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                              Beowulf

  Translation by Seamus Heaney

  So.  The Spear-Danes in the past

 And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.  We have heard of the heroic campaigns of these princes.

   There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes, A destroyer of mead banks, rampant among enemies.  This terror of the troops in the hall had come from afar.

  A foundling to begin with, he would flourish later as his powers increased and his worth was proven.

  In the end, every clan on the outer coasts

  Beyond the Whale Route had to give in to him 10 And start paying homage to him.  He was a good king.

  Then a boy was born in Shield,

  A little one in the yard, a comfort sent

  By God to this nation.  He knew what they had overcome, the long stretches and troubles they would have gone through without a leader;  so the Lord of Life,

  The glorious Almighty made this man famous.

   Shield had fathered a famous son:

  Beow’s name was known in the north.

  And a young prince must be careful like that, 20 Give freely while his father lives

  While after age, when the fighting begins

  Steadfast companions will stand by his side

  And hold the line.  Admired behavior

  Is the path to power among people all over the world.

  Shield was still in full swing when his time came and he came into the care of the Lord.  His group of warriors did what he told them

  

    When he made the law among the Danes:

  They supported him on the waves of the sea, 30 The ruler they worshiped and who ruled them for a long time.

  A bow with rings twirled in the harbor,

  Frozen, outgoing, a profession for a prince.

  They have laid down their beloved lord in his boat,

  Arranged by the mast, amidships,

   The great donor of rings.  Wacky treasures were piled on top of him, along with precious materials.

  I have never heard of a ship so well equipped with combat equipment, bladed weapons

  And courier coats.  The collected treasure

  Was loaded above him: he would travel far in the sway of the ocean.

  They decorated her body no less abundantly

  With offerings that these firsts made

  Who threw him away when he was a child

  And launched it alone on the waves.  And they set a gold standard

  Over his head and let him drift

  To the wind and the tide, the weeping

  And mourning their loss.  No man can tell

  No wise man in the room or weathered veteran

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   Knows for sure who picked up this charge.

  Then it was up to Beow to guard the forts.

  He was well regarded and ruled the Danes

  For a long time after his father took his leave

  Of his life on earth.  And then his heir,

  The great Halfdane, reigned

  As long as he lived, their eldest and warlord.

  He was four times a father, this fighting prince:

  One by one they entered the world, 60 Heorogar, Hrothgar, the good Halga

  And a girl, I heard, who was Onela’s queen,

    A balm in bed for the Swede marked by the battle.

  The fortunes of the war favored Hrothgar.  Friends and relatives flocked to its ranks, Young Followers, a force that grew

  To be a powerful army.  So his mind turned to building halls: he gave orders

   For the men to work on a large mead room

  Designed to be a wonder of the world forever;  70 This would be his throne room and there he would distribute the goods that God gave him to young and old —

  But not the common land or people’s lives.

  All over the world I have heard

  Work orders to adorn this wall stand

  Have been sent to many peoples.  And soon he stood there, finished and ready, in full view,

  The hall of the rooms.  Heorot was the name

  He had stopped there, the wording of which was law.

  He also did not deny, but gave out 80 rings

  And couples at the table.  The room dominated,

  Its wide and high gables and waiting

  A barbaric burn.  This fate persisted,

  But in time it would come: the instinct of the killer

   Unleashed among the in-laws, the thirst for blood is rife.  Then a mighty demon, a prowler in the dark, harbored a harsh grievance.  It tore him apart

  To hear the din of the loud banquet

  Every day in the hall the harp is struck

  And the clear song of a talented poet 90 Telling with mastery the beginnings of man,

  How the Almighty made the earth

  A sparkling plain surrounded by water;

  In his splendor he put the sun and the moon

  Be the lamp of the earth, lanterns for men,

  And filled the wide knees of the world

    With branches and leaves;  and quickened life in everything else that moved.

  The times were so good for the people there

  Until finally one, a demon out of hell, 100 begins to work his evil in the world.

  Grendel was the name of this sinister demon

   Haunting the steps, marauding around the moor And desolate swamps;  he had lived for a while

  In misery among banished monsters,

  The clan of Cain, which the creator had banned

  And condemned as an outcast.  For the murder of Abel

  The Eternal Lord demanded a price:

  Cain had nothing good to commit this murder

  Because the Almighty cursed him 110 And the curse of his exile

  Ogres and elves and evil ghosts

  And the giants too who fought with God

  Over and over again until he gives them their final reward.

  So after dark Grendel left

  For the high house, to see how the Ring-Danes settled there after their drink,

   And there he came upon them, a company of the best asleep at their party, insensitive to pain

  And human pain.  Suddenly, then 120 The brute cursed by God was wreaking havoc:

  Greedy and sinister, he caught thirty men

  From their resting places and rushed to his lair,

  Flushed and inflamed by the raid,

  Awkward return with the slaughtered corpses.

  Then, as the dawn cleared and the day broke, Grendel’s destructive powers were clear: their wassail was over, they wept in heaven.

    And cried in the morning.  Their mighty prince,

  The legendary leader, seated struck and helpless, 130 Humiliated by the loss of his guard,

  Baffled and stunned, looking in dismay

  And the trail of the demon, in deep distress.

  He was numb with grief, but had no respite

  For a night later, the ruthless Grendel

   Struck again by more gruesome murders.  Clever by nature, he never showed remorse.  It was easy then to meet a man

  Move to a safer distance

  To lie down in both, because who could be blind To the evidence of their eyes, to the evidence Of this spectator’s hatred?  Whoever escaped kept a weather eye open and walked away.

  So Grendel reigned in defiance of the law,

  One against all, up to the biggest house

  In the world stood empty, a deserted wall.  For twelve winters, seasons of misfortune,

  The lord of shields suffered under

  His burden of grief;  and so, before long,

  The news was known around the world.

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   Sad lays were sung over the assailed king,

  Grendel’s vicious raids,

  His long and relentless quarrel,

  Nothing but war;  how he would never do it

  Talk or make peace with any Dane

  Neither stop his death nor pay the price of death.  No counselor could ever expect

  Just reparation for those enraged hands.

  All were in danger;  young and old

  Have been chased by this dark shadow of death 160 That hid and plunged into the long nights

  On the misty moors;  nobody knows

    Where these hell-reapers roam in their races.

  So Grendel waged his lonely war, inflicting constant cruelties on the people, excruciating wound.  He took over Heorot, haunted the glittering room after dark,

  But the throne itself, the seat of the treasure,

   He was prevented from approaching ;;  he was the outcast of the Lord.

  It was hard, heartbreaking times 170 For the prince of shields;  powerful advisers, the highest in the land, would give advice,

  Track the best of bold defenders

  Could resist and repel sudden attacks.

  Sometimes in pagan shrines they swore

  Offering to idols, sworn

  May the Soul Slayer come to their aid

  And save the people.  It was their way,

  Their pagan hope;  deep in their hearts

  They remembered hell.  The Almighty Judge 180 of good and bad deeds, the Lord God,

  Ruler of the heavens and high king of the world, was unknown to them.  Oh, damn is he

   Who, in times of distress, had to push his soul into the embrace of the fire, renouncing help;

  He has nowhere to turn.  But blessed is he who after death can draw near to the Lord

  And find friendship in the embrace of the Father.

  So this troubled time continued, woe

  It never ceased, a constant affliction 190 For Halfdane’s son, too hard a test.

  There was panic after dark, people endured

  Raids in the night, torn by terror.

    When he heard of Grendel, the thane of Hygelac

  Was in the field at home in Geatland.

  There was no one else like him alive.

  In his day he was the mightiest man on earth,

  High-born and powerful.  He ordered a boat

  It would bend the waves.  He announced his plan:

  To travel the swan routes and search for this king, 200

   The famous prince who needed defenders.  No one tried to stop him from leaving,

  No elder refused it, as dear as it was to them.  Instead, they inspected the Omens and spurred his ambition to go, as he moved like the leader he was, enlisting men,

  The best he can find;  with fourteen others The warrior boarded the ship as captain,

  A wise pilot along the coast and the currents.

  Time passed, the boat was on the water, 210 Closer under the cliffs.

  The men eagerly climbed the catwalk,

  Sand churned in the waves, shiny war material

  In the hold of the ship, then lifted,

  Far from the will in their wood-crowned vessel.

   On the waves, with the wind behind her

  And foam on her neck she flew like a bird

  Until her curved bow has covered the distance

  And the next day, at the appointed time, 220 these seafarers saw land,

  Sunny cliffs, steep cliffs

  And the impending headlands, the destination they were looking for.

  It was the end of their trip and the Geats jumped

  On the side, on the sand,

  And moored their boat.  There was a mail shock

  And a beat of speed.  They thanked God

  For this easy crossing on calm seas.

    When the Guardian on the Wall, the Watchtower of the Shieldings whose job it was to guard the cliffs, 230 Saw shields twinkled on the catwalk

  And combat equipment being unloaded

  He had to find out who and what

  The arrivals were.  So he came up to the shore,

  That horseman of Hrothgar, and challenged them

   In formal terms, flourish his spear:

  “What kind of men are you who arrive

  Rigged for combat in chain mail,

  Sail here on the sea lanes

  In your stiff-hulled boat?  I have been in post for a long time as a lookout on this coast.

  My job is to watch the waves for the raiders,

  And danger for the Danish shore.

  Never before has a force under arms landed so openly – without bothering to ask if the sentries allowed them to pass safely.

  Or the clan had consented.  I have not seen either

  A mightier man-at-arms on this earth

  Let whoever stands here: Unless I’m mistaken, He’s really noble.  It’s not simple

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   Hang on to a hero’s armor.

  So now before I go inland

  As inter-operators, I must be informed

  About who you are and where you are from.  Strangers from across the water

  I repeat: the sooner you say it

  Where you come from and why, the better.

  The leader of the troop opened his treasury of words;

  The distinguished delivered this answer:

  “We belong by birth to the Geat 260 people and owe allegiance to Lord Hygelac.

    In my day my father was a famous man,

  A noble warrior named Ecgtheow.

  He survived many long winters

  And continued on his way.  In the whole world

  The sages of the council continue to remember him.  We come in good faith to find your lord

  And the nation’s shield, the son of Halfdane.

   Give us the right to advise and guide you.

  We came here for a great run 270 To the Lord of the Danes, and so I believe

  There should be nothing hidden or withheld between us.  So tell us if what we heard is true

  About this threat, whatever it is,

  This danger abroad in the dark nights,

  This corpse sowing death

  In the land of the Shieldings.  I come to offer

  My unreserved help and advice.

  I can show sage Hrothgar a way

  To defeat your enemy and find a respite — 280

  If a respite has to come, never.

  I can calm the agitation and terror in his mind.  If not, he must endure misfortunes

  And live with the sorrow as long as his room

   Stands on the horizon, on its heights.

  Steadfast, seated astride his horse,

  The Coast Guard responded: “Whoever has courage

  And a sharp mind will take the measure

  Of two things: what is said and what is done.

  I believe what you told me: that you are a troop 290 Faithful to our king.  So come on ahead

  With your arms and your gear, and I’ll guide you.

  In addition, I will order my own comrades

  On their word of honor to watch your boat

  Out there on the strand – keep her safe

    In its fresh tar, until the time comes

  For her curved bow smoothing over the waves

  And bring this hero back to Geatland.

  That someone is so brave and adventurous

  Come safe and sound through the shock of battle.  300

  So they continued on their way.  The boat rode the water,

   Striped wide, bound by his hawser

  And anchored quickly.  Wild boar shapes were flashing

  Above their cheeks, the

  Goldsmith work, watching over

  These men with stern faces.  They walked by step,

  I hurry to the half-timbered room

  Rose in front of them, radiant with gold.

  No one on earth knew another

  Build like this.  Majesty lodged there, 310 And its light shone on many countries.

  So their gallant escort guided them

  To this dazzling and indicated fortress

  The shortest way to get there;  then the noble warrior

  Rode on his horse and said these words:

  “It’s time for me to go.  May the Almighty

  Father keep you and in his kindness

   Watch your achievements.  I am far from the sea, back on alert against enemy looters.  “

  It was a paved track, a path that kept them running.  Their mail shirts shone,

  Hard and tied in the hand;  shiny iron

  From their armor rang.  So they arrived well

  In their dark war graith and their equipment in the room,

  And, weary of the sea, piled up with large shields

  The hardest hardwood against the wall,

  Then collapsed on the benches;  combat dress

  And the guns clashed.  They picked up their spears

    In a sailor’s stook, a grayish stand

  Tapered ash.  And the troops themselves were as good as their weapons.

  Then a proud warrior asked the men about their origins:

  “Where are you from, wearing these decorated badges and mail shirts,

   Those hinged helmets and javelins?

  I am Hrothgar’s herald and officer.

  I have never seen one so impressive or tall

  An assembly of strangers.  Stoutness of heart,

  Bravery, not banishment, must have brought you to Hrothgar.

  The man whose name was known for his courage, 340 The leader of the Great, resolute in his helmet,

  Answered in return: “We are deductions

  From the Hygelac group.  Beowulf is my name.

  If your lord and master, the most renowned

  Son of Halfdane, will listen to me

  And kindly allow me to greet him in person, I’m ready and willing to report my run.

  Replied Wulfgar, a Wendel leader.

   Renowned as a warrior, well known for his wisdom

  And the temperament of his mind: “I will carry this message, 350 In accordance with your wish, to our noble king,

  Our dear lord, friend of the Danes,

  The Ring Giver.  I will go ask him

  About your coming here, so hurry to come back

  Whatever answer he likes to give.

  With that, he turned to where Hrothgar was sitting, an old man among the servants;

  The valiant disciple stood four squares

  In front of his king: he knew the courtesies.

    Wulfgar addressed his dear lord: 360 “The people of Geatland have landed.

  They sailed far above the great sea.

  They call the chief in charge of their gang

  By the name of Beowulf.  They implore, my lord, an audience with you, exchange of words and formal greeting.  Most gracious Hrothgar,

   Don’t refuse them, but give them an answer.

  From their weapons and rendezvous, they seem well born

  And worthy of respect, especially the one

  Who brought them this far: he’s really great.  370

  Hrothgar, Protector of Shieldings, replied:

  “I knew him when I was a young boy.

  His father before him was called Ecgtheow.

  Hrethel the Great gave to Ecgtheow

  His daughter in marriage.  This man is their son,

  Here to follow an old friendship.

  A crew of sailors who sailed for me once

  With a cargo of gifts in Geatland

  Back with some wonderful stories about him:

  A thane, they said, with a force of thirty 380 In the grip of each hand.  Now holy god

   Has, in His goodness, guided him here

  To the West Danes, to defend ourselves from Grendel.  This is my hope;  and for his heroism

  I will reward him with a rich treasure.

  Go immediately, tell him and the Geats

  He has assistance to assemble and enter.  Say, by the way, when you talk to them,

  They are welcome in Denmark.  “

  At the hall door,

  Wulfgar duly delivered the message: 390

  “My lord, the victorious king of the Danes,

    Offer to tell you that he knows your ancestry;  Also that he welcomes you here in Heorot

  And welcome your arrival on the other side of the sea. You are now free to move on

  To meet Hrothgar, with helmets and armor,

  But the shields must stay here and the spears stacked until the audience’s outcome is clear.

   The hero stood up, surrounded closely

  By his mighty thanes.  A group remained 400 under the order to watch the weapons;

  The rest proceeded, led by their prince

  Under the roof of Heorot.  And standing on the hearth

  In webbed ties that the blacksmith had woven,

  The fine forged mesh of her sparkling mesh shirt,

  Resolute in his helmet, Beowulf spoke:

  “Greetings to Hrothgar.  I am the parent of Hygelac,

  One of his hall-troop.  When I was younger,

  I have had great triumphs.  Then news from Grendel,

  Hard to ignore, reached me at home: 410 sailors have reported stories of your fate

  In this legendary room, how deserted it is,

  Empty and useless once the evening light

  Hides under the dome of the sky.

   So every elder and every experienced counselor

  Among my people supported my resolution

  To come here to you, King Hrothgar,

  Because everyone knew my tremendous strength.

