled by Breca.—9 23.

Brosinga mene.—A famous collar once owned by the Brosings.—19 7.

Cain.—Progenitor of Grendel and other monsters.—2 56; 20 11.

Dæghrefn.—A warrior of the Hugs, killed by Beowulf.—35 40.

Danes.—Subjects of Scyld and his descendants, and hence often called Scyldings. Other
names for them are Victory-Scyldings, Honor-Scyldings, Armor-Danes, Bright-Danes,
East-Danes, West-Danes, North-Danes, South-Danes, Ingwins, Hrethmen.—1 1;
2 1; 3 2; 5 14; 7 1, etc.

Ecglaf.—Father of Unferth, who taunts Beowulf.—9 1.

Ecgtheow.—Father of Beowulf, the hero of the poem. A widely-known Wægmunding
warrior. Marries Hrethel’s daughter. After slaying Heatholaf, a Wylfing, he flees
his country.—7 3; 5 6; 8 4.

Ecgwela.—A king of the Danes before Scyld.—25 60.

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Elan.—Sister of Hrothgar, and probably wife of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes.—2 10.

Eagle Cape.—A promontory in Geat-land, under which took place Beowulf’s last encounter.—41 87.

Eadgils.—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eanmund.—34 2.

Eanmund.—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eadgils. The reference to these brothers is
vague, and variously understood. Heyne supposes as follows: Raising a revolt
against their father, they are obliged to leave Sweden. They go to the land of the
Geats; with what intention, is not known, but probably to conquer and plunder.
The Geatish king, Heardred, is slain by one of the brothers, probably Eanmund.—36 10; 31 54 to 31 60; 33 66 to 34 6.

Eofor.—A Geatish hero who slays Ongentheow in war, and is rewarded by Hygelac with
the hand of his only daughter.—41 18; 41 48.

Eormenric.—A Gothic king, from whom Hama took away the famous Brosinga mene.—19 9.

Eomær.—Son of Offa and Thrytho, king and queen of the Angles.—28 69.

Finn.—King of the North-Frisians and the Jutes. Marries Hildeburg. At his court takes
place the horrible slaughter in which the Danish general, Hnæf, fell. Later on, Finn
himself is slain by Danish warriors.—17 18; 17 30; 17 44; 18 4; 18 23.

Fin-land.—The country to which Beowulf was driven by the currents in his swimming-match.—10 22.

Fitela.—Son and nephew of King Sigemund, whose praises are sung in XIV.—14 42; 14 53.

Folcwalda.—Father of Finn.—17 38.

Franks.—Introduced occasionally in referring to the death of Higelac.—19 19; 40 21;
40 24.

Frisians.—A part of them are ruled by Finn. Some of them were engaged in the struggle
in which Higelac was slain.—17 20; 17 42; 17 52; 40 21.

Freaware.—Daughter of King Hrothgar. Married to Ingeld, a Heathobard prince.—29 60; 30 32.

Froda.—King of the Heathobards, and father of Ingeld.—29 62.

Garmund.—Father of Offa.—28 71.

Geats, Geatmen.—The race to which the hero of the poem belongs. Also called Weder-Geats,
or Weders, War-Geats, Sea-Geats. They are ruled by Hrethel, Hæthcyn,
Higelac, and Beowulf.—4 7; 7 4; 10 45; 11 8; 27 14; 28 8.

Gepids.—Named in connection with the Danes and Swedes.—35 34.

Grendel.—A monster of the race of Cain. Dwells in the fens and moors. Is furiously
envious when he hears sounds of joy in Hrothgar’s palace. Causes the king untold
agony for years. Is finally conquered by Beowulf, and dies of his wound. His hand
and arm are hung up in Hrothgar’s hall Heorot. His head is cut off by Beowulf
when he goes down to fight with Grendel’s mother.—2 50; 3 1; 3 13; 8 19; 11 17;
12 2; 13 27; 15 3.

Guthlaf.—A Dane of Hnæf’s party.—18 24.

Half-Danes.—Branch of the Danes to which Hnæf belonged.—17 19.

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Halga.—Surnamed the Good. Younger brother of Hrothgar.—2 9.

Hama.—Takes the Brosinga mene from Eormenric.—19 7.

Hæreth.—Father of Higelac’s queen, Hygd.—28 39; 29 18.

Hæthcyn.—Son of Hrethel and brother of Higelac. Kills his brother Herebeald accidentally.
Is slain at Ravenswood, fighting against Ongentheow.—34 43; 35 23;
40 32.

Helmings.—The race to which Queen Wealhtheow belonged.—10 63.

Heming.—A kinsman of Garmund, perhaps nephew.—28 54; 28 70.

Hengest.—A Danish leader. Takes command on the fall of Hnæf.—17 33; 17 41.

Herebeald.—Eldest son of Hrethel, the Geatish king, and brother of Higelac. Killed by
his younger brother Hæthcyn.—34 43; 34 47.

Heremod.—A Danish king of a dynasty before the Scylding line. Was a source of great
sorrow to his people.—14 64; 25 59.

Hereric.—Referred to as uncle of Heardred, but otherwise unknown.—31 60.

Hetwars.—Another name for the Franks.—33 51.

Healfdene.—Grandson of Scyld and father of Hrothgar. Ruled the Danes long and well.—2 5;
4 1; 8 14.

Heardred.—Son of Higelac and Hygd, king and queen of the Geats. Succeeds his father,
with Beowulf as regent. Is slain by the sons of Ohthere.—31 56; 33 63; 33 75.

Heathobards.—Race of Lombards, of which Froda is king. After Froda falls in battle
with the Danes, Ingeld, his son, marries Hrothgar’s daughter, Freaware, in order to
heal the feud.—30 1; 30 6.

Heatholaf.—A Wylfing warrior slain by Beowulf’s father.—8 5.

Heathoremes.—The people on whose shores Breca is cast by the waves during his contest
with Beowulf.—9 21.

Heorogar.—Elder brother of Hrothgar, and surnamed ‘Weoroda Ræswa,’ Prince of the
Troopers.—2 9; 8 12.

Hereward.—Son of the above.—31 17.

Heort, Heorot.—The great mead-hall which King Hrothgar builds. It is invaded by
Grendel for twelve years. Finally cleansed by Beowulf, the Geat. It is called
Heort on account of the hart-antlers which decorate it.—2 25; 3 32; 3 52.

Hildeburg.—Wife of Finn, daughter of Hoce, and related to Hnæf,—probably his sister.—17 21;
18 34.

Hnæf.—Leader of a branch of the Danes called Half-Danes. Killed in the struggle at
Finn’s castle.—17 19; 17 61.

Hondscio.—One of Beowulf’s companions. Killed by Grendel just before Beowulf grappled
with that monster.—30 43.

Hoce.—Father of Hildeburg and probably of Hnæf.—17 26.

Hrethel.—King of the Geats, father of Higelac, and grandfather of Beowulf.—7 4; 34 39.

Hrethla.—Once used for Hrethel.—7 82.

Hrethmen.—Another name for the Danes.—7 73.

Hrethric.—Son of Hrothgar.—18 65; 27 19.

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Hreosna-beorh.—A promontory in Geat-land, near which Ohthere’s sons made plundering
raids.—35 18.

Hrothgar.—The Danish king who built the hall Heort, but was long unable to enjoy it on
account of Grendel’s persecutions. Marries Wealhtheow, a Helming lady. Has
two sons and a daughter. Is a typical Teutonic king, lavish of gifts. A devoted
liegelord, as his lamentations over slain liegemen prove. Also very appreciative of
kindness, as is shown by his loving gratitude to Beowulf.—2 9; 2 12; 4 1; 8 10;
15 1; etc., etc.

Hrothmund.—Son of Hrothgar.—18 65.

Hrothulf.—Probably a son of Halga, younger brother of Hrothgar. Certainly on terms of
close intimacy in Hrothgar’s palace.—16 26; 18 57.

Hrunting.—Unferth’s sword, lent to Beowulf.—22 71; 25 9.

Hugs.—A race in alliance with the Franks and Frisians at the time of Higelac’s fall.—35 41.

Hun.—A Frisian warrior, probably general of the Hetwars. Gives Hengest a beautiful
sword.—18 19.

Hunferth.—Sometimes used for Unferth.

Hygelac, Higelac.—King of the Geats, uncle and liegelord of Beowulf, the hero of the
poem.—His second wife is the lovely Hygd, daughter of Hæreth. The son of their
union is Heardred. Is slain in a war with the Hugs, Franks, and Frisians combined.
Beowulf is regent, and afterwards king of the Geats.—4 6; 5 4; 28 34; 29 9;
29 21; 31 56.

Hygd.—Wife of Higelac, and daughter of Hæreth. There are some indications that she
married Beowulf after she became a widow.—28 37.

Ingeld.—Son of the Heathobard king, Froda. Marries Hrothgar’s daughter, Freaware,
in order to reconcile the two peoples.—29 62; 30 32.

Ingwins.—Another name for the Danes.—16 52; 20 69.

Jutes.—Name sometimes applied to Finn’s people.—17 22; 17 38; 18 17.

Lafing.—Name of a famous sword presented to Hengest by Hun.—18 19.

Merewing.—A Frankish king, probably engaged in the war in which Higelac was slain.—40 29.

Nægling.—Beowulf’s sword.—36 76.

Offa.—King of the Angles, and son of Garmund. Marries the terrible Thrytho who is so
strongly contrasted with Hygd.—28 59; 28 66.

Ohthere.—Son of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes. He is father of Eanmund and
Eadgils.—40 35; 40 39.

Onela.—Brother of Ohthere.—36 15; 40 39.

Ongentheow.—King of Sweden, of the Scylfing dynasty. Married, perhaps, Elan, daughter
of Healfdene.—35 26; 41 16.

Oslaf.—A Dane of Hnæf’s party.—18 24.

Ravenswood.—The forest near which Hæthcyn was slain.—40 31; 40 41.

Scefing.—Applied (1 4) to Scyld, and meaning ‘son of Scef.’

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Scyld.—Founder of the dynasty to which Hrothgar, his father, and grandfather belonged.
He dies, and his body is put on a vessel, and set adrift. He goes from Daneland
just as he had come to it—in a bark.—1 4; 1 19; 1 27.

Scyldings.—The descendants of Scyld. They are also called Honor-Scyldings, Victory-Scyldings,
War-Scyldings, etc. (See ‘Danes,’ above.)—2 1; 7 1; 8 1.

Scylfings.—A Swedish royal line to which Wiglaf belonged.—36 2.

Sigemund.—Son of Wæls, and uncle and father of Fitela. His struggle with a dragon is
related in connection with Beowulf’s deeds of prowess.—14 38; 14 47.

Swerting.—Grandfather of Higelac, and father of Hrethel.—19 11.

Swedes.—People of Sweden, ruled by the Scylfings.—35 13.

Thrytho.—Wife of Offa, king of the Angles. Known for her fierce and unwomanly disposition.
She is introduced as a contrast to the gentle Hygd, queen of Higelac.—28 42;
28 56.

Unferth.—Son of Ecglaf, and seemingly a confidential courtier of Hrothgar. Taunts
Beowulf for having taken part in the swimming-match. Lends Beowulf his sword
when he goes to look for Grendel’s mother. In the MS. sometimes written Hunferth. 9 1;
18 41.

Wæls.—Father of Sigemund.—14 60.

Wægmunding.—A name occasionally applied to Wiglaf and Beowulf, and perhaps derived
from a common ancestor, Wægmund.—36 6; 38 61.

Weders.—Another name for Geats or Wedergeats.

Wayland.—A fabulous smith mentioned in this poem and in other old Teutonic literature.—7 83.

Wendels.—The people of Wulfgar, Hrothgar’s messenger and retainer. (Perhaps = Vandals.)—6 30.

Wealhtheow.—Wife of Hrothgar. Her queenly courtesy is well shown in the poem.—10 55.

Weohstan, or Wihstan.—A Wægmunding, and father of Wiglaf.—36 1.

Whale’s Ness.—A prominent promontory, on which Beowulf’s mound was built.—38 52;
42 76.

Wiglaf.—Son of Wihstan, and related to Beowulf. He remains faithful to Beowulf in the
fatal struggle with the fire-drake. Would rather die than leave his lord in his dire
emergency.—36 1; 36 3; 36 28.

Wonred.—Father of Wulf and Eofor.—41 20; 41 26.

Wulf.—Son of Wonred. Engaged in the battle between Higelac’s and Ongentheow’s
forces, and had a hand-to-hand fight with Ongentheow himself. Ongentheow disables
him, and is thereupon slain by Eofor.—41 19; 41 29.

Wulfgar.—Lord of the Wendels, and retainer of Hrothgar.—6 18; 6 30.

Wylfings.—A people to whom belonged Heatholaf, who was slain by Ecgtheow.—8 6; 8 16.

Yrmenlaf.—Younger brother of Æschere, the hero whose death grieved Hrothgar so
deeply.—21 4.

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LIST OF WORDS AND PHRASES
NOT IN GENERAL USE.

ATHELING.—Prince, nobleman.

BAIRN.—Son, child.

BARROW.—Mound, rounded hill, funeral-mound.

BATTLE-SARK.—Armor.

BEAKER.—Cup, drinking-vessel.

BEGEAR.—Prepare.

BIGHT.—Bay, sea.

BILL.—Sword.

BOSS.—Ornamental projection.

BRACTEATE.—A round ornament on a necklace.

BRAND.—Sword.

BURN.—Stream.

BURNIE.—Armor.

CARLE.—Man, hero.

EARL.—Nobleman, any brave man.

EKE.—Also.

EMPRISE.—Enterprise, undertaking.

ERST.—Formerly.

ERST-WORTHY.—Worthy for a long time past.

FAIN.—Glad.

FERRY.—Bear, carry.

FEY.—Fated, doomed.

FLOAT.—Vessel, ship.

FOIN.—To lunge (Shaks.).

GLORY OF KINGS.—God.

GREWSOME.—Cruel, fierce.

HEFT.—Handle, hilt; used by synecdoche for ‘sword.’

HELM.—Helmet, protector.

HENCHMAN.—Retainer, vassal.

HIGHT.—Am (was) named.

HOLM.—Ocean, curved surface of the sea.

HIMSEEMED.—(It) seemed to him.

LIEF.—Dear, valued.

MERE.—Sea; in compounds, ‘mere-ways,’ ‘mere-currents,’ etc.

MICKLE.—Much.

NATHLESS.—Nevertheless.

NAZE.—Edge (nose).

NESS.—Edge.

NICKER.—Sea-beast.

QUIT, QUITE.—Requite.

RATHE.—Quickly.

REAVE.—Bereave, deprive.

SAIL-ROAD.—Sea.

SETTLE.—Seat, bench.

SKINKER.—One who pours.

SOOTHLY.—Truly.

SWINGE.—Stroke, blow.

TARGE, TARGET.—Shield.

THROUGHLY.—Thoroughly.

TOLD.—Counted.

UNCANNY.—Ill-featured, grizzly.

UNNETHE.—Difficult.

WAR-SPEED.—Success in war.

WEB.—Tapestry (that which is ‘woven’).

WEEDED.—Clad (cf. widow’s weeds).

WEEN.—Suppose, imagine.

WEIRD.—Fate, Providence.

WHILOM.—At times, formerly, often.

WIELDER.—Ruler. Often used of God; also in compounds, as ‘Wielder of Glory,’ ‘Wielder of Worship.’

WIGHT.—Creature.

WOLD.—Plane, extended surface.

WOT.—Knows.

YOUNKER.—Youth.

[1]

I.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SCYLD.

The famous race of
Spear-Danes.

Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements

The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of,

How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.

Scyld, their mighty
king, in honor of
whom they are
often called Scyldings.
He is the
great-grandfather
of Hrothgar, so
prominent in the
poem.

Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers

5

From many a people their mead-benches tore.

Since first he found him friendless and wretched,

The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it,

Waxed ’neath the welkin, world-honor gained,

Till all his neighbors o’er sea were compelled to

10

Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute:

An excellent atheling! After was borne him

A son is born to
him, who receives
the name of
Beowulf—a name
afterwards made so
famous by the hero
of the poem.

A son and heir, young in his dwelling,

Whom God-Father sent to solace the people.

He had marked the misery malice had caused them,

15

That reaved of their rulers they wretched had erstwhile

Long been afflicted. The Lord, in requital,

Wielder of Glory, with world-honor blessed him.

Famed was Beowulf, far spread the glory

Of Scyld’s great son in the lands of the Danemen.

[2]

The ideal Teutonic
king lavishes gifts
on his vassals.

20

So the carle that is young, by kindnesses rendered

The friends of his father, with fees in abundance

Must be able to earn that when age approacheth

Eager companions aid him requitingly,

When war assaults him serve him as liegemen:

25

By praise-worthy actions must honor be got

’Mong all of the races. At the hour that was fated

Scyld dies at the
hour appointed by
Fate.

Scyld then departed to the All-Father’s keeping

Warlike to wend him; away then they bare him

To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades,

30

As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings

Word-sway wielded, and the well-lovèd land-prince

Long did rule them.

The ring-stemmèd vessel,

Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor,

Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing;

By his own request,
his body is
laid on a vessel
and wafted seaward.

35

The belovèd leader laid they down there,

Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel,

The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels,

Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over,

Was placed near at hand then; and heard I not ever

40

That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly

With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle,

Bills and burnies; on his bosom sparkled

Many a jewel that with him must travel

On the flush of the flood afar on the current.

45

And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly,

Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him

He leaves Daneland
on the breast
of a bark.

Who when first he was born outward did send him

Lone on the main, the merest of infants:

And a gold-fashioned standard they stretched under heaven

[3]

50

High o’er his head, let the holm-currents bear him,

Seaward consigned him: sad was their spirit,

Their mood very mournful. Men are not able

No one knows
whither the boat
drifted.

Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside,

Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied.

II.

SCYLD’S SUCCESSORS.—HROTHGAR’S GREAT MEAD-HALL.

Beowulf succeeds
his father Scyld

In the boroughs then Beowulf, bairn of the Scyldings,

Belovèd land-prince, for long-lasting season

Was famed mid the folk (his father departed,

The prince from his dwelling), till afterward sprang

5

Great-minded Healfdene; the Danes in his lifetime

He graciously governed, grim-mooded, agèd.

Healfdene’s birth.

Four bairns of his body born in succession

Woke in the world, war-troopers’ leader

Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good;

10

Heard I that Elan was Ongentheow’s consort,

He has three sons—one
of them,
Hrothgar—and a
daughter named
Elan. Hrothgar
becomes a mighty
king.

The well-beloved bedmate of the War-Scylfing leader.

Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given,

Waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen

Obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood,

15

A numerous band. It burned in his spirit

To urge his folk to found a great building,

A mead-hall grander than men of the era

He is eager to
build a great hall
in which he may
feast his retainers

Ever had heard of, and in it to share

With young and old all of the blessings

20

The Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers.

Then the work I find afar was assigned

[4]

To many races in middle-earth’s regions,

To adorn the great folk-hall. In due time it happened

Early ’mong men, that ’twas finished entirely,

25

The greatest of hall-buildings; Heorot he named it

The hall is completed,
and is called Heort, or
Heorot.

Who wide-reaching word-sway wielded ’mong earlmen.

His promise he brake not, rings he lavished,

Treasure at banquet. Towered the hall up

High and horn-crested, huge between antlers:

30

It battle-waves bided, the blasting fire-demon;

Ere long then from hottest hatred must sword-wrath

Arise for a woman’s husband and father.

Then the mighty war-spirit

endured for a season,

The Monster Grendel
is madly envious
of the Danemen’s
joy.

Bore it bitterly, he who bided in darkness,

35

That light-hearted laughter loud in the building

Greeted him daily; there was dulcet harp-music,

Clear song of the singer. He said that was able

[The course of the
story is interrupted
by a short reference
to some old account of the
creation.]

To tell from of old earthmen’s beginnings,

That Father Almighty earth had created,

40

The winsome wold that the water encircleth,

Set exultingly the sun’s and the moon’s beams

To lavish their lustre on land-folk and races,

And earth He embellished in all her regions

With limbs and leaves; life He bestowed too

45

On all the kindreds that live under heaven.

The glee of the
warriors is overcast
by a horrible
dread.

So blessed with abundance, brimming with joyance,

The warriors abided, till a certain one gan to

Dog them with deeds of direfullest malice,

A foe in the hall-building: this horrible stranger

50

Was Grendel entitled, the march-stepper famous

Who

dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness;

The wan-mooded being abode for a season

[5]

In the land of the giants, when the Lord and Creator

Had banned him and branded. For that bitter murder,

55

The killing of Abel, all-ruling Father

Cain is referred to
as a progenitor of
Grendel, and of
monsters in general.

The kindred of Cain crushed with His vengeance;

In the feud He rejoiced not, but far away drove him

From kindred and kind, that crime to atone for,

Meter of Justice. Thence ill-favored creatures,

60

Elves and giants, monsters of ocean,

Came into being, and the giants that longtime

Grappled with God; He gave them requital.

III.

GRENDEL THE MURDERER.

Grendel attacks the
sleeping heroes

When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit

The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used it

For beds and benches when the banquet was over.

Then he found there reposing many a noble

5

Asleep after supper; sorrow the heroes,

Misery knew not. The monster of evil

Greedy and cruel tarried but little,

He drags off thirty
of them, and devours
them

Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers

Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed

10

Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to,

With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward.

In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking,

Was Grendel’s prowess revealed to the warriors:

A cry of agony
goes up, when
Grendel’s horrible
deed is fully realized.

Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted,

15

Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous,

The long-worthy atheling, sat very woful,

Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen,

[6]

When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer,

The spirit accursèd: too crushing that sorrow,

The monster returns
the next
night.

20

Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried,

But one night after continued his slaughter

Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little

From malice and murder; they mastered him fully.

