The Tale of Beowulf
Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats
(Translated by William Morris and A. J. Wyatt)
THE STORY OF BEOWULF
I. AND FIRST OF THE KINDRED OF HROTHGAR.
What! we of the Spear-Danes of yore days, so was it
That we learn’d of the fair fame of kings of the folks
And the athelings a-faring in framing of valour.
Oft then Scyld the Sheaf-son from the hosts of the scathers,
From kindreds a many the mead-settles tore;
It was then the earl fear’d them, sithence was he first
Found bare and all-lacking; so solace he bided,
Wax’d under the welkin in worship to thrive,
Until it was so that the round-about sitters
All over the whale-road must hearken his will 10
And yield him the tribute. A good king was that,
By whom then thereafter a son was begotten,
A youngling in garth, whom the great God sent thither
To foster the folk; and their crime-need he felt
The load that lay on them while lordless they lived
For a long while and long. He therefore, the Life-lord,
The Wielder of glory, world’s worship he gave him:
Brim Beowulf waxed, and wide the weal upsprang
Of the offspring of Scyld in the parts of the Scede-lands.
Such wise shall a youngling with wealth be a-working 20
With goodly fee-gifts toward the friends of his father,
That after in eld-days shall ever bide with him,
Fair fellows well-willing when wendeth the war-tide,
Their lief lord a-serving. By praise-deeds it shall be
That in each and all kindreds a man shall have thriving.
Then went his ways Scyld when the shapen while was,
All hardy to wend him to the lord and his warding:
Out then did they bear him to the side of the sea-flood,
The dear fellows of him, as he himself pray’d them
While yet his word wielded the friend of the Scyldings, 30
The dear lord of the land; a long while had he own’d it.
With stem all be-ringed at the hythe stood the ship,
All icy and out-fain, the Atheling’s ferry.
There then did they lay him, the lord well beloved,
The gold-rings’ bestower, within the ship’s barm,
The mighty by mast. Much there was the treasure,
From far ways forsooth had the fret-work been led:
Never heard I of keel that was comelier dighted
With weapons of war, and with weed of the battle,
With bills and with byrnies. There lay in his barm 40
Much wealth of the treasure that with him should be,
And he into the flood’s might afar to depart.
No lesser a whit were the wealth-goods they dight him
Of the goods of the folk, than did they who aforetime,
When was the beginning, first sent him away
Alone o’er the billows, and he but a youngling.
Moreover they set him up there a sign golden
High up overhead, and let the holm bear him,
Gave all to the Spearman. Sad mind they had in them,
And mourning their mood was. Now never knew men, 50
For sooth how to say it, rede-masters in hall,
Or heroes ‘neath heaven, to whose hands came the lading.
II. CONCERNING HROTHGAR,
AND HOW HE BUILT THE HOUSE CALLED HART.
ALSO GRENDEL IS TOLD OF.
In the burgs then was biding Beowulf the Scylding,
Dear King of the people, for long was he dwelling
Far-famed of folks (his father turn’d elsewhere,
From his stead the Chief wended) till awoke to him after
Healfdene the high, and long while he held it,
Ancient and war-eager, o’er the glad Scyldings:
Of his body four bairns are forth to him rimed;
Into the world woke the leader of war-hosts 60
Heorogar; eke Hrothgar, and Halga the good;
Heard I that Elan queen was she of Ongentheow,
That Scylding of battle, the bed-mate behalsed.
Then was unto Hrothgar the war-speed given,
Such worship of war that his kin and well-willers
Well hearken’d his will till the younglings were waxen,
A kin-host a many. Then into his mind ran
That he would be building for him now a hall-house,
That men should be making a mead-hall more mighty
Than the children of ages had ever heard tell of: 70
And there within eke should he be out-dealing
To young and to old all things God had given,
Save the share of the folk and the life-days of men.
Then heard I that widely the work was a-banning
To kindreds a many the Middle-garth over
To fret o’er that folk-stead. So befell to him timely
Right soon among men that made was it yarely
The most of hall-houses, and Hart its name shap’d he,
Who wielded his word full widely around.
His behest he belied not; it was he dealt the rings, 80
The wealth at the high-tide. Then up rose the hall-house,
High up and horn-gabled. Hot surges it bided
Of fire-flame the loathly, nor long was it thenceforth
Ere sorely the edge-hate ‘twixt Son and Wife’s Father
After the slaughter-strife there should awaken.
Then the ghost heavy-strong bore with it hardly
E’en for a while of time, bider in darkness,
That there on each day of days heard he the mirth-tide
Loud in the hall-house. There was the harp’s voice,
And clear song of shaper. Said he who could it 90
To tell the first fashion of men from aforetime;
Quoth how the Almighty One made the Earth’s fashion,
The fair field and bright midst the bow of the Waters,
And with victory beglory’d set Sun and Moon,
Bright beams to enlighten the biders on land:
And how he adorned all parts of the earth
With limbs and with leaves; and life withal shaped
For the kindred of each thing that quick on earth wendeth.
So liv’d on all happy the host of the kinsmen
In game and in glee, until one wight began, 100
A fiend out of hell-pit, the framing of evil,
And Grendel forsooth the grim guest was hight,
The mighty mark-strider, the holder of moorland,
The fen and the fastness. The stead of the fifel
That wight all unhappy a while of time warded,
Sithence that the Shaper him had for-written.
On the kindred of Cain the Lord living ever
Awreaked the murder of the slaying of Abel.
In that feud he rejoic’d not, but afar him He banish’d,
The Maker, from mankind for the crime he had wrought. 110
But offspring uncouth thence were they awoken
Eotens and elf-wights, and ogres of ocean,
And therewith the Giants, who won war against God
A long while; but He gave them their wages therefor.
III. HOW GRENDEL FELL UPON HART AND WASTED IT.
Now went he a-spying, when come was the night-tide,
The house on high builded, and how there the Ring-Danes
Their beer-drinking over had boune them to bed;
And therein he found them, the atheling fellows,
Asleep after feasting. Then sorrow they knew not
Nor the woe of mankind: but the wight of wealth’s waning, 120
The grim and the greedy, soon yare was he gotten,
All furious and fierce, and he raught up from resting
A thirty of thanes, and thence aback got him
Right fain of his gettings, and homeward to fare,
Fulfilled of slaughter his stead to go look on.
Thereafter at dawning, when day was yet early,
The war-craft of Grendel to men grew unhidden,
And after his meal was the weeping uphoven,
Mickle voice of the morning-tide: there the Prince mighty,
The Atheling exceeding good, unblithe he sat, 130
Tholing the heavy woe; thane-sorrow dreed he
Since the slot of the loathly wight there they had look’d on,
The ghost all accursed. O’er grisly the strife was,
So loathly and longsome. No longer the frist was
But after the wearing of one night; then fram’d he
Murder-bales more yet, and nowise he mourned
The feud and the crime; over fast therein was he.
Then easy to find was the man who would elsewhere
Seek out for himself a rest was more roomsome,
Beds end-long the bowers, when beacon’d to him was, 140
And soothly out told by manifest token,
The hate of the hell-thane. He held himself sithence
Further and faster who from the fiend gat him.