  They had seen me swollen in the blood of enemies When I fought and bound five beasts 420 attacked a nest of trolls and in the night sea

  Brutal sea slaughtered.  I suffered extremes and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it upon themselves, I devastated them).

  Now I wanna be a match for Grendel,

  Settle the result in one fight.

    And so, my request, O king of the brilliant Danes,

  Dear Prince of Shieldings, friend of the people

  And their ring of defense, my only request

  Won’t you deny me, who have come this far, 430 The privilege of purifying Heorot,

  With my own men to help me, and no one else.

  I also heard that the monster despises

   In his reckless way of using weapons;

  Therefore, to enhance the reputation of Hygelac

  And rejoice her heart, I hereby renounce

  The sword and the shelter of the large shield,

  The Heavy War Board: Melee

  This is how it will be, a life and a death

  Fight with the demon.  Whatever death falls 440 Must consider it a righteous judgment of God.

  If Grendel wins, it will be a horrible day;

  He will stuff himself with Geats in the war room,

  Swoop fearlessly on that flower of manhood

  As on others before.  So my face won’t be there anymore

  To be covered with death;  he will take me

  As he goes to the ground, gorged and bloody;

  He’ll run jubilant with my raw corpse

  And feed on it alone, in a cruel frenzy,

   Fouling his moor nest.  No need then

  To wail for a long time or stretch out my body:

  If the battle takes me, send it back

  This chest strap that Weland fashioned And Hrethel gave to me, in Hygelac.

  Fate always goes as fate should.

  Hrothgar, the Helmet of the Shieldings, spoke: “Beowulf, my friend, you have traveled here.

  To favor us with help and to fight for us.

  There was a quarrel once, started by your father.  With his own hands he had killed Heatholaf,

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    Who was a Wulfing;  so war was imminent

  And his people, out of fear, forced him to leave.  He then set off again on rolling waves

  To the Southern Danes here, the sons of honor.

  I was then in the full regime of royalty, establishing my domination over all the rich fortresses of this heroic land.  Heorogar,

   My older brother and the best man,

  Also a son of Halfdane, had died.

  Finally, I cured the quarrel by paying: 470

  I sent a treasure to the Wulfings

  And Ecgtheow recognized me by pledges of allegiance.

  “It bothers me to have to charge anyone

  With all the grief that Grendel caused

  And the havoc he wreaked on us in Heorot, Our humiliations.  My house keeper

  Are on the decline, fate takes them away

  In Grendel’s clutches – but God can easily

  Stop these raids and heartbreaking attacks!

  “Time and time again, when the cups went up to 480 and seasoned fighters got rinsed with beer

   They would undertake to protect Heorot and await Grendel with sharp swords.

  But when the dawn has risen and the day has crept in

  On every empty bench splashed with blood,

  The mead floor where they feasted would be frozen with massacre.  And so they died, faithful servants, and my following diminished.  Now take your place at the table, enjoy

  The triumph of the heroes at your leisure.  “490

  Then a bench was cleared in this banquet hall so that the Geats could have room to be together.

    And the party was seated, proud of its looks, strong and loyal.  An attendant stood beside it with a decorated pitcher, pouring out shiny portions of mead.  And the minstrel sang, Filling Heorot with his clear voice, rejoicing this great gathering of Danes and Geats.

   From where he crouched at the feet of the king, Unferth, a son of Ecglaf, spoke

  Contrary words.  Beowulf is coming,

  His bravery at sea, made him sick with envy: he could neither bear nor endure the fact

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  That someone else living under the sky

  Could benefit from greater consideration than him:

  “Are you the Beowulf who faced Breca

  In a swimming match in the open sea,

  Risk the water just to prove you can win?

  It was pure vanity that got you out

  On the main depth.  And no matter who tried,

  Friend or foe, to turn the couple away from you,

  Neither would back down: you were obsessed with the sea test.  You waded, kissing the water,

  Take your measure, control the currents,

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   Ride on the swell.  The ocean was swaying,

  Winter raged in the waves, but you competed

  For seven nights;  and then he beat you,

  The strongest competitor came ashore.

  He was thrown safe and sound one morning

  Among the Heathoreams, then made its way 520 To where it belonged in the Bronding country,

  Back home, sure of his ground

  In the strong room and bawn.  So Breca did good

  His bragging about you and turned out to be right.

  It doesn’t matter, therefore, how you got by

  In every fight and battle so far

    This time you will be roughed up ;;  no one has ever survived an entire night against Grendel.

  Beowulf, the son of Ecgtheow, replied:

  “Well, friend Unferth, you had your say 530 about Breca and me.”  But it was mostly beer

  It made people talk.  The truth is this:

   When the race was heavy in those high waves, I was the strongest swimmer of them all.

  We were children together and we grew up daring to surpass ourselves,

  Bragging and pushing each other to take risks

  Our lives on the sea. And so it turned out.

  Each of us swam with a sword,

  A bare and resistant blade for protection 540 Against whale-whales.  But Breca could never

  Get away or faster from me

  That I might be able to get away from him.

  Shoulder to shoulder we struggled

  For five nights, until the long stream

  And the height of the waves, the cold that perishes,

  Night falling and the north winds

  Separated us.  The depth was bubbling

   And his complacency made the sea bullies wild.

  My armor held me tight;  550 My chain mail with hard rings, hand forged and tied, A fine gold filigree and well fitted,

  Kept me safe when an ocean creature

  Pulled me down.  Fast sprocket

  And wrapped in his grip, I got one

  Last chance: my sword dived

  And the ordeal was over.  By my own hands The fury of battle had finished off the sea beast.

  “Over and over again, foul things have attacked me,

    Hid and tracked down, but I blasted, 560 Gave as good as I had with my sword.

  My flesh was not for feasting,

  There would be no monsters gnawing and jubilant During their banquet at the bottom of the sea.

  Instead, in the morning, mutilated and asleep The sleep of the sword, they slipped and floated

   Like discharges from the ocean.  From now on

  Sailors would be the safe, high seas raids

  It was over for good.  The light came from the east,

  Brilliant guarantee of God, and the waves 570 have gone quiet;  I could see the headlands

  And rocky cliffs.  Often, for unwavering courage,

  Fate spares the man he has not yet marked.

  Anyway, my sword had killed

  Nine sea monsters.  Such nocturnal dangers

  And the hardships that I never heard of

  Nor of a man so sorry in the crashing waves.

  But exhausted as I was, I survived

  I have been through my life.  The ocean has risen

  And put me down, I landed safely 580 On the coast of Finland.

  Now i don’t remember

   any fight you have engaged in, Unferth,

  It deserves a comparison.  I’m not bragging when I say that neither you nor Breca have ever been highly celebrated for their mastery of the sword.

  Or to face danger on the battlefield.

  You killed your own friends and relatives,

  So for all your wits and quick tongue,

  You will suffer damnation in the pits of hell.

  The fact that he, Unferth, if you were really 590 As sharp or brave as you claim to be

  Grendel could never have gotten away with it

  Such uncontrolled atrocity, attacks on your king,

    Devastation in Heorot and horrors everywhere.

  But he knows he never needs to be scared

  Of your blade making a sizzle of its blood

  Or revenge ever coming from this neighborhood —

  Victory-Shieldings, the shoulders of the spear.  He knows he can trample you Danes

  To his heart’s content, humiliate and murder 600

   Without fear of reprisals.  But he will find me different.  I’ll show him how Geats train to kill

  In the heat of battle.  So whoever wants

  May courageously go to the morning mead, when the morning light, sun scarf, shine from the south

  And bring another sunrise to the world.  “

  So the gray-haired treasure-giver was happy;

  Very famous in combat, the prince of the Bright-Danes

  And the guardian of his people counted on Beowulf,

  On the firmness of the warrior and his word.  610 So the laughter started, the din got louder

  And the crowd was happy.  Wealhtheow entered, the Queen of Hrothgar, observing the courtesies.  Adorned with her gold, she graciously greeted

  The men in the hall then handed the cup over

   First to Hrothgar, the guardian of their homeland, urging him to drink deeply and enjoy it,

  Because he was dear to them.  And he drank it like the warlord he was, with festive glee.

  The housekeeper therefore continued her rounds, 620 Queenly and dignified, adorned with rings,

  Offering the goblet to all ranks,

  Treat the household and the assembled troop

  Until it was Beowulf’s turn to take it from his hand.  With measured words she greeted the Geat

  And thanked God for making his wish come true

  That a delivery man she could believe would arrive

    To relieve their afflictions.  He accepted the cup,

  An intimidating, dangerous man in action

  And still impatient.  He addressed Wealhtheow;  630 Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, said:

  “I had a specific purpose when I went out to sea. As I sat in the boat with my gang of men,

   I wanted to play to the max

  What your people wanted or perished in this attempt,

  In the clutches of the demon.  Et j’accomplirai ce but, me prouverai avec un acte fier

  Ou rencontrez ma mort ici dans la salle à hydromel.

  Cette vantardise formelle de Beowulf the Geat

  La dame a bien plu et elle est allée s’asseoir 640 By Hrothgar, royale et vêtue d’or.

  Puis c’était comme au bon vieux temps dans la salle en écho, les discours fiers et les gens heureux,

  Fort et excité;  jusqu’à ce que l’héritier de Halfdane soit bientôt absent

  À sa nuit de repos.  Il se rendit compte

  Que le démon allait descendre dans la salle

   Qu’il avait tracé toute la journée, depuis l’aube

  Jusqu’à ce que les ténèbres se rassemblent à nouveau sur le monde

  Et des ombres nocturnes furtives sont venues voler 650 Sous l’obscurité des nuages.  La société se tenait

  Alors que les deux dirigeants se sont quittés:

  Hrothgar a souhaité à Beowulf santé et bonne chance,

  Le nomma directeur de salle et annonça ce qui suit: «Jamais, puisque ma main pouvait tenir un bouclier

  Ai-je confié ou donné le contrôle

  De la salle des Danois à n’importe qui sauf à toi.

  Gardez-la et gardez-la, car c’est la plus grande des maisons.

  Soyez sur votre courage maintenant, gardez à l’esprit votre renommée,

    Méfiez-vous de l’ennemi.  Il n’y a rien que vous souhaitiez 660 qui ne vous appartiendra pas si vous gagnez en vie.  “

  Hrothgar partit alors avec son gardien de maison.  Le seigneur des Shieldings, leur abri dans la guerre, quitta la salle à hydromel pour se coucher avec Wealhtheow, sa reine et sa compagne de lit.  Le roi de gloire

   (comme les gens l’ont appris) avait publié un avis

  Qui était un match pour Grendel, un garde contre les monstres, une protection spéciale pour le prince danois.

  Et le Geat a placé une confiance totale

  Dans sa force de membre et la faveur du Seigneur.

  Il commença à retirer sa poitrine de fer,

  A enlevé le casque et a remis son accompagnateur

  L’épée à motifs, chef d’œuvre d’un forgeron,

  Lui ordonnant de garder l’équipement sous surveillance.

  Et avant de se coucher, Beowulf,

  Ce prince de bonté, affirmait fièrement:

  «Quand il s’agit de se battre, je me compte

  Aussi dangereux tous les jours que Grendel.

  Donc ce ne sera pas un tranchant que j’utiliserai

  Pour le tondre, aussi facilement que je pourrais.

  Il n’a aucune idée des arts de la guerre,

  680

  670

   De bouclier ou de jeu d’épée, bien qu’il possède une force sauvage.  Pas d’armes, donc,

  Pour l’un ou l’autre cette nuit: non armé, il me fera face Si face à moi il ose.  Et que le Seigneur divin, dans sa sagesse, accorde la victoire

  De n’importe quel côté qu’il juge bon.

  Puis le brave homme se coucha avec son traversin

  Sous sa tête et toute sa compagnie

  Des marins au repos à côté de lui.  690 Aucun d’eux ne s’attendait à ce qu’il voie un jour

  Sa patrie à nouveau ou revenir

    À sa ville natale et aux gens qui l’ont élevé.  Ils savaient trop bien ce que c’était avant,

  Combien de fois les Danois étaient-ils devenus la proie

  À mort dans la salle à hydromel.  Mais le Seigneur était en train de tisser une victoire sur son métier à tisser pour les Weather-Geats.  Par la force de l’un, ils ont tous prévalu;

  Ils écraseraient leur ennemi et traverseraient

   Dans le triomphe et la joie.  La vérité est claire: 700 Dieu Tout-Puissant règne sur l’humanité

  Et a toujours.

  Puis hors de la nuit

  Est venu le traqueur de l’ombre, furtif et rapide;

  Les gardes de la salle étaient relâchés, endormis à leur poste,

  Tous sauf un;  c’était largement compris

  Que tant que Dieu l’a refusé,

  Le démon ne pouvait pas les porter à son ombre-bourne.  Un homme, cependant, était d’humeur combative,

  Réveillez-vous et sur le bord, gâter pour l’action.

  Au large des landes, à travers les bandes de brouillard 710, Grendel maudit par Dieu est venu en galopant avidement.

  Le fléau de la race des hommes se promenait,

  Chasse à une proie dans la grande salle.

   Sous l’obscurité des nuages, il se dirigea vers elle

  Jusqu’à ce qu’il brille au-dessus de lui, un pur donjon

  D’or fortifié.  Ce n’était pas non plus la première fois

  Il avait exploré les terrains de la demeure de Hrothgar — Bien que jamais de sa vie, avant ou depuis,

  At-il trouvé une fortune plus difficile ou des défenseurs de la salle.

  Rejeté et sans joie, il partit en avant 720 Et arriva à l’aube.  La porte à renfort de fer

  Retourné dans sa charnière lorsque sa main la toucha.

  Puis sa rage a débordé, il s’est déchiré

  La bouche du bâtiment, exaspérante pour le sang,

  Stimuler la longueur du sol à motifs

    Avec son pas répugnant, tandis qu’une lumière funeste,

  La flamme plus que la lumière, jaillit de ses yeux.

  Il a vu beaucoup d’hommes dans le manoir, endormis,

  Une compagnie classée de parents et de guerriers

  Quartiers ensemble.  Et sa joie était démoniaque, 730 Illustrant le chaos: avant le matin

  Il arracherait la vie de la boiterie et les dévorerait,

   Se nourrir de leur chair: mais son sort cette nuit-là devait changer, ses jours de délire étaient terminés.

  Puissant et rusé, le parent d’Hygelac regardait attentivement

  Pour le premier mouvement, le monstre ferait.

  La créature ne l’a pas fait attendre non plus

  Mais a frappé soudainement et a commencé à entrer;

  He grabbed and mauled a man on his bench, 740 Bit into his bone-lappings, bolted down his blood

  And gorged on him in lumps, leaving the body Utterly lifeless, eaten up

  Hand and foot. Venturing closer,

  his talon was raised to attack Beowulf

  Where he lay on the bed; he was bearing in With open claw when the alert hero’s

   Comeback and armlock forestalled him utterly.

  The captain of evil discovered himself

  In a handgrip harder than anything 750 He had ever encountered in any man

  On the face of the earth. Every bone in his body

  Quailed and coiled, but he could not escape.

  He was desperate to flee to his den and hide

  With the devil’s litter, for in all his days

  He had never been clamped or cornered like this.

  Then Hygelac’s trusty retainer recalled

  His bedtime speech, sprang to his feet

  And got a firm hold. Fingers were bursting,

    The monster back-tracking, the man overpowering. 760 The dread of the land was desperate to escape,

  To take a roundabout road and flee

  To his lair in the fens. The latching power

  In his fingers weakened; it was the worst trip The terror-monger had taken to Heorot.

  And now the timber trembled and sang,

   A hall-session that harrowed every Dane

  Inside the stockade: stumbling in fury,

  The two contenders crashed through the building.

  The hall clattered and hammered, but somehow 770 Survived the onslaught and kept standing:

  It was handsomely structured, a sturdy frame

  Braced with the best of blacksmith’s work

  Inside and out. The story goes

  That as the pair struggled, mead benches were smashed And sprung off the floor, gold fittings and all.