He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for

25

A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges,

A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice

Told him truly by token apparent

The hall-thane’s hatred: he held himself after

Further and faster who the foeman did baffle.

30

So ruled he and strongly strove against justice

Lone against all men, till empty uptowered

King Hrothgar’s
agony and suspense
last twelve
years.

The choicest of houses. Long was the season:

Twelve-winters’ time torture suffered

The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction,

35

Endless agony; hence it after

became

Certainly known to the children of men

Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar

Grendel struggled:—his grudges he cherished,

Murderous malice, many a winter,

40

Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he

Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of

The men of the Dane-folk, for money to settle,

No counsellor needed count for a moment

[7]

On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer;

Grendel is unremitting
in his persecutions.

45

The monster of evil fiercely did harass,

The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger,

Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then

The mist-covered moor-fens; men do not know where

Witches and wizards wander and ramble.

50

So the foe of mankind many of evils

Grievous injuries, often accomplished,

Horrible hermit; Heort he frequented,

Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen

God is against the
monster.

(Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch,

55

The light-flashing jewel, love of Him knew not).

’Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings

The king and his
council deliberate
in vain.

Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private

Sat the king in his council; conference held they

What the braves should determine ’gainst terrors unlooked for.

They invoke the
aid of their gods.

60

At the shrines of their idols often they promised

Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they

The devil from hell would help them to lighten

Their people’s oppression. Such practice they used then,

Hope of the heathen; hell they remembered

65

In innermost spirit, God they knew not,

The true God they
do not know.

Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler,

No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven,

The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who

Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to

70

The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for,

Wax no wiser; well for the man who,

Living his life-days, his Lord may face

And find defence in his Father’s embrace!

[8]

IV.

BEOWULF GOES TO HROTHGAR’S ASSISTANCE.

Hrothgar sees no
way of escape from
the persecutions of
Grendel.

So Healfdene’s kinsman constantly mused on

His long-lasting sorrow; the battle-thane clever

Was not anywise able evils to ’scape from:

Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people,

5

Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture,

Beowulf, the Geat,
hero of the poem,
hears of Hrothgar’s
sorrow, and resolves
to go to his
assistance.

Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac’s liegeman,

Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel’s achievements

Heard in his home:

of heroes then living

He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble.

10

He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty;

He said he the war-king would seek o’er the ocean,

The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers.

For the perilous project prudent companions

Chided him little, though loving him dearly;

15

They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.

With fourteen carefully
chosen companions,
he sets out
for Dane-land.

The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen

Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them

Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions

The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them,

20

A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country.

Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water,

The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then

Well-equipped warriors: the wave-currents twisted

The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried

25

On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels,

Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then,

Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.

[9]

The vessel sails
like a bird

The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze,

Likest a bird, glided the waters,

In twenty four
hours they reach
the shores of
Hrothgar’s dominions

30

Till twenty and four hours thereafter

The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance

That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments,

The sea cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains,

Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits

35

At the end of the ocean.

Up thence quickly

The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland,

Fastened their vessel (battle weeds rattled,

War burnies clattered), the Wielder they thanked

That the ways o’er the waters had waxen so gentle.

They are hailed by
the Danish coast
guard

40

Then well from the cliff edge the guard of the Scyldings

Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o’er the gangway

Brave ones bearing beauteous targets,

Armor all ready, anxiously thought he,

Musing and wondering what men were approaching.

45

High on his horse then Hrothgar’s retainer

Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished

His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness.

His challenge

“Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors

Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving

50

A high riding ship o’er the shoals of the waters,

And hither ’neath helmets have hied o’er the ocean?

[10]

I have been strand-guard, standing as warden,

Lest enemies ever anywise ravage

Danish dominions with army of war-ships.

55

More boldly never have warriors ventured

Hither to come; of kinsmen’s approval,

Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely

He is struck by
Beowulf’s appearance.

Nothing have known. Never a greater one

Of earls o’er the earth have I had a sight of

60

Than is one of your number, a hero in armor;

No low-ranking fellow

adorned with his weapons,

But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving,

And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey

As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings

65

And farther fare, I fully must know now

What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers,

Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion

Hear ye and hearken: haste is most fitting

Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from.”

V.

THE GEATS REACH HEOROT.

Beowulf courteously
replies.

The chief of the strangers rendered him answer,

War-troopers’ leader, and word-treasure opened:

We are Geats.

“We are sprung from the lineage of the people of Geatland,

And Higelac’s hearth-friends. To heroes unnumbered

My father Ecgtheow
was well-known
in his day.

5

My father was known, a noble head-warrior

Ecgtheow titled; many a winter

He lived with the people, ere he passed on his journey,

Old from his dwelling; each of the counsellors

Widely mid world-folk well remembers him.

Our intentions
towards King
Hrothgar are of the
kindest.

10

We, kindly of spirit, the lord of thy people,

The son of King Healfdene, have come here to visit,

[11]

Folk-troop’s defender: be free in thy counsels!

To the noble one bear we a weighty commission,

The helm of the Danemen; we shall hide, I ween,

Is it true that a
monster is slaying
Danish heroes?

15

Naught of our message. Thou know’st if it happen,

As we soothly heard say, that some savage despoiler,

Some hidden pursuer, on nights that are murky

By deeds very direful ’mid the Danemen exhibits

Hatred unheard of, horrid destruction

20

And the falling of dead. From feelings least selfish

I can help your
king to free himself
from this horrible
creature.

I am able to render counsel to Hrothgar,

How he, wise and worthy, may worst the destroyer,

If the anguish of sorrow should ever be lessened,

Comfort come to him, and care-waves grow cooler,

25

Or ever hereafter he agony suffer

And troublous distress, while towereth upward

The handsomest of houses high on the summit.”

The coast-guard
reminds Beowulf
that it is easier to
say than to do.

Bestriding his stallion, the strand-watchman answered,

The doughty retainer: “The difference surely

30

’Twixt words and works, the warlike shield-bearer

Who judgeth wisely well shall determine.

This band, I hear, beareth no malice

I am satisfied of
your good intentions,
and shall lead
you to the palace.

To the prince of the Scyldings. Pass ye then onward

With weapons and armor. I shall lead you in person;

35

To my war-trusty vassals command I shall issue

To keep from all injury your excellent vessel,

Your boat shall be
well cared for during
your stay here.

Your fresh-tarred craft, ’gainst every opposer

Close by the sea-shore, till the curved-neckèd bark shall

Waft back again the well-beloved hero

40

O’er the way of the water to Weder dominions.

He again compliments
Beowulf.

To warrior so great ’twill be granted sure

In the storm of strife to stand secure.”

Onward they fared then (the vessel lay quiet,

The broad-bosomed bark was bound by its cable,

[12]

45

Firmly at anchor); the boar-signs glistened

Bright on the visors vivid with gilding,

Blaze-hardened, brilliant; the boar acted warden.

The heroes hastened, hurried the liegemen,

The land is perhaps
rolling.

Descended together, till they saw the great palace,

50

The well-fashioned wassail-hall wondrous and gleaming:

Heorot flashes on
their view.

’Mid world-folk and kindreds that was widest reputed

Of halls under heaven which the hero abode in;

Its lustre enlightened lands without number.

Then the battle-brave hero showed them the glittering

55

Court of the bold ones, that they easily thither

Might fare on their journey; the aforementioned warrior

Turning his courser, quoth as he left them:

The coast-guard,
having discharged
his duty, bids them
God-speed.

“’Tis time I were faring; Father Almighty

Grant you His grace, and give you to journey

60

Safe on your mission! To the sea I will get me

’Gainst hostile warriors as warden to stand.”

VI.

BEOWULF INTRODUCES HIMSELF AT THE PALACE.

The highway glistened with many-hued pebble,

A by-path led the liegemen together.

Firm and hand-locked the war-burnie glistened,

The ring-sword radiant rang ’mid the armor

5

As the party was approaching the palace together

They set their
arms and armor
against the wall.

In warlike equipments. ’Gainst the wall of the building

Their wide-fashioned war-shields they weary did set then,

[13]

Battle-shields sturdy; benchward they turned then;

Their battle-sarks rattled, the gear of the heroes;

10

The lances stood up then, all in a cluster,

The arms of the seamen, ashen-shafts mounted

With edges of iron: the armor-clad troopers

A Danish hero
asks them whence
and why they are
come.

Were decked with weapons. Then a proud-mooded hero

Asked of the champions questions of lineage:

15

“From what borders bear ye your battle-shields plated,

Gilded and gleaming, your gray-colored burnies,

Helmets with visors and heap of war-lances?—

To Hrothgar the king I am servant and liegeman.

’Mong folk from far-lands found I have never

He expresses no
little admiration
for the strangers.

20

Men so many of mien more courageous.

I ween that from valor, nowise as outlaws,

But from greatness of soul ye sought for King Hrothgar.”

Beowulf replies.

Then the strength-famous earlman answer rendered,

The proud-mooded Wederchief replied to his question,

We are Higelac’s
table-companions,
and bear an important
commission to
your prince.

25

Hardy ’neath helmet: “Higelac’s mates are we;

Beowulf hight I. To the bairn of Healfdene,

The famous folk-leader, I freely will tell

To thy prince my commission, if pleasantly hearing

He’ll grant we may greet him so gracious to all men.”

30

Wulfgar replied then (he was prince of the Wendels,

His boldness of spirit was known unto many,

His prowess and prudence): “The prince of the Scyldings,

Wulfgar, the
thane, says that
he will go and ask
Hrothgar whether
he will see the
strangers.

The friend-lord of Danemen, I will ask of thy journey,

The giver of rings, as thou urgest me do it,

35

The folk-chief famous, and inform thee early

What answer the good one mindeth to render me.”

He turned then hurriedly where Hrothgar was sitting,

Old and hoary, his earlmen attending him;

The strength-famous went till he stood at the shoulder

40

Of the lord of the Danemen, of courteous thanemen

The custom he minded. Wulfgar addressed then

His friendly liegelord: “Folk of the Geatmen

[14]

He thereupon
urges his liegelord
to receive the visitors
courteously.

O’er the way of the waters are wafted hither,

Faring from far-lands: the foremost in rank

45

The battle-champions Beowulf title.

They make this petition: with thee, O my chieftain,

To be granted a conference; O gracious King Hrothgar,

Friendly answer refuse not to give them!

Hrothgar, too, is
struck with Beowulf’s
appearance.

In war-trappings weeded worthy they seem

50

Of earls to be honored; sure the atheling is doughty

Who headed the heroes hitherward coming.”

VII.

HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF.

Hrothgar remembers
Beowulf as a
youth, and also
remembers his
father.

Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings:

“I remember this man as the merest of striplings.

His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled,

Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his

5

One only daughter; his battle-brave son

Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend.

Seafaring sailors asserted it then,

Beowulf is reported
to have the
strength of thirty
men.

Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen

carried

As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men’s grapple

10

Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

God hath sent him
to our rescue.

The holy Creator usward sent him,

To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render

’Gainst Grendel’s grimness gracious assistance:

I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage.

15

Hasten to bid them hither to speed them,

To see assembled this circle of kinsmen;

Tell them expressly they’re welcome in sooth to

The men of the Danes.” To the door of the building

[15]

Wulfgar invites the
strangers in.

Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted:

20

“My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you,

The East-Danes’ atheling, that your origin knows he,

And o’er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither,

Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter

Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets,

25

To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle-boards,

Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring.”

The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman,

An excellent thane-group; some there did await them,

And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded.

30

Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them,

’Neath Heorot’s roof; the high-minded went then

Sturdy ’neath helmet till he stood in the building.

Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten,

His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman):

Beowulf salutes
Hrothgar, and
then proceeds to
boast of his youthful
achievements.

35

“Hail thou, Hrothgar! I am Higelac’s kinsman

And vassal forsooth; many a wonder

I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel,

In far-off fatherland I fully did know of:

Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth,

40

Excellent edifice, empty and useless

To all the earlmen after evenlight’s glimmer

’Neath heaven’s bright hues hath hidden its glory.

This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them,

Carles very clever, to come and assist thee,

45

Folk-leader Hrothgar; fully they knew of

His fight with the
nickers.

The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me

When I came from the contest, when covered with gore

Foes I escaped from, where five

I had bound,

[16]

The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying

50

The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows,

The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered)

Enemies ravaged; alone now with Grendel

He intends to fight
Grendel unaided.

I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil,

The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore

55

Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain,

Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition:

Not to refuse me, defender of warriors,

Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee,

That I may unaided, my earlmen assisting me,

60

This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot.

I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature

Since the monster
uses no weapons,

From veriest rashness recks not for weapons;

I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious,

My liegelord belovèd, lenient of spirit,

65

To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target,

A shield to the onset; only with hand-grip

I, too, shall disdain
to use any.

The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then,

Foeman with foeman; he fain must rely on

The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of.

Should he crush
me, he will eat my
companions as he
has eaten thy
thanes.

70

I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle,

To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk,

Boldly to swallow

them, as of yore he did often

The best of the Hrethmen! Thou needest not trouble

A head-watch to give me;

he will have me dripping

[17]

In case of my defeat,
thou wilt not
have the trouble of
burying me.

75

And dreary with gore, if death overtake me,

Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me,

The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity,

Marking the moor-fens; no more wilt thou need then

Should I fall, send
my armor to my
lord, King Higelac.

Find me my food.

If I fall in the battle,

80

Send to Higelac the armor that serveth

To shield my bosom, the best of equipments,

Richest of ring-mails; ’tis the relic of Hrethla,

Weird is supreme

The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go!”

VIII.

HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF.—Continued.

Hrothgar responds.

Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings:

“To defend our folk and to furnish assistance,

Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf.

Reminiscences of
Beowulf’s father,
Ecgtheow.

The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in,

5

Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict

’Mid Wilfingish warriors; then the Wederish people

For fear of a feud were forced to disown him.

Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes,

[18]

The race of the Scyldings, o’er the roll of the waters;

10

I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen,

The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth,

Rich in its jewels: dead was Heregar,

My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken,

Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am!

15

That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded;

O’er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent

Ornaments old; oaths did he swear me.

Hrothgar recounts
to Beowulf the
horrors of Grendel’s
persecutions.

It pains me in spirit to any to tell it,

What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me,

20

What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing.

Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop;

Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel.

God can easily hinder the scather

From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer

My thanes have
made many boasts,
but have not executed
them.

25

O’er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor

They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches

A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges.

Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking,

The building was bloody at breaking of daylight,

30

The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied,

The folk-hall was gory: I had fewer retainers,

Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of.

Sit down to the
feast, and give us
comfort.

Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes,

Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee!”

A bench is made
ready for Beowulf
and his party.

35

For the men of the Geats then together assembled,

In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready;

There warlike in spirit they went to be seated,

Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service,

[19]

Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum,

The gleeman sings

40

And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom

The heroes all rejoice
together.

Hearty in Heorot; there was heroes’ rejoicing,

A numerous war-band of Weders and Danemen.

IX.

UNFERTH TAUNTS BEOWULF.

Unferth, a thane
of Hrothgar, is
jealous of Beowulf,
and undertakes to
twit him.

Unferth spoke up, Ecglaf his son,

Who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings,

Opened the jousting (the journey

of Beowulf,

Sea-farer doughty, gave sorrow to Unferth

5

And greatest chagrin, too, for granted he never

That any man else on earth should attain to,

Gain under heaven, more glory than he):

Did you take part
in a swimming-match
with Breca?

“Art thou that Beowulf with Breca did struggle,

On the wide sea-currents at swimming contended,

10

Where to humor your pride the ocean ye tried,

’Twas mere folly
that actuated you
both to risk your
lives on the ocean.

From vainest vaunting adventured your bodies

In care of the waters? And no one was able

Nor lief nor loth one, in the least to dissuade you

Your difficult voyage; then ye ventured a-swimming,

15

Where your arms outstretching the streams ye did cover,

The mere-ways measured, mixing and stirring them,

Glided the ocean; angry the waves were,

With the weltering of winter. In the water’s possession,

Ye toiled for a seven-night; he at swimming outdid thee,

20

In strength excelled thee. Then early at morning

On the Heathoremes’ shore the holm-currents tossed him,

Sought he thenceward the home of his fathers,

Beloved of his liegemen, the land of the Brondings,

The peace-castle pleasant, where a people he wielded,

[20]

25

Had borough and jewels. The pledge that he made thee

Breca outdid you
entirely.

The son of Beanstan hath soothly accomplished.

Then I ween thou wilt find thee less fortunate issue,

Much more will
Grendel outdo you,
if you vie with him
in prowess.

Though ever triumphant in onset of battle,

A grim grappling, if Grendel thou darest

30

For the space of a night near-by to wait for!”

Beowulf retaliates.

Beowulf answered, offspring of Ecgtheow:

“My good friend Unferth, sure freely and wildly,

O friend Unferth,
you are fuddled
with beer, and cannot
talk coherently.

Thou fuddled with beer of Breca hast spoken,

Hast told of his journey! A fact I allege it,

35

That greater strength in the waters I had then,

Ills in the ocean, than any man else had.

We made agreement as the merest of striplings

Promised each other (both of us then were

We simply kept an
engagement made
in early life.

Younkers in years) that we yet would adventure

40

Out on the ocean; it all we accomplished.

While swimming the sea-floods, sword-blade unscabbarded

Boldly we brandished, our bodies expected

To shield from the sharks. He sure was unable

He could not excel
me, and I would
not excel him.

To swim on the waters further than I could,

45

More swift on the waves, nor would I from him go.

Then we two companions stayed in the ocean

After five days the
currents separated
us.

Five nights together, till the currents did part us,

The weltering waters, weathers the bleakest,

And nethermost night, and the north-wind whistled

50

Fierce in our faces; fell were the billows.

The mere fishes’ mood was mightily ruffled:

And there against foemen my firm-knotted corslet,

Hand-jointed, hardy, help did afford me;

My battle-sark braided, brilliantly gilded,

A horrible sea-beast
attacked me,
but I slew him.

55

Lay on my bosom. To the bottom then dragged me,

A hateful fiend-scather, seized me and held me,

Grim in his grapple: ’twas granted me, nathless,

To pierce the monster with the point of my weapon,

My obedient blade; battle offcarried

60

The mighty mere-creature by means of my hand-blow.

[21]

X.

BEOWULF SILENCES UNFERTH.—GLEE IS HIGH.

“So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me

Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance,

My dear sword
always served me
faithfully.

With my dear-lovèd sword, as in sooth it was fitting;

They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly,

5

Ill-doers evil, of eating my body,

Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean;

But wounded with edges early at morning

They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean,

I put a stop to the
outrages of the sea-monsters.

Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers

10

No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing

The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east,

God’s beautiful beacon; the billows subsided,

That well I could see the nesses projecting,

Fortune helps the
brave earl.

The blustering crags. Weird often saveth

15

The undoomed hero if doughty his valor!

But me did it fortune

to fell with my weapon

Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder

’Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely,

Nor of wight more woful in the waves of the ocean;

20

Yet I ’scaped with my life the grip of the monsters,

After that escape I
drifted to Finland.

Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me

To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current,

I have never heard
of your doing any
such bold deeds.

The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me

Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth,

25

And of sword-terror none; never hath Breca

At the play of the battle, nor either of you two,

Feat so fearless performèd with weapons

Glinting and gleaming . . . . . . . . . . . .

[22]

. . . . . . . . . . . . I utter no boasting;

You are a slayer of
brothers, and will
suffer damnation,
wise as you may
be.

30

Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers,

Thy nearest of kin; thou needs must in hell get

Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom.

I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf,

Never had Grendel such numberless horrors,

35

The direful demon, done to thy liegelord,

Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy,

Had your acts been
as brave as your
words, Grendel had
not ravaged your
land so long.

Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them.

He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred,

The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred,

40

Of the Victory-Scyldings, need little dismay him:

Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares

The monster is not
afraid of the Danes,

Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure,

Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth

but he will soon
learn to dread the
Geats.

From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor

45

Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture

To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able

Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning

On the second day,
any warrior may
go unmolested to
the mead-banquet.

Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes,

O’er children of men shines from the southward!”

50

Then the gray-haired, war-famed giver of treasure

Hrothgar’s spirits
are revived.

Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright-Danish ruler

Expected assistance; the people’s protector

The old king trusts
Beowulf.
The heroes are
joyful.

Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution.

There was laughter of heroes; loud was the clatter,

55

The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then,

Queen Wealhtheow
plays the
hostess.

Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful,

Gold-decked saluted the men in the building,

And the freeborn woman the beaker presented

She offers the cup
to her husband
first.

To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes,

60

Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing,

Lief to his liegemen; he lustily tasted

Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler.

The Helmingish lady then graciously circled

’Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater:

[23]

She gives presents
to the heroes.

65

Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded

That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen

Then she offers the
cup to Beowulf,
thanking God that
aid has come.

Might bear to Beowulf the bumper o’errunning;

She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank,

Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished,

70

That in any of earlmen she ever should look for

Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker,

Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow’s giving,

Beowulf states to
the queen the object
of his visit.

Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures,

Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow:

75

“I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean,

I determined to do
or die.

When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen,

I would work to the fullest the will of your people

Or in foe’s-clutches fastened fall in the battle.

Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess,

80

Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall.”

These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing,

The boast of the Geatman; with gold trappings broidered

Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by.

Glee is high.

Then again as of yore was heard in the building

85

Courtly discussion, conquerors’ shouting,

Heroes were happy, till Healfdene’s son would

Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing;

For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he

A fight was determined,

since the light of the sun they

90

No longer could see, and lowering darkness

O’er all had descended, and dark under heaven

Shadowy shapes came shying around them.

Hrothgar retires,
leaving Beowulf in
charge of the hall.

The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other,

Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures,

95

Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving

To his care and keeping, quoth he departing:

[24]

“Not to any one else have I ever entrusted,

But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen,

Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler.

100

Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses;

Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess,

Watch ’gainst the foeman! Thou shalt want no enjoyments,

Survive thou safely adventure so glorious!”