In such wise he rul’d it and wrought against right,
But one against all, until idle was standing
The best of hall-houses; and mickle the while was,
Twelve winter-tides’ wearing; and trouble he tholed,
That friend of the Scyldings, of woes every one
And wide-spreading sorrows: for sithence it fell
That unto men’s children unbidden ’twas known 150
Full sadly in singing, that Grendel won war
‘Gainst Hrothgar a while of time, hate-envy waging,
And crime-guilts and feud for seasons no few,
And strife without stinting. For the sake of no kindness
Unto any of men of the main-host of Dane-folk
Would he thrust off the life-bale, or by fee-gild allay it,
Nor was there a wise man that needed to ween
The bright boot to have at the hand of the slayer.
The monster the fell one afflicted them sorely,
That death-shadow darksome the doughty and youthful 160
Enfettered, ensnared; night by night was he faring
The moorlands the misty. But never know men
Of spell-workers of Hell to and fro where they wander.
So crime-guilts a many the foeman of mankind,
The fell alone-farer, fram’d oft and full often,
Cruel hard shames and wrongful, and Hart he abode in,
The treasure-stain’d hall, in the dark of the night-tide;
But never the gift-stool therein might he greet,
The treasure before the Creator he trow’d not.
Mickle wrack was it soothly for the friend of the Scyldings, 170
Yea heart and mood breaking. Now sat there a many
Of the mighty in rune, and won them the rede
Of what thing for the strong-soul’d were best of all things
Which yet they might frame ‘gainst the fear and the horror.
And whiles they behight them at the shrines of the heathen
To worship the idols; and pray’d they in words,
That he, the ghost-slayer, would frame for them helping
‘Gainst the folk-threats and evil So far’d they their wont,
The hope of the heathen; nor hell they remember’d
In mood and in mind. And the Maker they knew not, 180
The Doomer of deeds: nor of God the Lord wist they,
Nor the Helm of the Heavens knew aught how to hery,
The Wielder of Glory. Woe worth unto that man
Who through hatred the baneful his soul shall shove into
The fire’s embrace; nought of fostering weens he,
Nor of changing one whit. But well is he soothly
That after the death-day shall seek to the Lord,
In the breast of the Father all peace ever craving.
IV. NOW COMES BEOWULF ECGTHEOW’S SON
TO THE LAND OF THE DANES,
AND THE WALL-WARDEN SPEAKETH WITH HIM.
So care that was time-long the kinsman of Healfdene
Still seeth’d without ceasing, nor might the wise warrior 190
Wend otherwhere woe, for o’er strong was the strife
All loathly so longsome late laid on the people,
Need-wrack and grim nithing, of night-bales the greatest.
Now that from his home heard the Hygelac’s thane,
Good midst of the Geat-folk; of Grendel’s deeds heard he.
But he was of mankind of might and main mightiest
In the day that we tell of, the day of this life,
All noble, strong-waxen. He bade a wave-wearer
Right good to be gear’d him, and quoth he that the war-king
Over the swan-road he would be seeking, 200
The folk-lord far-famed, since lack of men had he.
Forsooth of that faring the carles wiser-fashion’d
Laid little blame on him, though lief to them was he;
The heart-hardy whetted they, heeded the omen.
There had the good one, e’en he of the Geat-folk,
Champions out-chosen of them that he keenest
Might find for his needs; and he then the fifteenth,
Sought to the sound-wood. A swain thereon show’d him,
A sea-crafty man, all the make of the land-marks.
Wore then a while, on the waves was the floater, 210
The boat under the berg, and yare then the warriors
Strode up on the stem; the streams were a-winding
The sea ‘gainst the sands. Upbore the swains then
Up into the bark’s barm the bright-fretted weapons,
The war-array stately; then out the lads shov’d her,
The folk on the welcome way shov’d out the wood-bound.
Then by the wind driven out o’er the wave-holm
Far’d the foamy-neck’d floater most like to a fowl,
Till when was the same tide of the second day’s wearing
The wound-about-stemm’d one had waded her way, 220
So that then they that sail’d her had sight of the land,
Bleak shine of the sea-cliffs, bergs steep up above,
Sea-nesses wide reaching; the sound was won over,
The sea-way was ended: then up ashore swiftly
The band of the Weder-folk up on earth wended;
They bound up the sea-wood, their sarks on them rattled,
Their weed of the battle, and God there they thanked
For that easy the wave-ways were waxen unto them.
But now from the wall saw the Scylding-folks’ warder,
E’en he whom the holm-cliffs should ever be holding, 230
Men bear o’er the gangway the bright shields a-shining,
Folk-host gear all ready. Then mind-longing wore him,
And stirr’d up his mood to wot who were the men-folk.
So shoreward down far’d he his fair steed a-riding,
Hrothgar’s Thane, and full strongly then set he a-quaking
The stark wood in his hands, and in council-speech speer’d he:
What men be ye then of them that have war-gear,
With byrnies bewarded, who the keel high up-builded
Over the Lake-street thus have come leading.
Hither o’er holm-ways hieing in ring-stem? 240
End-sitter was I, a-holding the sea-ward,
That the land of the Dane-folk none of the loathly
Faring with ship-horde ever might scathe it.
None yet have been seeking more openly hither
Of shield-havers than ye, and ye of the leave-word
Of the framers of war naught at all wotting,
Or the manners of kinsmen. But no man of earls greater
Saw I ever on earth than one of you yonder,
The warrior in war-gear: no hall-man, so ween I,
Is that weapon-beworthy’d, but his visage belie him, 250
The sight seen once only. Now I must be wotting
The spring of your kindred ere further ye cast ye,
And let loose your false spies in the Dane-land a-faring
Yet further afield. So now, ye far-dwellers,
Ye wenders o’er sea-flood, this word do ye hearken
Of my one-folded thought: and haste is the handiest
To do me to wit of whence is your coming.
V. HERE BEOWULF MAKES ANSWER TO THE LAND-WARDEN,
WHO SHOWETH HIM THE WAY TO THE KING’S ABODE.
He then that was chiefest in thus wise he answer’d,
The war-fellows’ leader unlock’d he the word-hoard:
We be a people of the Weder-Geats’ man-kin 260
And of Hygelac be we the hearth-fellows soothly.
My father before me of folks was well-famed
Van-leader and atheling, Ecgtheow he hight.
Many winters abode he, and on the way wended
An old man from the garths, and him well remembers
Every wise man well nigh wide yond o’er the earth.
Through our lief mood and friendly the lord that is thine,
Even Healfdene’s son, are we now come a-seeking,
Thy warder of folk. Learn us well with thy leading,
For we have to the mighty an errand full mickle, 270
To the lord of the Dane-folk: naught dark shall it be,
That ween I full surely. If it be so thou wottest,
As soothly for our parts we now have heard say,
That one midst of the Scyldings, who of scathers I wot not,
A deed-hater secret, in the dark of the night-tide
Setteth forth through the terror the malice untold of,
The shame-wrong and slaughter. I therefore to Hrothgar
Through my mind fashion’d roomsome the rede may now learn him,
How he, old-wise and good, may get the fiend under,
If once more from him awayward may turn 280
The business of bales, and the boot come again,
And the weltering of care wax cooler once more;
Or for ever sithence time of stress he shall thole,
The need and the wronging, the while yet there abideth
On the high stead aloft the best of all houses.