  Before then, no Shielding elder would believe

  There was any power or person on earth

  Capable of wrecking their horn-rigged hall

  Unless the burning embrace of fire 780 Engulf it in flame. Then an extraordinary

  Wail arose, and bewildering fear

   Came over the Danes. Everyone felt it

  Who heard that cry as it echoed off the wall,

  A God-cursed scream and strain of catastrophe, The howl of the loser, the lament of the hell-serf Keening his wound. He was overwhelmed, Manacled tight by the man who of all men

  Was foremost and strongest in the days of this life.

  But the earl troop’s leader was not inclined 790 To allow his caller to depart alive:

  He did not consider that life of much account

  To anyone anywhere. Time and again,

    Beowulf’s warriors worked to defend

  Their lord’s life, laying about them

  As best they could with their ancestral blades.

  Stalwart in action, they kept striking out

  On every side, seeking to cut

  Straight to the soul. When they joined the struggle

  There was something they could have not known at the time, 800

   That not blade on earth, no blacksmith’s art Could ever damage their demon opponent.

  He had conjured the harm from the cutting edge Of every weapon. But his going away

  Out of the world and the days of his life

  Would be agony to him, and his alien spirit would travel far into fiends’ keeping.

  Then he who had harrowed the hearts of men

  With pain and affliction in former times

  And had given offense also to God 810 Found that his bodily powers had failed him.

  Hygelac’s kinsman kept him helplessly

  Locked in a handgrip. As long as either lived

  He was hateful to the other. The monster’s whole

  Body was in pain, a tremendous wound

   Appeared on his shoulder. Sinews split

  And the bone-lappings burst. Beowulf was granted

  The glory of winning; Grendel was driven

  Under the fen banks, fatally hurt,

  To his desolate lair. His days were numbered, 820 The end of his life was coming over him,

  He knew it for certain; and one bloody clash

  Had fulfilled the dearest wishes of the Danes.

  The man who had lately landed among them,

  Proud and sure, had purged the hall,

  Kept it from harm; he was happy with his night-work And the courage he had shown. The Geat captain

    Had boldly fulfilled his boast to the Danes:

  He had healed and relieved a huge distress, Unremitting humiliations, 830 The hard fate they’d been forced to undergo,

  No small affliction. Clear proof of this

  Could be seen in the hand the hero displayed

  High up near the roof: the whole of Grendel’s

   Shoulder and arm, his awesome grasp.

  Then morning came and many a warrior

  Gathered, as I have heard, around the gift-hall,

  Clan-chiefs flocking from far and near

  Down wide-ranging roads, wondering greatly

  At the monster’s footprint. His fatal departure 840 Was regretted by no one who witnessed his trail,

  The ignominious marks of his flight

  Where he’d sulked away, exhausted in spirit

  And beaten in battle, bloodying the path,

  Hauling his doom to the demons’ mere.

  The bloodshot water wallowed and surged,

  There were loathsome up throws and over turnings

  Of waves and gore and would-slurry.

  With his death upon him, he had dived deep

   Into his marsh den, drowned out his life

  And his heathen soul: hell claimed him there.

  Then away they rode, the old retainers With many a young man following after, A troop on horseback, in high spirits

  On their bay steeds. Beowulf’s doings Were praised over and over again. Nowhere, they said, north or south Between the two seas or under the tall sky On the broad earth was there anyone better To raise a shield or to rule a kingdom.

  850

  860

    Yet there was no laying of blame on their lord, The noble Hrothgar; he was a good king.

  At times the war-band broke into a gallop, Letting their chestnut horses race

  Wherever they found the going good

  On those well-known tracks. Meanwhile, a thane

   Of the king’s household, a carrier of tales,

  A traditional singer deeply schooled

  In the lore of the past, linked a new theme

  To a strict metre. The man started 870 To recite with skill, rehearsing Beowulf’s

  Triumphs and feats in well-fashioned lines, Entwining his words.

  He told what he’d heard Repeated in songs of Sigemund’s exploits,

  All of those many feats and marvels,

  The struggles and wanderings of Wael’s son,

  Things unknown to anyone,

  Except Fitela, feuds and foul doings

  Confided from uncle to nephew when he felt

  The urge to speak of them: always had they been 880 Partners in the fight, friends in need.

   They killed giants, their conquering swords Had brought them down.

  After his death Sigemund’s glory grew and grew

  Because of his courage when he killed the dragon, The guardian of the hoard. Under gray stone

  He had dared to enter all by himself

  To face the worst without Fitela.

  But nit came to pass that his sword plunged

  Right through those radiant scales 890 And drove into the wall. The dragon died of it.

    His daring had given him total possession Of the treasure hoard , his to dispose of However he liked. He loaded a boat: Wael’s son weighted her hold

  With dazzling spoils. The hot dragon melted. Sigemund’s name was known everywhere.

   He was utterly valiant and venturesome,

  A fence round his fighters and flourished therefore

  After King Heremond’s prowess declined 900 And his campaigns slowed down. The king was betrayed,

  Ambushed in Jutland,

  And done away with.

  Had beaten him down,

  A source of anxiety to his own nobles:

  That expedition was often condemned

  To those earlier times by experienced men,

  Men who relied on his lordship for redress,

  Who presumed that the part of a prince was to thrive

  On his father’s throne and protect the nation, 910 The Shielding land where they lived and belonged,

  Its holdings and strongholds. Such was Beowulf

  In the affection of his friends and of everyone alive.

  overwhelmed

  The waves of his grief

  made him a burden,

   But evil entered into Heremod.

  Meanwhile, the Dane kept racing their mounts Down sandy lanes. The light of day

  Broke and kept brightening. Bands of retainers Galloped in excitement to the gabled hall

  To see the marvel; and the king himself,

  Guardian of the ring-hoard, goodness in person, 920 Walked in majesty from the women’s quarters

  With a numerous train, attended by his queen

  And her crowd of maidens, across the mead-hall.

    When Hrothgar arrived at the hall, he spoke,

  Standing on the steps, under the steep eaves,

  Gazing at the roofwork and Grendel’s talon:

  “First and foremost, let the Almighty Father

  Be thanked for this sight. I suffered a long

  Harrowing by Grendel. But the Heavenly Shepherd

  Can work his wonders always and everywhere.  930

   Not long since, it seemed I would never

  Be granted the slightest solace or relief From any of my burdens: the best of houses Glittered and reeked and ran with blood. This one worry outweighed all others—

  A constant distress to counselors entrusted

  With defending the people’s forts from assault

  By monsters and demons. But now a man,

  With the Lord’s assistance, has accomplished something None of us could manage before now 940 For all our efforts. Whoever she was

  Who brought forth this flower of manhood,

  If she is still alive, that woman can say

  That in her labor the Lord of Ages

  Bestowed a grace on her. So now, Beowulf,

  adopt you in my heart as a dear son.

   Nourish and maintain this new connection,

  You noblest of men;; there’ll be nothing you want for,

  No worldly good that won’t be yours.

  I have often honored smaller achievements, 950 Recognized warriors not nearly as worthy,

  Lavished rewards on the less deserving.

  But you have made yourself immortal

  By your glorious action. May the Lord of Ages

  Continue to keep and requite you well.”

  Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “We have gone through a glorious endeavor

    And been much favored in this fight we dared

  Against the unknown.  However,

  If you could have seen the monster himself 960 Where he lay beaten, I would have been better pleased.

  My plan was to pounce, pin him down

  In a tight grip and grapple him to death—

  Have him panting for life, powerless and clasped

   In my bare hands, his body in thrall.

  But I couldn’t stop him from slipping my hold.

  The Lord allowed it, my lock on him

  Wasn’t strong enough, he struggled fiercely

  And broke and ran. Yet he bought his freedom

  At a high price, for he left his hand 970 And arm and shoulder to show he had been here,

  A cold comfort for having come among us.

  And now he won’t be long for this world.

  He has done his worst but the wound will end him.

  He is hasped and hooped and hirpling with pain, Limped and looped in it. Like a man outlawed

  For wickedness, he mush await

  The mighty judgment of God in majesty.”

  There was less tampering and big talk then

   From Unferth the boaster, less of his blather As the hall-thanes eyed the awful proof

  Of the hero’s prowess, the splayed hand

  Up under the eaves. Every nail,

  Claw-scale and spur, every spike

  And welt on the hand of that heathen brute Was like barbed steel. Everybody said

  There was no honed iron hard enough

  To pierce him through, no time-proofed blade That could cut his brutal, blood-caked claw.

  Then the order was given for all hands

  980

  990

    To help refurbish Heorot immediately: Men and women thronging the wine-hall, Getting it ready. Gold thread shone

  In the wall-hangings, woven scenes

  That attracted and held the eye’s attention. But iron-braced as the inside of it had been, The bright room lay in ruins now.

   The very doors had been dragged from their hinges.

  Only the roof remained unscathed

  By the time the guilt-fouled fiend turned tail 1000 In despair of his life. But death is not easily

  Escaped from by anyone:

  All of us with souls, earth-dwellers

  And children of men, must make our way

  To a destination already ordained

  Where the body, after the banqueting,

  Sleeps on its deathbed.

  Then the due time arrived

  For Halfdane’s son to proceed to the hall.

  The king himself would sit down to feast.

  No group ever gathered in greater numbers 1010 Or better order around their ring-giver.

  The benches filled with famous men

   Who fell to with relish; round upon round

  Of mead was passed; those powerful kinsmen, Hrothgar and Hrothulf, were in high spirits

  In the raftered hall. Inside Heorot

  There was nothing but friendship. The Shielding nation Was not yet familiar with feud and betrayal.

  Then Halfdane’s son presented Beowulf

  With gold standards as a victory gift, 1020 An embroidered banner; also breast-mail

  And a helmet; and a sword carried high,

  That was both precious object and a token of honor.

  So Beowulf drank his drink, at ease;

    It was hardly a shame to be showered with such gifts In front of the hall-troops. There haven’t been many Moments, I am sure, when men have exchanged Four such treasures at so friendly a sitting.

  An embossed ring, a band lapped with wire

  Arched over the helmet: head-protection 1030 To keep the keen-ground cutting edge

   From damaging it when danger threatened

  And the man was battling behind his shield. Next the king ordered eight horses

  With gold bridles to be brought through the yard Into the hall. The harness of one

  Included a saddle of sumptuous design,

  The battle-seat where the son of Halfdane

  Rode when he wished to join the sword-play:

  Wherever the killing and carnage were the worst, 1040 He would be to the fore, fighting hard.

  The Danish prince, descendent of Ing,

  Handed over both the arms and the horses,

  Urging Beowulf to use them well.

  And so their leader, the lord and guard

  Of coffer and strong room, with customary grace

  Bestowed upon Beowulf both sets of gifts.

   A fair witness can see how well each one behaved.

  The chieftain went on to reward the others:

  Each man on the bench who had sailed with Beowulf 1050 And risked the voyage received a bounty,

  Some treasured possession. And compensation,

  A price in gold, was settled for the Geat

  Grendel had killed cruelly earlier–

  As he would have killed more, had not mindful God

  And one man’s daring prevented that doom.

  Past and present, God’s will prevails.

  Hence, understanding is always best

    And a prudent mind. Whoever remains

  For long here in this earthly life 1060 Will enjoy and endure more than enough.

  They sang then and played to please the hero, Words and music for their warrior prince, Harp tunes and tales of adventure:

   There were high times on the hall benches And the king’s poet performed his part

  With the saga of Finn and his sons, unfolding The tale of the fierce attack in Friesland Where Hnaef, king of the Danes, met death.

  Hildeburh 1070 Had little cause

  To credit the Jutes:

  Son and brother,

  She lost them both

  On the battlefield.

  She, bereft

  And blameless, they

  Foredoomed, cut down

  And spear-gored. She,

   The woman in shock, Waylaid by grief,

  Hoc’s daughter–

  How could she not

  Lament her fate

  When morning came

  And the light broke

  On her murdered dears?

  And so farewell

  Delight on earth,

  War carried away 1080 Finn’s troop of thanes,

    All but a few.

  How then could Finn

  Hold the line

  Or fight on

  To the end with Hengest, How save

  The rump of his force

   From that enemy chief? So a truce was offered

  As follows: first Separate quarters

  To be cleared for the Danes, Hall and throne

  To be shared with the Frisians. Then, second ;

  Every day At the dole-out of gifts

  Finn, son of Focwald,

  Should honor the Danes, 1090

  Bestow with an even Hand to Hengest

  And Hengest’s men

   The wrought-gold rings, Bounty to match

  The measure he gave

  His own Frisians–

  To keep morale

  In the beer-hall high.

  Both sides then

  Sealed their agreement.

  With oaths to Hengest Finn swore

  Openly, solemnly,

  That the battle survivors

    Would be guaranteed Honor and status.

  No infringement

  By word or deed,

  No provocation 1100 Would be permitted.

  Their own ring-giver

   After all Was dead and gone,

  They were leaderless In forced allegiance

  To his murderer. So if any Frisian

  Stirred up bad blood With insinuations

  Or taunts about this, The blade of the sword

  Will arbitrate it. A funeral pyre

  Was then prepared, Effulgent gold

  Brought out from the hoard. The pride and prince

   Of the Shieldings lay

  Awaiting the flame.  1110

  Everywhere There were blood-plastered

  Coats of mail. The pyre was heaped

  With boar-shaped helmets Forged in gold,

  With the gashed corpses Of well-born Danes–

  Many had fallen. Then Hildeburh

    Ordered her own

  Son’s body

  Be burnt with Hnaef’s,

  The flesh on his bones

  To sputter and blaze

  Beside his uncle’s.

  The woman wailed

   And sang keens,

  The warrior went up.

  Carcass flame 1120 Swirled and fumed,

  They stood round the burial Mound and howled

  As heads melted, Crusted gashes

  Spattered and ran Bloody matter.

  The glutton element

  Flamed and consumed

  The dead of both sides.

  Their great days were gone.

  Warriors scattered

  To homes and forts

   All over Friesland,

  Fewer now, feeling

  Loss of friends.

  Hengest stayed,

  Lived out that whole

  Resentful, blood-sullen

  Winter with Finn, 1130 Homesick and helpless.

  No ring-whorled prow Could up then

  And away on the sea. Wind and water

    Raged with storms,

  Wave and shingle

  Were shackled on ice

  Until another year

  Appeared in the yard

  As it does to this day,

  The seasons constant,

   The wonder of light Coming over us.

  Then winter was gone, Earth’s lap grew lovely,

  Longing woke In the cooped-up exile

  For a voyage home–

  But more for vengeance, 1140

  Some way of bringing Things to a head:

  His sword arm hankered To greet the Jutes.

  So he did not balk Once Hunlafing

  Placed on his lap Dazle-the -Duel,

   The best sword of all, Whose edges Jutes

  Knew only too well. Thus blood was spilled,

  The gallant Finn Slain in his home

  After Guthlaf and Oslaf Back from their voyage

  Made old accusation: The brutal ambush,

  The fate they had suffered,

  All blamed on Finn.  1150

    The wildness in them Had to brim over.

  The hall ran red With blood of enemies.

  Finn was cut down, The queen brought away

  And everything

   The Shieldings could find Inside Finn’s walls–

  The Frisian king’s

  Gold collars and gemstones– Swept off to the ship.

  Over sea-lanes then Back to Daneland

  The warrior troop Bore that lady home.

  The poem was over,

  The poet had performed, a pleasant murmur

  Started on the benches, stewards did the rounds 1160 With wine in splendid jugs, and Wilhtheow came to sit

  In her gold crown between two good men,

  Uncle and nephew, each of whom

  Still trusted the other; and the forthright Unferth,

   Admired by all for his mind and courage Although under a cloud for killing his brothers, Reclined near the king.

  The queen spoke:

  “Enjoy this drink, my most generous lord;;

  Raise up your goblet, entertain the Geats

  Duly and gently, discourse with them, 1170 Be open-handed, happy and fond.

  Relish their company, but recollect as well

  All of the boons that have been bestowed upon you. The bright court of Heorot has been cleansed

  And now the word is that you want to adopt

    This warrior as a son. So, while you may,

  Bask in your fortune, then bequeath

  Kingdom and nation to your kith and kin,

  Before your decease. I am certain of Hrothulf.

  He is noble and will use the young ones well. 1180 He will not let you down. Should you die before him, He will treat our children truly and fairly.