XI.

ALL SLEEP SAVE ONE.

Hrothgar retires.

Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him,

Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building;

The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for,

The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel

God has provided
a watch for the
hall.

5

The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch,

As men heard recounted: for the king of the Danemen

He did special service, gave the giant a watcher:

And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted

Beowulf is self-confident

His warlike strength and the Wielder’s protection.

He prepares for
rest.

10

His armor of iron off him he did then,

His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed

His chased-handled chain-sword, choicest of weapons,

And bade him bide with his battle-equipments.

The good one then uttered words of defiance,

15

Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted:

Beowulf boasts of
his ability to cope
with Grendel.

“I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess,

In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself;

Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber,

Of life to bereave him, though well I am able.

We will fight with
nature’s weapons
only.

20

No battle-skill

has he, that blows he should strike me,

To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty

[25]

In strife and destruction; but struggling by night we

Shall do without edges, dare he to look for

Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father

25

The glory apportion, God ever-holy,

God may decide
who shall conquer

On which hand soever to him seemeth proper.”

Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber,

The pillow received the cheek of the noble;

The Geatish warriors
lie down.

And many a martial mere-thane attending

30

Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely

They thought it
very unlikely that
they should ever
see their homes
again.

That ever thereafter any should hope to

Be happy at home, hero-friends visit

Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood;

They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall,

35

Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings

But God raised up
a deliverer.

Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted

The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes

Aid and comfort, that every opponent

By one man’s war-might they worsted and vanquished,

God rules the
world.

40

By the might of himself; the truth is established

That God Almighty hath governed for ages

Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid

Grendel comes to
Heorot.

The trav’ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding.

The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building,

Only one warrior
is awake.

45

One only excepted. ’Mid earthmen ’twas ’stablished,

Th’ implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them

To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling;

But serving as warder, in terror to foemen,

He angrily bided the issue of battle.

[26]

XII.

GRENDEL AND BEOWULF.

Grendel comes
from the fens.

’Neath the cloudy cliffs came from the moor then

Grendel going, God’s anger bare he.

The monster intended some one of earthmen

In the hall-building grand to entrap and make way with:

He goes towards
the joyous building.

5

He went under welkin where well he knew of

The wine-joyous building, brilliant with plating,

Gold-hall of earthmen. Not the earliest occasion

This was not his
first visit there.

He the home and manor of Hrothgar had sought:

Ne’er found he in life-days later nor earlier

10

Hardier hero, hall-thanes

more sturdy!

Then came to the building the warrior marching,

His horrid fingers
tear the door open.

Bereft of his joyance. The door quickly opened

On fire-hinges fastened, when his fingers had touched it;

The fell one had flung then—his fury so bitter—

15

Open the entrance. Early thereafter

The foeman trod the shining hall-pavement,

He strides furiously
into the hall.

Strode he angrily; from the eyes of him glimmered

A lustre unlovely likest to fire.

He beheld in the hall the heroes in numbers,

20

A circle of kinsmen sleeping together,

He exults over his
supposed prey.

A throng of thanemen: then his thoughts were exultant,

He minded to sunder from each of the thanemen

The life from his body, horrible demon,

Ere morning came, since fate had allowed him

Fate has decreed
that he shall devour
no more heroes.
Beowulf suffers
from suspense.

25

The prospect of plenty. Providence willed not

To permit him any more of men under heaven

To eat in the night-time. Higelac’s kinsman

Great sorrow endured how the dire-mooded creature

[27]

In unlooked-for assaults were likely to bear him.

30

No thought had the monster of deferring the matter,

Grendel immediately
seizes a
sleeping warrior,
and devours him.

But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of

A soldier asleep, suddenly tore him,

Bit his bone-prison, the blood drank in currents,

Swallowed in mouthfuls: he soon had the dead man’s

35

Feet and hands, too, eaten entirely.

Nearer he strode then, the stout-hearted warrior

Beowulf and Grendel
grapple.

Snatched as he slumbered, seizing with hand-grip,

Forward the foeman foined with his hand;

Caught he quickly the cunning deviser,

40

On his elbow he rested. This early discovered

The master of malice, that in middle-earth’s regions,

’Neath the whole of the heavens, no hand-grapple greater

The monster is
amazed at Beowulf’s
strength.

In any man else had he ever encountered:

Fearful in spirit, faint-mooded waxed he,

45

Not off could betake him; death he was pondering,

He is anxious to
flee.

Would fly to his covert, seek the devils’ assembly:

His calling no more was the same he had followed

Long in his lifetime. The liege-kinsman worthy

Beowulf recalls his
boast of the evening,
and determines
to fulfil it.

Of Higelac minded his speech of the evening,

50

Stood he up straight and stoutly did seize him.

His fingers crackled; the giant was outward,

The earl stepped farther. The famous one minded

To flee away farther, if he found an occasion,

And off and away, avoiding delay,

55

To fly to the fen-moors; he fully was ware of

The strength of his grapple in the grip of the foeman.

’Twas a luckless
day for Grendel.

’Twas an ill-taken journey that the injury-bringing,

Harrying harmer to Heorot wandered:

The hall groans.

The palace re-echoed; to all of the Danemen,

60

Dwellers in castles, to each of the bold ones,

Earlmen, was terror. Angry they both were,

Archwarders raging.

Rattled the building;

[28]

’Twas a marvellous wonder that the wine-hall withstood then

The bold-in-battle, bent not to earthward,

65

Excellent earth-hall; but within and without it

Was fastened so firmly in fetters of iron,

By the art of the armorer. Off from the sill there

Bent mead-benches many, as men have informed me,

Adorned with gold-work, where the grim ones did struggle.

70

The Scylding wise men weened ne’er before

That by might and main-strength a man under heaven

Might break it in pieces, bone-decked, resplendent,

Crush it by cunning, unless clutch of the fire

In smoke should consume it. The sound mounted upward

Grendel’s cries terrify
the Danes.

75

Novel enough; on the North Danes fastened

A terror of anguish, on all of the men there

Who heard from the wall the weeping and plaining,

The song of defeat from the foeman of heaven,

Heard him hymns of horror howl, and his sorrow

80

Hell-bound bewailing. He held him too firmly

Who was strongest of main-strength of men of that era.

XIII.

GRENDEL IS VANQUISHED.

Beowulf has no
idea of letting
Grendel live.

For no cause whatever would the earlmen’s defender

Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer,

He deemed his existence utterly useless

To men under heaven. Many a noble

5

Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old,

Would guard the life of his lord and protector,

The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so;

While waging the warfare, this wist they but little,

Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending

No weapon would
harm Grendel; he
bore a charmed
life.

10

To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit:

That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons

Of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills

[29]

Was willing to injure; but weapons of victory

Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with.

15

His death at that time must prove to be wretched,

And the far-away spirit widely should journey

Into enemies’ power. This plainly he saw then

Who with mirth

of mood malice no little

Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen

20

(To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him,

But Higelac’s hardy henchman and kinsman

Held him by the hand; hateful to other

Grendel is sorely
wounded.

Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered

The direful demon, damage incurable

His body bursts.

25

Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered,

His body did burst. To Beowulf was given

Glory in battle; Grendel from thenceward

Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes,

Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for

30

Unwinsome and woful; he wist the more fully

The monster flees
away to hide in
the moors.

The end of his earthly existence was nearing,

His life-days’ limits. At last for the Danemen,

When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished.

The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil,

35

Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar,

Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work,

In repute for prowess; the prince of the Geatmen

For the East-Danish people his boast had accomplished,

Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully,

40

The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered

And were forced to endure from crushing oppression,

Their manifold misery. ’Twas a manifest token,

Beowulf suspends
Grendel’s hand and
arm in Heorot.

When the hero-in-battle the hand suspended,

The arm and the shoulder (there was all of the claw

45

Of Grendel together) ’neath great-stretching hall-roof.

[30]

XIV.

REJOICING OF THE DANES.

At early dawn,
warriors from far
and near come together
to hear of
the night’s adventures.

In the mist of the morning many a warrior

Stood round the gift-hall, as the story is told me:

Folk-princes fared then from far and from near

Through long-stretching journeys to look at the wonder,

5

The footprints of the foeman. Few of the warriors

Few warriors lamented
Grendel’s
destruction.

Who gazed on the foot-tracks of the inglorious creature

His parting from life pained very deeply,

How, weary in spirit, off from those regions

In combats conquered he carried his traces,

10

Fated and flying, to the flood of the nickers.

Grendel’s blood
dyes the waters.

There in bloody billows bubbled the currents,

The angry eddy was everywhere mingled

And seething with gore, welling with sword-blood;

He death-doomed had hid him, when reaved of his joyance

15

He laid down his life in the lair he had fled to,

His heathenish spirit, where hell did receive him.

Thence the friends from of old backward turned them,

And many a younker from merry adventure,

Striding their stallions, stout from the seaward,

20

Heroes on horses. There were heard very often

Beowulf is the hero
of the hour.

Beowulf’s praises; many often asserted

That neither south nor north, in the circuit of waters,

He is regarded as a
probable successor
to Hrothgar.

O’er outstretching earth-plain, none other was better

’Mid bearers of war-shields, more worthy to govern,

25

’Neath the arch of the ether. Not any, however,

’Gainst the friend-lord muttered, mocking-words uttered

But no word is
uttered to derogate
from the old king

Of Hrothgar the gracious (a good king he).

Oft the famed ones permitted their fallow-skinned horses

[31]

To run in rivalry, racing and chasing,

30

Where the fieldways appeared to them fair and inviting,

Known for their excellence; oft a thane of the folk-lord,

The gleeman sings
the deeds of heroes.

A man of celebrity, mindful of rhythms,

Who ancient traditions treasured in memory,

New word-groups found properly bound:

35

The bard after ’gan then Beowulf’s venture

He sings in alliterative
measures of
Beowulf’s prowess.

Wisely to tell of, and words that were clever

To utter skilfully, earnestly speaking,

Everything told he that he heard as to Sigmund’s

Also of Sigemund,
who has slain a
great fire-dragon.

Mighty achievements, many things hidden,

40

The strife of the Wælsing, the wide-going ventures

The children of men knew of but little,

The feud and the fury, but Fitela with him,

When suchlike matters he minded to speak of,

Uncle to nephew, as in every contention

45

Each to other was ever devoted:

A numerous host of the race of the scathers

They had slain with the sword-edge. To Sigmund accrued then

No little of glory, when his life-days were over,

Since he sturdy in struggle had destroyed the great dragon,

50

The hoard-treasure’s keeper; ’neath the hoar-grayish stone he,

The son of the atheling, unaided adventured

The perilous project; not present was Fitela,

Yet the fortune befell him of forcing his weapon

Through the marvellous dragon, that it stood in the wall,

55

Well-honored weapon; the worm was slaughtered.

The great one had gained then by his glorious achievement

To reap from the ring-hoard richest enjoyment,

[32]

As best it did please him: his vessel he loaded,

Shining ornaments on the ship’s bosom carried,

60

Kinsman of Wæls: the drake in heat melted.

Sigemund was
widely famed.

He was farthest famed of fugitive pilgrims,

Mid wide-scattered world-folk, for works of great prowess,

War-troopers’ shelter: hence waxed he in honor.

Heremod, an unfortunate
Danish
king, is introduced
by way of contrast.

Afterward Heremod’s hero-strength failed him,

65

His vigor and valor. ’Mid venomous haters

To the hands of foemen he was foully delivered,

Offdriven early. Agony-billows

Unlike Sigemund
and Beowulf, Heremod
was a burden
to his people.

Oppressed him too long, to his people he became then,

To all the athelings, an ever-great burden;

70

And the daring one’s journey in days of yore

Many wise men were wont to deplore,

Such as hoped he would bring them help in their sorrow,

That the son of their ruler should rise into power,

Holding the headship held by his fathers,

75

Should govern the people, the gold-hoard and borough,

The kingdom of heroes, the realm of the Scyldings.

Beowulf is an
honor to his race.

He to all men became then far more beloved,

Higelac’s kinsman, to kindreds and races,

To his friends much dearer; him malice assaulted.—

The story is resumed.

80

Oft running and racing on roadsters they measured

The dun-colored highways. Then the light of the morning

Was hurried and hastened. Went henchmen in numbers

To the beautiful building, bold ones in spirit,

To look at the wonder; the liegelord himself then

85

From his wife-bower wending, warden of treasures,

Glorious trod with troopers unnumbered,

Famed for his virtues, and with him the queen-wife

Measured the mead-ways, with maidens attending.

[33]

XV.

HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE.

Hrothgar discoursed (to the hall-building went he,

He stood by the pillar,

saw the steep-rising hall-roof

Gleaming with gold-gems, and Grendel his hand there):

Hrothgar gives
thanks for the
overthrow of the
monster.

“For the sight we behold now, thanks to the Wielder

5

Early be offered! Much evil I bided,

Snaring from Grendel:

God can e’er ’complish

Wonder on wonder, Wielder of Glory!

I had given up all
hope, when this
brave liegeman
came to our aid.

But lately I reckoned ne’er under heaven

Comfort to gain me for any of sorrows,

10

While the handsomest of houses horrid with bloodstain

Gory uptowered; grief had offfrightened

Each of the wise ones who weened not that ever

The folk-troop’s defences ’gainst foes they should strengthen,

’Gainst sprites and monsters. Through the might of the Wielder

15

A doughty retainer hath a deed now accomplished

Which erstwhile we all with our excellent wisdom

If his mother yet
liveth, well may
she thank God for
this son.

Failed to perform. May affirm very truly

What woman soever in all of the nations

Gave birth to the child, if yet she surviveth,

20

That the long-ruling Lord was lavish to herward

In the birth of the bairn. Now, Beowulf dear,

Hereafter, Beowulf,
thou shalt be
my son.

Most excellent hero, I’ll love thee in spirit

As bairn of my body; bear well henceforward

The relationship new. No lack shall befall thee

25

Of earth-joys any I ever can give thee.

Full often for lesser service I’ve given

[34]

Hero less hardy hoard-treasure precious,

Thou hast won immortal
distinction.

To a weaker in war-strife. By works of distinction

Thou hast gained for thyself now that thy glory shall flourish

30

Forever and ever. The All-Ruler quite thee

With good from His hand as He hitherto did thee!”

Beowulf replies:
I was most happy
to render thee this
service.

Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow’s offspring:

“That labor of glory most gladly achieved we,

The combat accomplished, unquailing we ventured

35

The enemy’s grapple; I would grant it much rather

Thou wert able to look at the creature in person,

Faint unto falling, the foe in his trappings!

On murder-bed quickly I minded to bind him,

With firm-holding fetters, that forced by my grapple

40

Low he should lie in life-and-death struggle

’Less his body escape; I was wholly unable,

I could not keep
the monster from
escaping, as God
did not will that I
should.

Since God did not will it, to keep him from going,

Not held him that firmly, hated opposer;

Too swift was the foeman. Yet safety regarding

45

He suffered his hand behind him to linger,

His arm and shoulder, to act as watcher;

He left his hand
and arm behind.

No shadow of solace the woe-begone creature

Found him there nathless: the hated destroyer

Liveth no longer, lashed for his evils,

50

But sorrow hath seized him, in snare-meshes hath him

Close in its clutches, keepeth him writhing

In baleful bonds: there banished for evil

The man shall wait for the mighty tribunal,

God will give him
his deserts.

How the God of glory shall give him his earnings.”

55

Then the soldier kept silent, son of old Ecglaf,

Unferth has nothing
more to say,
for Beowulf’s actions
speak louder
than words.

From boasting and bragging of battle-achievements,

Since the princes beheld there the hand that depended

’Neath the lofty hall-timbers by the might of the nobleman,

Each one before him, the enemy’s fingers;

60

Each finger-nail strong steel most resembled,

The heathen one’s hand-spur, the hero-in-battle’s

Claw most uncanny; quoth they agreeing,

[35]

No sword will
harm the monster.

That not any excellent edges of brave ones

Was willing to touch him, the terrible creature’s

65

Battle-hand bloody to bear away from him.

XVI.

HROTHGAR LAVISHES GIFTS UPON HIS DELIVERER.

Heorot is adorned
with hands.

Then straight was ordered that Heorot inside

With hands be embellished: a host of them gathered,

Of men and women, who the wassailing-building

The guest-hall begeared. Gold-flashing sparkled

5

Webs on the walls then, of wonders a many

To each of the heroes that look on such objects.

The hall is defaced,
however.

The beautiful building was broken to pieces

Which all within with irons was fastened,

Its hinges torn off: only the roof was

10

Whole and uninjured when the horrible creature

Outlawed for evil off had betaken him,

Hopeless of living. ’Tis hard to avoid it

[A vague passage
of five verses.]

(Whoever will do it!); but he doubtless must come to

The place awaiting, as Wyrd hath appointed,

15

Soul-bearers, earth-dwellers, earls under heaven,

Where bound on its bed his body shall slumber

Hrothgar goes to
the banquet.

When feasting is finished. Full was the time then

That the son of Healfdene went to the building;

[36]

The excellent atheling would eat of the banquet.

20

Ne’er heard I that people with hero-band larger

Bare them better tow’rds their bracelet-bestower.

The laden-with-glory stooped to the bench then

(Their kinsmen-companions in plenty were joyful,

Many a cupful quaffing complaisantly),

25

Doughty of spirit in the high-tow’ring palace,

Hrothgar’s
nephew, Hrothulf,
is present.

Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Heorot then inside

Was filled with friendly ones; falsehood and treachery

The Folk-Scyldings now nowise did practise.

Hrothgar lavishes
gifts upon Beowulf.

Then the offspring of Healfdene offered to Beowulf

30

A golden standard, as reward for the victory,

A banner embossed, burnie and helmet;

Many men saw then a song-famous weapon

Borne ’fore the hero. Beowulf drank of

The cup in the building; that treasure-bestowing

35

He needed not blush for in battle-men’s presence.

Four handsomer
gifts were never
presented.

Ne’er heard I that many men on the ale-bench

In friendlier fashion to their fellows presented

Four bright jewels with gold-work embellished.

’Round the roof of the helmet a head-guarder outside

40

Braided with wires, with bosses was furnished,

That swords-for-the-battle fight-hardened might fail

Boldly to harm him, when the hero proceeded

Hrothgar commands
that eight
finely caparisoned
steeds be brought
to Beowulf.

Forth against foemen. The defender of earls then

Commanded that eight steeds with bridles

45

Gold-plated, gleaming, be guided to hallward,

Inside the building; on one of them stood then

An art-broidered saddle embellished with jewels;

’Twas the sovereign’s seat, when the son of King Healfdene

Was pleased to take part in the play of the edges;

50

The famous one’s valor ne’er failed at the front when

Slain ones were bowing. And to Beowulf granted

The prince of the Ingwins, power over both,

O’er war-steeds and weapons; bade him well to enjoy them.

In so manly a manner the mighty-famed chieftain,

[37]

55

Hoard-ward of heroes, with horses and jewels

War-storms requited, that none e’er condemneth

Who willeth to tell truth with full justice.

XVII.

BANQUET (continued).—THE SCOP’S SONG OF FINN AND HNÆF.

Each of Beowulf’s
companions receives
a costly gift.

And the atheling of earlmen to each of the heroes

Who the ways of the waters went with Beowulf,

A costly gift-token gave on the mead-bench,

Offered an heirloom, and ordered that that man

The warrior killed
by Grendel is to be
paid for in gold.

5

With gold should be paid for, whom Grendel had erstwhile

Wickedly slaughtered, as he more of them had done

Had far-seeing God and the mood of the hero

The fate not averted: the Father then governed

All of the earth-dwellers, as He ever is doing;

10

Hence insight for all men is everywhere fittest,

Forethought of spirit! much he shall suffer

Of lief and of loathsome who long in this present

Useth the world in this woful existence.

There was music and merriment mingling together

Hrothgar’s scop
recalls events in
the reign of his
lord’s father.

15

Touching Healfdene’s leader; the joy-wood was fingered,

Measures recited, when the singer of Hrothgar

On mead-bench should mention the merry hall-joyance

Of the kinsmen of Finn, when onset surprised them:

Hnæf, the Danish
general, is treacherously
attacked
while staying at
Finn’s castle.

“The Half-Danish hero, Hnæf of the Scyldings,

20

On the field of the Frisians was fated to perish.

Sure Hildeburg needed not mention approving

The faith of the Jutemen: though blameless entirely,

Queen Hildeburg
is not only wife of
Finn, but a kinswoman
of the murdered
Hnæf.

When shields were shivered she was shorn of her darlings,

Of bairns and brothers: they bent to their fate

25

With war-spear wounded; woe was that woman.

Not causeless lamented the daughter of Hoce

The decree of the Wielder when morning-light came and

She was able ’neath heaven to behold the destruction

[38]

Of brothers and bairns, where the brightest of earth-joys

Finn’s force is almost
exterminated.

30

She had hitherto had: all the henchmen of Finn

War had offtaken, save a handful remaining,

That he nowise was able to offer resistance

Hengest succeeds
Hnæf as Danish
general.

To the onset of Hengest in the parley of battle,

Nor the wretched remnant to rescue in war from

35

The earl of the atheling; but they offered conditions,

Compact between
the Frisians and the
Danes.

Another great building to fully make ready,

A hall and a high-seat, that half they might rule with

The sons of the Jutemen, and that Folcwalda’s son would

Day after day the Danemen honor

40

When gifts were giving, and grant of his ring-store

To Hengest’s earl-troop ever so freely,

Of his gold-plated jewels, as he encouraged the Frisians

Equality of gifts
agreed on.

On the bench of the beer-hall. On both sides they swore then

A fast-binding compact; Finn unto Hengest

45

With no thought of revoking vowed then most solemnly

The woe-begone remnant well to take charge of,

His Witan advising; the agreement should no one

By words or works weaken and shatter,

By artifice ever injure its value,

50

Though reaved of their ruler their ring-giver’s slayer

They followed as vassals, Fate so requiring:

No one shall refer
to old grudges.