Then spake out the warden on steed there a-sitting,
The servant all un-fear’d: It shall be of either
That the shield-warrior sharp the sundering wotteth,
Of words and of works, if he think thereof well.
I hear it thus said that this host here is friendly 290
To the lord of the Scyldings; forth fare ye then, bearing
Your weed and your weapons, of the way will I wise you;
Likewise mine own kinsmen I will now be bidding
Against every foeman your floater before us,
Your craft but new-tarred, the keel on the sand,
With honour to hold, until back shall be bearing
Over the lake-streams this one, the lief man,
The wood of the wounden-neck back unto Wedermark.
Unto such shall be granted amongst the good-doers
To win the way out all whole from the war-race. 300
Then boun they to faring, the bark biding quiet;
Hung upon hawser the wide-fathom’d ship
Fast at her anchor. Forth shone the boar-shapes
Over the check-guards golden adorned,
Fair-shifting, fire-hard; ward held the farrow.
Snorted the war-moody, hasten’d the warriors
And trod down together until the hall timbered,
Stately and gold-bestain’d, gat they to look on,
That was the all-mightiest unto earth’s dwellers
Of halls ‘neath the heavens, wherein bode the mighty; 310
Glisten’d the gleam thereof o’er lands a many.
Unto them then the war-deer the court of the proud one
Full clearly betaught it, that they therewithal
Might wend their ways thither. Then he of the warriors
Round wended his steed, and spake a word backward:
Time now for my faring; but the Father All-wielder
May He with all helping henceforward so hold you
All whole in your wayfaring. Will I to sea-side
Against the wroth folk to hold warding ever.
VI. BEOWULF AND THE GEATS COME INTO HART.
Stone-diverse the street was, straight uplong the path led 320
The warriors together. There shone the war-byrny
The hard and the hand-lock’d; the ring-iron sheer
Sang over their war-gear, when they to the hall first
In their gear the all-fearful had gat them to ganging.
So then the sea-weary their wide shields set down,
Their war-rounds the mighty, against the hall’s wall.
Then bow’d they to bench, and rang there the byrnies,
The war-weed of warriors, and up-stood the spears,
The war-gear of the sea-folk all gather’d together.
The ash-holt grey-headed; that host of the iron 330
With weapons was worshipful. There then a proud chief
Of those lads of the battle speer’d after their line:
Whence ferry ye then the shields golden-faced,
The grey sarks therewith, and the helms all bevisor’d,
And a heap of the war-shafts? Now am I of Hrothgar
The man and the messenger: ne’er saw I of aliens
So many of men more might-like of mood.
I ween that for pride-sake, no wise for wrack-wending
But for high might of mind, ye to Hrothgar have sought.
Unto him then the heart-hardy answer’d and spake, 340
The proud earl of the Weders the word gave aback,
The hardy neath helm: Now of Hygelac are we
The board-fellows; Beowulf e’en is my name,
And word will I say unto Healfdene’s son,
To the mighty, the folk-lord, what errand is mine,
Yea unto thy lord, if to us he will grant it
That him, who so good is, anon we may greet.
Spake Wulfgar the word, a lord of the Wendels,
And the mood of his heart of a many was kenned,
His war and his wisdom: I therefore the Danes’ friend 350
Will lightly be asking, of the lord of the Scyldings,
The dealer of rings, since the boon thou art bidding,
The mighty folk-lord, concerning thine errand,
And swiftly the answer shall do thee to wit
Which the good one to give thee aback may deem meetest.
Then turn’d he in haste to where Hrothgar was sitting
Right old and all hoary mid the host of his earl-folk:
Went the valour-stark; stood he the shoulders before
Of the Dane-lord: well could he the doughty ones’ custom.
So Wulfgar spake forth to his lord the well-friendly: 360
Hither are ferry’d now, come from afar off
O’er the field of the ocean, a folk of the Geats;
These men of the battle e’en Beowulf name they
Their elder and chiefest, and to thee are they bidding
That they, O dear lord, with thee may be dealing
In word against word. Now win them no naysay
Of thy speech again-given, O Hrothgar the glad-man:
For they in their war-gear, methinketh, be worthy
Of good deeming of earls; and forsooth naught but doughty
Is he who hath led o’er the warriors hither. 370
VII. BEOWULF SPEAKETH WITH HROTHGAR,
AND TELLETH HOW HE WILL MEET GRENDEL.
Word then gave out Hrothgar the helm of the Scyldings:
I knew him in sooth when he was but a youngling,
And his father, the old man, was Ecgtheow hight;
Unto whom at his home gave Hrethel the Geat-lord
His one only daughter; and now hath his offspring
All hardy come hither a lief lord to seek him.
For that word they spake then, the sea-faring men,
E’en they who the gift-seat for the Geat-folk had ferry’d,
Brought thither for thanks, that of thirty of menfolk
The craft of might hath he within his own handgrip, 380
That war-strong of men. Now him holy God
For kind help hath sent off here even to us,
We men of the West Danes, as now I have weening,
‘Gainst the terror of Grendel. So I to that good one
For his mighty mood-daring shall the dear treasure bid.
Haste now and be speedy, and bid them in straightway,
The kindred-band gather’d together, to see us,
And in words say thou eke that they be well comen
To the folk of the Danes. To the door of the hall then
Went Wulfgar, and words withinward he flitted: 390
He bade me to say you, my lord of fair battle,
The elder of East-Danes, that he your blood knoweth,
And that unto him are ye the sea-surges over,
Ye lads hardy-hearted, well come to land hither;
And now may ye wend you all in war-raiment
Under the battle-mask Hrothgar to see.
But here let your battle-boards yet be abiding,
With your war-weed and slaughter-shafts, issue of words.
Then rose up the rich one, much warriors around him,
Chosen heap of the thanes, but there some abided 400
The war-gear to hold, as the wight one was bidding.
Swift went they together, as the warrior there led them,
Under Hart’s roof: went the stout-hearted,
The hardy neath helm, till he stood by the high-seat.
Then Beowulf spake out, on him shone the byrny,
His war-net besown by the wiles of the smith:
Hail to thee, Hrothgar! I am of Hygelac
Kinsman and folk-thane; fair deeds have I many
Begun in my youth-tide, and this matter of Grendel
On the turf of mine own land undarkly I knew. 410
‘Tis the seafarers’ say that standeth this hall,
The best house forsooth, for each one of warriors
All idle and useless, after the even-light
Under the heaven-loft hidden becometh.
Then lightly they learn’d me, my people, this lore,
E’en the best that there be of the wise of the churls,
O Hrothgar the kingly, that thee should I seek to,
Whereas of the might of my craft were they cunning;
For they saw me when came I from out of my wargear,
Blood-stain’d from the foe whenas five had I bounden, 420
Quell’d the kin of the eotens, and in the wave slain
The nicors by night-tide: strait need then I bore,
Wreak’d the grief of the Weders, the woe they had gotten;
I ground down the wrathful; and now against Grendel
I here with the dread one alone shall be dooming,
In Thing with the giant. I now then with thee,
O lord of the bright Danes, will fall to my bidding,
O berg of Scyldings, and bid thee one boon,
Which, O refuge of warriors, gainsay me not now,
Since, O free friend of folks, from afar have I come, 430
That I alone, I and my band of the earls,
This hard heap of men, may cleanse Hart of ill.