   He will honor, I am sure, our two sons, Repay them in kind when he recollects

  All the good things we gave him once,

  The favor and respect he found in childhood.”

  She turned then to the bench where her boys sat,

  Hrethric and Hrothmond, with other nobles’ sons,

  All the youth together; and that good man,

  Beowulf the Geat, sat between the brothers.  1190

  The cup was carried to him, kind words

  Spoken in welcome and wealth of wrought gold Graciously bestowed; two arm bangles,

  A mail shirt and rings, and the most resplendent Torque of gold I have ever heard tell of Anywhere on earth or under heaven.

   There was no hoard like it since Hama snatched

  The Brosings’ neck-chain and bore it away

  With its gems and settings to his shinning fort,

  Away from Eormenric’s wiles and hatred, 1200 And thereby ensured his eternal reward.

  Hygelac the Geat, grandson of Swerting,

  Wore this neck-ring on his last raid;

  At bay under his banner, he defended the booty, Treasure he had won. Fate swept him away Because of his proud need to provoke

  A feud with the Frisians. He fell beneath his shield, In the same gem-crusted , kingly gear

    He had worn when he crossed the frothing wave-vat.

  So the dead king fell into Frankish hands. 1210 Hey took his breast-mail, also his neck-torque,

  And punier warriors plundered the slain

  When the carnage ended; Geat corpses

  Covered the field.

   Applause filled the hall.

  Then Wealhtheow pronounce in the presence of the company: “Take delight in this torque, dear Beowulf,

  Wear it for luck and also wear this mail

  From our people’s armory: may you prosper in them!

  Be acclaimed or strength, for kindly guidance

  To these two boys, and your bounty will be sure. 1220 You have won renown: you are known to all men

  Far and near, now and forever.

  Your sway is wide and the wind’s home,

  As the sea around cliffs. So, my prince,

  I wish you a lifetime’s luck and blessings

  To enjoy this treasure. Treat my sons

  With tender care, be strong and kind.

  Here each comrade is true to the other,

  Loyal to lord, loving in spirit.

   The thanes have one purpose, the people are ready: 1230 Having drunk and pledged, the ranks do as I bid.”

  She moved then to her place. Men were drinking wine At that rare feast; how could they know fate,

  The grim shape of things to come,

  The threat looming over many thanes

  As night approached and king Hrothgar prepared

  To retire to his quarters? Retainers in great numbers Were posted on guard as so often in the past.

  Benches were pushed back, bedding gear and bolsters Spread across the floor, and one man 1240

    Lay down to his rest, already marked for death. At their heads they placed their polished timber Battle-shields; and on the bench above them, Each man’s kit was kept to hand:

  A towering war-helmet, webbed mail-shirt And great-shafted spear. It was their habit Always and everywhere to be ready for action,

   At home or in the camp, in whatever case

  And at whatever time the need arose

  To rally round their lord. They were a right people.

  They went to sleep. And one paid dearly

  For his night’s ease, as had happened to them often, Ever since Grendel occupied the gold-hall, Committing evil until the end came,

  Death after his crimes. Then it became clear, Obvious to everyone once the fight was over,

  That an avenger lurked and was still alive,

  Grimly biding time. Grendel’s mother,

  Monstrous hell-bride, brooded on her wrongs.

  She had been forced down into fearful waters,

  The cold depths, after Cain had killed

  His father’s son, felled his own

  1250

  1260

   Brother with the sword. Banished an outlaw,

  Marked by having murdered, he moved into the wilds, Shunning company and joy. And from Cain there sprang Misbegotten spirits, among them Grendel,

  The banished and accursed, due to come to grips

  With that watcher in Heorot waiting to do battle.

  The monster wrenched and wrestled with him

  Bu Beowulf was mindful of his mighty strength, 1270 The wondrous gifts God had showered on him:

  He relied for help on the Lord of All,

  On His care and favor. So he overcame the foe,

  Brought down the hell-brute. Broken and bowed,

    Outcast from all sweetness, the enemy of mankind Made for his death-den. But now his mother

  Had sallied forth on a savage journey, Grief-racked and ravenous, desperate for revenge.

  She came to Heorot. There, inside the hall,

  Danes lay asleep, earls who would soon endure 1280

   A great reversal once Grendel’s mother

  Attacked and entered. Her onslaught was less

  Only by as much as an Amazon warrior’s

  In less than an armored man’s

  When the hefted sword, its hammered edge

  And gleaming blade slathered in blood,

  Razes the sturdy boar-ridge off a helmet.

  Then in the hall, hard-honed swords

  Were grabbed from the bench, many a broad shield

  Lifted and braced; there was little thought of helmets 1290 Or woven mail when they woke in terror.

  The hell-dam was in panic, desperate to get out, In mortal terror the moment she was found.

  She had pounced and taken one of the retainers In a tight hold, then headed for the fen.

   To Hrothgar, this man was the most beloved Of the friends he trusted between the two seas. She had done away with a great warrior, Ambushed him at rest.

  Beowulf was elsewhere.

  Earlier, after the reward of the treasure, 1300

  The Geat had been given another lodging.

  There was an uproar in Heorot. She had snatched their trophy, Grendel’s bloodied hand. It was a fresh blow

  To the afflicted bawn. The bargain was hard,

  Both parties having to pay

  With the lives of friends. And the old lord,

    The gray-haired warrior, was heartsore and weary

  When he heard the news: his highest-placed advisor,

  His dearest companion, was dead and gone.

  Beowulf was quickly brought to the chamber: 1310 The winner of fights, the arch-warrior,

  Came first-footing in with his fellow troops To where the king in his wisdom waited,

   Still wondering whether Almighty God

  Would even turn the tide of his misfortunes.

  So Beowulf entered with his band in attendance

  And the wooden floor-boards banged and rang

  As he advance, hurrying to address

  The prince of the Ingwins, asking if he’d rested

  Since the urgent summons had come as a surprise.  1320

  Then Hrothgar, the Shieldings’ helmet, spoke: “Rest? What is rest? Sorrow has returned. Alas for the Danes! Aeschere is dead.

  He was Yrmenlaf’s elder brother

  And a soul mate to me, a true mentor,

  My right-hand man when the ranks clashed And our boar-crests had to take a battering

  In the line of action. Aechere was everything

   The world admires in a wise man and a friend.

  Then this roaming killer came in a fury 1330 And slaughtered him in Heorot. Where she is hiding, Glutting on the corpse and glorying in her escape,

  I cannot tell; she has taken up the feud

  Because of last night, when you killed Grendel, Wrestled and racked him in ruinous combat

  Since for too long he had terrorized us

  With his depredations. He died in battle,

  Paid with his life; and now this powerful

  Other one arrives, this force for evil

  Driven to avenge her kinsman’s death. 1340

    Or so it seems to thanes in their grief,

  In the anguish every thane endures

  At the loss of a ring-giver, now that the hand That bestowed so richly has been stilled in death.

  “I have heard it said by my people in hall, Counselors who live in the upland country,

   That they have seen two such creatures

  Prowling the moors, huge marauders

  From some other world. One of these things,

  As far as anyone ever can discern, 1350 Looks like a woman; the other, warped

  In the shape of a man, moves beyond the pale

  Bigger than any man, an unnatural birth

  Called Grendel by country people

  In former days. They are fatherless creatures,

  And their whole ancestry is hidden in a past

  Of demons and ghosts. They dwell apart

  Among wolves on hills, on windswept crags

  And treacherous keshes, where cold streams

  Pour down the mountain and disappear 1360 Under mist and moorland.

  A few miles from here

   A frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch Above a mere; the overhanging bank

  Is a maze of tree roots mirrored in its surface. At night there, something uncanny happens: The water burns. And the mere bottom

  Has never been sounded by the sons of men.

  On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:

  The hart in flight from pursuing hounds

  Will turn to face them with firm-set horns 1370 And die in the wood rather than dive

  Beneath its surface. That is no good place. When the wind blows up and stormy weather

    Makes clouds scud and the skies weep,

  Out of its depths a dirty surge

  Is pitched towards the heavens. Now help depends

  Again on you and you alone.

  The gap of danger where the demon waits

  Is still unknown to you. Seek it if you dare.

  I will compensate you for settling the feud 1380

   As I did last time with lavish wealth, Coffers of coiled gold, if you come back.”

  Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better

  To avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.

  For every one of us, living in this world

  Means waiting for our end. Let whoever can

  Win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,

  That will be his best and only bulwark.

  So arise, my lord, and let us immediately 1390 Set forth on the trail of this troll-dam.

  I guarantee you: she will not get away,

  Not to dens underground nor upland groves

  Nor the ocean floor. She’ll have nowhere to flee to.

  Endure your troubles today. Bear up

   And be the man I expect you to be.”

  With that the old lord sprung to his feet

  And praised God for Beowulf’s pledge.

  Then a bit and halter were brought for his horse

  With the plaited mane. The wise king mounted 1400 The royal saddle and rode out in style

  With a force of shield-bearers. The forest paths

  Were marked all over with the monster’s tracks,

  Her trail on the ground wherever she had gone

  Across the dark moors, dragging away

  The body of that thane, Hrothgar’s best

    Counselor and overseer of the country.

  So the noble prince proceeded undismayed

  Up fells and screes, along narrow footpaths

  And ways where they were forced into single file, 1410 Ledges on cliffs above lairs of water-monsters.

  He went in front with a few men,

  Good judges of the lie of the land,

   And suddenly discovered the dismal wood, Mountain trees growing out at an angle Above gray stones: the bloodshot water Surged underneath. It was a sore blow

  To all of the Danes, friends of the Shieldings,

  A hurt to each and every one

  Of that noble company when they came upon 1420 Aechere’s head at the foot of the cliff.

  Everybody gazed as the hot gore

  Kept wallowing up and an urgent war-horn

  Repeated its notes: the whole party

  Sat down to watch. The water was infested

  With all kinds of reptiles. There were writhing sea-dragons And monsters slouching on slopes by the cliff,

  Serpents and wild things such as those that often

   Surface at dawn to roam the sail-road

  And doom the voyage. Down they plunged, 1430 Lashing in anger at the loud call

  Of the battle bugle. An arrow from the bow

  Of the Geat chief got one of them

  As he surged to the surface: the seasoned shaft

  Stuck deep in his flank and his freedom in the water

  Got less and less. It was his last swim.

  He was swiftly overwhelmed in the shallows,

  Prodded by barbed boar-spears,

  Cornered, beaten, pulled up on the bank,

  A strange lake-birth, a loathsome catch 1440

    Men gazed at in awe.

  Beowulf got ready,

  Donned his war-gear, indifferent to death;

  His mighty, hand-forged, fine-webbed mail Would soon meet with the menace under water. It would keep the bone-cage of his body safe: No enemy’s clasp could crush him in it,

   No vicious arm lock choke his life out.

  To guard his head he had a glittering helmet

  That was due to be muddied on the mere bottom

  And blurred in the up swirl. It was of beaten gold, 1450 Princely headgear hooped and hasped

  By a weapon-smith who had worked wonders

  In days gone by and adorned it with boar-shapes;

  Since then it had resisted every sword.

  And another item lent by Unferth

  At that moment was of no small importance:

  The brehon handed him a hilted weapon,

  A rare and ancient sword named Hrunting.

  The iron blade with its ill-boding patterns

  Had been tempered in blood. It had never failed 1460 The hand of anyone who had hefted it in battle,

  Anyone who had fought and faced the worst

   In the gap of danger. This was not the first time It had been called to perform heroic feats.

  When he lent that blade to the better swordsman, Unferth, the strong-built son of Ecglaf,

  Could hardly have remember the ranting speech He had made in his cups. He was not man enough To face the turmoil of a fight under water

  And the risk to his life. So there he lost 1470 fame and repute. It was different for the other

  Rigged out in his gear, ready to do battle.

    Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “Wisest of kings, now that I have come

  To the point of action, I ask you to recall

  What we said earlier: that you, son of Halfdane

  And gold-friend to retainers, that you, if I should fall And suffer death while serving your cause,

  Would act like a father to me afterwards.

   If this combat kills me, take care

  Of my young company, my comrades in arms. And be sure also, my beloved Hrothgar,

  To send Hygelac the treasures I received.

  Let the lord of the Geats gaze on that gold, Let Hrethel’s son take note of it and see

  That I found a ring-giver of rare magnificence And enjoyed the good of his generosity.

  And Unferth is to have what I inherited:

  To that far-famed man I bequeath my own Sharp-horned, wave-sheened wonder blade. With Hrunting I shall gain glory or die.

  After these words, the prince of the Weather-Geats Was impatient to be away and plunged suddenly: Without more ado, he dived in to the heaving

  1480

  1490

   Depths of the lake. It was the best part of a day Before he could see the solid bottom.

  Quickly the one who haunted those waters,

  Who had scavenged and gone her gluttonous rounds For a hundred seasons, sensed a human

  Observing her outlandish lair from above. 1500 So she lunged and clutched and managed to catch him

  In her brutal grip; but his body, for all that,

  Remained unscathed: the mesh of the chain-mail

  Saved him on the outside. Her savage talons

  Failed to rip the web of his war shirt.

  Then once she touched bottom, the wolfish swimmer

    Carried the ring-mailed prince to her court

  So that for all his courage he could never use

  The weapons he carried; and a bewildering horde

  Came at him from the depths, droves of sea-beasts 1510 Who attacked with tusks and tore at his chain-mail

  In a ghastly onslaught. The gallant man

  Could see he had entered some hellish turn-hole

   And yet the water did not work against him Because the hall-roofing held off

  The force of the current; then he saw firelight, A gleam and flare-up, a glimmer of brightness.

  The hero observed that swamp-thing from hell,

  The tarn-hag in all her terrible strength,

  Then heaved his war-sword and swung his arm: 1520 The decorated blade came down ringing

  And singing on her head. But he soon found

  His battle-torch extinguished: the shinning blade

  Refused to bite. It spared her and failed

  The man in his need. It had gone through many Hand-to-hand fights, had hewed the armor

  And helmets of the doomed, but here at last

  The fabulous powers of that heirloom failed.

   Hygelac’s kinsman kept thinking about

  His name and fame: he never lost heart. 1530 Then, in fury, he flung his sword away.

  The keen, inlaid, worm-looped-patterned steel

  Was hurled to the ground: he would have to rely

  On the might of his arm. So must a man do

  Who intends to gain enduring glory

  In a combat. Life doesn’t cost him thought.

  Then the prince of War-Geats, warming to his fight

  With Grendel’s mother, gripped her shoulder

  And laid about him in a battle frenzy:

  He pitched his killer opponent to the floor 1540

    But she rose quickly and retaliated,

  Grappled him tightly in her grim embrace. The sure-footed fight fell daunted,

  The strongest of warriors stumbled and fell. So she pounced upon him and pulled out

  A broad, whetted knife: now she could avenge Her only child. But the mesh of chain-mail

   On Beowulf’s shoulder shielded his life,

  Turned the edge and tip of the blade.

  The son of Ecgtheow would surely have perished 1550 And the Geats lost their warrior under the wide earth

  Had the strong links and locks of his war-gear

  Not helped to save him: Holy God

  Decided the victory. It was easy for the Lord,

  The Ruler of Heaven, to redress the balance

  Once Beowulf got back up on his feet.

  Then he saw a blade that boded well,

  A sword in her armory, an ancient heirloom

  From the days of the giants, an ideal weapon,

  One that any warrior would envy, 1560 But so huge and heavy in itself

  Only Beowulf could wield it in battle.

   So the Shieldings’ hero, hard-pressed and enraged, Took a firm hold of the hilt and swung

  The blade in an arc, a resolute blow

  That bit into her neck bone

  And severed it entirely, toppling the doomed

  House of her flesh; she fell to the floor.

  The sword dripped blood, the swordsman was elated.

  A light appeared and the place brightened 1570 The way the sky does when heaven’s candle

  Is shinning clearly. He inspected the vault:

  With sword held high, its hilt raised

    To guard and threaten, Hygelac’s thane Scouted by the wall in Grendel’s wake.

  Now the weapon was to prove its worth.