Then if one of the Frisians the quarrel should speak of

In tones that were taunting, terrible edges

Should cut in requital. Accomplished the oath was,

55

And treasure of gold from the hoard was uplifted.

Danish warriors
are burned on a
funeral-pyre.

The best of the Scylding braves was then fully

Prepared for the pile; at the pyre was seen clearly

The blood-gory burnie, the boar with his gilding,

The iron-hard swine, athelings many

60

Fatally wounded; no few had been slaughtered.

Hildeburg bade then, at the burning of Hnæf,

[39]

Queen Hildeburg
has her son burnt
along with Hnæf.

The bairn of her bosom to bear to the fire,

That his body be burned and borne to the pyre.

The woe-stricken woman wept on his shoulder,

65

In measures lamented; upmounted the hero.

The greatest of dead-fires curled to the welkin,

On the hill’s-front crackled; heads were a-melting,

Wound-doors bursting, while the blood was a-coursing

From body-bite fierce. The fire devoured them,

70

Greediest of spirits, whom war had offcarried

From both of the peoples; their bravest were fallen.

XVIII.

THE FINN EPISODE (continued).—THE BANQUET CONTINUES.

The survivors go
to Friesland, the
home of Finn.

“Then the warriors departed to go to their dwellings,

Reaved of their friends, Friesland to visit,

Their homes and high-city. Hengest continued

Hengest remains
there all winter,
unable to get away.

Biding with Finn the blood-tainted winter,

5

Wholly unsundered;

of fatherland thought he

Though unable to drive the ring-stemmèd vessel

[40]

O’er the ways of the waters; the wave-deeps were tossing,

Fought with the wind; winter in ice-bonds

Closed up the currents, till there came to the dwelling

10

A year in its course, as yet it revolveth,

If season propitious one alway regardeth,

World-cheering weathers. Then winter was gone,

Earth’s bosom was lovely; the exile would get him,

He devises
schemes of vengeance.

The guest from the palace; on grewsomest vengeance

15

He brooded more eager than on oversea journeys,

Whe’r onset-of-anger he were able to ’complish,

The bairns of the Jutemen therein to remember.

Nowise refused he the duties of liegeman

When Hun of the Frisians the battle-sword Láfing,

20

Fairest of falchions, friendly did give him:

Its edges were famous in folk-talk of Jutland.

And savage sword-fury seized in its clutches

Bold-mooded Finn where he bode in his palace,

Guthlaf and Oslaf
revenge Hnæf’s
slaughter.

When the grewsome grapple Guthlaf and Oslaf

25

Had mournfully mentioned, the mere-journey over,

For sorrows half-blamed him; the flickering spirit

Could not bide in his bosom. Then the building was covered

Finn is slain.

With corpses of foemen, and Finn too was slaughtered,

The king with his comrades, and the queen made a prisoner.

The jewels of Finn,
and his queen are
carried away by
the Danes.

30

The troops of the Scyldings bore to their vessels

All that the land-king had in his palace,

Such trinkets and treasures they took as, on searching,

At Finn’s they could find. They ferried to Daneland

The excellent woman on oversea journey,

The lay is concluded,
and the
main story is resumed.

35

Led her to their land-folk.” The lay was concluded,

The gleeman’s recital. Shouts again rose then,

Bench-glee resounded, bearers then offered

Skinkers carry
round the beaker.

Wine from wonder-vats. Wealhtheo advanced then

Going ’neath gold-crown, where the good ones were seated

[41]

Queen Wealhtheow
greets
Hrothgar, as he
sits beside Hrothulf,
his nephew.

40

Uncle and nephew; their peace was yet mutual,

True each to the other. And Unferth the spokesman

Sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings:

Each trusted his spirit that his mood was courageous,

Though at fight he had failed in faith to his kinsmen.

45

Said the queen of the Scyldings: “My lord and protector,

Treasure-bestower, take thou this beaker;

Joyance attend thee, gold-friend of heroes,

Be generous to
the Geats.

And greet thou the Geatmen with gracious responses!

So ought one to do. Be kind to the Geatmen,

50

In gifts not niggardly; anear and afar now

Peace thou enjoyest. Report hath informed me

Thou’lt have for a bairn the battle-brave hero.

Now is Heorot cleansèd, ring-palace gleaming;

Have as much joy
as possible in thy
hall, once more
purified.

Give while thou mayest many rewards,

55

And bequeath to thy kinsmen kingdom and people,

On wending thy way to the Wielder’s splendor.

I know good Hrothulf, that the noble young troopers

I know that Hrothulf
will prove faithful
if he survive
thee.

He’ll care for and honor, lord of the Scyldings,

If earth-joys thou endest earlier than he doth;

60

I reckon that recompense he’ll render with kindness

Our offspring and issue, if that all he remember,

What favors of yore, when he yet was an infant,

We awarded to him for his worship and pleasure.”

Then she turned by the bench where her sons were carousing,

65

Hrethric and Hrothmund, and the heroes’ offspring,

Beowulf is sitting
by the two royal
sons.

The war-youth together; there the good one was sitting

’Twixt the brothers twain, Beowulf Geatman.

XIX.

BEOWULF RECEIVES FURTHER HONOR.

More gifts are offered
Beowulf.

A beaker was borne him, and bidding to quaff it

Graciously given, and gold that was twisted

Pleasantly proffered, a pair of arm-jewels,

[42]

Rings and corslet, of collars the greatest

5

I’ve heard of ’neath heaven. Of heroes not any

More splendid from jewels have I heard ’neath the welkin,

A famous necklace
is referred to, in
comparison with
the gems presented
to Beowulf.

Since Hama off bore the Brosingmen’s necklace,

The bracteates and jewels, from the bright-shining city,

Eormenric’s cunning craftiness fled from,

10

Chose gain everlasting. Geatish Higelac,

Grandson of Swerting, last had this jewel

When tramping ’neath banner the treasure he guarded,

The field-spoil defended; Fate offcarried him

When for deeds of daring he endured tribulation,

15

Hate from the Frisians; the ornaments bare he

O’er the cup of the currents, costly gem-treasures,

Mighty folk-leader, he fell ’neath his target;

The

corpse of the king then came into charge of

The race of the Frankmen, the mail-shirt and collar:

20

Warmen less noble plundered the fallen,

When the fight was finished; the folk of the Geatmen

The field of the dead held in possession.

The choicest of mead-halls with cheering resounded.

Wealhtheo discoursed, the war-troop addressed she:

Queen Wealhtheow
magnifies
Beowulf’s achievements.

25

“This collar enjoy thou, Beowulf worthy,

Young man, in safety, and use thou this armor,

Gems of the people, and prosper thou fully,

Show thyself sturdy and be to these liegemen

Mild with instruction! I’ll mind thy requital.

30

Thou hast brought it to pass that far and near

Forever and ever earthmen shall honor thee,

Even so widely as ocean surroundeth

The blustering bluffs. Be, while thou livest,

[43]

A wealth-blessèd atheling. I wish thee most truly

May gifts never
fail thee.

35

Jewels and treasure. Be kind to my son, thou

Living in joyance! Here each of the nobles

Is true unto other, gentle in spirit,

Loyal to leader. The liegemen are peaceful,

The war-troops ready: well-drunken heroes,

40

Do as I bid ye.” Then she went to the settle.

There was choicest of banquets, wine drank the heroes:

They little know
of the sorrow in
store for them.

Weird they knew not, destiny cruel,

As to many an earlman early it happened,

When evening had come and Hrothgar had parted

45

Off to his manor, the mighty to slumber.

Warriors unnumbered warded the building

As erst they did often: the ale-settle bared they,

’Twas covered all over with beds and pillows.

A doomed thane is
there with them.

Doomed unto death, down to his slumber

50

Bowed then a beer-thane. Their battle-shields placed they,

Bright-shining targets, up by their heads then;

O’er the atheling on ale-bench ’twas easy to see there

Battle-high helmet, burnie of ring-mail,

They were always
ready for battle.

And mighty war-spear. ’Twas the wont of that people

55

To constantly keep them equipped for the battle,

At home or marching—in either condition—

At seasons just such as necessity ordered

As best for their ruler; that people was worthy.

[44]

XX.

THE MOTHER OF GRENDEL.

They sank then to slumber. With sorrow one paid for

His evening repose, as often betid them

While Grendel was holding

the gold-bedecked palace,

Ill-deeds performing, till his end overtook him,

5

Death for his sins. ’Twas seen very clearly,

Grendel’s mother
is known to be
thirsting for revenge.

Known unto earth-folk, that still an avenger

Outlived the loathed one, long since the sorrow

Caused by the struggle; the mother of Grendel,

Devil-shaped woman, her woe ever minded,

10

Who was held to inhabit the horrible waters,

[Grendel’s progenitor,
Cain, is again
referred to.]

The cold-flowing currents, after Cain had become a

Slayer-with-edges to his one only brother,

The son of his sire; he set out then banished,

Marked as a murderer, man-joys avoiding,

15

Lived in the desert. Thence demons unnumbered

The poet again
magnifies Beowulf’s
valor.

Fate-sent awoke; one of them Grendel,

Sword-cursèd, hateful, who at Heorot met with

A man that was watching, waiting the struggle,

Where a horrid one held him with hand-grapple sturdy;

20

Nathless he minded the might of his body,

The glorious gift God had allowed him,

And folk-ruling Father’s favor relied on,

His help and His comfort: so he conquered the foeman,

The hell-spirit humbled: he unhappy departed then,

25

Reaved of his joyance, journeying to death-haunts,

Foeman of man. His mother moreover

Grendel’s mother
comes to avenge
her son.

Eager and gloomy was anxious to go on

Her mournful mission, mindful of vengeance

For the death of her son. She came then to Heorot

[45]

30

Where the Armor-Dane earlmen all through the building

Were lying in slumber. Soon there became then

Return

to the nobles, when the mother of Grendel

Entered the folk-hall; the fear was less grievous

By even so much as the vigor of maidens,

35

War-strength of women, by warrior is reckoned,

When well-carved weapon, worked with the hammer,

Blade very bloody, brave with its edges,

Strikes down the boar-sign that stands on the helmet.

Then the hard-edgèd weapon was heaved in the building,

40

The brand o’er the benches, broad-lindens many

Hand-fast were lifted; for helmet he recked not,

For armor-net broad, whom terror laid hold of.

She went then hastily, outward would get her

Her life for to save, when some one did spy her;

She seizes a favorite
liegemen of
Hrothgar’s.

45

Soon she had grappled one of the athelings

Fast and firmly, when fenward she hied her;

That one to Hrothgar was liefest of heroes

In rank of retainer where waters encircle,

A mighty shield-warrior, whom she murdered at slumber,

50

A broadly-famed battle-knight. Beowulf was absent,

Beowulf was asleep
in another part of
the palace.

But another apartment was erstwhile devoted

To the glory-decked Geatman when gold was distributed.

There was hubbub in Heorot. The hand that was famous

She grasped in its gore;

grief was renewed then

[46]

55

In homes and houses: ’twas no happy arrangement

In both of the quarters to barter and purchase

With lives of their friends. Then the well-agèd ruler,

The gray-headed war-thane, was woful in spirit,

When his long-trusted liegeman lifeless he knew of,

Beowulf is sent
for.

60

His dearest one gone. Quick from a room was

Beowulf brought, brave and triumphant.

As day was dawning in the dusk of the morning,

He comes at
Hrothgar’s summons.

Went then that earlman, champion noble,

Came with comrades, where the clever one bided

65

Whether God all gracious would grant him a respite

After the woe he had suffered. The war-worthy hero

With a troop of retainers trod then the pavement

(The hall-building groaned), till he greeted the wise one,

Beowulf inquires
how Hrothgar had
enjoyed his night’s
rest.

The earl of the Ingwins;

asked if the night had

70

Fully refreshed him, as fain he would have it.

XXI.

HROTHGAR’S ACCOUNT OF THE MONSTERS.

Hrothgar laments
the death of Æschere,
his shoulder-companion.

Hrothgar rejoined, helm of the Scyldings:

“Ask not of joyance! Grief is renewed to

The folk of the Danemen. Dead is Æschere,

Yrmenlaf’s brother, older than he,

5

My true-hearted counsellor, trusty adviser,

Shoulder-companion, when fighting in battle

Our heads we protected, when troopers were clashing,

He was my ideal
hero.

And heroes were dashing; such an earl should be ever,

An erst-worthy atheling, as Æschere proved him.

10

The flickering death-spirit became in Heorot

His hand-to-hand murderer; I can not tell whither

The cruel one turned in the carcass exulting,

[47]

This horrible
creature came to
avenge Grendel’s
death.

By cramming discovered.

The quarrel she wreaked then,

That last night igone Grendel thou killedst

15

In grewsomest manner, with grim-holding clutches,

Since too long he had lessened my liege-troop and wasted

My folk-men so foully. He fell in the battle

With forfeit of life, and another has followed,

A mighty crime-worker, her kinsman avenging,

20

And henceforth hath ‘stablished her hatred unyielding,

As it well may appear to many a liegeman,

Who mourneth in spirit the treasure-bestower,

Her heavy heart-sorrow; the hand is now lifeless

Which

availed you in every wish that you cherished.

I have heard my
vassals speak of
these two uncanny
monsters who lived
in the moors.

25

Land-people heard I, liegemen, this saying,

Dwellers in halls, they had seen very often

A pair of such mighty march-striding creatures,

Far-dwelling spirits, holding the moorlands:

One of them wore, as well they might notice,

30

The image of woman, the other one wretched

In guise of a man wandered in exile,

Except he was huger than any of earthmen;

Earth-dwelling people entitled him Grendel

In days of yore: they know not their father,

35

Whe’r ill-going spirits any were borne him

The inhabit the
most desolate and
horrible places.

Ever before. They guard the wolf-coverts,

Lands inaccessible, wind-beaten nesses,

Fearfullest fen-deeps, where a flood from the mountains

’Neath mists of the nesses netherward rattles,

40

The stream under earth: not far is it henceward

Measured by mile-lengths that the mere-water standeth,

Which forests hang over, with frost-whiting covered,

[48]

A firm-rooted forest, the floods overshadow.

There ever at night one an ill-meaning portent

45

A fire-flood may see; ’mong children of men

None liveth so wise that wot of the bottom;

Though harassed by hounds the heath-stepper seek for,

Even the hounded
deer will not seek
refuge in these uncanny
regions.

Fly to the forest, firm-antlered he-deer,

Spurred from afar, his spirit he yieldeth,

50

His life on the shore, ere in he will venture

To cover his head. Uncanny the place is:

Thence upward ascendeth the surging of waters,

Wan to the welkin, when the wind is stirring

The weathers unpleasing, till the air groweth gloomy,

To thee only can I
look for assistance.

55

And the heavens lower. Now is help to be gotten

From thee and thee only! The abode thou know’st not,

The dangerous place where thou’rt able to meet with

The sin-laden hero: seek if thou darest!

For the feud I will fully fee thee with money,

60

With old-time treasure, as erstwhile I did thee,

With well-twisted jewels, if away thou shalt get thee.”

XXII.

BEOWULF SEEKS GRENDEL’S MOTHER.

Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow’s son:

Beowulf exhorts
the old king to
arouse himself for
action.

“Grieve not, O wise one! for each it is better,

His friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him;

Each of us must the end-day abide of

5

His earthly existence; who is able accomplish

Glory ere death! To battle-thane noble

Lifeless lying, ’tis at last most fitting.

Arise, O king, quick let us hasten

To look at the footprint of the kinsman of Grendel!

10

I promise thee this now: to his place he’ll escape not,

To embrace of the earth, nor to mountainous forest,

Nor to depths of the ocean, wherever he wanders.

[49]

Practice thou now patient endurance

Of each of thy sorrows, as I hope for thee soothly!”

Hrothgar rouses
himself. His horse
is brought.

15

Then up sprang the old one, the All-Wielder thanked he,

Ruler Almighty, that the man had outspoken.

Then for Hrothgar a war-horse was decked with a bridle,

Curly-maned courser. The clever folk-leader

They start on the
track of the female
monster.

Stately proceeded: stepped then an earl-troop

20

Of linden-wood bearers. Her footprints were seen then

Widely in wood-paths, her way o’er the bottoms,

Where she faraway fared o’er fen-country murky,

Bore away breathless the best of retainers

Who pondered with Hrothgar the welfare of country.

25

The son of the athelings then went o’er the stony,

Declivitous cliffs, the close-covered passes,

Narrow passages, paths unfrequented,

Nesses abrupt, nicker-haunts many;

One of a few of wise-mooded heroes,

30

He onward advanced to view the surroundings,

Till he found unawares woods of the mountain

O’er hoar-stones hanging, holt-wood unjoyful;

The water stood under, welling and gory.

’Twas irksome in spirit to all of the Danemen,

35

Friends of the Scyldings, to many a liegeman

The sight of
Æschere’s head
causes them great
sorrow.

Sad to be suffered, a sorrow unlittle

To each of the earlmen, when to Æschere’s head they

Came on the cliff. The current was seething

With blood and with gore (the troopers gazed on it).

40

The horn anon sang the battle-song ready.

The troop were all seated; they saw ’long the water then

The water is filled
with serpents and
sea-dragons.

Many a serpent, mere-dragons wondrous

Trying the waters, nickers a-lying

On the cliffs of the nesses, which at noonday full often

45

Go on the sea-deeps their sorrowful journey,

Wild-beasts and wormkind; away then they hastened

One of them is
killed by Beowulf.

Hot-mooded, hateful, they heard the great clamor,

The war-trumpet winding. One did the Geat-prince

[50]

Sunder from earth-joys, with arrow from bowstring,

50

From his sea-struggle tore him, that the trusty war-missile

The dead beast is a
poor swimmer

Pierced to his vitals; he proved in the currents

Less doughty at swimming whom death had offcarried.

Soon in the waters the wonderful swimmer

Was straitened most sorely with sword-pointed boar-spears,

55

Pressed in the battle and pulled to the cliff-edge;

The liegemen then looked on the loath-fashioned stranger.

Beowulf prepares
for a struggle with
the monster.

Beowulf donned then his battle-equipments,

Cared little for life; inlaid and most ample,

The hand-woven corslet which could cover his body,

60

Must the wave-deeps explore, that war might be powerless

To harm the great hero, and the hating one’s grasp might

Not peril his safety; his head was protected

By the light-flashing helmet that should mix with the bottoms,

Trying the eddies, treasure-emblazoned,

65

Encircled with jewels, as in seasons long past

The weapon-smith worked it, wondrously made it,

With swine-bodies fashioned it, that thenceforward no longer

Brand might bite it, and battle-sword hurt it.

And that was not least of helpers in prowess

He has Unferth’s
sword in his hand.

70

That Hrothgar’s spokesman had lent him when straitened;

And the hilted hand-sword was Hrunting entitled,

Old and most excellent ’mong all of the treasures;

Its blade was of iron, blotted with poison,

Hardened with gore; it failed not in battle

75

Any hero under heaven in hand who it brandished,

Who ventured to take the terrible journeys,

The battle-field sought; not the earliest occasion

That deeds of daring ’twas destined to ’complish.

Unferth has little
use for swords.

Ecglaf’s kinsman minded not soothly,

80

Exulting in strength, what erst he had spoken

Drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent to

A sword-hero bolder; himself did not venture

’Neath the strife of the currents his life to endanger,

[51]

To fame-deeds perform; there he forfeited glory,

85

Repute for his strength. Not so with the other

When he clad in his corslet had equipped him for battle.

XXIII.

BEOWULF’S FIGHT WITH GRENDEL’S MOTHER.

Beowulf makes a
parting speech to
Hrothgar.

Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s son:

“Recall now, oh, famous kinsman of Healfdene,

Prince very prudent, now to part I am ready,

Gold-friend of earlmen, what erst we agreed on,

If I fail, act as a
kind liegelord to
my thanes,

5

Should I lay down my life in lending thee assistance,

When my earth-joys were over, thou wouldst evermore serve me

In stead of a father; my faithful thanemen,

My trusty retainers, protect thou and care for,

Fall I in battle: and, Hrothgar belovèd,

and send Higelac
the jewels thou
hast given me

10

Send unto Higelac the high-valued jewels

Thou to me hast allotted. The lord of the Geatmen

May perceive from the gold, the Hrethling may see it

I should like my
king to know how
generous a lord I
found thee to be.

When he looks on the jewels, that a gem-giver found I

Good over-measure, enjoyed him while able.

15

And the ancient heirloom Unferth permit thou,

The famed one to have, the heavy-sword splendid

The hard-edgèd weapon; with Hrunting to aid me,

I shall gain me glory, or grim-death shall take me.”

Beowulf is eager
for the fray.

The atheling of Geatmen uttered these words and

20

Heroic did hasten, not any rejoinder

Was willing to wait for; the wave-current swallowed

He is a whole day
reaching the bottom
of the sea.

The doughty-in-battle. Then a day’s-length elapsed ere

He was able to see the sea at its bottom.

Early she found then who fifty of winters

25

The course of the currents kept in her fury,

Grisly and greedy, that the grim one’s dominion

[52]

Grendel’s mother
knows that some
one has reached
her domains.

Some one of men from above was exploring.

Forth did she grab them, grappled the warrior

With horrible clutches; yet no sooner she injured

30

His body unscathèd: the burnie out-guarded,

That she proved but powerless to pierce through the armor,

The limb-mail locked, with loath-grabbing fingers.

The sea-wolf bare then, when bottomward came she,

She grabs him,
and bears him to
her den.

The ring-prince homeward, that he after was powerless

35

(He had daring to do it) to deal with his weapons,

But many a mere-beast tormented him swimming,

Sea-monsters bite
and strike him.

Flood-beasts no few with fierce-biting tusks did

Break through his burnie, the brave one pursued they.