This eke have I heard say, that he, the fell monster,
In his wan-heed recks nothing of weapons of war;
Forgo I this therefore (if so be that Hygelac
Will still be my man-lord, and he blithe of mood)
To bear the sword with me, or bear the broad shield,
Yellow-round to the battle; but with naught save the hand-grip
With the foe shall I grapple, and grope for the life
The loathly with loathly. There he shall believe 440
In the doom of the Lord whom death then shall take.
Now ween I that he, if he may wield matters,
E’en there in the war-hall the folk of the Geats
Shall eat up unafear’d, as oft he hath done it
With the might of the Hrethmen: no need for thee therefore
My head to be hiding; for me will he have
With gore all bestain’d, if the death of men get me;
He will bear off my bloody corpse minded to taste it;
Unmournfully then will the Lone-goer eat it,
Will blood-mark the moor-ways; for the meat of my body 450
Naught needest thou henceforth in any wise grieve thee.
But send thou to Hygelac, if the war have me,
The best of all war-shrouds that now my breast wardeth,
The goodliest of railings, the good gift of Hrethel,
The hand-work of Weland. Weird wends as she willeth.
VIII. HROTHGAR ANSWERETH BEOWULF
AND BIDDETH HIM SIT TO THE FEAST.
Spake out then Hrothgar the helm of the Scyldings:
Thou Beowulf, friend mine, for battle that wardeth
And for help that is kindly hast sought to us hither.
Fought down thy father the most of all feuds;
To Heatholaf was he forsooth for a hand-bane 460
Amidst of the Wylfings. The folk of the Weders
Him for the war-dread that while might not hold.
So thence did he seek to the folk of the South-Danes
O’er the waves’ wallow, to the Scyldings be-worshipped.
Then first was I wielding the weal of the Dane-folk,
That time was I holding in youth-tide the gem-rich
Hoard-burg of the heroes. Dead then was Heorogar,
Mine elder of brethren; unliving was he,
The Healfdene’s bairn that was better than I.
That feud then thereafter with fee did I settle; 470
I sent to the Wylfing folk over the waters’ back
Treasures of old time; he swore the oaths to me.
Sorrow is in my mind that needs must I say it
To any of grooms, of Grendel what hath he
Of shaming in Hart, and he with his hate-wiles
Of sudden harms framed; the host of my hall-floor,
The war-heap, is waned; Weird swept them away
Into horror of Grendel. It is God now that may lightly
The scather the doltish from deeds thrust aside.
Full oft have they boasted with beer well bedrunken, 480
My men of the battle all over the ale-stoup,
That they in the beer-hall would yet be abiding
The onset of Grendel with the terror of edges.
But then was this mead-hall in the tide of the morning,
This warrior-hall, gore-stain’d when day at last gleamed,
All the boards of the benches with blood besteam’d over,
The hall laid with sword-gore: of lieges less had I
Of dear and of doughty, for them death had gotten.
Now sit thou to feast and unbind thy mood freely,
Thy war-fame unto men as the mind of thee whetteth. 490
Then was for the Geat-folk and them all together
There in the beer-hall a bench bedight roomsome,
There the stout-hearted hied them to sitting
Proud in their might: a thane minded the service,
Who in hand upbare an ale-stoup adorned,
Skinked the sheer mead; whiles sang the shaper
Clear out in Hart-hall; joy was of warriors,
Men doughty no little of Danes and of Weders.
IX. UNFERTH CONTENDETH IN WORDS WITH BEOWULF.
Spake out then Unferth that bairn was of Ecglaf,
And he sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, 500
He unbound the battle-rune; was Beowulf’s faring,
Of him the proud mere-farer, mickle unliking,
Whereas he begrudg’d it of any man other
That he glories more mighty the middle-garth over
Should hold under heaven than he himself held:
Art thou that Beowulf who won strife with Breca
On the wide sea contending in swimming,
When ye two for pride’s sake search’d out the floods
And for a dolt’s cry into deep water
Thrust both your life-days? No man the twain of you, 510
Lief or loth were he, might lay wyte to stay you
Your sorrowful journey, when on the sea row’d ye;
Then when the ocean-stream ye with your arms deck’d,
Meted the mere-streets, there your hands brandish’d!
O’er the Spearman ye glided; the sea with waves welter’d,
The surge of the winter. Ye twain in the waves’ might
For a seven nights swink’d. He outdid thee in swimming,
And the more was his might; but him in the morn-tide
To the Heatho-Remes’ land the holm bore ashore.
And thence away sought he to his dear land and lovely, 520
The lief to his people sought the land of the Brondings,
The fair burg peace-warding, where he the folk owned,
The burg and the gold rings. What to theeward he boasted,
Beanstan’s son, for thee soothly he brought it about.
Now ween I for thee things worser than erewhile,
Though thou in the war-race wert everywhere doughty,
In the grim war, if thou herein Grendel darest
Night-long for a while of time nigh to abide.
Then Beowulf spake out, the Ecgtheow’s bairn:
What! thou no few of things, O Unferth my friend, 530
And thou drunken with beer, about Breca hast spoken,
Saidest out of his journey; so the sooth now I tell:
To wit, that the more might ever I owned,
Hard wearing on wave more than any man else.
We twain then, we quoth it, while yet we were younglings,
And we boasted between us, the twain of us being yet
In our youth-days, that we out onto the Spearman
Our lives would adventure; and e’en so we wrought It.
We had a sword naked, when on the sound row’d we,
Hard in hand, as we twain against the whale-fishes 540
Had mind to be warding us. No whit from me
In the waves of the sea-flood afar might he float
The hastier in holm, nor would I from him hie me.
Then we two together, we were in the sea
For a five nights, till us twain the flood drave asunder,
The weltering of waves. Then the coldest of weathers
In the dusking of night and the wind from the northward
Battle-grim turn’d against us, rough grown were the billows.
Of the mere-fishes then was the mood all up-stirred;
There me ‘gainst the loathly the body-sark mine, 550
The hard and the hand-lock’d, was framing me help,
My battle-rail braided, it lay on my breast
Gear’d graithly with gold. But me to the ground tugg’d
A foe and fiend-scather; fast he had me In hold
That grim one in grip: yet to me was it given.
That the wretch there, the monster, with point might I reach,
With my bill of the battle, and the war-race off bore
The mighty mere-beast through the hand that was mine.
X. BEOWULF MAKES AN END OF HIS TALE OF THE SWIMMING.
WEALHTHEOW, HROTHGAR’S QUEEN, GREETS HIM;
AND HROTHGAR DELIVERS TO HIM THE WARDING OF THE HALL.
Thus oft and oft over the doers of evil
They threatened me hard; thane-service I did them 560
With the dear sword of mine, as forsooth it was meet,
That nowise of their fill did they win them the joy
The evil fordoers in swallowing me down,
Sitting round at the feast nigh the ground of the sea.