  The warrior determined to take revenge

  For every gross act Grendel had committed– And not only for that one occasion

  When he’d come to slaughter the sleeping troops, 1580

   Fifteen of Hrothgar’s house-guards

  Surprised on their benches and ruthlessly devoured,

  And as many again carried away,

  A brutal plunderer. Beowulf in his fury

  Now settled that score: he saw the monster

  In his resting place, war-weary and wrecked,

  A lifeless corpse, a casualty

  Of the battle in Heorot. The body gaped

  At the stroke dealt to it after death:

  Beowulf cut the corpse’s head off.  1590

  Immediately the counselors keeping a lookout

  With Hrothgar, watching the lake water,

  Saw a heave-up and surge of waves

  And blood in the backwash. They bowed gray heads, Spoke in their sage, experienced way

   About the good warrior, how they never again Expected to see that prince returning

  In triumph to their king. It was clear to many

  That the wolf of the deep had destroyed him forever.

  The ninth hour of the day arrived. 1600 The brave Shieldings abandoned their cliff-top

  And the king went home; but sick at heart,

  Staring at the mere, the strangers held on.

  They wished, without hope, to behold their lord, Beowulf himself.

  Meanwhile, the sword

    Began to wilt into gory icicles,

  To slather and thaw. It was a wonderful thing,

  The way it all melted as ice melts

  When the father eases the fetters off the frost

  And unravels the water-ropes. He who wields power 1610 Over time and tide: He is the true Lord.

   The Geat captain saw treasure in abundance

  But carried no spoils from those quarters

  Except for the head and the inlaid hilt

  Embossed with jewels; its blade had melted

  And the scrollwork on it burnt, so scalding was the blood Of the poisonous fiend who had perished there.

  Then away he swan, the one who had survived

  The fall of his enemies, flailing to the surface.

  The wide water, the waves and pools 1620 Were no longer infested once the wandering fiend

  Let go of her life and this unreliable world.

  The seafarers’ leader made for land,

  Resolutely swimming, delighted with his prize,

  The mighty load he was lugging to the surface.

  His thanes advanced in a troop to meet him,

  Thanking God and taking great delight

   In seeing their prince back safe and sound.

  Quickly the hero’s helmet and mail-shirt

  Were loosed and unlaced. The lake settled, 1630 Clouds darkened above the bloodshot depths.

  With high hearts they headed away

  Along footpath and trails through the fields,

  Roads that they knew, each of them wrestling

  With the head they were carrying from the lakeside cliff, Men kingly in their courage and capable

  Of difficult work. It was a task for four

  To hoist Grendel’s head on a spear

    And bear it under strain to the bright hall.

  But soon enough they neared the place, 1640 Fourteen Geats in fine fettle,

  Striding across the outlying ground

  In a delighted throng around they leader.

  In he came then, the thane’s commander,

   The arch-warrior, to address Hrothgar:

  His courage was proven, his glory was secure.

  Grendel’s head was hauled by the hair,

  Dragged across the floor where people were drinking,

  A horror for both queen and company to behold.

  They stared in awe.  It was an astonishing sight.  1650

  Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “So, son of Halfdane, prince of the Shieldings,

  We are glad to bring this booty from the lake.

  It is a token of triumph and we tender it to you.

  I barely survived the battle underwater.

  It was hard-fought, a desperate affair

  That could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, The outcome would have been quick and fatal. Although Hrunting is hard-edged,

   I could never bring it to bear in battle. 1660 But the Lord of Men allowed me to behold–

  For he often helps the unbefriended–

  An ancient sword shinning on the wall,

  A weapon made for giants, there for the wielding. Then my moment came in the combat and I struck The dwellers in that den. Next thing the damascened Sword blade melted; it bloated and it burned

  In their rushing blood. I have wrested the hilt

  From the enemies’ hand, avenged the evil

  Done to the Danes; it is what was due. 1670 And this I pledge, O prince of the Shieldings:

    You can sleep secure with your company of troops In Heorot Hall. Never need you fear

  For a single thane of your sept or nation,

  Young warriors or old, that laying waste of life That you and your people endured of yore.”

  Then the gold hilt was handed over

   To the old lord, a relic from long ago

  For the venerable ruler. That rare smith work

  Was passed on to the prince of the Danes 1680 When those devils perished; once death removed

  That murdering, guilt-steeped, God-cursed fiend, Eliminating his unholy life

  And his mother’s as well, it was willed that the king

  Who of all the lavish gift-lords of the north

  Was the best regarded between the two seas.

  Hrothgar spoke; he examined the hilt,

  That relic of old times. It was engraved all over

  And showed how war first came into the world

  And the flood destroyed the tribe of giants. 1690 They suffered a terrible severance from the Lord;

  The Almighty made the waters rise,

   Drowned them in the deluge for retribution. In pure gold inlay on the sword-guards There were rune markings correctly incised, Stating and recording for whom the sword Had been first made and ornamented

  With its scrollwork hilt. Then everyone hushed

  As the son of Halfdane spoke his wisdom.

  “A protector of his people, pledged to uphold 1700 Truth and justice and to respect tradition,

  Is entitled to affirm that this man

  Was born to distinction. Beowulf, my friend,

  Your fame has gone far and wide,

    You are known everywhere. In all things you are even-tempered, Prudent and resolute. So I stand firm by the promise of friendship We exchanged before. Forever you will be

  Your people’s mainstay and your own warriors’

  Helping hand.

  Heremod was different,

  The way he behaved to Ecgwala’s sons. 1710

   His rise in the world brought little joy

  To the Danish people, only death and destruction.

  He vented his rage on people he caroused with,

  Killed his own comrades, a pariah king

  Who cut himself off from his own kind,

  Even though God Almighty had made him

  Eminent and powerful and marked him from the start

  For a happy life. But a change happened,

  He grew bloodthirsty, gave no more rings

  To honor the Danes. He suffered in the end 1720 For having plagued his people for so long:

  His life lost happiness.

  So learn from this

  And understand true values. I who tell you

  Have wintered into wisdom.

  It is a great wonder

   How Almighty God in his magnificence

  Favors our race with rank and scope

  And the gift of wisdom; His sway is wide.

  Sometimes He allows the mind of a man

  Of distinguished birth to follow its bent,

  Grants him fulfillment and felicity on earth 1730 And forts to command in his own country.

  He permits him to lord it in many lands Until the man in his unthinkingness

  Forgets that it will ever end for him.

  He indulges his desires; illness and old age Mean nothing to him; his mind is untroubled

    By envy or malice or thought of enemies

  With their hate-honed swords. The whole world Conforms to his will, he is kept from the worst

  Until an element of overweening 1740 Enters him and takes hold

  While the soul’s guard, its sentry, drowses,

  Grown too distracted. A killer stalks him,

   An archer who draws a deadly bow.

  And then the man is hit in the heart,

  The arrow flies beneath his defenses,

  The devious promptings of the demon start.

  His old possessions seem paltry to him now.

  He covets and resents; dishonors custom

  And bestows no gold; and because of good things 1750 That the Heavenly powers gave him in the past

  He ignores the shape of things to come.

  Then finally the end arrives

  When the body he was lent collapses and falls Prey to its death; ancestral possessions

  And the goods he hoarded and inherited by another Who lets them go with a liberal hand.

  “O flower of warriors, beware of that trap.

   Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part,

  Eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride. 1760 For a brief while your strength is in bloom

  But it fades quickly; and soon there will follow

  Illness or the sword to lay you low,

  Or a sudden fire or surge of water

  Or jabbing blade or javelin from the air

  Or repellent age. Your piercing eye

  Will dim and darken; and death will arrive,

  Dear warrior, to sweep you away.

  “Just so I ruled the ring-Danes’ country

    For fifty years, defended them in wartime 1770 With spear and sword against constant assaults

  By many tribes: I came to believe

  My enemies had faded from the face of the earth.

  Still, what happened was a hard reversal From bliss to grief. Grendel struck

  After lying in wait. He laid waste the land

   And from that moment my mind was in dread

  Of his depredations. So I praise God

  In His heavenly glory that I lived to behold

  This head dripping blood and after such harrowing 1780 I can look upon it in triumph at last.

  Take your place, then, with pride and pleasure

  And move to the feast. Tomorrow morning

  Our treasure will be shared and showered upon you.”

  The Geat was elated and gladly obeyed

  The old man’s biding;; he sat on the bench.

  And soon all was restored, the same as before. Happiness came back, the hall was thronged,

  And a banquet set forth; black night fell

  And covered them in darkness. 1790

  Then the company rose

   For the old campaigner: the gray-haired prince Was ready for bed. And a need for rest

  Came over the brave shield-bearing Geat.

  He was a weary sea-farer, far from home,

  So immediately a house-guard guided him out, One whose office entailed looking after Whatever a thane on the road in those days Might need or require. It was noble courtesy.

  That great heart rested. The hall towered,

  Gold-shingled and gabled, and the guest slept in it 1800 Until the black raven with raucous glee

    Announced heaven’s joy, and a hurry of brightness Overran the shadows. Warriors rose quickly, Impatient to be off: their own country

  Was beckoning the nobles; and the bold voyager Longed to be aboard his distant boat.

  Then that stalwart fighter ordered Hrunting To be brought to Unferth, and bade Unferth

   Take the sword and thanked him for lending it.

  He said he had found it a friend in battle 1810 And a powerful help; he put no blame

  On the blade’s cutting edge. He was a considerate man.

  And there the warriors stood in their war-gear, Eager to go, while their honored lord Approached the platform where the other sat. The undaunted hero addressed Hrothgar. Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “Now we who crossed the wide sea

  Have to inform you that we feel a desire

  To return to Hygelac. Here we have been welcomed 1820 And thoroughly entertain. You have treated us well.

  If there is any favor on earth I can perform

  Beyond deeds of arms I have done already,

   Anything that would merit your affections more, I shall act, my lord, with alacrity.

  If ever I hear from across the ocean

  That people on your borders are threatening battle As attackers have done from time to time,

  I shall land with a thousand thanes at my back

  To help your cause. Hygelac may be young 1830 To rule a nation, but this much I know

  About the king of the Geats: he will come to my aid

  And want to support me by word and action

  In your hour of need, when honor dictates

  That I raise a hedge of spears around you.

    Then if Hrethric should think about traveling

  As a king’s son to the court of the Geats,

  He will find many friend. Foreign places

  Yield more to one who is himself worth meeting.”

  Hrothgar spoke and answered him: 1840 “The Lord in his wisdom sent you those words

   And they came from the heart. I have never heard So young a man make truer observations.

  You are strong in body and mature in mind, Impressive in speech. If it should come to pass That Hrethel’s descendant dies beneath a spear,

  If deadly battle or the sword blade or disease

  Fells the prince who guards your people

  And you are still alive, I firmly believe

  The seafaring Geats won’t find a man 1850 Worthier of acclaim as their king and defender

  Than you, if only you would undertake

  The lordship of your homeland. My liking for you Deepens with time, dear Beowulf.

  What you have done is to draw two peoples,

  The Geat nation and us neighboring Danes,

  Into shared peace and a pact of friendship

   In spite of hatreds we have harbored in the past.

  For as long as I rule this far-flung land

  Treasures will change hands and each side will treat 1860 The other with gifts;; across the gannet’s bath,

  Over the broad sea, whorled prows will bring

  Presents and tokens. I know your people

  Are beyond reproach in every respect,

  Steadfast in the old way with friend or foe.”

  Then the earl’s defender furnished the hero With twelve treasures and told him to set out, Sail with those gifts safely home

    To the people he loved, but to return promptly.

  And so the good and gray-haired Dane, 1870 That high-born king, kissed Beowulf

  And embraced his neck, then broke down

  In sudden tears. Two forebodings

  Disturbed him in his wisdom, but one was stronger: Nevermore would they meet each other

   Face à face.  And such was his affection

  That he could not help being overcome:

  His fondness for the man was so deep-founded, It warmed his heart and wound the heartstrings Tight in his breast.  1880

  The embrace ended

  And Beowulf, glorious in his gold regalia,

  Stepped on the green earth. Straining at anchor

  And ready for boarding, his boat awaited him.

  So they went on their journey, and Hrothgar’s generosity Was praised repeatedly. He was a peerless king

  Until old age sapped his strength and did him

  Mortal harm, as it has done so many.

  Down to the waves then, dressed in the web

  Of their chain-mail and war-shirts the young men marched

   In high spirits. The coast-guard spied them, 1890 Thanes setting forth, the same as before.

  His salute this time from the top of the cliff

  Was far from unmannerly; he galloped to meet them

  And as they took ship in their shinning gear,

  He said how welcome they would be in Geatland. Then the broad hull was beached on the sand

  To be cargoed with treasure, horses and war-gear. The curved prow motioned; the mast stood high Above Hrothgar’s riches in the loaded hold.

  The guard who had watched the boat was given 1900

    A sword with gold fittings and in future days That present would make him a respected man At his place on the mead-bench.

  Then the keel plunged

  And shook in the sea; and they sailed from Denmark.

  Right away the mast was rigged with its sea-shawl;

   Sail ropes were tightened, timbers drummed And stiff winds kept the wave-crosser Skimming ahead; as she heaved forward, Her foamy neck was fleet and buoyant,

  A lapped prow loping over currents,

  Until finally the Geats caught sight of coastline And familiar cliffs. The keel reared up,

  Wind lifted it home, it hit on the land.

  The harbor guard came hurrying out

  To the rolling water: he had watched the offing Long and hard, on the lookout for those friends. With the anchor cables, he moored their craft Right where it had beached, in case a backwash Might catch the hull and carry it away.

  Then he ordered the prince’s treasure-trove

  1910

  1920

   To be carried ashore. It was a short step From there to where Hrethel’s son and heir, Hygelac the gold-giver, makes his home

  On a secure cliff, in the company of retainers.

  The building was magnificent, the king majestic, Ensconced in his hall; and although Hygd, his queen, Was young, a few short years at court,

  Her mind was thoughtful and her manners sure. Haereth’s daughter behaved generously

  And stinted nothing when she distributed 1930 Bounty to the Geats.

    Great Queen Modthryth Perpetrated terrible wrongs.

  If any retainer ever made bold

  To look her in the face, if an eye not her lord’s Stared at her directly during daylight,

  The outcome was sealed: he was bound

  In hand-tightened shackles, racked, tortured

   Until doom was announced–death by the sword,

  Slash of blade, blood gush and death qualms

  In an evil display. Even a queen 1940 Outstanding in beauty must not overstep like that.

  A queen should weave peace, not punish the innocent With loss of life for imagined insults.

  But Hemming’s kinsman put a halt to her ways

  And drinkers round the table had another tale:

  She was less of a bane to people’s lives,

  Less cruel-minded, after she was married

  To the brave Offa, a bride arrayed

  In her gold finery, given away

  By a caring father, ferried to her young prince 1950 Over dim seas. In days to come

  She would grace the throne and grow famous

  For her good deeds and conduct of life,

   Her high devotion to the hero king

  Who was the best king, it has been said,

  Between the two seas or anywhere else

  On the face of the earth. Offa was honored

  Far and wide for his generous ways,

  His fighting spirit and his far-seeing

  Defense of his homeland; from him there sprang Eomer, 1960 Garmund’s grandson, kinsman of Hemming,

  His warrior’s mainstay and master of the field.

  Heroic Beowulf and his band of men Crossed the wide strand, striding along

    The sandy foreshore; the sun shone,

  The world’s candle warmed them from the south

  As they hastened to where, as they had heard,

  The young king, Ongentheow’s killer

  And his people’s protector, was dispensing rings

  Inside his bawn. Beowulf’s return 1970 Was reported to Hygelac as soon as possible,

   News that the captain was now in the enclosure, His battle-brother back from the fray

  Alive and well, walking back to the hall.

  Room was quickly made, on the king’s orders, And the troops filed across the cleared floor.

  After Hygelac had offered greetings

  To his loyal thane in lofty speech,

  He and his kinsman, that hale survivor,

  Sat face to face. Haereth’s daughter 1980 Moved about with the mead-jug in her hand,

  Taking care of the company, filling the cups That warriors held out. Then Hygelac began To put courteous questions to his old comrade In the high hall. He hankered to know

  Every tale the Sea-Geats had to tell.