The earl then discovered he was down in some cavern

40

Where no water whatever anywise harmed him,

And the clutch of the current could come not anear him,

Since the roofed-hall prevented; brightness a-gleaming

Fire-light he saw, flashing resplendent.

The good one saw then the sea-bottom’s monster,

Beowulf attacks
the mother of
Grendel.

45

The mighty mere-woman; he made a great onset

With weapon-of-battle, his hand not desisted

From striking, that war-blade struck on her head then

A battle-song greedy. The stranger perceived then

The sword will not
bite.

The sword would not bite, her life would not injure,

50

But the falchion failed the folk-prince when straitened:

Erst had it often onsets encountered,

Oft cloven the helmet, the fated one’s armor:

’Twas the first time that ever the excellent jewel

Had failed of its fame. Firm-mooded after,

55

Not heedless of valor, but mindful of glory,

Was Higelac’s kinsman; the hero-chief angry

Cast then his carved-sword covered with jewels

That it lay on the earth, hard and steel-pointed;

The hero throws
down all weapons,
and again trusts
to his hand-grip.

He hoped in his strength, his hand-grapple sturdy.

60

So any must act whenever he thinketh

To gain him in battle glory unending,

And is reckless of living. The lord of the War-Geats

[53]

(He shrank not from battle) seized by the shoulder

The mother of Grendel; then mighty in struggle

65

Swung he his enemy, since his anger was kindled,

That she fell to the floor. With furious grapple

Beowulf falls.

She gave him requital

early thereafter,

And stretched out to grab him; the strongest of warriors

Faint-mooded stumbled, till he fell in his traces,

The monster sits
on him with drawn
sword.

70

Foot-going champion. Then she sat on the hall-guest

And wielded her war-knife wide-bladed, flashing,

For her son would take vengeance, her one only bairn.

His armor saves
his life.

His breast-armor woven bode on his shoulder;

It guarded his life, the entrance defended

75

’Gainst sword-point and edges. Ecgtheow’s son there

Had fatally journeyed, champion of Geatmen,

In the arms of the ocean, had the armor not given,

Close-woven corslet, comfort and succor,

God arranged for
his escape.

And had God most holy not awarded the victory,

80

All-knowing Lord; easily did heaven’s

Ruler most righteous arrange it with justice;

Uprose he erect ready for battle.

XXIV.

BEOWULF IS DOUBLE-CONQUEROR.

Beowulf grasps a
giant-sword,

Then he saw mid the war-gems a weapon of victory,

An ancient giant-sword, of edges a-doughty,

Glory of warriors: of weapons ’twas choicest,

Only ’twas larger than any man else was

[54]

5

Able to bear to the battle-encounter,

The good and splendid work of the giants.

He grasped then the sword-hilt, knight of the Scyldings,

Bold and battle-grim, brandished his ring-sword,

Hopeless of living, hotly he smote her,

10

That the fiend-woman’s neck firmly it grappled,

and fells the female
monster.

Broke through her bone-joints, the bill fully pierced her

Fate-cursèd body, she fell to the ground then:

The hand-sword was bloody, the hero exulted.

The brand was brilliant, brightly it glimmered,

15

Just as from heaven gemlike shineth

The torch of the firmament. He glanced ’long the building,

And turned by the wall then, Higelac’s vassal

Raging and wrathful raised his battle-sword

Strong by the handle. The edge was not useless

20

To the hero-in-battle, but he speedily wished to

Give Grendel requital for the many assaults he

Had worked on the West-Danes not once, but often,

When he slew in slumber the subjects of Hrothgar,

Swallowed down fifteen sleeping retainers

25

Of the folk of the Danemen, and fully as many

Carried away, a horrible prey.

He gave him requital, grim-raging champion,

Beowulf sees the
body of Grendel,
and cuts off his
head.

When he saw on his rest-place weary of conflict

Grendel lying, of life-joys bereavèd,

30

As the battle at Heorot erstwhile had scathed him;

His body far bounded, a blow when he suffered,

Death having seized him, sword-smiting heavy,

And he cut off his head then. Early this noticed

The clever carles who as comrades of Hrothgar

The waters are
gory.

35

Gazed on the sea-deeps, that the surging wave-currents

Were mightily mingled, the mere-flood was gory:

Of the good one the gray-haired together held converse,

Beowulf is given
up for dead.

The hoary of head, that they hoped not to see again

The atheling ever, that exulting in victory

40

He’d return there to visit the distinguished folk-ruler:

[55]

Then many concluded the mere-wolf had killed him.

The ninth hour came then. From the ness-edge departed

The bold-mooded Scyldings; the gold-friend of heroes

Homeward betook him. The strangers sat down then

45

Soul-sick, sorrowful, the sea-waves regarding:

They wished and yet weened not their well-loved friend-lord

The giant-sword
melts.

To see any more. The sword-blade began then,

The blood having touched it, contracting and shriveling

With battle-icicles; ’twas a wonderful marvel

50

That it melted entirely, likest to ice when

The Father unbindeth the bond of the frost and

Unwindeth the wave-bands, He who wieldeth dominion

Of times and of tides: a truth-firm Creator.

Nor took he of jewels more in the dwelling,

55

Lord of the Weders, though they lay all around him,

Than the head and the handle handsome with jewels;

[56]

The brand early melted, burnt was the weapon:

So hot was the blood, the strange-spirit poisonous

The hero swims
back to the realms
of day.

That in it did perish. He early swam off then

60

Who had bided in combat the carnage of haters,

Went up through the ocean; the eddies were cleansèd,

The spacious expanses, when the spirit from farland

His life put aside and this short-lived existence.

The seamen’s defender came swimming to land then

65

Doughty of spirit, rejoiced in his sea-gift,

The bulky burden which he bore in his keeping.

The excellent vassals advanced then to meet him,

To God they were grateful, were glad in their chieftain,

That to see him safe and sound was granted them.

70

From the high-minded hero, then, helmet and burnie

Were speedily loosened: the ocean was putrid,

The water ’neath welkin weltered with gore.

Forth did they fare, then, their footsteps retracing,

Merry and mirthful, measured the earth-way,

75

The highway familiar: men very daring

Bare then the head from the sea-cliff, burdening

Each of the earlmen, excellent-valiant.

It takes four men
to carry Grendel’s
head on a spear.

Four of them had to carry with labor

The head of Grendel to the high towering gold-hall

80

Upstuck on the spear, till fourteen most-valiant

And battle-brave Geatmen came there going

Straight to the palace: the prince of the people

Measured the mead-ways, their mood-brave companion.

The atheling of earlmen entered the building,

85

Deed-valiant man, adorned with distinction,

Doughty shield-warrior, to address King Hrothgar:

[57]

Then hung by the hair, the head of Grendel

Was borne to the building, where beer-thanes were drinking,

Loth before earlmen and eke ’fore the lady:

90

The warriors beheld then a wonderful sight.

XXV.

BEOWULF BRINGS HIS TROPHIES.—HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE.

Beowulf relates his
last exploit.

Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow:

“Lo! we blithely have brought thee, bairn of Healfdene,

Prince of the Scyldings, these presents from ocean

Which thine eye looketh on, for an emblem of glory.

5

I came off alive from this, narrowly ’scaping:

In war ’neath the water the work with great pains I

Performed, and the fight had been finished quite nearly,

Had God not defended me. I failed in the battle

Aught to accomplish, aided by Hrunting,

10

Though that weapon was worthy, but the Wielder of earth-folk

God was fighting
with me.

Gave me willingly to see on the wall a

Heavy old hand-sword hanging in splendor

(He guided most often the lorn and the friendless),

That I swung as a weapon. The wards of the house then

15

I killed in the conflict (when occasion was given me).

Then the battle-sword burned, the brand that was lifted,

As the blood-current sprang, hottest of war-sweats;

Seizing the hilt, from my foes I offbore it;

I avenged as I ought to their acts of malignity,

20

The murder of Danemen. I then make thee this promise,

Heorot is freed
from monsters.

Thou’lt be able in Heorot careless to slumber

With thy throng of heroes and the thanes of thy people

Every and each, of greater and lesser,

And thou needest not fear for them from the selfsame direction

25

As thou formerly fearedst, oh, folk-lord of Scyldings,

[58]

End-day for earlmen.” To the age-hoary man then,

The famous sword
is presented to
Hrothgar.

The gray-haired chieftain, the gold-fashioned sword-hilt,

Old-work of giants, was thereupon given;

Since the fall of the fiends, it fell to the keeping

30

Of the wielder of Danemen, the wonder-smith’s labor,

And the bad-mooded being abandoned this world then,

Opponent of God, victim of murder,

And also his mother; it went to the keeping

Of the best of the world-kings, where waters encircle,

35

Who the scot divided in Scylding dominion.

Hrothgar looks
closely at the old
sword.

Hrothgar discoursed, the hilt he regarded,

The ancient heirloom where an old-time contention’s

Beginning was graven: the gurgling currents,

The flood slew thereafter the race of the giants,

40

They had proved themselves daring: that people was loth to

It had belonged to
a race hateful to
God.

The Lord everlasting, through lash of the billows

The Father gave them final requital.

So in letters of rune on the clasp of the handle

Gleaming and golden, ’twas graven exactly,

45

Set forth and said, whom that sword had been made for,

Finest of irons, who first it was wrought for,

Wreathed at its handle and gleaming with serpents.

The wise one then said (silent they all were)

Hrothgar praises
Beowulf.

Son of old Healfdene: “He may say unrefuted

50

Who performs ’mid the folk-men fairness and truth

(The hoary old ruler remembers the past),

That better by birth is this bairn of the nobles!

Thy fame is extended through far-away countries,

Good friend Beowulf, o’er all of the races,

55

Thou holdest all firmly, hero-like strength with

Prudence of spirit. I’ll prove myself grateful

As before we agreed on; thou granted for long shalt

Become a great comfort to kinsmen and comrades,

Heremod’s career
is again contrasted
with Beowulf’s.

A help unto heroes. Heremod became not

60

Such to the Scyldings, successors of Ecgwela;

He grew not to please them, but grievous destruction,

[59]

And diresome death-woes to Danemen attracted;

He slew in anger his table-companions,

Trustworthy counsellors, till he turned off lonely

65

From world-joys away, wide-famous ruler:

Though high-ruling heaven in hero-strength raised him,

In might exalted him, o’er men of all nations

Made him supreme, yet a murderous spirit

Grew in his bosom: he gave then no ring-gems

A wretched failure
of a king, to give
no jewels to his
retainers.

70

To the Danes after custom; endured he unjoyful

Standing the straits from strife that was raging,

Longsome folk-sorrow. Learn then from this,

Lay hold of virtue! Though laden with winters,

I have sung thee these measures. ’Tis a marvel to tell it,

Hrothgar moralizes.

75

How all-ruling God from greatness of spirit

Giveth wisdom to children of men,

Manor and earlship: all things He ruleth.

He often permitteth the mood-thought of man of

The illustrious lineage to lean to possessions,

80

Allows him earthly delights at his manor,

A high-burg of heroes to hold in his keeping,

Maketh portions of earth-folk hear him,

And a wide-reaching kingdom so that, wisdom failing him,

He himself is unable to reckon its boundaries;

85

He liveth in luxury, little debars him,

Nor sickness nor age, no treachery-sorrow

Becloudeth his spirit, conflict nowhere,

No sword-hate, appeareth, but all of the world doth

Wend as he wisheth; the worse he knoweth not,

90

Till arrant arrogance inward pervading,

Waxeth and springeth, when the warder is sleeping,

The guard of the soul: with sorrows encompassed,

Too sound is his slumber, the slayer is near him,

Who with bow and arrow aimeth in malice.

[60]

XXVI.

HROTHGAR MORALIZES.—REST AFTER LABOR.

A wounded spirit.

“Then bruised in his bosom he with bitter-toothed missile

Is hurt ’neath his helmet: from harmful pollution

He is powerless to shield him by the wonderful mandates

Of the loath-cursèd spirit; what too long he hath holden

5

Him seemeth too small, savage he hoardeth,

Nor boastfully giveth gold-plated rings,

The fate of the future flouts and forgetteth

Since God had erst given him greatness no little,

Wielder of Glory. His end-day anear,

10

It afterward happens that the bodily-dwelling

Fleetingly fadeth, falls into ruins;

Another lays hold who doleth the ornaments,

The nobleman’s jewels, nothing lamenting,

Heedeth no terror. Oh, Beowulf dear,

15

Best of the heroes, from bale-strife defend thee,

And choose thee the better, counsels eternal;

Be not over proud:
life is fleeting, and
its strength soon
wasteth away.

Beware of arrogance, world-famous champion!

But a little-while lasts thy life-vigor’s fulness;

’Twill after hap early, that illness or sword-edge

20

Shall part thee from strength, or the grasp of the fire,

Or the wave of the current, or clutch of the edges,

Or flight of the war-spear, or age with its horrors,

Or thine eyes’ bright flashing shall fade into darkness:

’Twill happen full early, excellent hero,

Hrothgar gives an
account of his
reign.

25

That death shall subdue thee. So the Danes a half-century

I held under heaven, helped them in struggles

’Gainst many a race in middle-earth’s regions,

With ash-wood and edges, that enemies none

On earth molested me. Lo! offsetting change, now,

[61]

Sorrow after joy.

30

Came to my manor, grief after joyance,

When Grendel became my constant visitor,

Inveterate hater: I from that malice

Continually travailed with trouble no little.

Thanks be to God that I gained in my lifetime,

35

To the Lord everlasting, to look on the gory

Head with mine eyes, after long-lasting sorrow!

Go to the bench now, battle-adornèd

Joy in the feasting: of jewels in common

We’ll meet with many when morning appeareth.”

40

The Geatman was gladsome, ganged he immediately

To go to the bench, as the clever one bade him.

Then again as before were the famous-for-prowess,

Hall-inhabiters, handsomely banqueted,

Feasted anew. The night-veil fell then

45

Dark o’er the warriors. The courtiers rose then;

The gray-haired was anxious to go to his slumbers,

The hoary old Scylding. Hankered the Geatman,

Beowulf is fagged,
and seeks rest.

The champion doughty, greatly, to rest him:

An earlman early outward did lead him,

50

Fagged from his faring, from far-country springing,

Who for etiquette’s sake all of a liegeman’s

Needs regarded, such as seamen at that time

Were bounden to feel. The big-hearted rested;

The building uptowered, spacious and gilded,

55

The guest within slumbered, till the sable-clad raven

Blithely foreboded the beacon of heaven.

Then the bright-shining sun o’er the bottoms came going;

The warriors hastened, the heads of the peoples

Were ready to go again to their peoples,

The Geats prepare
to leave Dane-land.

60

The high-mooded farer would faraway thenceward

Look for his vessel. The valiant one bade then,

[62]

Unferth asks Beowulf
to accept his
sword as a gift.
Beowulf thanks
him.

Offspring of Ecglaf, off to bear Hrunting,

To take his weapon, his well-beloved iron;

He him thanked for the gift, saying good he accounted

65

The war-friend and mighty, nor chid he with words then

The blade of the brand: ’twas a brave-mooded hero.

When the warriors were ready, arrayed in their trappings,

The atheling dear to the Danemen advanced then

On to the dais, where the other was sitting,

70

Grim-mooded hero, greeted King Hrothgar.

XXVII.

SORROW AT PARTING.

Beowulf’s farewell.

Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s offspring:

“We men of the water wish to declare now

Fared from far-lands, we’re firmly determined

To seek King Higelac. Here have we fitly

5

Been welcomed and feasted, as heart would desire it;

Good was the greeting. If greater affection

I am anywise able ever on earth to

Gain at thy hands, ruler of heroes,

Than yet I have done, I shall quickly be ready

I shall be ever
ready to aid thee.

10

For combat and conflict. O’er the course of the waters

Learn I that neighbors alarm thee with terror,

As haters did whilom, I hither will bring thee

For help unto heroes henchmen by thousands.

My liegelord will
encourage me in
aiding thee.

I know as to Higelac, the lord of the Geatmen,

15

Though young in years, he yet will permit me,

By words and by works, ward of the people,

Fully to furnish thee forces and bear thee

My lance to relieve thee, if liegemen shall fail thee,

And help of my hand-strength; if Hrethric be treating,

[63]

20

Bairn of the king, at the court of the Geatmen,

He thereat may find him friends in abundance:

Faraway countries he were better to seek for

Who trusts in himself.” Hrothgar discoursed then,

Making rejoinder: “These words thou hast uttered

25

All-knowing God hath given thy spirit!

O Beowulf, thou
art wise beyond
thy years.

Ne’er heard I an earlman thus early in life

More clever in speaking: thou’rt cautious of spirit,

Mighty of muscle, in mouth-answers prudent.

I count on the hope that, happen it ever

30

That missile shall rob thee of Hrethel’s descendant,

Edge-horrid battle, and illness or weapon

Deprive thee of prince, of people’s protector,

Should Higelac
die, the Geats
could find no better
successor than
thou wouldst make.

And life thou yet holdest, the Sea-Geats will never

Find a more fitting folk-lord to choose them,

35

Gem-ward of heroes, than thou mightest prove thee,

If the kingdom of kinsmen thou carest to govern.

Thy mood-spirit likes me the longer the better,

Beowulf dear: thou hast brought it to pass that

To both these peoples peace shall be common,

Thou hast healed
the ancient breach
between our races.

40

To Geat-folk and Danemen, the strife be suspended,

The secret assailings they suffered in yore-days;

And also that jewels be shared while I govern

The wide-stretching kingdom, and that many shall visit

Others o’er the ocean with excellent gift-gems:

45

The ring-adorned bark shall bring o’er the currents

Presents and love-gifts. This people I know

Tow’rd foeman and friend firmly established,

After ancient etiquette everywise blameless.”

Then the warden of earlmen gave him still farther,

Parting gifts

50

Kinsman of Healfdene, a dozen of jewels,

Bade him safely seek with the presents

His well-beloved people, early returning.

[64]

Hrothgar kisses
Beowulf, and
weeps.

Then the noble-born king kissed the distinguished,

Dear-lovèd liegeman, the Dane-prince saluted him,

55

And claspèd his neck; tears from him fell,

From the gray-headed man: he two things expected,

Agèd and reverend, but rather the second,

That bold in council they’d meet thereafter.

The man was so dear that he failed to suppress the

60

Emotions that moved him, but in mood-fetters fastened

The old king is
deeply grieved to
part with his benefactor.

The long-famous hero longeth in secret

Deep in his spirit for the dear-beloved man

Though not a blood-kinsman. Beowulf thenceward,

Gold-splendid warrior, walked o’er the meadows

65

Exulting in treasure: the sea-going vessel

Riding at anchor awaited its owner.

As they pressed on their way then, the present of Hrothgar

Giving liberally is
the true proof of
kingship.

Was frequently referred to: a folk-king indeed that

Everyway blameless, till age did debar him

70

The joys of his might, which hath many oft injured.

XXVIII.

THE HOMEWARD JOURNEY.—THE TWO QUEENS.

Then the band of very valiant retainers

Came to the current; they were clad all in armor,

The coast-guard
again.

In link-woven burnies. The land-warder noticed

The return of the earlmen, as he erstwhile had seen them;

5

Nowise with insult he greeted the strangers

From the naze of the cliff, but rode on to meet them;

Said the bright-armored visitors

vesselward traveled

[65]

Welcome to Weders. The wide-bosomed craft then

Lay on the sand, laden with armor,

10

With horses and jewels, the ring-stemmèd sailer:

The mast uptowered o’er the treasure of Hrothgar.

Beowulf gives the
guard a handsome
sword.

To the boat-ward a gold-bound brand he presented,

That he was afterwards honored on the ale-bench more highly

As the heirloom’s owner.

Set he out on his vessel,

15

To drive on the deep, Dane-country left he.

Along by the mast then a sea-garment fluttered,

A rope-fastened sail. The sea-boat resounded,

The wind o’er the waters the wave-floater nowise

Kept from its journey; the sea-goer traveled,

20

The foamy-necked floated forth o’er the currents,

The well-fashioned vessel o’er the ways of the ocean,

The Geats see
their own land
again.

Till they came within sight of the cliffs of the Geatmen,

The well-known headlands. The wave-goer hastened

Driven by breezes, stood on the shore.

The port-warden is
anxiously looking
for them.

25

Prompt at the ocean, the port-ward was ready,

Who long in the past outlooked in the distance,

At water’s-edge waiting well-lovèd heroes;

He bound to the bank then the broad-bosomed vessel

Fast in its fetters, lest the force of the waters

30

Should be able to injure the ocean-wood winsome.

Bade he up then take the treasure of princes,

Plate-gold and fretwork; not far was it thence

To go off in search of the giver of jewels:

[66]

Hrethel’s son Higelac at home there remaineth,

35

Himself with his comrades close to the sea-coast.

The building was splendid, the king heroic,

Great in his hall, Hygd very young was,

Hygd, the noble
queen of Higelac,
lavish of gifts.

Fine-mooded, clever, though few were the winters

That the daughter of Hæreth had dwelt in the borough;

40

But she nowise was cringing nor niggard of presents,

Of ornaments rare, to the race of the Geatmen.

Offa’s consort,
Thrytho, is contrasted
with Hygd.

Thrytho nursed anger, excellent

folk-queen,

Hot-burning hatred: no hero whatever

’Mong household companions, her husband excepted

She is a terror to
all save her husband.

45

Dared to adventure to look at the woman

With eyes in the daytime;

but he knew that death-chains

Hand-wreathed were wrought him: early thereafter,

When the hand-strife was over, edges were ready,

That fierce-raging sword-point had to force a decision,

50

Murder-bale show. Such no womanly custom

For a lady to practise, though lovely her person,

That a weaver-of-peace, on pretence of anger

A belovèd liegeman of life should deprive.