Yea rather, a morning-tide, mangled by sword-edge
Along the waves’ leaving up there did they lie
Lull’d asleep with the sword, so that never sithence
About the deep floods for the farers o’er ocean
The way have they letted. Came the light from the eastward,
The bright beacon of God, and grew the seas calm, 570
So that the sea-nesses now might I look on,
The windy walls. Thuswise Weird oft will be saving
The earl that is unfey, when his valour availeth.
Whatever, it happ’d me that I with the sword slew
Nicors nine. Never heard I of fighting a night-tide
‘Neath the vault of the heavens was harder than that,
Nor yet on the sea-streams of woefuller wight.
Whatever, forth won I with life from the foes’ clutch
All of wayfaring weary. But me the sea upbore,
The flood downlong the tide with the weltering of waters, 580
All onto the Finnland. No whit of thee ever
Mid such strife of the battle-gear have I heard say,
Such terrors of bills. Nor never yet Breca
In the play of the battle, nor both you, nor either,
So dearly the deeds have framed forsooth
With the bright flashing swords; though of this naught I boast me.
But thou of thy brethren the banesman becamest,
Yea thine head-kin forsooth, for which in hell shalt thou
Dree weird of damnation, though doughty thy wit be;
For unto thee say I forsooth, son of Ecglaf, 590
That so many deeds never Grendel had done,
That monster the loathly, against thine own lord,
The shaming in Hart-hall, if suchwise thy mind were,
And thy soul e’en as battle-fierce, such as thou sayest.
But he, he hath fram’d it that the feud he may heed not,
The fearful edge-onset that is of thy folk,
Nor sore need be fearful of the Victory-Scyldings.
The need-pledges taketh he, no man he spareth
Of the folk of the Danes, driveth war as he lusteth,
Slayeth and feasteth unweening of strife 600
With them of the Spear-Danes. But I, I shall show it,
The Geats’ wightness and might ere the time weareth old,
Shall bide him in war-tide. Then let him go who may go
High-hearted to mead, sithence when the morn-light
O’er the children of men of the second day hence,
The sun clad in heaven’s air, shines from the southward.
Then merry of heart was the meter of treasures,
The hoary-man’d war-renown’d, help now he trow’d in;
The lord of the Bright-Danes on Beowulf hearken’d,
The folk-shepherd knew him, his fast-ready mind. 610
There was laughter of heroes, and high the din rang
And winsome the words were. Went Wealhtheow forth,
The Queen she of Hrothgar, of courtesies mindful,
The gold-array’d greeted the grooms in the hall,
The free and frank woman the beaker there wended,
And first to the East-Dane-folk’s fatherland’s warder,
And bade him be blithe at the drinking of beer,
To his people beloved, and lustily took he
The feast and the hall-cup, that victory-fam’d King.
Then round about went she, the Dame of the Helmings, 620
And to doughty and youngsome, each deal of the folk there,
Gave cups of the treasure, till now it betid
That to Beowulf duly the Queen the ring-dighted,
Of mind high uplifted, the mead-beaker bare.
Then she greeted the Geat-lord, and gave God the thank,
She, the wisefast In words, that the will had wax’d in her
In one man of the earls to have trusting and troth
For comfort from crimes. But the cup then he took,
The slaughter-fierce warrior, from Wealhtheow the Queen.
And then rim’d he the word, making ready for war, 630
And Beowulf spake forth, the Ecgtheow’s bairn:
E’en that in mind had I when up on holm strode I,
And in sea-boat sat down with a band of my men,
That for once and for all the will of your people
Would I set me to work, or on slaughter-field cringe
Fast in grip of the fiend; yea and now shall I frame
The valour of earl-folk, or else be abiding
The day of mine end, here down in the mead-hall.
To the wife those his words well liking they were,
The big word of the Geat; and the gold-adorn’d wended, 640
The frank and free Queen to sit by her lord.
And thereafter within the high hall was as erst
The proud word outspoken and bliss on the people,
Was the sound of the victory-folk, till on a sudden
The Healfdene’s son would now be a-seeking
His rest of the even: wotted he for the Evil
Within the high hall was the Hild-play bedight,
Sithence that the sun-light no more should they see,
When night should be darkening, and down over all
The shapes of the shadow-helms should be a-striding 650
Wan under the welkin. Uprose then all war-folk;
Then greeted the glad-minded one man the other,
Hrothgar to Beowulf, bidding him hail,
And the wine-hall to wield, and withal quoth the word:
Never to any man erst have I given,
Since the hand and the shield’s round aloft might I heave,
This high hall of the Dane-folk, save now unto thee.
Have now and hold the best of all houses,
Mind thee of fame, show the might of thy valour!
Wake the wroth one: no lack shall there be to thy willing 660
If that wight work thou win and life therewithal.
XI. NOW IS BEOWULF LEFT IN THE HALL ALONE WITH HIS MEN.
Then wended him Hrothgar with the band of his warriors,
The high-ward of the Scyldings from out of the hall,
For then would the war-lord go seek unto Wealhtheow
The Queen for a bed-mate. The glory of king-folk
Against Grendel had set, as men have heard say,
A hall-ward who held him a service apart
In the house of the Dane-lord, for eoten-ward held he.
Forsooth he, the Geat-lord, full gladly he trowed
In the might of his mood and the grace of the Maker. 670
Therewith he did off him his byrny of iron
And the helm from his head, and his dighted sword gave,
The best of all irons, to the thane that abode him,
And bade him to hold that harness of battle.
Bespake then the good one, a big word he gave out,
Beowulf the Geat, ere on the bed strode he:
Nowise in war I deem me more lowly
In the works of the battle than Grendel, I ween;
So not with the sword shall I lull him to slumber,
Or take his life thuswise, though to me were it easy; 680
Of that good wise he wots not, to get the stroke on me,
To hew on my shield, for as stark as he shall be
In the works of the foeman. So we twain a night-tide
Shall forgo the sword, if he dare yet to seek
The war without weapons. Sithence the wise God,
The Lord that is holy, on which hand soever
The glory may doom as due to him seemeth.
Bowed down then the war-deer, the cheek-bolster took
The face of the earl; and about him a many
Of sea-warriors bold to their hall-slumber bow’d them; 690
No one of them thought that thence away should he
Seek ever again to his home the beloved,
His folk or his free burg, where erst he was fed;
For of men had they learn’d that o’er mickle a many
In that wine-hall aforetime the fell death had gotten
Of the folk of the Danes; but the Lord to them gave it,
To the folk of the Weders, the web of war-speeding,
Help fair and good comfort, e’en so that their foeman
Through the craft of one man all they overcame,
By the self-might of one. So is manifest truth 700
That God the Almighty the kindred of men
Hath wielded wide ever. Now by wan night there came,
There strode in the shade-goer; slept there the shooters,
They who that horn-house should be a-holding,
All men but one man: to men was that known,
That them indeed might not, since will’d not the Maker,
The scather unceasing drag off ‘neath the shadow;
But he ever watching in wrath ‘gainst the wroth one
Mood-swollen abided the battle-mote ever.
XII. GRENDEL COMETH INTO HART:
OF THE STRIFE BETWIXT HIM AND BEOWULF.
Came then from the moor-land, all under the mist-bents, 710
Grendel a-going there, bearing God’s anger.