   “How did you fare on your foreign voyage,

  Dear Beowulf, when you abruptly decided

  To sail away across the salt water

  And fight at Heorot? Did you help Hrothgar 1990 Much in the end? Could you ease the prince

  Of his well-known troubles? Your undertaking Cast my spirits down, I dreaded the outcome Of your expedition and pleaded with you

  Long and hard to leave the killer be,

  Let the South-Danes settle their own Blood-feud with Grendel. So God be thanked

    I am granted this sight of you, safe and sound.”

  Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “What happened, lord Hygelac, is hardly a secret 2000 Any more among men in this world–

  Myself and Grendel coming to grips

  On the very spot where he visited destruction

   On the Victory-Shieldings and violated Life and limb, loses I avenged

  So no earthly offspring of Grendel’s Need ever boast of that bout before dawn, No matter know long the last of his evil Family survives.

  When I first landed

  I hastened to the ring-hall and saluted Hrothgar. 2010 Once he had discovered why I had come

  The son of Halfdane sent me immediately

  To sit with his own sons on the bench.

  It was a happy gathering. In my whole life

  I have never seen mead enjoyed more

  In any hall on earth. Sometimes the queen

  Herself appeared, peace-pledge between nations,

  To hearten the young ones and hand out

   A torque to a warrior, then take her place.

  Sometimes Hrothgar’s daughter distributed 2020 Ale to older ranks, in order on the benches:

  I heard the company call her Freawaru

  As she made her rounds, presenting men

  With the gem-studded bowl, young bride-to-be

  To the gracious Ingeld, in her gold-rimmed attire.

  The friend of the Shieldings favors her betrothal:

  The guardian of the kingdom sees good in it

  And hoped this woman will heal old wounds

  And grievous feuds.

  But generally the spear

    Is prompt to retaliate when a prince is killed, 2030 No matter how admirable the bride may be.

  “Think how the Heathobards will be bound to feel, Their lord, Ingeld, and his loyal thanes,

  When he walks in with that woman to the feast: Danes are at the table, being entertained,

   Honored guest in glittering regalia,

  Burnished ring-mail that was their hosts’ birthright,

  Looted when the Heathobards could no longer wield

  Their weapons in the shield-clash, when they went down

  With their beloved comrades and forfeited their lives. 2040 Then an old spearman will speak while they are drinking, Having glimpsed some heirloom that brings alive

  Memories of the massacre; his mood will darken

  And heart-stricken, in the stress of his emotion,

  He will begin to test a young-man’s temper

  And stir up trouble, starting like this:

  “Now, my friend, don’t you recognize

  Your father’s sword, his favorite weapon,

  Then one he wore when he went out in his war-mask

  To face the Danes on that final day?  2050

  After Wethergeld died and his men were doomed

   The Shieldings quickly took the field,

  And now here’s the son of one or other

  Of those same killers coming through our hall Overbearing us, mouthing boasts,

  And rigged in armor that by right is yours.’

  And so he keeps on, recalling and accusing, Working things up with bitter words

  Until one of the lady’s retainers lies

  Spattered in blood, split open 2060 On his father’s account. The killer knows

  The lie of the land and escaped with his life.

  Then on both sides the oath-bound lords

    Will break the peace, a passionate hate

  Will build up in Ingeld and love for his bride

  Will falter in him as the feud rankles.

  I therefore suspect the good faith of the Heathobards, The truth of their friendship and the trustworthiness Of their alliance with the Danes.

  But now, my lord,

   I shall carry on with my account of Grendel, 2070 The whole story of everything that happened

  In the hand-to-hand fight.

  After heaven’s gem

  Had gone mildly to earth, that maddened spirit,

  The terror of those twilights, came to attack us

  Where we stood guard, still safe inside the hall.

  There deadly violence came down on Handscio

  And he fell as fate ordained, the first to perish,

  Rigged out for the combat. A comrade from our ranks Had come to grief in Grendel’s maw:

  He ate up the entire body. 2080 There was blood on his teeth, he was bloated and furious, All roused up, yet still unready

  To leave the hall empty-handed;

  Renowned for his might, he matched himself against me,

   Wildly reaching. He had this roomy pouch, A strange accoutrement, intricately strung And hung at the ready, a rare patchwork

  Of devilishly fitting dragon-skins.

  I had done him no wrong, yet the raging demon

  Wanted to cram me and many another 2090 Into this bag–but it was not to be

  Once I got to my feet in a blind fury.

  It would take too long to tell how I repaid

  The terror of the land for every life he took

  And so won credit for you, my king,

  And for all your people. And although he got away

    To enjoy life’s sweetness for a while longer,

  His right hand stayed behind him in Heorot,

  Evidence of his miserable overthrow

  As he dived into murk on the mere bottom.  2100

  “I got lavish rewards from the lord of the Danes For my part in the battle, beaten gold

   And much else, once morning came

  And we took our places at the banquet table.

  There was singing and excitement: an old reciter,

  A carrier of stories, recalled the early days.

  At times some hero made the timbered harp

  Tremble with sweetness, or related true

  And tragic happenings; at times the king

  Gave the proper turn to some fantastic tale, 2110 Or a battle-scarred veteran, bowed with age,

  Would begin to remember the martial deeds

  Of his youth and prime and be overcome

  As the past welled up in his wintry heart.

  “We were happy there the whole day long And enjoyed our time until another night Descended upon us. Then suddenly

   The vehement mother avenged her son

  And wreaked destruction. Death had robbed her;

  Geats had slain Grendel, so his ghastly dam 2120 Struck back and with bare-faced defiance

  Laid a man low. Thus life departed

  From the sage Auschere, an elder wise in council.

  But afterwards, on the morning following,

  The Danes could not burn the dead body

  Nor lay the remains of the man they loved

  On his funeral pyre. She had fled with the corpse

  And taken refuge beneath torrents on the mountain.

  It was a hard blow for Hrothgar to bear,

    Harder than any he had undergone before. 2130 And so the heartsore king beseeched me

  In your royal name to take my chances

  Underwater, to win glory

  And prove my worth. He promised me rewards. Hence, as is well known, I went to my encounter With the terror-monger at the bottom of the tarn.

   For a while it was hand-to-hand between us, Then blood went curdling along the currents And I beheaded Grendel’s mother in the hall With a mighty sword. I barely managed

  To escape with my life; my time had not yet come. But Halfdane’s heir, the shelter of those earls, Again endowed me with gifts in abundance.

  “Thus the king acted with due custom.

  I was paid and recompensed completely,

  Given full measure and the freedom to choose From Hrothgar’s treasures by Hrothgar himself. These, King Hygelac, I am happy to present

  To you as gifts. It is still upon your grace

  That all favor depends. I have few kinsman

  Who are close, my king, except for your kind self.”

  2140

  2150

   Then he order the boar-framed standard to be brought,

  The battle-topping helmet, the mail-shirt gray as hoar-frost And the precious war-sword; and proceeded with his speech. “When Hrothgar presented this war-gear to me

  He instructed, my lord, to give you some account

  Of why it signifies his special favor.

  He said it had belonged to his older brother,

  King Heorogar, who had long kept it,

  But that Heorogar had never bequeathed it 2160 To his son Heoroweard, that worthy scion,

  Loyal as he was.

  Enjoy it well.”

    I heard four horses were handed over next. Beowulf bestowed four bay steeds

  To go with the armor, swift gallopers,

  All alike. So ought a kinsman act,

  Instead of plotting and planning in secret

  To bring people to grief, or conspiring to arrange

   The death of comrades. The warrior king

  Was uncle to Beowulf and honored by his nephew: 2170 Each was concerned for the other’s good.

  I heard he presented Hygd with a gorget,

  The priceless torque that the prince’s daughter, Wealhtheow, had given him; and three horses,

  Supple creatures, brilliantly saddled.

  The bright necklace would be luminous on Hygd’s breast.

  Thus Beowuld bore himself with valor;

  He was formidable in battle yet behaved with honor

  And took no advantage: never cut down

  A comrade who was drunk, kept his temper 2180 And, warrior that he was, watched and controlled

  His God-sent strength and his outstanding

   Natural powers. He had been poorly regarded For a long time, was taken by the Geats

  For less than he was worth: and their lord too Had never much esteemed him in the mead-hall. They firmly believed that he lacked force,

  That the prince was a weakling; but presently Every affront to his deserving was reversed.

  The battle-famed king, bulwark of his earls, 2190 Ordered a gold-chased heirloom of Hrethel’s

  To be brought in; it was the best example

  Of a gem-studded sword in the Geat treasury.

    This he laid on Beowulf’s lap

  And then rewarded him with land as well, Seven thousand hides, and a hall and a throne. Both owned land by birth in that country, Ancestral ground; but the greater right

  And sway were inherited by the higher born.

   A lot was to happen in later days 2200 In the fury of battle. Hygelac fell

  And the shelter of Heardred’s shield proved useless Against the fierce aggression of the Shylfings:

  Ruthless swordsmen, seasoned campaigners, They came against him and his conquering nation, And with cruel force cut him down

  So that afterwards

  The wide kingdom Reverted to Beowulf. He ruled it well

  For fifty winters, grew old and wise

  As warden of the land 2210

  Until one began

  To dominate the dark, a dragon on the prowl

  From the steep vaults of a stone-roofed barrow

  Where he guarded a hoard; there was a hidden passage,

   Unknown to men, but someone managed

  To enter by it and interfere

  With the heathen trove. He had handled and removed

  A gem-studded goblet; it gained him nothing,

  Though with a thief’s wiles he had outwitted

  The sleeping dragon; that drove him into rage,

  As the people of that country would soon discover.  2220

  The intruder who broached the dragon’s treasure And moved him to wrath had never meant to.

  It was desperation on the part of a slave

  Fleeing the heavy hand of some master,

    Guilt-ridden and on the run,

  Going to ground. But he soon began

  To shake with terror…………..in shock

  The wretch……………………………. ………………………..panicked and ran

  Away with the precious…………………. 2230 Metalwork. There were many other

   Heirlooms heaped inside the earth-house, Because long ago, with deliberate care, Somebody now forgotten

  Had buried the riches of a high-born race In this ancient cache. Death had come And taken them all in times gone by

  And the only one left to tell their tale,

  The last of their line, could look forward to nothing

  But the same fate for himself: he foresaw that his joy 2240 In the treasure would be brief.

  A newly constructed Barrow stood waiting, on a wide headland

  Close to the waves, its entryway secured. Into it the keeper of the hoard had carried All the goods and golden ware

  Worth preserving. His words were few:

   “Now, earth, hold what earls once held

  And heroes can no more; it was mined from you first By honorable men. My own people

  Have been ruined in war; one by one 2250 They went down to death, looked their last

  On sweet life in the hall. I am left with nobody

  To bear a sword or burnish plated goblets,

  Put a sheen on the cup. The companies have departed. The hard helmet, hasped with gold,

  Will be stripped of its hoops; and the helmet-shiner Who should polish the metal of the war-mask sleeps; The coat of mail that came through all fights,

    Through shield-collapse and cut of sword,

  Decays with the warrior. Now may webbed mail 2260 Range far and wide on a warlord’s back

  Beside his mustered troops. No trembling harp,

  No tuned timber, no tumbling hawk

  Swerving through the hall, no swift horse

  Pawing the courtyard. pillage and slaughter

   Have emptied the earth of entire peoples.”

  And so he mourned as he moved about the world, Deserted and alone, lamenting his unhappiness

  Day and night, until death’s flood

  Brimmed up in his heart. 2270

  Then an old harrower of the dark Happened to find the hoard open,

  The burning one who hunts out barrows,

  The slick-skinned dragon, threatening the night sky

  With streamers of fire. People on the farms

  Are in dread of him. He is driven to hunt out

  Hoards under ground, to guard heathen gold

  Through age-long vigils, though to little avail.

  For three centuries, this scourge of the people

  Had stood guard on that stoutly protected

  Underground treasury, until the intruder 2280

   Unleashed its fury; he hurried to his lord With the gold-plated cup and made his plea To be reinstated. Then the vault was rifled, The ring-hoard robbed, and the wretched man Had his request granted. His master gazed On that find from the past for the first time.

  When the dragon awoke, trouble flared again.

  He rippled down the rock, writhing with anger

  When he saw the footprints of the prowler who had stolen Too close to his dreaming head.  2290

  So may a man not marked by fate

    Easily escape exile and woe By the grace of God.

  The hoard-guardian

  Scorched the ground as he scoured and hunted

  For the trespasser who had troubled his sleep. Hot and savage, he kept circling and circling The outside of the mound. No man appeared

   In that desert waste, but he worked himself up

  By imagining battle;; then back in he’d go

  In search of the cup, only to discover 2300

  Signs that someone had stumbled upon

  The golden treasures. The guardian of the mound,

  The hoard-watcher, waited for the gloaming

  With fierce impatience; his pent-up fury

  At the loss of the vessel made him long to hit back

  And lash out in flames. Then, to his delight,

  The day waned and he could wait no longer

  Behind the wall, but hurtled forth

  In a fiery blaze. The first to suffer

  Were the people on the land, but before long 2310 It was their treasure-giver who would come to grief.

  The dragon began to belch out flames

   And burn bright homesteads; there was a hot glow That scared everyone, for the vile sky-winger Would leave nothing alive in his wake. Everywhere the havoc he wrought was in evidence. Far and near, the Geat nation

  Bore the brunt of his brutal assaults

  And virulent hate. Then back to the hoard

  He would dart before daybreak, to hide in his den. 2320 He had swinged the land, swathed it in flame,

  In fire and burning, and now he felt secure

  In the vaults of his burrow; but his trust was unavailing.

    Then Beowulf was given bad news,

  A hard truth: his own home,

  The best of buildings, had been burnt to a cinder,

  The throne-room of the Geats. It threw the hero

  Into deep anguish and darkened his mood:

  The wise man thought he must have thwarted

  Ancient ordinance of the eternal Lord, 2330

   Broken His commandment. His mind was in turmoil, Unaccustomed anxiety and gloom

  Confused his brain; the fire-dragon

  Had rased the coastal region and reduced

  Forts and earthworks to dust and ashes,

  So the war-king planned and plotted his revenge.

  The warriors’ protector, prince of the hall-troop, Ordered a marvelous all-iron shield

  From his smithy works. He well knew

  That linden boards would let him down 2340 And timber burn. After many trials,

  He was destined to face the end of his days

  In this mortal world; as was the dragon,

  For all his leasehold on the treasure.

  Yet the prince of the rings was too proud

   To line up with a large army

  Against the sky-plague. He had scant regard

  For the dragon as a threat, no dread at all

  Of its courage or strength, for he had kept going

  Often in the past, through perils and ordeals 2350 Of every sort, after he had purged

  Hrothgar’s hall, triumphed in Heorot

  And beaten Grendel. He outgrappled the monster

  And his evil kin.

  One of his cruelest Hand-to-hand encounters had happened

  When Hygelac, king of the Geats, was killed

    In Friesland: the people’s friend and lord,

  Hrethel’s son, slaked a sword blade’s

  Thirst for blood. But Beowulf’s prodigious

  Gifts as a swimmer guaranteed his safety: 2360 He arrived at the shore, shouldering thirty

  Battle-dresses, the booty he had won.

  There was little for the Hetware to be happy about

   As they shielded their faces and fighting on the ground Began in earnest. With Beowulf against them,

  Few could hope to return home.

  Across the wide sea, desolate and alone,

  The son of Ecgtheow swam back to his people.

  There Hygd offered him throne and authority

  As lord of the ring-hoard: with Hygelac dead, 2370 She had no belief in her son’s ability

  To defend their homeland against foreign invaders.

  Yet there was no way the weakened nation

  Could get Beowulf to give in and agree

  To be elevated over Heardred as his lord

  Or to undertake the office of kingship.

  But he did provide support for the prince,

  Honored and minded him until he matured

   As the ruler of Geatland.