Soothly this hindered Heming’s kinsman;

55

Other ale-drinking earlmen asserted

That fearful folk-sorrows fewer she wrought them,

Treacherous doings, since first she was given

Adorned with gold to the war-hero youthful,

For her origin honored, when Offa’s great palace

60

O’er the fallow flood by her father’s instructions

She sought on her journey, where she afterwards fully,

Famed for her virtue, her fate on the king’s-seat

[67]

Enjoyed in her lifetime, love did she hold with

The ruler of heroes, the best, it is told me,

65

Of all of the earthmen that oceans encompass,

Of earl-kindreds endless; hence Offa was famous

Far and widely, by gifts and by battles,

Spear-valiant hero; the home of his fathers

He governed with wisdom, whence Eomær did issue

70

For help unto heroes, Heming’s kinsman,

Grandson of Garmund, great in encounters.

XXIX.

BEOWULF AND HIGELAC.

Then the brave one departed, his band along with him,

Beowulf and his
party seek Higelac.

Seeking the sea-shore, the sea-marches treading,

The wide-stretching shores. The world-candle glimmered,

The sun from the southward; they proceeded then onward,

5

Early arriving where they heard that the troop-lord,

Ongentheow’s slayer, excellent, youthful

Folk-prince and warrior was distributing jewels,

Close in his castle. The coming of Beowulf

Was announced in a message quickly to Higelac,

10

That the folk-troop’s defender forth to the palace

The linden-companion alive was advancing,

Secure from the combat courtward a-going.

The building was early inward made ready

For the foot-going guests as the good one had ordered.

Beowulf sits by his
liegelord.

15

He sat by the man then who had lived through the struggle,

Kinsman by kinsman, when the king of the people

Had in lordly language saluted the dear one,

Queen Hygd receives
the heroes.

In words that were formal. The daughter of Hæreth

Coursed through the building, carrying mead-cups:

[68]

20

She loved the retainers, tendered the beakers

To the high-minded Geatmen. Higelac ’gan then

Higelac is greatly
interested in Beowulf’s
adventures.

Pleasantly plying his companion with questions

In the high-towering palace. A curious interest

Tormented his spirit, what meaning to see in

25

The Sea-Geats’ adventures: “Beowulf worthy,

Give an account of
thy adventures,
Beowulf dear.

How throve your journeying, when thou thoughtest suddenly

Far o’er the salt-streams to seek an encounter,

A battle at Heorot? Hast bettered for Hrothgar,

The famous folk-leader, his far-published sorrows

30

Any at all? In agony-billows

My suspense has
been great.

I mused upon torture, distrusted the journey

Of the belovèd liegeman; I long time did pray thee

By no means to seek out the murderous spirit,

To suffer the South-Danes themselves to decide on

35

Grappling with Grendel. To God I am thankful

To be suffered to see thee safe from thy journey.”

Beowulf narrates
his adventures.

Beowulf answered, bairn of old Ecgtheow:

“’Tis hidden by no means, Higelac chieftain,

From many of men, the meeting so famous,

40

What mournful moments of me and of Grendel

Were passed in the place where he pressing affliction

On the Victory-Scyldings scathefully brought,

Anguish forever; that all I avengèd,

So that any under heaven of the kinsmen of Grendel

Grendel’s kindred
have no cause to
boast.

45

Needeth not boast of that cry-in-the-morning,

Who longest liveth of the loth-going kindred,

Encompassed by moorland. I came in my journey

To the royal ring-hall, Hrothgar to greet there:

Hrothgar received
me very cordially.

Soon did the famous scion of Healfdene,

50

When he understood fully the spirit that led me,

Assign me a seat with the son of his bosom.

[69]

The troop was in joyance; mead-glee greater

’Neath arch of the ether not ever beheld I

The queen also
showed up no little
honor.

’Mid hall-building holders. The highly-famed queen,

55

Peace-tie of peoples, oft passed through the building,

Cheered the young troopers; she oft tendered a hero

A beautiful ring-band, ere she went to her sitting.

Hrothgar’s lovely
daughter.

Oft the daughter of Hrothgar in view of the courtiers

To the earls at the end the ale-vessel carried,

60

Whom Freaware I heard then hall-sitters title,

When nail-adorned jewels she gave to the heroes:

She is betrothed to
Ingeld, in order to
unite the Danes
and Heathobards.

Gold-bedecked, youthful, to the glad son of Froda

Her faith has been plighted; the friend of the Scyldings,

The guard of the kingdom, hath given his sanction,

65

And counts it a vantage, for a part of the quarrels,

A portion of hatred, to pay with the woman.

Somewhere not rarely, when the ruler has fallen,

The life-taking lance relaxeth its fury

For a brief breathing-spell, though the bride be charming!

XXX.

BEOWULF NARRATES HIS ADVENTURES TO HIGELAC.

“It well may discomfit the prince of the Heathobards

And each of the thanemen of earls that attend him,

[70]

When he goes to the building escorting the woman,

That a noble-born Daneman the knights should be feasting:

5

There gleam on his person the leavings of elders

Hard and ring-bright, Heathobards’ treasure,

While they wielded their arms, till they misled to the battle

Their own dear lives and belovèd companions.

He saith at the banquet who the collar beholdeth,

10

An ancient ash-warrior who earlmen’s destruction

Clearly recalleth (cruel his spirit),

Sadly beginneth sounding the youthful

Thane-champion’s spirit through the thoughts of his bosom,

War-grief to waken, and this word-answer speaketh:

Ingeld is stirred up
to break the truce.

15

‘Art thou able, my friend, to know when thou seest it

The brand which thy father bare to the conflict

In his latest adventure, ’neath visor of helmet,

The dearly-loved iron, where Danemen did slay him,

And brave-mooded Scyldings, on the fall of the heroes,

20

(When vengeance was sleeping) the slaughter-place wielded?

E’en now some man of the murderer’s progeny

Exulting in ornaments enters the building,

Boasts of his blood-shedding, offbeareth the jewel

Which thou shouldst wholly hold in possession!’

25

So he urgeth and mindeth on every occasion

With woe-bringing words, till waxeth the season

When the woman’s thane for the works of his father,

The bill having bitten, blood-gory sleepeth,

Fated to perish; the other one thenceward

30

’Scapeth alive, the land knoweth thoroughly.

Then the oaths of the earlmen on each side are broken,

When rancors unresting are raging in Ingeld

And his wife-love waxeth less warm after sorrow.

So the Heathobards’ favor not faithful I reckon,

35

Their part in the treaty not true to the Danemen,

Their friendship not fast. I further shall tell thee

[71]

Having made these
preliminary statements,
I will now
tell thee of Grendel,
the monster.

More about Grendel, that thou fully mayst hear,

Ornament-giver, what afterward came from

The hand-rush of heroes. When heaven’s bright jewel

40

O’er earthfields had glided, the stranger came raging,

The horrible night-fiend, us for to visit,

Where wholly unharmed the hall we were guarding.

Hondscio fell first

To Hondscio happened a hopeless contention,

Death to the doomed one, dead he fell foremost,

45

Girded war-champion; to him Grendel became then,

To the vassal distinguished, a tooth-weaponed murderer,

The well-beloved henchman’s body all swallowed.

Not the earlier off empty of hand did

The bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of evils,

50

Wish to escape from the gold-giver’s palace,

But sturdy of strength he strove to outdo me,

Hand-ready grappled. A glove was suspended

Spacious and wondrous, in art-fetters fastened,

Which was fashioned entirely by touch of the craftman

55

From the dragon’s skin by the devil’s devices:

He down in its depths would do me unsadly

One among many, deed-doer raging,

Though sinless he saw me; not so could it happen

When I in my anger upright did stand.

60

’Tis too long to recount how requital I furnished

For every evil to the earlmen’s destroyer;

I reflected honor
upon my people.

’Twas there, my prince, that I proudly distinguished

Thy land with my labors. He left and retreated,

He lived his life a little while longer:

65

Yet his right-hand guarded his footstep in Heorot,

And sad-mooded thence to the sea-bottom fell he,

Mournful in mind. For the might-rush of battle

King Hrothgar
lavished gifts upon
me.

The friend of the Scyldings, with gold that was plated,

With ornaments many, much requited me,

70

When daylight had dawned, and down to the banquet

We had sat us together. There was chanting and joyance:

The age-stricken Scylding asked many questions

[72]

And of old-times related; oft light-ringing harp-strings,

Joy-telling wood, were touched by the brave one;

75

Now he uttered measures, mourning and truthful,

Then the large-hearted land-king a legend of wonder

Truthfully told us. Now troubled with years

The old king is
sad over the loss
of his youthful
vigor.

The age-hoary warrior afterward began to

Mourn for the might that marked him in youth-days;

80

His breast within boiled, when burdened with winters

Much he remembered. From morning till night then

We joyed us therein as etiquette suffered,

Till the second night season came unto earth-folk.

Then early thereafter, the mother of Grendel

Grendel’s mother.

85

Was ready for vengeance, wretched she journeyed;

Her son had death ravished, the wrath of the Geatmen.

The horrible woman avengèd her offspring,

And with mighty mainstrength murdered a hero.

Æschere falls a
prey to her vengeance.

There the spirit of Æschere, agèd adviser,

90

Was ready to vanish; nor when morn had lightened

Were they anywise suffered to consume him with fire,

Folk of the Danemen, the death-weakened hero,

Nor the belovèd liegeman to lay on the pyre;

She suffered not
his body to be
burned, but ate it.

She the corpse had offcarried in the clutch of the foeman

95

’Neath mountain-brook’s flood. To Hrothgar ’twas saddest

Of pains that ever had preyed on the chieftain;

By the life of thee the land-prince then me

Besought very sadly, in sea-currents’ eddies

To display my prowess, to peril my safety,

100

Might-deeds accomplish; much did he promise.

I sought the creature
in her den,

I found then the famous flood-current’s cruel,

Horrible depth-warder. A while unto us two

[73]

Hand was in common; the currents were seething

With gore that was clotted, and Grendel’s fierce mother’s

and hewed her
head off.

105

Head I offhacked in the hall at the bottom

With huge-reaching sword-edge, hardly I wrested

My life from her clutches; not doomed was I then,

Jewels were freely
bestowed upon me.

But the warden of earlmen afterward gave me

Jewels in quantity, kinsman of Healfdene.

XXXI.

GIFT-GIVING IS MUTUAL.

“So the belovèd land-prince lived in decorum;

I had missed no rewards, no meeds of my prowess,

But he gave me jewels, regarding my wishes,

Healfdene his bairn; I’ll bring them to thee, then,

All my gifts I lay
at thy feet.

5

Atheling of earlmen, offer them gladly.

And still unto thee is all my affection:

But few of my folk-kin find I surviving

But thee, dear Higelac!” Bade he in then to carry

The boar-image, banner, battle-high helmet,

10

Iron-gray armor, the excellent weapon,

This armor I have
belonged of yore to
Heregar.

In song-measures said: “This suit-for-the-battle

Hrothgar presented me, bade me expressly,

Wise-mooded atheling, thereafter to tell thee

The whole of its history, said King Heregar owned it,

15

Dane-prince for long: yet he wished not to give then

[74]

The mail to his son, though dearly he loved him,

Hereward the hardy. Hold all in joyance!”

I heard that there followed hard on the jewels

Two braces of stallions of striking resemblance,

20

Dappled and yellow; he granted him usance

Of horses and treasures. So a kinsman should bear him,

No web of treachery weave for another,

Nor by cunning craftiness cause the destruction

Higelac loves his
nephew Beowulf.

Of trusty companion. Most precious to Higelac,

25

The bold one in battle, was the bairn of his sister,

And each unto other mindful of favors.

Beowulf gives
Hygd the necklace
that Wealhtheow
had given him.

I am told that to Hygd he proffered the necklace,

Wonder-gem rare that Wealhtheow gave him,

The troop-leader’s daughter, a trio of horses

30

Slender and saddle-bright; soon did the jewel

Embellish her bosom, when the beer-feast was over.

So Ecgtheow’s bairn brave did prove him,

Beowulf is famous.

War-famous man, by deeds that were valiant,

He lived in honor, belovèd companions

35

Slew not carousing; his mood was not cruel,

But by hand-strength hugest of heroes then living

The brave one retained the bountiful gift that

The Lord had allowed him. Long was he wretched,

So that sons of the Geatmen accounted him worthless,

40

And the lord of the liegemen loth was to do him

Mickle of honor, when mead-cups were passing;

They fully believed him idle and sluggish,

He is requited for
the slights suffered
in earlier days.

An indolent atheling: to the honor-blest man there

Came requital for the cuts he had suffered.

45

The folk-troop’s defender bade fetch to the building

The heirloom of Hrethel, embellished with gold,

Higelac overwhelms
the conqueror
with gifts.

So the brave one enjoined it; there was jewel no richer

In the form of a weapon ’mong Geats of that era;

In Beowulf’s keeping he placed it and gave him

50

Seven of thousands, manor and lordship.

Common to both was land ’mong the people,

[75]

Estate and inherited rights and possessions,

To the second one specially spacious dominions,

To the one who was better. It afterward happened

55

In days that followed, befell the battle-thanes,

After Heardred’s
death, Beowulf becomes
king.

After Higelac’s death, and when Heardred was murdered

With weapons of warfare ’neath well-covered targets,

When valiant battlemen in victor-band sought him,

War-Scylfing heroes harassed the nephew

60

Of Hereric in battle. To Beowulf’s keeping

Turned there in time extensive dominions:

He rules the Geats
fifty years.

He fittingly ruled them a fifty of winters

(He a man-ruler wise was, manor-ward old) till

A certain one ’gan, on gloom-darkening nights, a

The fire-drake.

65

Dragon, to govern, who guarded a treasure,

A high-rising stone-cliff, on heath that was grayish:

A path ’neath it lay, unknown unto mortals.

Some one of earthmen entered the mountain,

The heathenish hoard laid hold of with ardor;

70

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XXXII.

THE HOARD AND THE DRAGON.

*         
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He sought of himself who sorely did harm him,

But, for need very pressing, the servant of one of

The sons of the heroes hate-blows evaded,

5

Seeking for shelter and the sin-driven warrior

Took refuge within there. He early looked in it,

*         
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[76]

*    *    *    *    *  when the onset surprised him,

The hoard.

10

He a gem-vessel saw there: many of suchlike

Ancient ornaments in the earth-cave were lying,

As in days of yore some one of men of

Illustrious lineage, as a legacy monstrous,

There had secreted them, careful and thoughtful,

15

Dear-valued jewels. Death had offsnatched them,

In the days of the past, and the one man moreover

Of the flower of the folk who fared there the longest,

Was fain to defer it, friend-mourning warder,

A little longer to be left in enjoyment

20

Of long-lasting treasure.

A barrow all-ready

Stood on the plain the stream-currents nigh to,

New by the ness-edge, unnethe of approaching:

The keeper of rings carried within a

Ponderous deal of the treasure of nobles,

25

Of gold that was beaten, briefly he spake then:

The ring-giver bewails
the loss of
retainers.

“Hold thou, O Earth, now heroes no more may,

The earnings of earlmen. Lo! erst in thy bosom

Worthy men won them; war-death hath ravished,

Perilous life-bale, all my warriors,

30

Liegemen belovèd, who this life have forsaken,

Who hall-pleasures saw. No sword-bearer have I,

And no one to burnish the gold-plated vessel,

The high-valued beaker: my heroes are vanished.

The hardy helmet behung with gilding

35

Shall be reaved of its riches: the ring-cleansers slumber

Who were charged to have ready visors-for-battle,

And the burnie that bided in battle-encounter

[77]

O’er breaking of war-shields the bite of the edges

Moulds with the hero. The ring-twisted armor,

40

Its lord being lifeless, no longer may journey

Hanging by heroes; harp-joy is vanished,

The rapture of glee-wood, no excellent falcon

Swoops through the building, no swift-footed charger

Grindeth the gravel. A grievous destruction

45

No few of the world-folk widely hath scattered!”

So, woful of spirit one after all

Lamented mournfully, moaning in sadness

By day and by night, till death with its billows

The fire-dragon

Dashed on his spirit. Then the ancient dusk-scather

50

Found the great treasure standing all open,

He who flaming and fiery flies to the barrows,

Naked war-dragon, nightly escapeth

Encompassed with fire; men under heaven

Widely beheld him. ’Tis said that he looks for

55

The hoard in the earth, where old he is guarding

The heathenish treasure; he’ll be nowise the better.

The dragon meets
his match.

So three-hundred winters the waster of peoples

Held upon earth that excellent hoard-hall,

Till the forementioned earlman angered him bitterly:

60

The beat-plated beaker he bare to his chieftain

And fullest remission for all his remissness

Begged of his liegelord. Then the hoard

was discovered,

The treasure was taken, his petition was granted

The hero plunders
the dragon’s den

The lorn-mooded liegeman. His lord regarded

65

The old-work of earth-folk—’twas the earliest occasion.

When the dragon awoke, the strife was renewed there;

He snuffed ’long the stone then, stout-hearted found he

[78]

The footprint of foeman; too far had he gone

With cunning craftiness close to the head of

70

The fire-spewing dragon. So undoomed he may ’scape from

Anguish and exile with ease who possesseth

The favor of Heaven. The hoard-warden eagerly

Searched o’er the ground then, would meet with the person

That caused him sorrow while in slumber reclining:

75

Gleaming and wild he oft went round the cavern,

All of it outward; not any of earthmen

Was seen in that desert.

Yet he joyed in the battle,

Rejoiced in the conflict: oft he turned to the barrow,

Sought for the gem-cup;

this he soon perceived then

The dragon perceives
that some
one has disturbed
his treasure.

80

That some man or other had discovered the gold,

The famous folk-treasure. Not fain did the hoard-ward

Wait until evening; then the ward of the barrow

Was angry in spirit, the loathèd one wished to

Pay for the dear-valued drink-cup with fire.

85

Then the day was done as the dragon would have it,

He no longer would wait on the wall, but departed

The dragon is infuriated.

Fire-impelled, flaming. Fearful the start was

To earls in the land, as it early thereafter

To their giver-of-gold was grievously ended.

XXXIII.

BRAVE THOUGH AGED.—REMINISCENCES.

The dragon spits
fire.

The stranger began then to vomit forth fire,

To burn the great manor; the blaze then glimmered

For anguish to earlmen, not anything living

[79]

Was the hateful air-goer willing to leave there.

5

The war of the worm widely was noticed,

The feud of the foeman afar and anear,

How the enemy injured the earls of the Geatmen,

Harried with hatred: back he hied to the treasure,

To the well-hidden cavern ere the coming of daylight.

10

He had circled with fire the folk of those regions,

With brand and burning; in the barrow he trusted,

In the wall and his war-might: the weening deceived him.

Beowulf hears of
the havoc wrought
by the dragon.

Then straight was the horror to Beowulf published,

Early forsooth, that his own native homestead,

15

The best of buildings, was burning and melting,

Gift-seat of Geatmen. ’Twas a grief to the spirit

Of the good-mooded hero, the greatest of sorrows:

He fears that
Heaven is punishing
him for some
crime.

The wise one weened then that wielding his kingdom

’Gainst the ancient commandments, he had bitterly angered

20

The Lord everlasting: with lorn meditations

His bosom welled inward, as was nowise his custom.

The fire-spewing dragon fully had wasted

The fastness of warriors, the water-land outward,

The manor with fire. The folk-ruling hero,

25

Prince of the Weders, was planning to wreak him.

The warmen’s defender bade them to make him,

Earlmen’s atheling, an excellent war-shield

He orders an iron
shield to be made
from him, wood is
useless.

Wholly of iron: fully he knew then

That wood from the forest was helpless to aid him,

30

Shield against fire. The long-worthy ruler

Must live the last of his limited earth-days,

Of life in the world and the worm along with him,

Though he long had been holding hoard-wealth in plenty.

He determines to
fight alone.

Then the ring-prince disdained to seek with a war-band,

35

With army extensive, the air-going ranger;

He felt no fear of the foeman’s assaults and

He counted for little the might of the dragon,

[80]

His power and prowess: for previously dared he

Beowulf’s early
triumphs referred
to

A heap of hostility, hazarded dangers,

40

War-thane, when Hrothgar’s palace he cleansèd,

Conquering combatant, clutched in the battle

The kinsmen of Grendel, of kindred detested.

Higelac’s death
recalled.

’Twas of hand-fights not least where Higelac was slaughtered,

When the king of the Geatmen with clashings of battle,

45

Friend-lord of folks in Frisian dominions,

Offspring of Hrethrel perished through sword-drink,

With battle-swords beaten; thence Beowulf came then

On self-help relying, swam through the waters;

He bare on his arm, lone-going, thirty

50

Outfits of armor, when the ocean he mounted.

The Hetwars by no means had need to be boastful

Of their fighting afoot, who forward to meet him

Carried their war-shields: not many returned from

The brave-mooded battle-knight back to their homesteads.

55

Ecgtheow’s bairn o’er the bight-courses swam then,

Lone-goer lorn to his land-folk returning,

Where Hygd to him tendered treasure and kingdom,

Heardred’s lack of
capacity to rule.

Rings and dominion: her son she not trusted,

To be able to keep the kingdom devised him

60

’Gainst alien races, on the death of King Higelac.

Beowulf’s tact and
delicacy recalled.

Yet the sad ones succeeded not in persuading the atheling

In any way ever, to act as a suzerain

To Heardred, or promise to govern the kingdom;

Yet with friendly counsel in the folk he sustained him,

65

Gracious, with honor, till he grew to be older,

Reference is here
made to a visit
which Beowulf receives
from Eanmund
and Eadgils,
why they come is
not known.

Wielded the Weders. Wide-fleeing outlaws,

Ohthere’s sons, sought him o’er the waters:

They had stirred a revolt ’gainst the helm of the Scylfings,

The best of the sea-kings, who in Swedish dominions

70

Distributed treasure, distinguished folk-leader.