The scather the ill one was minded of mankind
To have one in his toils from the high hall aloft.
‘Neath the welkin he waded, to the place whence the wine-house,
The gold-hall of men, most yarely he wist
With gold-plates fair coloured; nor was it the first time
That he unto Hrothgar’s high home had betook him.
Never he in his life-days, either erst or thereafter,
Of warriors more hardy or hall-thanes had found.
Came then to the house the wight on his ways, 720
Of all joys bereft; and soon sprang the door open,
With fire-bands made fast, when with hand he had touch’d it;
Brake the bale-heedy, he with wrath bollen,
The mouth of the house there, and early thereafter
On the shiny-fleck’d floor thereof trod forth the fiend;
On went he then mood-wroth, and out from his eyes stood
Likest to fire-flame light full unfair.
In the high house beheld he a many of warriors,
A host of men sib all sleeping together,
Of man-warriors a heap; then laugh’d out his mood; 730
In mind deem’d he to sunder, or ever came day,
The monster, the fell one, from each of the men there
The life from the body; for befell him a boding
Of fulfilment of feeding: but weird now it was not
That he any more of mankind thenceforward
Should eat, that night over. Huge evil beheld then
The Hygelac’s kinsman, and how the foul scather
All with his fear-grips would fare there before him;
How never the monster was minded to tarry,
For speedily gat he, and at the first stour, 740
A warrior a-sleeping, and unaware slit him,
Bit his bone-coffer, drank blood a-streaming,
Great gobbets swallow’d in; thenceforth soon had he
Of the unliving one every whit eaten
To hands and feet even: then forth strode he nigher,
And took hold with his hand upon him the highhearted.
The warrior a-resting; reach’d out to himwards
The fiend with his hand, gat fast on him rathely
With thought of all evil, and besat him his arm.
Then swiftly was finding the herdsman of fouldeeds 750
That forsooth he had met not in Middle-garth ever,
In the parts of the earth, in any man else
A hand-grip more mighty; then wax’d he of mood
Heart-fearful, but none the more outward might he;
Hence-eager his heart was to the darkness to hie him,
And the devil-dray seek: not there was his service
E’en such as he found in his life-days before.
Then to heart laid the good one, the Hygelac’s kinsman,
His speech of the even-tide; uplong he stood
And fast with him grappled, till bursted his fingers. 760
The eoten was out-fain, but on strode the earl.
The mighty fiend minded was, whereso he might,
To wind him about more widely away thence,
And flee fenwards; he found then the might of his fingers
In the grip of the fierce one; sorry faring was that
Which he, the harm-scather, had taken to Hart.
The warrior-hall dinn’d now; unto all Danes there waxed,
To the castle-abiders, to each of the keen ones,
To all earls, as an ale-dearth. Now angry were both
Of the fierce mighty warriors, far rang out the hall-house; 770
Then mickle the wonder it was that the wine-hall
Withstood the two war-deer, nor welter’d to earth
The fair earthly dwelling; but all fast was it builded
Within and without with the banding of iron
By crafty thought smithy’d. But there from the sill bow’d
Fell many a mead-bench, by hearsay of mine,
With gold well adorned, where strove they the wrothful.
Hereof never ween’d they, the wise of the Scyldings,
That ever with might should any of men
The excellent, bone-dight, break into pieces, 780
Or unlock with cunning, save the light fire’s embracing
In smoke should it swallow. So uprose the roar
New and enough; now fell on the North-Danes
Ill fear and the terror, on each and on all men,
Of them who from wall-top hearken’d the weeping,
Even God’s foeman singing the fear-lay,
The triumphless song, and the wound-bewailing
Of the thrall of the Hell; for there now fast held him
He who of men of main was the mightiest
In that day which is told of, the day of this life. 790
XIII. BEOWULF HATH THE VICTORY:
GRENDEL IS HURT DEADLY
AND LEAVETH HAND AND ARM IN THE HALL.
Naught would the earls’ help for anything thenceforth
That murder-comer yet quick let loose of,
Nor his life-days forsooth to any of folk
Told he for useful. Out then drew full many
Of Beowult’s earls the heir-loom of old days,
For their lord and their master’s fair life would hey ward,
That mighty of princes, if so might they do it.
For this did they know not when they the strife dreed,
Those hardy-minded men of the battle,
And on every half there thought to be hewing, 800
And search out his soul, that the ceaseless scather
Not any on earth of the choice of all irons,
Not one of the war-bills, would greet home for ever.
For he had forsworn him from victory-weapons,
And each one of edges. But his sundering of soul
In the days that we tell of, the day of this life,
Should be weary and woeful, the ghost wending elsewhere
To the wielding of fiends to wend him afar.
Then found he out this, he who mickle erst made
Out of mirth of his mood unto children of men 810
And had fram’d many crimes, he the foeman of God,
That the body of him would not bide to avail him,
But the hardy of mood, even Hygelac’s kinsman,
Had him fast by the hand: now was each to the other
All loathly while living: his body-sore bided
The monster: was manifest now on his shoulder
The unceasing wound, sprang the sinews asunder,
The bone-lockers bursted. To Beowulf now
Was the battle-fame given; should Grendel thenceforth
Flee life-sick awayward and under the fen-bents 820
Seek his unmerry stead: now wist he more surely
That ended his life was, and gone over for ever,
His day-tale told out. But was for all Dane-folk
After that slaughter-race all their will done.
Then had he cleans’d for them, he the far-comer,
Wise and stout-hearted, the high hall of Hrothgar,
And say’d it from war. So the night-work he joy’d in
And his doughty deed done. Yea, but he for the East-Danes
That lord of the Geat-folk his boast’s end had gotten,
Withal their woes bygone all had he booted, 830
And the sorrow hate-fashion’d that afore they had dreed,
And the hard need and bitter that erst they must bear,
The sorrow unlittle. Sithence was clear token
When the deer of the battle laid down there the hand
The arm and the shoulder, and all there together
Of the grip of that Grendel ‘neath the great roof upbuilded.
XIV. THE DANES REJOICE;
THEY GO TO LOOK ON THE SLOT OF GRENDEL,
AND COME BACK TO HART, AND ON THE WAY MAKE MERRY
WITH RACING AND THE TELLING OF TALES.
There was then on the morning, as I have heard tell it,
Round the gift-hall a many of men of the warriors:
Were faring folk-leaders from far and from near
O’er the wide-away roads the wonder to look on, 840
The track of the loathly: his life-sundering nowise
Was deem’d for a sorrow to any of men there
Who gaz’d on the track of the gloryless wight;
How he all a-weary of mood thence awayward,
Brought to naught in the battle, to the mere of the nicors,
Now fey and forth-fleeing, his life-steps had flitted.
There all in the blood was the sea-brim a-welling,
The dread swing of the waves was washing all mingled
With hot blood; with the gore of the sword was it welling;
The death-doom’d had dyed it, sithence he unmerry 850
In his fen-hold had laid down the last of his life,
His soul of the heathen, and hell gat hold on him.