  Then over sea-roads

  Exiles arrived, sons of Ohthere. 2380 They had rebelled against the best of all

  The sea-kings in Sweden, the one who held sway

  In the Shylfing nation, their renowned prince,

  Lord of the mead-hall. That marked the end

  For Hygelac’s son: his hospitality

  Was mortally rewarded with wounds from a sword. Heardred lay slaughtered and Onela returned

  To the land of Sweden, leaving Beowulf

  To ascend the throne, to sit in majesty

    And rule over the Geats. He was a good king. 2390

  In days to come, he contrived to avenge

  The fall of his prince; he befriended Eadgils When Eadgils was friendless, aiding his cause With weapons and warriors over the wide sea, Sending him men. The feud was settled

   On a comfortless campaign when he killed Onela.

  And so the son of Ecgtheow had survived

  Every extreme, excelling himself

  In daring and in danger, until the day arrived

  When he had to come face to face with the dragon. 2400 The lord of the Geats took eleven comrades

  And went in a rage to reconnoiter.

  By then he had discovered the cause of the affliction

  Being visited on the people. The precious cup

  Had come to him from the hand of the finder,

  The one who had started all this strife

  And was now added as a thirteenth to their number.

  They press-ganged and compelled this poor creature

  To be their guide. Against his will

  He led them to the earth-vault he alone knew, 2410

   An underground barrow near the sea-billows

  And heaving waves, heaped inside

  With exquisite metalwork. The one who stood guard Was dangerous and watchful, warden of that trove Buried under earth: no easy bargain

  Would be made in that place by any man.

  The veteran king sat down on the cliff-top.

  He wished good luck to the Geats who had shared

  His hearth and his gold. He was sad at heart,

  Unsettled yet ready, sensing his own death. 2420 His fate hovered near, unknowable but certain:

    It would soon claim his coffered soul,

  Part life from limb. Before long

  The prince’s spirit would spin free from his body.

  Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:

  “Many a skirmish I survived when I was young And many times of war; I remember them well.

   At seven, I was fostered out by my father,

  Left in the charge of my people’s lord.

  King Hrethel kept me and took care of me, 2430 Was open-handed, behaved lie a kinsman.

  While I was his ward, he treated me no worse

  As a wean about the place than one of his own boys, Herebeald and Haethcyn, or my own Hygelac.

  For the eldest, Herebeald, an unexpected

  Deathbed was laid out, through a brother’s doing,

  When Haethcyn bent his horn-tipped bow

  And loosed the arrow that destroyed his life.

  He shot wide and buried a shaft

  In the flesh and blood of his own brother. 2440 That offence was beyond redress, a wrong footing

  Of the heart’s affections;; for who could avenge

  The prince’s life or pay his death-price?

   It was like the misery felt by an old man

  Who has lived to see his son’s body

  Swing on the gallows. He begins to keen

  And weep for his boy, watching the raven

  Gloat where he hangs: he can be of no help.

  The wisdom of age is worthless to him.

  Morning after morning, he wakes to remember 2450 That his child is gone; he has no interest

  In living on until another heir

  Is born in the hall, now that his first-born Has entered death’s dominion forever.

  He gazes sorrowfully at his son’s dwelling,

    The banquet hall bereft of all delight,

  The windswept hearthstone; the horsemen are sleeping,

  The warriors underground; what was is no more.

  No tunes from the harp, no cheer raised in the yard.

  Alone with his longing, he lies down on his bed 2460 And sings a lament; everything seems too large,

  The steadings and the fields.

   Such was the feeling

  Of loss endured by the lord of the Geats

  After Herebeald’s death. He was hopelessly placed To set to rights the wrong committed,

  Could not punish the killer in accordance of the law Of the blood-feud, although he felt no love for him. Heartsore, wearied, he turned away

  From life’s joys, chose God’s light

  And departed, leaving buildings and lands 2470 To his sons, as a man of substance will.

  “Then over the wide seas Swedes and Geats Battled and feuded and fought without quarter. Hostilities broke out when Hrethel died. Ongentheow’s sons were unrelenting,

  Refusing to make peace, campaigning violently

   From coast to coast, constantly setting up

  Terrible ambushes around Hreasnshill.

  My own kith and kin avenged

  These evil events, as everybody knows, 2480 But the price was high: one of them paid

  With his life. Heathcyn, lord of the Geats,

  Met his fate there and fell in battle.

  Then, as I have heard, Hygelac’s sword

  Was raised in the morning against Ongentheow, His brother’s killer. When Eofor cleft

  The old Swede’s helmet, halved it open, He fell, death-pale: his feud-calloused hand

    Could not stave off the fatal stroke.

  “The treasures that Hygelac lavished on me 2490 I paid for as I fought, as fortune allowed me,

  With my glittering sword. He gave me land

  And the security land brings, so he had no call

  To go looking for some lesser champion,

   Some mercenary among the Grifthas

  Or the Spear-Danes or the men of Sweden.

  I marched ahead of him, always there

  At the front of the line; and I shall fight like that

  For as long as I live, as long as this sword

  Shall last, which has stood me in good stead 2500 Late and soon, ever since I killed

  Dayraven the Frank in front of the two armies.

  He brought back no looted breastplate

  To the Frisian king, but fell in battle,

  Their standard-bearer, high-born and brave.

  No sword blade sent him to his death,

  My bare hands stilled his heartbeats

  And wrecked the bone-house. Now blade and hand,

  Sword and sword-stroke, will assay the hoard.”

   Beowulf spoke, made a formal boast 2510 For the last time: “I risked my life

  Often when I was young. Now I am old,

  But as king of this people I shall pursue this fight

  For the glory of winning, if the evil one will only Abandon his earth-fort and face me in the open.”

  Then he addressed each dear companion

  One final time, those fighters in their helmets,

  Resolute and high-born: “I would rather not

  Use a weapon if I knew another way

  To grapple with the dragon and make good my boast 2520

    As I did against Grendel in days gone by.

  But I shall be meeting molten venom

  In the fire he breaths, so I go forth

  In mail-shirt and shield. I won’t shift a foot

  When I meet the cave-guard: what occurs on the wall Between the two of us will turn out as fate,

  Overseer of men, decides. I am resolved.

   I scorn further words against this sky-born foe.

  “Men at arms, remain here on the barrow,

  Safe in your armor, to see which one of us 2530 Is better in the end at bearing wounds

  In a deadly fray. This fight is not yours,

  Nor is it up to any man except me

  To measure his strength against the monster

  Or to prove his worth. I shall win the gold

  By my courage, or else mortal combat,

  Doom of battle, will bear your lord away.”

  Then he drew himself up beside his shield.

  The fabled warrior in his war-shirt and helmet

  Trusted in his own strength entirely 2540 And went under the crag. No coward path.

   Hard by the rock-face that hale veteran,

  A good man who had gone repeatedly

  Into combat and danger and come through,

  Saw a stone arch and a gushing stream

  That burst from the barrow, blazing and wafting A deadly heat. It would be hard to survive Unscathed near the hoard, to hold firm

  Against the dragon in those flaming depths.

  Then he gave a shout. The lord of the Geats 2550 Unburdened his breast and broke out

  In a storm of anger. Under gray stone

  His voice challenged and resounded clearly.

    Heat was ignited. The hoard-guard recognized

  A human voice, the time was over

  For peace and parleying. Pouring forth

  In a hot battle-fume, the breath of the monster

  Burst from the rock. There was a rumble underground. Down there in the barrow, Beowulf the warrior

  Lifted his shield: the outlandish thing 2560

   Writhed and convulsed and viciously

  Turned on the king, whose keen-edged-sword,

  And heirloom inherited by ancient right,

  Was already in his hand. Roused to a fury,

  Each antagonist struck terror in the other.

  Unyielding, the lord of his people loomed

  By his tall shield, sure of his ground,

  While the serpent looped and unleashed itself.

  Swaddled in flames, it came gliding and flexing

  And racing toward its fate. Yet his shield defended 2570 The renowned leader’s life and limb

  For a shorter time than he meant it to:

  That final day was the first time

  When Beowulf fought and fate denied him

  Glory in battle. So the king of the Geats

  Raised his hand and struck hard

   At the enameled scales, but hardly cut through:

  The blade flashed and slashed yet the blow

  Was far less powerful than the hard-pressed king

  Had need of at the moment. The hoard-keeper 2580 Went into a spasm and spouted deadly flames:

  When he felt the stroke, battle-fire

  Billowed and spewed. Beowulf was foiled

  Of a glorious victory. The glittering sword,

  Infallible before that day,

  Failed when he unsheathed it, as it never should have. For the son of Ecgtheow, it was no easy thing

  To have to give ground like that and go

    Unwillingly to inhabit another home

  In a place beyond; so every man must yield 2590 The leasehold of his days.

  Before long

  The fierce contenders clashed again.

  The hoard-guard took heart, inhaled and swelled up

   And got a new wind; he who had once ruled

  Was furled in fire and had to face the worst.

  No help or backing was to be had then

  From his high-born comrades; that hand-picked troop Broke ranks and ran for their lives

  To the safety of the wood. But within one heart Sorrow welled up: in a man of worth 2600 The claims of kinship cannot be denied.

  His name was Wiglaf, a son of Weohstan’s,

  A well-regarded Shylfing warrior

  Related to Aelfhere. When he saw his lord Tormented by the heat of his scalding helmet,

  He remember the bountiful gifts he bestowed on him, How well he lived among the Waegmundings,

  The freehold he inherited from his father before him.

   He could not hold back: one hand brandished

  The yellow-timbered shield, the other drew his sword– 2610 An ancient blade that was said to have belonged

  To Eanmund, the son of Ohthere, the one

  Weohstan had slain when he was in exile without friends.

  He carried the arms to the victim’s kinfolk,

  The burnished helmet, the webbed chain-mail

  And that relic of the giants. But Onela retuned

  The weapons to him, rewarded Weohstan

  With Eadmund’s war-gear. He ignored the blood-feud,

  The fact that Eadmund was his brother’s son.

    Weohstan kept that war-gear for a lifetime, 2620 The sword and the mail-shirt, until it was the son’s turn

  To follow his father and perform his part.

  Then, in old age, at the end of his days

  Among the Weather-Geats, he bequeathed to Wiglaf Innumerable weapons.

  And now the youth

   Was to enter the line of battle with his lord,

  His first time to be tested as a fighter.

  His spirit did not break and the ancestral blade

  Would keep its edge, as the dragon discovered

  As soon as they came together in combat.  2630

  Sad at heart, addressing his companions,

  Wiglaf spoke wise and fluent words:

  “I remember that time when the mead was flowing,

  How we pledged loyalty to our lord in the hall,

  Promised our ring-giver we would be worth our price,

  Make good the gift of the war-gear,

  Those swords and helmets, as and when

  His need required it. He picked us out

  From the army deliberately, honored us and judged us

  Fit for this action, made me these lavish gifts– 2640

   And all because he considered us the best

  Of his arms-bearing thanes. And now, although

  He wanted this challenge to be the one he’d face

  By himself alone–the shepherd of our land,

  A man unequalled in the quest for glory

  And a name for daring–now the day has come

  When this lord we serve needs sound men

  To give him their support. Let us go to him,

  Help our leader through the hot flame

  And dread of the fire. As God is my witness, 2650 I would rather my body were robbed in the same Burning blaze as my gold-giver’s body

    Than go back home bearing arms.

  That is unthinkable, unless we have first

  Slain the foe and defended the life

  Of the prince of the Weather-Geats. I well know That things he has done for us deserve better. Should he alone be left exposed

  To fall in battle? We must bond together,

   Shield and helmet, mail-shirt and sword.” 2660 Then he wadded the dangerous reek and went

  Under arms to his lord, saying only:

  “Go on, dear Beowulf, do everything

  You said you would when you were still young

  And vowed you would never let your name and fame Be dimmed while you lived. Your deeds are famous, So stay resolute, my lord, defend your life now

  With the whole of your strength. I shall stand by you.”

  After those word, a wildness rose

  In the dragon again and drove it to attack, 2670 Heaving up fire, hunting for enemies,

  The humans it loathed. Flames lapped the shield,

  Charred it to the boss, and the body armor

  On the young warrior was useless to him.

   But Wiglaf did well under the wide rim

  Beowulf shared with him once his own had shattered In sparks and ashes.

  Inspired again

  By the thought of glory, the war-king threw

  His whole strength behind a sword-stroke

  And connected with the skull. And Naegling snapped. 2680 Beowulf’s ancient iron-gray sword

  Let him down in the fight. It was never his fortune

  To be helped in combat by the cutting-edge

  Of weapons made of iron. When he yielded a sword,

  No matter how blooded and hard-edged the blade

    His hand was too strong, the stroke he dealt

  (I have heard) would ruin it. He could reap no advantage.

  Then the bane of that people, the fire-breathing dragon, Was mad to attack for a third time.

  When a chance came, he caught the hero 2690 In a rush of flame and clamped sharp fangs

   Into his neck. Beowulf’s body

  Ran wet with his life-blood: it came welling out.

  Next thing, they say, the noble son of Weohstan Saw the king in danger at his side

  And displayed his inborn bravery and strength. He left the head alone, but his fighting hand Was burned when he came to his kinsman’s aid. He lunged at the enemy lower down

  So that his decorated sword sank into its belly 2700 And the flames grew weaker.

  Once again the king

  Gathered his strength and drew a stabbing knife

  He carried on his belt, sharpened for battle. He stuck it deep into the dragon’s flank. Beowulf dealt it a deadly wound.

   They had killed the enemy, courage quelled his life;

  That pair of kinsmen, partners in nobility,

  Had destroyed the foe. So every man should act,

  Be at hand when needed; but now, for the king,

  This would be the last of his many labors 2710 And triumphs in the world.

  Then the wound Dealt by the ground-burner earlier began

  To scald and swell; Beowulf discovered Deadly poison suppurating inside him, Surges of nausea, and so, in his wisdom, The prince realized his state and struggled

    Towards a seat on the rampart. He steadied his gazed

  On those gigantic stones, saw how the earthwork

  Was braced with arches built over columns.

  And now that thane unequalled for goodness 2720 With his own hands washed his lord’s wounds,

  Swabbed the weary prince with water, Bathed him clean, unbuckled his helmet.

   Beowulf spoke: in spite of his wounds,

  Mortal wounds, he still spoke

  For he well knew his days in the world

  Had been lived out to the end: his allotted time Was drawing to a close, death was very near.

  “Now is the time when I would have wanted

  To bestow this armor on my own son, 2730 Had it been my fortune to have fathered an heir

  And live on in his flesh. For fifty years

  I ruled this nation. No king

  Of any neighboring clan would dare

  Face me with troops, none had the power

  To intimidate me. I took what came,

  Cared for and stood by things in my keeping,

   Never fomented quarrels, never

  Swore to a lie. All this consoles me,

  Doomed as I am and sickening for death; 2740 Because of my right way, the Ruler of Mankind

  Need never blame me when the breath leaves my body For murder of kinsmen. Go now quickly,

  Dearest Wiglaf, under the gray stone

  Where the dragon is laid out, lost to his treasure;

  Hurry to feast your eyes on the hoard.

  Away you go: I want to examine

  That ancient gold, gaze my fill

  On those garnered jewels; my going will be easier

    For having seen the treasure, a less troubled letting-go 2750 Of the life and lordship I have long maintained.”

  And so, I have heard, the son of Weohstan Quickly obeyed the command of his languishing War-weary lord; he went in his chain-mail Under the rock-piled roof of the barrow,

   Exulting in his triumph, and saw beyond the seat A treasure-trove of astonishing richness, Wall-hangings that were a wonder to behold, Glittering gold spread across the ground,

  The old dawn-scorching serpent’s den

  Packed with goblets and vessels of the past, Tarnished and corroding. Rusty helmets

  All eaten away. Armbands everywhere, Artfully wrought. How easily treasure

  Buried in the ground, gold hidden

  However skillfully, can escape from any man!

  And he saw too a standard, entirely of gold, Hanging high over the hoard,

  A masterpiece of filigree; it glowed with light So he could make out the ground at his feet

  2760

  2770

   And inspect the valuables. Of the dragon there was no Remaining sign: the sword had dispatched him.

  Then, the story goes, a certain man

  Plundered the hoard in the immemorial howe,

  Filled his arms with flagons and plates, Anything he wanted; and took the standard also, Most brilliant of banners.

  Already the blade

  Of the old king’s sharp killing-sword

  Had done its worst: the one who had for long

  Minded the hoard, hovering over gold, 2780 Unleashing fire, surging forth

    Midnight after midnight, had been mown down.