[81]

’Twas the end of his earth-days; injury fatal

By swing of the sword he received as a greeting,

Offspring of Higelac; Ongentheow’s bairn

Later departed to visit his homestead,

75

When Heardred was dead; let Beowulf rule them,

Govern the Geatmen: good was that folk-king.

XXXIV.

BEOWULF SEEKS THE DRAGON.—BEOWULF’S REMINISCENCES.

He planned requital for the folk-leader’s ruin

In days thereafter, to Eadgils the wretched

Becoming an enemy. Ohthere’s son then

Went with a war-troop o’er the wide-stretching currents

5

With warriors and weapons: with woe-journeys cold he

After avenged him, the king’s life he took.

Beowulf has been
preserved through
many perils.

So he came off uninjured from all of his battles,

Perilous fights, offspring of Ecgtheow,

From his deeds of daring, till that day most momentous

10

When he fate-driven fared to fight with the dragon.

With eleven comrades,
he seeks the
dragon.

With eleven companions the prince of the Geatmen

Went lowering with fury to look at the fire-drake:

Inquiring he’d found how the feud had arisen,

Hate to his heroes; the highly-famed gem-vessel

15

Was brought to his keeping through the hand of th’ informer.

A guide leads the
way, but

That in the throng was thirteenth of heroes,

That caused the beginning of conflict so bitter,

Captive and wretched, must sad-mooded thenceward

very reluctantly.

Point out the place: he passed then unwillingly

20

To the spot where he knew of the notable cavern,

The cave under earth, not far from the ocean,

The anger of eddies, which inward was full of

Jewels and wires: a warden uncanny,

[82]

Warrior weaponed, wardered the treasure,

25

Old under earth; no easy possession

For any of earth-folk access to get to.

Then the battle-brave atheling sat on the naze-edge,

While the gold-friend of Geatmen gracious saluted

His fireside-companions: woe was his spirit,

30

Death-boding, wav’ring; Weird very near him,

Who must seize the old hero, his soul-treasure look for,

Dragging aloof his life from his body:

Not flesh-hidden long was the folk-leader’s spirit.

Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s son:

Beowulf’s retrospect.

35

“I survived in my youth-days many a conflict,

Hours of onset: that all I remember.

I was seven-winters old when the jewel-prince took me,

High-lord of heroes, at the hands of my father,

Hrethel the hero-king had me in keeping,

Hrethel took me
when I was seven.

40

Gave me treasure and feasting, our kinship remembered;

Not ever was I any less dear to him

He treated me as
a son.

Knight in the boroughs, than the bairns of his household,

Herebald and Hæthcyn and Higelac mine.

To the eldest unjustly by acts of a kinsman

45

Was murder-bed strewn, since him Hæthcyn from horn-bow

One of the brothers
accidentally kills
another.

His sheltering chieftain shot with an arrow,

Erred in his aim and injured his kinsman,

One brother the other, with blood-sprinkled spear:

No fee could compound
for such a
calamity.

’Twas a feeless fight, finished in malice,

50

Sad to his spirit; the folk-prince however

Had to part from existence with vengeance untaken.

[A parallel case
is supposed.]

So to hoar-headed hero ’tis heavily crushing

[83]

To live to see his son as he rideth

Young on the gallows: then measures he chanteth,

55

A song of sorrow, when his son is hanging

For the raven’s delight, and aged and hoary

He is unable to offer any assistance.

Every morning his offspring’s departure

Is constant recalled: he cares not to wait for

60

The birth of an heir in his borough-enclosures,

Since that one through death-pain the deeds hath experienced.

He heart-grieved beholds in the house of his son the

Wine-building wasted, the wind-lodging places

Reaved of their roaring; the riders are sleeping,

65

The knights in the grave; there’s no sound of the harp-wood,

Joy in the yards, as of yore were familiar.

XXXV.

REMINISCENCES (continued).—BEOWULF’S LAST BATTLE.

“He seeks then his chamber, singeth a woe-song

One for the other; all too extensive

Seemed homesteads and plains. So the helm of the Weders

Hrethel grieves
for Herebald.

Mindful of Herebald heart-sorrow carried,

5

Stirred with emotion, nowise was able

To wreak his ruin on the ruthless destroyer:

He was unable to follow the warrior with hatred,

With deeds that were direful, though dear he not held him.

[84]

Then pressed by the pang this pain occasioned him,

10

He gave up glee, God-light elected;

He left to his sons, as the man that is rich does,

His land and fortress, when from life he departed.

Strife between
Swedes and Geats.

Then was crime and hostility ’twixt Swedes and Geatmen,

O’er wide-stretching water warring was mutual,

15

Burdensome hatred, when Hrethel had perished,

And Ongentheow’s offspring were active and valiant,

Wished not to hold to peace oversea, but

Round Hreosna-beorh often accomplished

Cruelest massacre. This my kinsman avengèd,

20

The feud and fury, as ’tis found on inquiry,

Though one of them paid it with forfeit of life-joys,

Hæthcyn’s fall at
Ravenswood.

With price that was hard: the struggle became then

Fatal to Hæthcyn, lord of the Geatmen.

Then I heard that at morning one brother the other

25

With edges of irons egged on to murder,

Where Ongentheow maketh onset on Eofor:

The helmet crashed, the hoary-haired Scylfing

Sword-smitten fell, his hand then remembered

Feud-hate sufficient, refused not the death-blow.

I requited him for
the jewels he gave
me.

30

The gems that he gave me, with jewel-bright sword I

’Quited in contest, as occasion was offered:

Land he allowed me, life-joy at homestead,

Manor to live on. Little he needed

From Gepids or Danes or in Sweden to look for

35

Trooper less true, with treasure to buy him;

’Mong foot-soldiers ever in front I would hie me,

Alone in the vanguard, and evermore gladly

Warfare shall wage, while this weapon endureth

That late and early often did serve me

Beowulf refers to
his having slain
Dæghrefn.

40

When I proved before heroes the slayer of Dæghrefn,

Knight of the Hugmen: he by no means was suffered

To the king of the Frisians to carry the jewels,

The breast-decoration; but the banner-possessor

Bowed in the battle, brave-mooded atheling.

[85]

45

No weapon was slayer, but war-grapple broke then

The surge of his spirit, his body destroying.

Now shall weapon’s edge make war for the treasure,

And hand and firm-sword.” Beowulf spake then,

Boast-words uttered—the latest occasion:

He boasts of his
youthful prowess,
and declares himself
still fearless.

50

“I braved in my youth-days battles unnumbered;

Still am I willing the struggle to look for,

Fame-deeds perform, folk-warden prudent,

If the hateful despoiler forth from his cavern

Seeketh me out!” Each of the heroes,

55

Helm-bearers sturdy, he thereupon greeted

His last salutations.

Belovèd co-liegemen—his last salutation:

“No brand would I bear, no blade for the dragon,

Wist I a way my word-boast to ’complish

Else with the monster, as with Grendel I did it;

60

But fire in the battle hot I expect there,

Furious flame-burning: so I fixed on my body

Target and war-mail. The ward of the barrow

I’ll not flee from a foot-length, the foeman uncanny.

At the wall ’twill befall us as Fate decreeth,

Let Fate decide
between us.

65

Each one’s Creator. I am eager in spirit,

With the wingèd war-hero to away with all boasting.

Bide on the barrow with burnies protected,

Wait ye here till
the battle is over.

Earls in armor, which of us two may better

Bear his disaster, when the battle is over.

70

’Tis no matter of yours, and man cannot do it,

But me and me only, to measure his strength with

The monster of malice, might-deeds to ’complish.

I with prowess shall gain the gold, or the battle,

[86]

Direful death-woe will drag off your ruler!”

75

The mighty champion rose by his shield then,

Brave under helmet, in battle-mail went he

’Neath steep-rising stone-cliffs, the strength he relied on

Of one man alone: no work for a coward.

Then he saw by the wall who a great many battles

80

Had lived through, most worthy, when foot-troops collided,

The place of strife
is described.

Stone-arches standing, stout-hearted champion,

Saw a brook from the barrow bubbling out thenceward:

The flood of the fountain was fuming with war-flame:

Not nigh to the hoard, for season the briefest

85

Could he brave, without burning, the abyss that was yawning,

The drake was so fiery. The prince of the Weders

Caused then that words came from his bosom,

So fierce was his fury; the firm-hearted shouted:

His battle-clear voice came in resounding

90

’Neath the gray-colored stone. Stirred was his hatred,

Beowulf calls out
under the stone
arches.

The hoard-ward distinguished the speech of a man;

Time was no longer to look out for friendship.

The breath of the monster issued forth first,

Vapory war-sweat, out of the stone-cave:

The terrible encounter.

95

The earth re-echoed. The earl ’neath the barrow

Lifted his shield, lord of the Geatmen,

Tow’rd the terrible stranger: the ring-twisted creature’s

Heart was then ready to seek for a struggle.

Beowulf brandishes
his sword,

The excellent battle-king first brandished his weapon,

100

The ancient heirloom, of edges unblunted,

To the death-planners twain was terror from other.

and stands against
his shield.

The lord of the troopers intrepidly stood then

’Gainst his high-rising shield, when the dragon coiled him

The dragon coils
himself.

Quickly together: in corslet he bided.

[87]

105

He went then in blazes, bended and striding,

Hasting him forward. His life and body

The targe well protected, for time-period shorter

Than wish demanded for the well-renowned leader,

Where he then for the first day was forced to be victor,

110

Famous in battle, as Fate had not willed it.

The lord of the Geatmen uplifted his hand then,

Smiting the fire-drake with sword that was precious,

That bright on the bone the blade-edge did weaken,

Bit more feebly than his folk-leader needed,

115

Burdened with bale-griefs. Then the barrow-protector,

The dragon rages

When the sword-blow had fallen, was fierce in his spirit,

Flinging his fires, flamings of battle

Gleamed then afar: the gold-friend of Weders

Beowulf’s sword
fails him.

Boasted no conquests, his battle-sword failed him

120

Naked in conflict, as by no means it ought to,

Long-trusty weapon. ’Twas no slight undertaking

That Ecgtheow’s famous offspring would leave

The drake-cavern’s bottom; he must live in some region

Other than this, by the will of the dragon,

125

As each one of earthmen existence must forfeit.

’Twas early thereafter the excellent warriors

The combat is
renewed.

Met with each other. Anew and afresh

The hoard-ward took heart (gasps heaved then his bosom):

The great hero is
reduced to extremities.

Sorrow he suffered encircled with fire

130

Who the people erst governed. His companions by no means

Were banded about him, bairns of the princes,

His comrades flee!

With valorous spirit, but they sped to the forest,

Seeking for safety. The soul-deeps of one were

Blood is thicker
than water.

Ruffled by care: kin-love can never

135

Aught in him waver who well doth consider.

[88]

XXXVI.

WIGLAF THE TRUSTY.—BEOWULF IS DESERTED BY FRIENDS
AND BY SWORD.

Wiglaf remains
true—the ideal
Teutonic liegeman.

The son of Weohstan was Wiglaf entitled,

Shield-warrior precious, prince of the Scylfings,

Ælfhere’s kinsman: he saw his dear liegelord

Enduring the heat ’neath helmet and visor.

5

Then he minded the holding that erst he had given him,

Wiglaf recalls
Beowulf’s generosity.

The Wægmunding warriors’ wealth-blessèd homestead,

Each of the folk-rights his father had wielded;

He was hot for the battle, his hand seized the target,

The yellow-bark shield, he unsheathed his old weapon,

10

Which was known among earthmen as the relic of Eanmund,

Ohthere’s offspring, whom, exiled and friendless,

Weohstan did slay with sword-edge in battle,

And carried his kinsman the clear-shining helmet,

The ring-made burnie, the old giant-weapon

15

That Onela gave him, his boon-fellow’s armor,

Ready war-trappings: he the feud did not mention,

Though he’d fatally smitten the son of his brother.

Many a half-year held he the treasures,

The bill and the burnie, till his bairn became able,

20

Like his father before him, fame-deeds to ’complish;

Then he gave him ’mong Geatmen a goodly array of

Weeds for his warfare; he went from life then

Old on his journey. ’Twas the earliest time then

This is Wiglaf’s
first battle as liegeman
of Beowulf.

That the youthful champion might charge in the battle

25

Aiding his liegelord; his spirit was dauntless.

Nor did kinsman’s bequest quail at the battle:

This the dragon discovered on their coming together.

Wiglaf uttered many a right-saying,

Said to his fellows, sad was his spirit:

Wiglaf appeals to
the pride of the
cowards.

30

“I remember the time when, tasting the mead-cup,

We promised in the hall the lord of us all

[89]

Who gave us these ring-treasures, that this battle-equipment,

Swords and helmets, we’d certainly quite him,

Should need of such aid ever befall him:

How we have forfeited
our liegelord’s confidence!

35

In the war-band he chose us for this journey spontaneously,

Stirred us to glory and gave me these jewels,

Since he held and esteemed us trust-worthy spearmen,

Hardy helm-bearers, though this hero-achievement

Our lord intended alone to accomplish,

40

Ward of his people, for most of achievements,

Doings audacious, he did among earth-folk.

Our lord is in sore
need of us.

The day is now come when the ruler of earthmen

Needeth the vigor of valiant heroes:

Let us wend us towards him, the war-prince to succor,

45

While the heat yet rageth, horrible fire-fight.

I would rather die
than go home with
out my suzerain.

God wot in me, ’tis mickle the liefer

The blaze should embrace my body and eat it

With my treasure-bestower. Meseemeth not proper

To bear our battle-shields back to our country,

50

’Less first we are able to fell and destroy the

Long-hating foeman, to defend the life of

Surely he does
not deserve to die
alone.

The prince of the Weders. Well do I know ’tisn’t

Earned by his exploits, he only of Geatmen

Sorrow should suffer, sink in the battle:

55

Brand and helmet to us both shall be common,

Shield-cover, burnie.” Through the bale-smoke he stalked then,

Went under helmet to the help of his chieftain,

Wiglaf reminds
Beowulf of his
youthful boasts.

Briefly discoursing: “Beowulf dear,

Perform thou all fully, as thou formerly saidst,

60

In thy youthful years, that while yet thou livedst

[90]

Thou wouldst let thine honor not ever be lessened.

Thy life thou shalt save, mighty in actions,

Atheling undaunted, with all of thy vigor;

The monster advances
on them.

I’ll give thee assistance.” The dragon came raging,

65

Wild-mooded stranger, when these words had been uttered

(’Twas the second occasion), seeking his enemies,

Men that were hated, with hot-gleaming fire-waves;

With blaze-billows burned the board to its edges:

The fight-armor failed then to furnish assistance

70

To the youthful spear-hero: but the young-agèd stripling

Quickly advanced ’neath his kinsman’s war-target,

Since his own had been ground in the grip of the fire.

Beowulf strikes at
the dragon.

Then the warrior-king was careful of glory,

He soundly smote with sword-for-the-battle,

75

That it stood in the head by hatred driven;

Nægling was shivered, the old and iron-made

His sword fails
him.

Brand of Beowulf in battle deceived him.

’Twas denied him that edges of irons were able

To help in the battle; the hand was too mighty

80

Which every weapon, as I heard on inquiry,

Outstruck in its stroke, when to struggle he carried

The wonderful war-sword: it waxed him no better.

The dragon advances
on Beowulf
again.

Then the people-despoiler—third of his onsets—

Fierce-raging fire-drake, of feud-hate was mindful,

85

Charged on the strong one, when chance was afforded,

Heated and war-grim, seized on his neck

With teeth that were bitter; he bloody did wax with

Soul-gore seething; sword-blood in waves boiled.

[91]

XXXVII.

THE FATAL STRUGGLE.—BEOWULF’S LAST MOMENTS.

Wiglaf defends
Beowulf.

Then I heard that at need of the king of the people

The upstanding earlman exhibited prowess,

Vigor and courage, as suited his nature;

He his head did not guard, but the high-minded liegeman’s

5

Hand was consumed, when he succored his kinsman,

So he struck the strife-bringing strange-comer lower,

Earl-thane in armor, that in went the weapon

Gleaming and plated, that ’gan then the fire

Beowulf draws
his knife,

Later to lessen. The liegelord himself then

10

Retained his consciousness, brandished his war-knife,

Battle-sharp, bitter, that he bare on his armor:

and cuts the
dragon.

The Weder-lord cut the worm in the middle.

They had felled the enemy (life drove out then

Puissant prowess), the pair had destroyed him,

15

Land-chiefs related: so a liegeman should prove him,

A thaneman when needed. To the prince ’twas the last of

His era of conquest by his own great achievements,

[92]

Beowulf’s wound
swells and burns.

The latest of world-deeds. The wound then began

Which the earth-dwelling dragon erstwhile had wrought him

20

To burn and to swell. He soon then discovered

That bitterest bale-woe in his bosom was raging,

Poison within. The atheling advanced then,

He sits down exhausted.

That along by the wall, he prudent of spirit

Might sit on a settle; he saw the giant-work,

25

How arches of stone strengthened with pillars

The earth-hall eternal inward supported.

Then the long-worthy liegeman laved with his hand the

Wiglaf bathes his
lord’s head.

Far-famous chieftain, gory from sword-edge,

Refreshing the face of his friend-lord and ruler,

30

Sated with battle, unbinding his helmet.

Beowulf answered, of his injury spake he,

His wound that was fatal (he was fully aware

He had lived his allotted life-days enjoying

The pleasures of earth; then past was entirely

35

His measure of days, death very near):

Beowulf regrets
that he has no son.

“My son I would give now my battle-equipments,

Had any of heirs been after me granted,

Along of my body. This people I governed

Fifty of winters: no king ’mong my neighbors

40

Dared to encounter me with comrades-in-battle,

Try me with terror. The time to me ordered

I bided at home, mine own kept fitly,

Sought me no snares, swore me not many

I can rejoice in a
well-spent life.

Oaths in injustice. Joy over all this

45

I’m able to have, though ill with my death-wounds;

Hence the Ruler of Earthmen need not charge me

With the killing of kinsmen, when cometh my life out

Forth from my body. Fare thou with haste now

Bring me the
hoard, Wiglaf, that
my dying eyes may
be refreshed by a
sight of it.

To behold the hoard ’neath the hoar-grayish stone,

50

Well-lovèd Wiglaf, now the worm is a-lying,

Sore-wounded sleepeth, disseized of his treasure.

Go thou in haste that treasures of old I,

Gold-wealth may gaze on, together see lying

[93]

The ether-bright jewels, be easier able,

55

Having the heap of hoard-gems, to yield my

Life and the land-folk whom long I have governed.”

XXXVIII.

WIGLAF PLUNDERS THE DRAGON’S DEN.—BEOWULF’S
DEATH.

Wiglaf fulfils his
lord’s behest.

Then heard I that Wihstan’s son very quickly,

These words being uttered, heeded his liegelord

Wounded and war-sick, went in his armor,

His well-woven ring-mail, ’neath the roof of the barrow.

5

Then the trusty retainer treasure-gems many

The dragon’s den.

Victorious saw, when the seat he came near to,

Gold-treasure sparkling spread on the bottom,

Wonder on the wall, and the worm-creature’s cavern,

The ancient dawn-flier’s, vessels a-standing,

10

Cups of the ancients of cleansers bereavèd,

Robbed of their ornaments: there were helmets in numbers,

Old and rust-eaten, arm-bracelets many,

Artfully woven. Wealth can easily,

Gold on the sea-bottom, turn into vanity

15

Each one of earthmen, arm him who pleaseth!

And he saw there lying an all-golden banner

High o’er the hoard, of hand-wonders greatest,

Linkèd with lacets: a light from it sparkled,

That the floor of the cavern he was able to look on,

The dragon is not
there.

20

To examine the jewels. Sight of the dragon

[94]

Not any was offered, but edge offcarried him.

Wiglaf bears the
hoard away.

Then I heard that the hero the hoard-treasure plundered,

The giant-work ancient reaved in the cavern,

Bare on his bosom the beakers and platters,

25

As himself would fain have it, and took off the standard,

The brightest of beacons;

the bill had erst injured

(Its edge was of iron), the old-ruler’s weapon,

Him who long had watched as ward of the jewels,

Who fire-terror carried hot for the treasure,

30

Rolling in battle, in middlemost darkness,

Till murdered he perished. The messenger hastened,

Not loth to return, hurried by jewels:

Curiosity urged him if, excellent-mooded,

Alive he should find the lord of the Weders

35

Mortally wounded, at the place where he left him.

’Mid the jewels he found then the famous old chieftain,

His liegelord belovèd, at his life’s-end gory:

He thereupon ’gan to lave him with water,

Till the point of his word piercèd his breast-hoard.

40

Beowulf spake (the gold-gems he noticed),

Beowulf is rejoiced
to see the jewels.

The old one in sorrow: “For the jewels I look on

Thanks do I utter for all to the Ruler,

Wielder of Worship, with words of devotion,

The Lord everlasting, that He let me such treasures

45

Gain for my people ere death overtook me.

Since I’ve bartered the agèd life to me granted

For treasure of jewels, attend ye henceforward

He desires to be
held in memory by
his people.

The wants of the war-thanes; I can wait here no longer.

The battle-famed bid ye to build them a grave-hill,

50

Bright when I’m burned, at the brim-current’s limit;

As a memory-mark to the men I have governed,

[95]

Aloft it shall tower on Whale’s-Ness uprising,

That earls of the ocean hereafter may call it

Beowulf’s barrow, those who barks ever-dashing

55

From a distance shall drive o’er the darkness of waters.”

The hero’s last
gift

The bold-mooded troop-lord took from his neck then

The ring that was golden, gave to his liegeman,

The youthful war-hero, his gold-flashing helmet,

His collar and war-mail, bade him well to enjoy them:

and last words.

60

“Thou art latest left of the line of our kindred,

Of Wægmunding people: Weird hath offcarried

All of my kinsmen to the Creator’s glory,

Earls in their vigor: I shall after them fare.”