Thence back again far’d they those fellows of old,
With many a young one, from their wayfaring merry,
Full proud from the mere-side on mares there a-riding
The warriors on white steeds. There then was of Beowulf
Set forth the might mighty; oft quoth it a many
That nor northward nor southward beside the twin sea-floods,
Over all the huge earth’s face now never another,
Never under the heaven’s breadth, was there a better, 860
Nor of wielders of war-shields a worthier of kingship;
But neither their friendly lord blam’d they one whit,
Hrothgar the glad, for good of kings was he.
There whiles the warriors far-famed let leap
Their fair fallow horses and fare into flyting
Where unto them the earth-ways for fair-fashion’d seemed,
Through their choiceness well kenned; and whiles a king’s thane,
A warrior vaunt-laden, of lays grown bemindful,
E’en he who all many of tales of the old days
A multitude minded, found other words also 870
Sooth-bounden, and boldly the man thus began
E’en Beowulf’s wayfare well wisely to stir,
With good speed to set forth the spells well areded
And to shift about words. And well of all told he
That he of Sigemund erst had heard say,
Of the deeds of his might; and many things uncouth:
Of the strife of the Wжlsing and his wide wayfarings,
Of those that men’s children not well yet they wist,
The feud and the crimes, save Fitela with him;
Somewhat of such things yet would he say, 880
The eme to the nephew; e’en as they aye were
In all strife soever fellows full needful;
And full many had they of the kin of the eotens
Laid low with the sword. And to Sigemund upsprang
After his death-day fair doom unlittle
Sithence that the war-hard the Worm there had quelled,
The herd of the hoard; he under the hoar stone,
The bairn of the Atheling, all alone dar’d it,
That wight deed of deeds; with him Fitela was not.
But howe’er, his hap was that the sword so through-waded 890
The Worm the all-wondrous, that in the wall stood
The iron dear-wrought: and the drake died the murder.
There had the warrior so won by wightness,
That he of the ring-hoard the use might be having
All at his own will. The sea-boat he loaded,
And into the ship’s barm bore the bright fretwork
Wжls’ son. In the hotness the Worm was to-molten.
Now he of all wanderers was widely the greatest
Through the peoples of man-kind, the warder of warriors,
By mighty deeds; erst then and early he throve. 900
Now sithence the warfare of Heremod waned,
His might and his valour, amidst of the eotens
To the wielding of foemen straight was he betrayed,
And speedily sent forth: by the surges of sorrow
O’er-long was he lam’d, became he to his lieges,
To all of the athelings, a life-care thenceforward.
Withal oft bemoaned in times that were older
The ways of that stout heart many a carle of the wisest.
Who trow’d in him boldly for booting of bales,
And had look’d that the king’s bairn should ever be thriving, 910
His father’s own lordship should take, hold the folk,
The hoard and the ward-burg, and realm of the heroes,
The own land of the Scyldings. To all men was Beowulf,
The Hygelac’s kinsman to the kindred of menfolk,
More fair unto friends; but on Heremod crime fell.
So whiles the men flyting the fallow street there
With their mares were they meting. There then was the morn-light
Thrust forth and hasten’d; went many a warrior
All hardy of heart to the high hall aloft
The rare wonder to see; and the King’s self withal 920
From the bride-bower wended, the warder of ring-hoards,
All glorious he trod and a mickle troop had he,
He for choice ways beknown; and his Queen therewithal
Meted the mead-path with a meyny of maidens.
XV. KING HROTHGAR AND HIS THANES
LOOK ON THE ARM OF GRENDEL.
CONVERSE BETWIXT HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF
CONCERNING THE BATTLE.
Out then spake Hrothgar; for he to the hall went,
By the staple a-standing the steep roof he saw
Shining fair with the gold, and the hand there of Grendel:
For this sight that I see to the All-wielder thanks
Befall now forthwith, for foul evil I bided,
All griefs from this Grendel; but God, glory’s Herder, 930
Wonder on wonder ever can work.
Unyore was it then when I for myself
Might ween never more, wide all through my life-days,
Of the booting of woes; when all blood-besprinkled
The best of all houses stood sword-gory here;
Wide then had the woe thrust off each of the wise
Of them that were looking that never life-long
That land-work of the folk they might ward from the loathly,
From ill wights and devils. But now hath a warrior
Through the might of the Lord a deed made thereunto 940
Which we, and all we together, in nowise
By wisdom might work. What! well might be saying
That maid whosoever this son brought to birth
According to man’s kind, if yet she be living,
That the Maker of old time to her was all-gracious
In the bearing of bairns. O Beowulf, I now
Thee best of all men as a son unto me
Will love in my heart, and hold thou henceforward
Our kinship new-made now; nor to thee shall be lacking
As to longings of world-goods whereof I have wielding; 950
Full oft I for lesser things guerdon have given,
The worship of hoards, to a warrior was weaker,
A worser in strife. Now thyself for thyself
By deeds hast thou fram’d it that liveth thy fair fame
For ever and ever. So may the All-wielder
With good pay thee ever, as erst he hath done it.
Then Beowulf spake out, the Ecgtheow’s bairn:
That work of much might with mickle of love
We framed with fighting, and frowardly ventur’d
The might of the uncouth; now I would that rather 960
Thou mightest have look’d on the very man there,
The foe in his fret-gear all worn unto falling.
There him in all haste with hard griping did I
On the slaughter-bed deem it to bind him indeed,
That he for my hand-grip should have to be lying
All busy for life: but his body fled off.
Him then, I might not (since would not the Maker)
From his wayfaring sunder, nor naught so well sought I
The life-foe; o’er-mickle of might was he yet,
The foeman afoot: but his hand has he left us, 970
A life-ward, a-warding the ways of his wending,
His arm and his shoulder therewith. Yet in nowise
That wretch of the grooms any solace hath got him,
Nor longer will live the loathly deed-doer,
Beswinked with sins; for the sore hath him now
In the grip of need grievous, in strait hold togather’d
With bonds that be baleful: there shall he abide,
That wight dyed with all evil-deeds, the doom mickle,
For what wise to him the bright Maker will write it.
Then a silenter man was the son there of Ecglaf 980
In the speech of the boasting of works of the battle,
After when every atheling by craft of the earl
Over the high roof had look’d on the hand there,
Yea, the fiend’s fingers before his own eyen,
Each one of the nail-steads most like unto steel,
Hand-spur of the heathen one; yea, the own claw
Uncouth of the war-wight. But each one there quoth it,
That no iron of the best, of the hardy of folk,
Would touch him at all, which e’er of the monster
The battle-hand bloody might bear away thence. 990
XVI. HROTHGAR GIVETH GIFTS TO BEOWULF.
Then was speedily bidden that Hart be withinward
By hand of man well adorn’d; was there a many
Of warriors and wives, who straightway that wine-house
The guest-house, bedight them: there gold-shotten shone
The webs over the walls, many wonders to look on
For men every one who on such things will stare.
Was that building the bright all broken about
All withinward, though fast in the bands of the iron;
Asunder the hinges rent, only the roof there
Was saved all sound, when the monster of evil 1000
The guilty of crime-deeds had gat him to flight
Never hoping for life. Nay, lightly now may not
That matter be fled from, frame it whoso may frame it.