  Wiglaf went quickly, keen to get back,

  Excited by the treasure. Anxiety weighed

  On his brave heart–he was hoping he would find The leader of the Geats alive where he had left him Helpless, earlier, on the open ground.

   So he came to the place, carrying the treasure,

  And found his lord bleeding profusely,

  His life at an end: again he began 2790 To swab his body. The beginnings of an utterance Broke out from the king’s breast-cage.

  The old lord gazed sadly at the gold.

  “To the everlasting Lord of All,

  To the King of Glory, I give thanks

  That I beheld this treasure here in front of me,

  That I have been allowed to leave my people

  So well endowed on the day I die.

  Now that I have bartered my last breath

  To own this fortune, it is up to you 2800 To look after their needs. I can hold out no longer. Order my troop to construct a barrow

   On a headland on the coast, after my pyre has cooled. It will loom in the horizon at Hronesness

  And be a reminder among my people–

  So that in coming times crews under sail

  Will call it Beowulf’s barrow, as they steer Ships across the wide and shrouded waters.”

  Then the king in his great-heartedness unclasped

  The collar of gold from his neck and gave it 2810 To the young thane, telling him to use

  It and the war shirt and the gilded helmet well.

    “You are the last of us, the only one left

  Of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us away,

  Sent my whole brave high-born clan

  To their final doom. Now I must follow them.”

  That was the warrior’s last word.

  He had no more to confide. The furious heat

  Of the pyre would assail him. His soul fled from his breast

   To its destined place among the steadfast ones.  2820

  It was hard then on the young hero,

  Having to watch the one he held so dear

  There on the ground, going through

  His death agony. The dragon from underearth,

  His nightmarish destroyer, lay destroyed as well, Utterly without life. No longer would his snake folds Ply themselves to safeguard hidden gold.

  Hard-edged blades, hammered out

  And keenly filed, had finished him

  So that the sky-roamer lay there rigid, 2830 Brought low beside the treasure-lodge.

  Never again would he glitter and glide And show himself off in midnight air,

   Exulting in his riches: he fell to earth

  Through the battle-strength in Beowulf’s arm.

  There were few, indeed, as far as I have heard,

  Big and brave as they may have been,

  Few who would have held out if they had had to face The outpourings of that poison-breather

  Or gone foraging on the ring-hall floor 2840 And found the deep barrow-dweller

  On guard and awake.

  The treasure had been won, Bought and paid for by Beowulf’s death.

  Both had reached the end of the road

    Through the life they had been lent.

  Before long

  The battle-dodgers abandoned the wood,

  The ones who had let down their lord earlier,

  The tail-turners, ten of them together.

  When he needed them the most, they had made off.

   Now they were ashamed and came behind shields, 2850 In their battle-outfits, to where the old man lay.

  They watched Wiglaf, sitting worn out,

  A comrade shoulder to shoulder with his lord,

  Trying in vain to bring him round with water. Much as he wanted to, there was no way

  He could preserve his lord’s life on earth

  Or alter in the least the Almighty’s will.

  What God judged right would rule what happened To every man, as it does to this day.

  Then a stern rebuke was bound to come 2860 From the young warrior to the ones who had been cowards. Wiglaf, son of Weohstan, spoke

  Disdainfully and in disappointment:

  “Anyone ready to admit the truth

   Will surely realize the lord of men

  Who showered you with gifts and gave you the armor You are standing in–when he would distribute

  Helmets and mail-shirts to men on the mead-benches,

  A prince treating his thanes in hall

  To the best he could find, far or near– 2870 Was throwing weapons uselessly away.

  It would be a sad waste when the war broke out.

  Beowulf had little cause to brag

  About his armed guard; yet God who ordains

  Who wins or loses allowed him to strike

  With his own blade when bravery was needed.

    There was little I could do to protect his life

  In the heat of the fray, yet I found new strength

  Welling up when I went to help him.

  Then my sword connected and the deadly assaults 2880 Of our foe grew weaker, the fire coursed

  Less strongly from his head. But when the worst happened Too few rallied around the prince.

   “So it is goodbye now to all you know and love On your home-ground, the open-handedness, The giving of war-swords. Every one of you With freeholds of land, our whole nation,

  Will be dispossessed, once princes from beyond

  Get tidings of how you turned and fled

  And disgraced yourselves. A warrior will sooner 2890 Die than live a life of shame.”

  Then he ordered the outcome of the fight to be reported To those camped on the ridge, that crowd of retainers Who had sat all morning, sad at heart,

  Shield-bearers wondering about

  The man they loved: would this day be his last Or would he return. He told the truth

   And did not balk, the rider who bore

  News to the cliff-top. He addressed them all:

  “Now the people’s pride and love, 2900 The lord of the Geats, is laid on his deathbed,

  Brought down by the dragon’s attack.

  Beside him lies the bane of his life,

  Dead from knife-wounds. There was no way

  Beowulf could manage to get the better

  Of the monster with his sword. Wiglaf sits

  At Beowulf’s side, the son of Weohstan,

  The living warrior watching by the dead,

  Keeping weary vigil, holding a wake

    For the loved and the loathed. 2910 Now war is looming

  Over our nation, soon it will be known

  To Franks and Frisians, far and wide,

  That the king is gone. Hostility has been great Among the Franks since Hygelac sailed forth At the head of a war-fleet into Friesland:

   There the Hetware harried and attacked

  And overwhelmed him with great odds.

  The leader in his war-gear was laid low,

  Fell amongst followers; that lord did not favor

  His company with spoils. The Merovingian king 2920 Has been an enemy to us ever since.

  “Nor do I expect peace of pact-keeping

  Of any sort from the Swedes.  Rappelles toi:

  At Ravenswood, Ongentheow

  Slaughtered Haethcyn, Hrethel’s son,

  When the Geat people in their arrogance

  First attacked the fierce Shylfings.

  The return blow was quickly struck

  By Ohthere’s father. Old and terrible,

  He felled the sea-king and saved is own 2930

   Aged wife, the mother of Onela

  And of Ohthere, bereft of her gold rings.

  Then he kept hard on the heels of the foe

  And drove them, leaderless, lucky to get away,

  In a desperate route to Ravenswood.

  His army surrounded the weary remnant

  Where they nursed their wounds;  durant toute la nuit

  He howled threats at those huddled survivors,

  Promises to axe their bodies open

  When dawn broke, dangle them from gallows 2940 To feed the birds. But at first light

  When their spirits were lowest, relief arrived.

    They heard the sound of Hygelac’s horn, His trumpet calling as he came to find them , The hero in pursuit, at hand with troops.

  “The bloody swathe that Swedes and Geats Cut through each other was everywhere.

  No one could miss their murderous feuding.

   Then the old man made his move,

  Pulled back, barred his people in: 2950 Ongentheow withdrew to higher ground.

  Hygelac’s pride and prowess as a fighter

  Were known to the earl; he had no confidence

  That he could hold out against that horde of seamen, Defend wife and the ones he loved

  From the shock of the attack. He retreated for shelter Behind the earth wall. Then Hygelac swooped

  On the Swedes at bay, his banners swarmed

  Into their refuge, the Geat forces

  Drove forward to destroy the camp. 2960 There in his gray hairs, Ongentheow

  Was cornered, ringed around with swords.

  And it came to pass that the king’s fate

  Was in Eofor’s hands, and in his alone.

   Wulf, son of Wonred, went for him in anger, Split him open so that blood came spurting From under his hair. The old hero

  Still did not flinch, but parried fast,

  Hit back with a harder stroke:

  The king turned and took him on. 2970 Then Wonred’s son, the brave Wulf,

  Could land no blow against the aged lord.

  Ongentheow divided his helmet

  So that he buckled and bowed his bloodied head

  And dropped to the ground. But his doom held off. Though he was cut deep, he recovered again.

    “With his brother down, the undaunted Eofor,

  Hygelac’s thane, hefted his sword

  And smashed murderously at the massive helmet

  Past the lifted shield. And the king collapsed, 2980 The shepherd of people was sheared of life.

   “Many then hurried to help Wulf,

  Bandaged and lifted him, now that they were left

  Masters of the blood-soaked battleground.

  One warrior stripped the other,

  Looted Ongentheow’s iron mail-coat,

  His hard sword-hilt, his helmet too,

  And carried the graith to King Hygelac;

  He accepted the prize, promised fairly

  That reward would come, and kept his word. 2990 For their bravery in action, when they arrived home

  Eofor and Wulf were overloaded

  By Hrethel’s son, Hygelac the Geat,

  With gifts of land and linked rings

  That were worth a fortune. They had won glory,

  So there was no gainsaying his generosity.

  And he gave Eofor his only daughter

   To bide at home with him, an honor and a bond.

  “So this bad blood between us and the Swedes,

  This vicious feud, I am convinced, 3000 Is bound to revive; they will cross our borders

  And attack in force once they find out

  That Beowulf is dead. In days gone by

  When our warriors fell and we were undefended

  He kept our coffers and our kingdoms safe.

  He worked for the people, but as well as that

  He behaved like a hero.

  We must hurry now

    To take a last look at the king

  And launch him, lord and lavisher of rings,

  On the funeral road. His royal pyre 3010 Will melt no small amount of gold:

  Heaped there in the hoard, it was bought at heavy cost, And that pile of rings he paid for at the end

  With his own life will go up in flames,

   Be furled in fire: treasure no follower

  Will wear in his memory, nor lovely woman

  Link and attach as a torque around her neck–

  But often, repeatedly, in the path of exile

  They shall walk bereft, bowed under woe,

  Now that their leader’s laugh is silenced, 3020 High spirits quenched. Many a spear

  Dawn-cold to the touch will be taken down

  And waved on high; the swept harp

  Won’t waken warriors, but the raven winging

  Darkly over the doomed will have news,

  Tidings of the eagle of how he hoked and ate,

  How the wolf and he made short work of the dead.”

  Such was the drift of the dire report

  That gallant man delivered. He got little wrong

   In what he told and predicted. 3030 The whole troop

  Rose in tears, then took their way

  To the uncanny scene under Earnaness.

  There, on the sand, where his soul had left him, They found him at rest, their ring-giver

  From days gone by. The great man

  Had breathed his last. Beowulf the King

  Had indeed met with a marvelous death.

  But what they saw first was far stranger:

  The serpent on the ground, gruesome and vile,

    Lying facing him. The fire-dragon 3040 Was scaresomely burnt, scorched all colors.

  From head to tail, his entire length

  Was fifty feet. He had shimmered forth

  On the night air once, then winged back Down to his den; but death owned him now, He would never enter his earth-gallery again.

   Beside him stood pitchers and piled-up dishes,

  Silent flagons, precious swords

  Eaten through with rust, ranged as they had been

  While they waited their thousand winters underground. 3050 That huge cache, gold inherited

  From an ancient race, was under a spell– Which meant no one was ever permitted

  To enter the king-hall unless God himself, Mankind’s Keeper, True King of Triumphs, Allowed some person pleasing him–

  And in his eyes worthy–to open the hoard.

  What came about brought to nothing

  The hopes of the one who had wrongly hidden

  Riches under the rock face. First the dragon slew 3060 That man among men, who in turn made fierce amends

   And settled the feud. Famous for his deeds

  A warrior may be, but it remains a mystery

  Where his life will end, when he may no longer

  Dwell in the mead-hall among his own.

  So it was with Beowulf, when he faced the cruelty

  And cunning of the mound-guard. He himself was ignorant Of how his departure from the world would happen.

  The high-born chiefs who had buried the treasure

  Declared it until doomsday so accursed 3070 That whoever robbed it would be guilty of wrong

  And grimly punished for their transgression,

  Hasped in hell-bonds in heathen shrines.

    Yet Beowulf’s gaze at the gold treasure When he first saw it had not been selfish.

  Wiglaf, son of Weohstan, spoke:

  “Often when one man follows his own will Many are hurt. This happened to us. Nothing we advised could ever convince

   The prince we loved, our land’s guardian, 3080 Not to vex the custodian of the gold,

  Let him lie where he was long accustomed,

  Lurk there under the earth until the end of the world.

  He held to his high destiny. The hoard is laid bare, But at a grave cost; it was too cruel a fate

  That forced the king to that encounter.

  I have been inside and seen everything

  Amassed in the vault. I managed to enter

  Although no great welcome awaited me

  Under the earth wall. I quickly gathered up 3090 A huge pile of the priceless treasures

  Handpicked from the hoard and carried them here

  Where the king could see them. He was still himself,

  Alive, aware, and in spite of his weakness

  He had many requests. He wanted me to greet you

   And order the building of a barrow that would crown The site of his pyre, serve as his memorial,

  In a commanding position, since of all men

  To have lived and thrived and lorded it on earth

  His worth and due as a warrior were the greatest. 3100 Now let us again go quickly

  And feast our eyes on that amazing fortune

  Heaped under the wall. I will show the way

  And take you close to those coffers packed with rings And bars of gold. Let a bier be made

  And got ready quickly when we come out

  And then let us bring the body of our lord,

    The man we loved, to where he will lodge For a long time in the care of the Almighty.”

  Then Weohstan’s son, stalwart to the end, 3110 Had orders given to owners of dwellings,

  Many people of importance in the land,

  To fetch wood from far and wide

   For the good man’s pyre.

  “Now shall flame consume

  Our leader in battle, the blaze darken

  Round him who stood his ground in the steel-hail, When the arrow-storm shot from bowstrings Pelted from the shield-wall. The shaft hit home. Feather-fledged, it finned the barb in flight.”

  Next the wise son of Weohstan 3120 Called from among the king’s thanes

  A group of seven: he selected the best

  And entered with them, the eighth of their number, Under the God-cursed roof; one raised

  A lighted torch and led the way.

  No lots were cast for who should loot the hoard For it was obvious to them that every bit of it

   Lay unprotected within the vault,

  There for the taking. It was no trouble

  To hurry to work and haul out 3130 The priceless store. They pitched the dragon

  Over the cliff top, let tide’s flow

  And backwash take the treasure-minder.

  Then coiled gold was loaded on a cart

  In great abundance, and the gray-haired leader,

  The prince of his bier, born to Hronesness.

  The Geat people built a pyre for Beowulf, Stacked and decked it until it stood four-square,

    Hung with helmets, heavy war-shields

  And shining armor, just as he had ordered. 3140 Then his warriors laid him in the middle of it,

  Mourning a lord far-famed and beloved.

  On a height they kindled the hugest of all

  Funeral fires; fumes of wood smoke

  Billowed darkly up, the blaze roared

   And drowned out their weeping, wind died down And flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house, Burning it to the core. They were disconsolate And wailed aloud for their lord’s decease.

  A Geat woman too sang out in grief: 3150 With hair bound up, she unburdened herself

  Of her worst fears, a wild litany

  Of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded, Enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,

  Slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

  Then the Geat people began to construct

  A mound on a headland, high and imposing,

  A marker that sailors could see from far away,

  And in ten days they had done the work.

  It was their hero’s memorial;; what remained from fire 3160

   They housed inside it, behind a wall

  As worthy of him as their workmanship could make it. And they buried torques in the barrow, and jewels And a trove of such things as trespassing men

  Had once dared to drag from the hoard.

  They let the ground keep that ancestral treasure,

  Gold under gravel, gone to earth,

  As useless to men now as it ever was.

  Then twelve warriors rode around the tomb, Chieftain’s sons, champions in battle, 3170 All of them distraught, chanting in dirges,

  Mourning his loss as a man and a king.

   They extolled his heroic exploits

  And gave thanks for his greatness; which was the proper thing, For a man should praise a prince whom he holds dear

  And cherish his memory when that moment comes

  When he has to be convoyed from his bodily home.

  So the Geat people, his hearth companions,

  Sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low.

   They said that of all the kings upon the earth 3180 He was the man most gracious and fair-minded,

  Kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.

Question

Write about what struck you most about Beowulf.  Write down what deeply moved you, what angered you, what delighted you, what made you think, etc.  If nothing struck you, read the assignment again.  It is a literary work that has survived several centuries.  Keep reading;  there is jewelry to be found!
you must write your response of at least( 200-350) words .

                                                                            The Custom Essays