’Twas the aged liegelord’s last-spoken word in

65

His musings of spirit, ere he mounted the fire,

The battle-waves burning: from his bosom departed

His soul to seek the sainted ones’ glory.

XXXIX.

THE DEAD FOES.—WIGLAF’S BITTER TAUNTS.

Wiglaf is sorely
grieved to see his
lord look so un-warlike.

It had wofully chanced then the youthful retainer

To behold on earth the most ardent-belovèd

At his life-days’ limit, lying there helpless.

The slayer too lay there, of life all bereavèd,

5

Horrible earth-drake, harassed with sorrow:

The dragon has
plundered his last
hoard.

The round-twisted monster was permitted no longer

To govern the ring-hoards, but edges of war-swords

Mightily seized him, battle-sharp, sturdy

Leavings of hammers, that still from his wounds

10

The flier-from-farland fell to the earth

Hard by his hoard-house, hopped he at midnight

Not e’er through the air, nor exulting in jewels

Suffered them to see him: but he sank then to earthward

Through the hero-chief’s handwork. I heard sure it throve then

[96]

Few warriors
dared to face the
monster.

15

But few in the land of liegemen of valor,

Though of every achievement bold he had proved him,

To run ’gainst the breath of the venomous scather,

Or the hall of the treasure to trouble with hand-blows,

If he watching had found the ward of the hoard-hall

20

On the barrow abiding. Beowulf’s part of

The treasure of jewels was paid for with death;

Each of the twain had attained to the end of

Life so unlasting. Not long was the time till

The cowardly
thanes come out
of the thicket.

The tardy-at-battle returned from the thicket,

25

The timid truce-breakers ten all together,

Who durst not before play with the lances

In the prince of the people’s pressing emergency;

They are ashamed
of their desertion.

But blushing with shame, with shields they betook them,

With arms and armor where the old one was lying:

30

They gazed upon Wiglaf. He was sitting exhausted,

Foot-going fighter, not far from the shoulders

Of the lord of the people, would rouse him with water;

No whit did it help him; though he hoped for it keenly,

He was able on earth not at all in the leader

35

Life to retain, and nowise to alter

The will of the Wielder; the World-Ruler’s power

Would govern the actions of each one of heroes,

Wiglaf is ready to
excoriate them.

As yet He is doing. From the young one forthwith then

Could grim-worded greeting be got for him quickly

40

Whose courage had failed him. Wiglaf discoursed then,

Weohstan his son, sad-mooded hero,

He begins to taunt
them.

Looked on the hated: “He who soothness will utter

Can say that the liegelord who gave you the jewels,

The ornament-armor wherein ye are standing,

45

When on ale-bench often he offered to hall-men

Helmet and burnie, the prince to his liegemen,

As best upon earth he was able to find him,—

[97]

Surely our lord
wasted his armor
on poltroons.

That he wildly wasted his war-gear undoubtedly

When battle o’ertook him.

The troop-king no need had

50

To glory in comrades; yet God permitted him,

He, however, got
along without you

Victory-Wielder, with weapon unaided

Himself to avenge, when vigor was needed.

I life-protection but little was able

To give him in battle, and I ’gan, notwithstanding,

With some aid, I
could have saved
our liegelord

55

Helping my kinsman (my strength overtaxing):

He waxed the weaker when with weapon I smote on

My mortal opponent, the fire less strongly

Flamed from his bosom. Too few of protectors

Came round the king at the critical moment.

Gift-giving is over
with your people:
the ring-lord is
dead.

60

Now must ornament-taking and weapon-bestowing,

Home-joyance all, cease for your kindred,

Food for the people; each of your warriors

Must needs be bereavèd of rights that he holdeth

In landed possessions, when faraway nobles

65

Shall learn of your leaving your lord so basely,

What is life without
honor?

The dastardly deed. Death is more pleasant

To every earlman than infamous life is!”

XL.

THE MESSENGER OF DEATH.

Wiglaf sends the
news of Beowulf’s
death to liegemen
near by.

Then he charged that the battle be announced at the hedge

Up o’er the cliff-edge, where the earl-troopers bided

The whole of the morning, mood-wretched sat them,

Bearers of battle-shields, both things expecting,

5

The end of his lifetime and the coming again of

The liegelord belovèd. Little reserved he

Of news that was known, who the ness-cliff did travel,

But he truly discoursed to all that could hear him:

[98]

The messenger
speaks.

“Now the free-giving friend-lord of the folk of the Weders,

10

The folk-prince of Geatmen, is fast in his death-bed,

By the deeds of the dragon in death-bed abideth;

Along with him lieth his life-taking foeman

Slain with knife-wounds: he was wholly unable

To injure at all the ill-planning monster

Wiglaf sits by our
dead lord.

15

With bite of his sword-edge. Wiglaf is sitting,

Offspring of Wihstan, up over Beowulf,

Earl o’er another whose end-day hath reached him,

Head-watch holdeth o’er heroes unliving,

Our lord’s death
will lead to
attacks from our
old foes.

For friend and for foeman. The folk now expecteth

20

A season of strife when the death of the folk-king

To Frankmen and Frisians in far-lands is published.

The war-hatred waxed warm ’gainst the Hugmen,

Higelac’s death
recalled.

When Higelac came with an army of vessels

Faring to Friesland, where the Frankmen in battle

25

Humbled him and bravely with overmight ’complished

That the mail-clad warrior must sink in the battle,

Fell ’mid his folk-troop: no fret-gems presented

The atheling to earlmen; aye was denied us

Merewing’s mercy. The men of the Swedelands

30

For truce or for truth trust I but little;

But widely ’twas known that near Ravenswood Ongentheow

Hæthcyn’s fall
referred to.

Sundered Hæthcyn the Hrethling from life-joys,

When for pride overweening the War-Scylfings first did

Seek the Geatmen with savage intentions.

35

Early did Ohthere’s age-laden father,

Old and terrible, give blow in requital,

Killing the sea-king, the queen-mother rescued,

The old one his consort deprived of her gold,

Onela’s mother and Ohthere’s also,

[99]

40

And then followed the feud-nursing foemen till hardly,

Reaved of their ruler, they Ravenswood entered.

Then with vast-numbered forces he assaulted the remnant,

Weary with wounds, woe often promised

The livelong night to the sad-hearted war-troop:

45

Said he at morning would kill them with edges of weapons,

Some on the gallows for glee to the fowls.

Aid came after to the anxious-in-spirit

At dawn of the day, after Higelac’s bugle

And trumpet-sound heard they, when the good one proceeded

50

And faring followed the flower of the troopers.

XLI.

THE MESSENGER’S RETROSPECT.

The messenger
continues, and
refers to the feuds
of Swedes and
Geats.

“The blood-stainèd trace of Swedes and Geatmen,

The death-rush of warmen, widely was noticed,

How the folks with each other feud did awaken.

The worthy one went then

with well-beloved comrades,

5

Old and dejected to go to the fastness,

Ongentheo earl upward then turned him;

Of Higelac’s battle he’d heard on inquiry,

The exultant one’s prowess, despaired of resistance,

With earls of the ocean to be able to struggle,

10

’Gainst sea-going sailors to save the hoard-treasure,

His wife and his children; he fled after thenceward

Old ’neath the earth-wall. Then was offered pursuance

To the braves of the Swedemen, the banner

to Higelac.

[100]

They fared then forth o’er the field-of-protection,

15

When the Hrethling heroes hedgeward had thronged them.

Then with edges of irons was Ongentheow driven,

The gray-haired to tarry, that the troop-ruler had to

Suffer the power solely of Eofor:

Wulf wounds
Ongentheow.

Wulf then wildly with weapon assaulted him,

20

Wonred his son, that for swinge of the edges

The blood from his body burst out in currents,

Forth ’neath his hair. He feared not however,

Gray-headed Scylfing, but speedily quited

Ongentheow gives
a stout blow in
return.

The wasting wound-stroke with worse exchange,

25

When the king of the thane-troop thither did turn him:

The wise-mooded son of Wonred was powerless

To give a return-blow to the age-hoary man,

But his head-shielding helmet first hewed he to pieces,

That flecked with gore perforce he did totter,

30

Fell to the earth; not fey was he yet then,

But up did he spring though an edge-wound had reached him.

Eofor smites Ongentheow
fiercely.

Then Higelac’s vassal, valiant and dauntless,

When his brother lay dead, made his broad-bladed weapon,

Giant-sword ancient, defence of the giants,

35

Bound o’er the shield-wall; the folk-prince succumbed then,

Ongentheow is
slain.

Shepherd of people, was pierced to the vitals.

There were many attendants who bound up his kinsman,

Carried him quickly when occasion was granted

That the place of the slain they were suffered to manage.

40

This pending, one hero plundered the other,

His armor of iron from Ongentheow ravished,

His hard-sword hilted and helmet together;

Eofor takes the
old king’s war-gear
to Higelac.

The old one’s equipments he carried to Higelac.

He the jewels received, and rewards ’mid the troopers

45

Graciously promised, and so did accomplish:

The king of the Weders requited the war-rush,

Hrethel’s descendant, when home he repaired him,

Higelac rewards
the brothers.

To Eofor and Wulf with wide-lavished treasures,

To each of them granted a hundred of thousands

[101]

50

In land and rings wrought out of wire:

His gifts were beyond
cavil.

None upon mid-earth needed to twit him

With the gifts he gave them, when glory they conquered;

To Eofor he also
gives his only
daughter in marriage.

And to Eofor then gave he his one only daughter,

The honor of home, as an earnest of favor.

55

That’s the feud and hatred—as ween I ’twill happen—

The anger of earthmen, that earls of the Swedemen

Will visit on us, when they hear that our leader

Lifeless is lying, he who longtime protected

His hoard and kingdom ’gainst hating assailers,

60

Who on the fall of the heroes defended of yore

The deed-mighty Scyldings,

did for the troopers

What best did avail them, and further moreover

It is time for us to
pay the last marks
of respect to our
lord.

Hero-deeds ’complished. Now is haste most fitting,

That the lord of liegemen we look upon yonder,

65

And that one carry on journey to death-pyre

Who ring-presents gave us. Not aught of it all

Shall melt with the brave one—there’s a mass of bright jewels,

Gold beyond measure, grewsomely purchased

And ending it all ornament-rings too

70

Bought with his life; these fire shall devour,

Flame shall cover, no earlman shall wear

A jewel-memento, nor beautiful virgin

Have on her neck rings to adorn her,

But wretched in spirit bereavèd of gold-gems

75

She shall oft with others be exiled and banished,

Since the leader of liegemen hath laughter forsaken,

[102]

Mirth and merriment. Hence many a war-spear

Cold from the morning shall be clutched in the fingers,

Heaved in the hand, no harp-music’s sound shall

80

Waken the warriors, but the wan-coated raven

Fain over fey ones freely shall gabble,

Shall say to the eagle how he sped in the eating,

When, the wolf his companion, he plundered the slain.”

So the high-minded hero was rehearsing these stories

85

Loathsome to hear; he lied as to few of

The warriors go
sadly to look at
Beowulf’s lifeless
body.

Weirds and of words. All the war-troop arose then,

’Neath the Eagle’s Cape sadly betook them,

Weeping and woful, the wonder to look at.

They saw on the sand then soulless a-lying,

90

His slaughter-bed holding, him who rings had given them

In days that were done; then the death-bringing moment

Was come to the good one, that the king very warlike,

Wielder of Weders, with wonder-death perished.

First they beheld there a creature more wondrous,

They also see the
dragon.

95

The worm on the field, in front of them lying,

The foeman before them: the fire-spewing dragon,

Ghostly and grisly guest in his terrors,

Was scorched in the fire; as he lay there he measured

Fifty of feet; came forth in the night-time

100

To rejoice in the air, thereafter departing

To visit his den; he in death was then fastened,

He would joy in no other earth-hollowed caverns.

There stood round about him beakers and vessels,

Dishes were lying and dear-valued weapons,

105

With iron-rust eaten, as in earth’s mighty bosom

A thousand of winters there they had rested:

The hoard was
under a magic
spell.

That mighty bequest then with magic was guarded,

Gold of the ancients, that earlman not any

The ring-hall could touch, save Ruling-God only,

[103]

110

Sooth-king of Vict’ries gave whom He wished to

God alone could
give access to it.

(He is earth-folk’s protector) to open the treasure,

E’en to such among mortals as seemed to Him proper.

XLII.

WIGLAF’S SAD STORY.—THE HOARD CARRIED OFF.

Then ’twas seen that the journey prospered him little

Who wrongly within had the ornaments hidden

Down ’neath the wall. The warden erst slaughtered

Some few of the folk-troop: the feud then thereafter

5

Was hotly avengèd. ’Tis a wonder where,

When the strength-famous trooper has attained to the end of

Life-days allotted, then no longer the man may

Remain with his kinsmen where mead-cups are flowing.

So to Beowulf happened when the ward of the barrow,

10

Assaults, he sought for: himself had no knowledge

How his leaving this life was likely to happen.

So to doomsday, famous folk-leaders down did

Call it with curses—who ’complished it there—

[104]

That that man should be ever of ill-deeds convicted,

15

Confined in foul-places, fastened in hell-bonds,

Punished with plagues, who this place should e’er ravage.

He cared not for gold: rather the Wielder’s

Favor preferred he first to get sight of.

Wiglaf addresses
his comrades.

Wiglaf discoursed then, Wihstan his son:

20

“Oft many an earlman on one man’s account must

Sorrow endure, as to us it hath happened.

The liegelord belovèd we could little prevail on,

Kingdom’s keeper, counsel to follow,

Not to go to the guardian of the gold-hoard, but let him

25

Lie where he long was, live in his dwelling

Till the end of the world. Met we a destiny

Hard to endure: the hoard has been looked at,

Been gained very grimly; too grievous the fate that

The prince of the people pricked to come thither.

30

I was therein and all of it looked at,

The building’s equipments, since access was given me,

Not kindly at all entrance permitted

He tells them of
Beowulf’s last
moments.

Within under earth-wall. Hastily seized I

And held in my hands a huge-weighing burden

35

Of hoard-treasures costly, hither out bare them

To my liegelord belovèd: life was yet in him,

And consciousness also; the old one discoursed then

Much and mournfully, commanded to greet you,

Beowulf’s dying
request.

Bade that remembering the deeds of your friend-lord

40

Ye build on the fire-hill of corpses a lofty

Burial-barrow, broad and far-famous,

As ’mid world-dwelling warriors he was widely most honored

While he reveled in riches. Let us rouse us and hasten

[105]

Again to see and seek for the treasure,

45

The wonder ’neath wall. The way I will show you,

That close ye may look at ring-gems sufficient

And gold in abundance. Let the bier with promptness

Fully be fashioned, when forth we shall come,

And lift we our lord, then, where long he shall tarry,

50

Well-beloved warrior, ’neath the Wielder’s protection.”

Wiglaf charges
them to build a
funeral-pyre.

Then the son of Wihstan bade orders be given,

Mood-valiant man, to many of heroes,

Holders of homesteads, that they hither from far,

Leaders of liegemen, should look for the good one

55

With wood for his pyre: “The flame shall now swallow

(The wan fire shall wax

) the warriors’ leader

Who the rain of the iron often abided,

When, sturdily hurled, the storm of the arrows

Leapt o’er linden-wall, the lance rendered service,

60

Furnished with feathers followed the arrow.”

Now the wise-mooded son of Wihstan did summon

The best of the braves from the band of the ruler

He takes seven
thanes, and enters
the den.

Seven together; ’neath the enemy’s roof he

Went with the seven; one of the heroes

65

Who fared at the front, a fire-blazing torch-light

Bare in his hand. No lot then decided

Who that hoard should havoc, when hero-earls saw it

Lying in the cavern uncared-for entirely,

Rusting to ruin: they rued then but little

70

That they hastily hence hauled out the treasure,

They push the
dragon over the
wall.

The dear-valued jewels; the dragon eke pushed they,

The worm o’er the wall, let the wave-currents take him,

[106]

The waters enwind the ward of the treasures.

The hoard is laid
on a wain.

There wounden gold on a wain was uploaded,

75

A mass unmeasured, the men-leader off then,

The hero hoary, to Whale’s-Ness was carried.

XLIII.

THE BURNING OF BEOWULF.

Beowulf’s pyre.

The folk of the Geatmen got him then ready

A pile on the earth strong for the burning,

Behung with helmets, hero-knights’ targets,

And bright-shining burnies, as he begged they should have them;

5

Then wailing war-heroes their world-famous chieftain,

Their liegelord beloved, laid in the middle.

The funeral-flame.

Soldiers began then to make on the barrow

The largest of dead-fires: dark o’er the vapor

The smoke-cloud ascended, the sad-roaring fire,

10

Mingled with weeping (the wind-roar subsided)

Till the building of bone it had broken to pieces,

Hot in the heart. Heavy in spirit

They mood-sad lamented the men-leader’s ruin;

And mournful measures the much-grieving widow

15

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20

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The Weders carry
out their lord’s last
request.

The men of the Weders made accordingly

A hill on the height, high and extensive,

Of sea-going sailors to be seen from a distance,

And the brave one’s beacon built where the fire was,

25

In ten-days’ space, with a wall surrounded it,

As wisest of world-folk could most worthily plan it.

They placed in the barrow rings and jewels,

[107]

Rings and gems
are laid in the
barrow.

All such ornaments as erst in the treasure

War-mooded men had won in possession:

30

The earnings of earlmen to earth they entrusted,

The gold to the dust, where yet it remaineth

As useless to mortals as in foregoing eras.

’Round the dead-mound rode then the doughty-in-battle,

Bairns of all twelve of the chiefs of the people,

They mourn for
their lord, and sing
his praises.

35

More would they mourn, lament for their ruler,

Speak in measure, mention him with pleasure,

Weighed his worth, and his warlike achievements

Mightily commended, as ’tis meet one praise his

Liegelord in words and love him in spirit,

40

When forth from his body he fares to destruction.

So lamented mourning the men of the Geats,

Fond-loving vassals, the fall of their lord,

An ideal king.

Said he was kindest of kings under heaven,

Gentlest of men, most winning of manner,

45

Friendliest to folk-troops and fondest of honor.

[109]

ADDENDA.

Several discrepancies and other oversights have been noticed in the H.-So.
glossary. Of these a good part were avoided by Harrison and Sharp, the
American editors of Beowulf, in their last edition, 1888. The rest will, I
hope, be noticed in their fourth edition. As, however, this book may fall into
the hands of some who have no copy of the American edition, it seems best
to notice all the principal oversights of the German editors.

From hám (194).—Notes and glossary conflict; the latter not having been altered
to suit the conclusions accepted in the former.

Þær gelýfan sceal dryhtnes dóme (440).—Under ‘dóm’ H. says ‘the might of
the Lord’; while under ‘gelýfan’ he says ‘the judgment of the Lord.’

Eal bencþelu (486).—Under ‘benc-þelu’ H. says nom. plu.; while under ‘eal’ he
says nom. sing.

Heatho-ræmas (519).—Under ‘ætberan’ H. translates ‘to the Heathoremes’; while
under ‘Heatho-ræmas’ he says ‘Heathoræmas reaches Breca in the swimming-match with
Beowulf.’ Harrison and Sharp (3d edition, 1888) avoid the discrepancy.

Fáh féond-scaða (554).—Under ‘féond-scaða’ H. says ‘a gleaming sea-monster’;
under ‘fáh’ he says ‘hostile.’

Onfeng hraðe inwit-þancum (749).—Under ‘onfón’ H. says ‘he received the
maliciously-disposed one’; under ‘inwit-þanc’ he says ‘he grasped,’ etc.

Níð-wundor séon (1366).—Under ‘níð-wundor’ H. calls this word itself nom. sing.;
under ‘séon’ he translates it as accus. sing., understanding ‘man’ as subject of ‘séon.’ H.
and S. (3d edition) make the correction.

Forgeaf hilde-bille (1521).—H., under the second word, calls it instr. dat.; while
under ‘forgifan’ he makes it the dat. of indir. obj. H. and S. (3d edition) make the change.

Brád and brún-ecg (1547).—Under ‘brád’ H. says ‘das breite Hüftmesser mit
bronzener Klinge’; under ‘brún-ecg’ he says ‘ihr breites Hüftmesser mit blitzender Klinge.’

[110]

Yðelíce (1557).—Under this word H. makes it modify ‘ástód.’ If this be right, the
punctuation of the fifth edition is wrong. See H. and S., appendix.

Sélran gesóhte (1840).—Under ‘sél’ and ‘gesécan’ H. calls these two words accus.
plu.; but this is clearly an error, as both are nom. plu., pred. nom. H. and S. correct under
‘sél.’

Wið sylfne (1978).—Under ‘wið’ and ‘gesittan’ H. says ‘wið = near, by’; under
‘self’ he says ‘opposite.’

þéow (2225) is omitted from the glossary.

For duguðum (2502).—Under ‘duguð’ H. translates this phrase, ‘in Tüchtigkeit’;
under ‘for,’ by ‘vor der edlen Kriegerschaar.’

þær (2574).—Under ‘wealdan’ H. translates þær by ‘wo’; under ‘mótan,’ by ‘da.’
H. and S. suggest ‘if’ in both passages.

Wunde (2726).—Under ‘wund’ H. says ‘dative,’ and under ‘wæl-bléate’ he says
‘accus.’ It is without doubt accus., parallel with ‘benne.’

Strengum gebæded (3118).—Under ‘strengo’ H. says ‘Strengum’ = mit Macht;
under ‘gebæded’ he translates ‘von den Sehnen.’ H. and S. correct this discrepancy by
rejecting the second reading.

Bronda be láfe (3162).—A recent emendation. The fourth edition had ‘bronda
betost.’ In the fifth edition the editor neglects to change the glossary to suit the new
emendation. See ‘bewyrcan.’

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