But by strife man shall win of the bearers of souls,
Of the children of men, compelled by need,
The abiders on earth, the place made all ready,
The stead where his body laid fast on his death-bed
Shall sleep after feast. Now time and place was it
When unto the hall went that Healfdene’s son,
And the King himself therein the feast should be sharing; 1010
Never heard I of men-folk in fellowship more
About their wealth-giver so well themselves bearing.
Then bow’d unto bench there the abounders in riches
And were fain of their fill. Full fairly there took
A many of mead-cups the kin of those men,
The sturdy of heart in the hall high aloft,
Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Hart there withinward
Of friends was fulfilled; naught there that was guilesome
The folk of the Scyldings for yet awhile framed.
Gave then to Beowulf Healfdene’s bairn 1020
A golden war-ensign, the victory’s guerdon,
A staff-banner fair-dight, a helm and a byrny:
The great jewel-sword a many men saw them
Bear forth to the hero. Then Beowulf took
The cup on the floor, and nowise of that fee-gift
Before the shaft-shooters the shame need he have.
Never heard I how friendlier four of the treasures,
All gear’d with the gold about, many men erewhile
On the ale-bench have given to others of men.
Round the roof of the helm, the burg of the head, 1030
A wale wound with wires held ward from without-ward,
So that the file-leavings might not over fiercely,
Were they never so shower-hard, scathe the shield-bold,
When he ‘gainst the angry in anger should get him.
Therewith bade the earls’ burg that eight of the horses
With cheek-plates adorned be led down the floor
In under the fences; on one thereof stood
A saddle all craft-bedeck’d, seemly with treasure.
That same was the war-seat of the high King full surely
Whenas that the sword-play that Healfdene’s son 1040
Would work; never failed in front of the war
The wide-kenn’d one’s war-might, whereas fell the slain.
So to Beowulf thereon of either of both
The Ingwines’ high warder gave wielding to have,
Both the war-steeds and weapons, and bade him well brook them.
Thuswise and so manly the mighty of princes,
Hoard-warden of heroes, the battle-race paid
With mares and with gems, so as no man shall blame them,
E’en he who will say sooth aright as it is.
XVII. THEY FEAST IN HART.
THE GLEEMAN SINGS OF FINN AND HENGEST.
Then the lord of the earl-folk to every and each one 1050
Of them who with Beowulf the sea-ways had worn
Then and there on the mead-bench did handsel them treasure,
An heir-loom to wit; for him also he bade it
That a were-gild be paid, whom Grendel aforetime
By wickedness quell’d, as far more of them would he,
Save from them God all-witting the weird away wended,
And that man’s mood withal. But the Maker all wielded
Of the kindred of mankind, as yet now he doeth.
Therefore through-witting will be the best everywhere
And the forethought of mind. Many things must abide 1060
Of lief and of loth, he who here a long while
In these days of the strife with the world shall be dealing.
There song was and sound all gather’d together
Of that Healfdene’s warrior and wielder of battle,
The wood of glee greeted, the lay wreaked often,
Whenas the hall-game the minstrel of Hrothgar
All down by the mead-bench tale must be making:
By Finn’s sons aforetime, when the fear gat them,
The hero of Half-Danes, Hnaef of the Scyldings,
On the slaughter-field Frisian needs must he fall. 1070
Forsooth never Hildeburh needed to hery
The troth of the Eotens; she all unsinning
Was lorne of her lief ones in that play of the linden,
Her bairns and her brethren, by fate there they fell
Spear-wounded. That was the all-woeful of women.
Not unduly without cause the daughter of Hoc
Mourn’d the Maker’s own shaping, sithence came the morn
When she under the heavens that tide came to see,
Murder-bale of her kinsmen, where most had she erewhile?
Of world’s bliss. The war-tide took all men away 1080
Of Finn’s thanes that were, save only a few;
E’en so that he might not on the field of the meeting
Hold Hengest a war-tide, or fight any whit,
Nor yet snatch away thence by war the woe-leavings
From the thane of the King; but terms now they bade him
That for them other stead all for all should make room,
A hall and high settle, whereof the half-wielding
They with the Eotens’ bairns henceforth might hold,
And with fee-gifts moreover the son of Folkwalda
Each day of the days the Danes should beworthy; 1090
The war-heap of Hengest with rings should he honour
Even so greatly with treasure of treasures,
Of gold all beplated, as he the kin Frisian
Down in the beer-hall duly should dight.
Troth then they struck there each of the two halves,
A peace-troth full fast. There Finn unto Hengest
Strongly, unstrifeful, with oath-swearing swore,
That he the woe-leaving by the doom of the wise ones
Should hold in ail honour, that never man henceforth
With word or with work the troth should be breaking, 1100
Nor through craft of the guileful should undo it ever,
Though their ring-giver’s bane they must follow in rank
All lordless, e’en so need is it to be:
But if any of Frisians by over-bold speaking
The murderful hatred should call unto mind,
Then naught but the edge of the sword should avenge it.
Then done was the oath there, and gold of the golden
Heav’d up from the hoard. Of the bold Here-Scyldings
All yare on the bale was the best battle-warrior;
On the death-howe beholden was easily there 1110
The sark stain’d with war-sweat, the all-golden swine,
The iron-hard boar; there was many an atheling
With wounds all outworn; some on slaughter-field welter’d.
But Hildeburh therewith on Hnжf’s bale she bade them
The own son of herself to set fast in the flame,
His bone-vats to burn up and lay on the bale there:
On his shoulder all woeful the woman lamented,
Sang songs of bewailing, as the warrior strode upward,
Wound up to the welkin that most of death-fires,
Before the howe howled; there molten the heads were, 1120
The wound-gates burst open, there blood was out-springing
From foe-bites of the body; the flame swallow’d all,
The greediest of ghosts, of them that war gat him
Of either of folks; shaken off was their life-breath.
XVIII. THE ENDING OF THE TALE OF FINN.
Departed the warriors their wicks to visit
All forlorn of their friends now, Friesland to look on,
Their homes and their high burg. Hengest a while yet
Through the slaughter-dyed winter bode dwelling with Finn
And all without strife: he remember’d his homeland,
Though never he might o’er the mere be a-driving 1130
The high prow be-ringed: with storm the holm welter’d,
Won war ‘gainst the winds; winter locked the waves
With bondage of ice, till again came another
Of years into the garth, as yet it is ever,
And the days which the season to watch never cease,
The glory-bright weather; then gone was the winter,
And fair was the earth’s barm. Now hastened the exile.
The guest from the garths; he on getting of vengeance
Of harms thought more greatly than of the sea’s highway,
If he but a wrath-mote might yet be a-wending 1140
Where the bairns of the Eotens might he still remember.
The ways of the world forwent he in nowise
Then, whenas Hunlafing the light of the battle,
The best of all bills, did into his breast,
Whereof mid the Eotens were the edges well knowen.
Withal to the bold-hearted Finn befell after
Sword-bales the deadly at his very own dwelling,
When the grim grip of war Guthlaf and Oslaf
After the sea-fare lamented with sorrow
And wyted him deal of their woes; nor then might he 1150
In his breast hold his wavering heart. Was the hall dight
With the lives of slain foemen, and slain eke was Finn
The King ‘midst of his court-men; and there the Queen, taken,
The shooters of the Scyldings ferry’d down to the sea-sh