By Anonymous

Markup by Students and Staff of Marymount University


Np: Manuscript, c.1100Text for this digital edition drawn from Lesslie Hall's translation from the Heyne-Socin Text on Project Gutenberg, marked up in XML. Hall's edition was originally published in 1892. Hall's notes and pagination have been removed; the sidenotes have been retained, with minor punctuation added for consistency.Online: University of Kentucky, 2015The Electronic Beowulf 4.0, edited by Kevin Kiernan and programmed by Ionut Emil Iacob, contains a transcription in Old English as well as digital facsimile page images of the Cotton MS, the only surviving manuscript copy of the poem, located in the British Library. The poem is thought to have been written down in 1100CE, but its date of composition is unclear.

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Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

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Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section.


Anonymous. Beowulf, Manuscript, c.1100 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. Accessed: 2024-05-26T14:20:36.723Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The famous race of Spear-Danes.

1Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements 2The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of, 3How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.

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

4Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers 5From many a people their mead-benches tore. 6Since first he found him friendless and wretched, 7The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it, 8Waxed ’neath the welkin, world-honor gained, 9Till all his neighbors o’er sea were compelled to 10Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute: 11An excellent atheling! After was borne him

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

12A son and heir, young in his dwelling, 13Whom God-Father sent to solace the people. 14He had marked the misery malice had caused them, 15That reaved of their rulers they wretched had erstwhile 16Long been afflicted. The Lord, in requital, 17Wielder of Glory, with world-honor blessed him. 18Famed was Beowulf, far spread the glory 19Of Scyld’s great son in the lands of the Danemen.

The ideal Teutonic king lavishes gifts on his vassals.

20So the carle that is young, by kindnesses rendered 21The friends of his father, with fees in abundance 22Must be able to earn that when age approacheth 23Eager companions aid him requitingly, 24When war assaults him serve him as liegemen: 25By praise-worthy actions must honor be got 26’Mong all of the races. At the hour that was fated

Scyld dies at the hour appointed by Fate.

27Scyld then departed to the All-Father’s keeping 28Warlike to wend him; away then they bare him 29To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades, 30As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings 31Word-sway wielded, and the well-lovèd land-prince 32Long did rule them. The ring-stemmèd vessel, 33Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor, 34Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing;

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

35The belovèd leader laid they down there, 36Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel, 37The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels, 38Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over, 39Was placed near at hand then; and heard I not ever 40That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly 41With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle, 42Bills and burnies; on his bosom sparkled 43Many a jewel that with him must travel 44On the flush of the flood afar on the current. 45And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly, 46Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him

He leaves Daneland on the breast of a bark.

47Who when first he was born outward did send him 48Lone on the main, the merest of infants: 49And a gold-fashioned standard they stretched under heaven 50High o’er his head, let the holm-currents bear him, 51Seaward consigned him: sad was their spirit, 52Their mood very mournful. Men are not able

No one knows whither the boat drifted.

53Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside, 54Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied.

Beowulf succeeds his father Scyld

1In the boroughs then Beowulf, bairn of the Scyldings, 2Belovèd land-prince, for long-lasting season 3Was famed mid the folk (his father departed, 4The prince from his dwelling), till afterward sprang 5Great-minded Healfdene; the Danes in his lifetime 6He graciously governed, grim-mooded, agèd.

Healfdene’s birth.

7Four bairns of his body born in succession 8Woke in the world, war-troopers’ leader 9Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good; 10Heard I that Elan was Ongentheow’s consort,

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

11The well-beloved bedmate of the War-Scylfing leader. 12Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, 13Waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen 14Obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, 15A numerous band. It burned in his spirit 16To urge his folk to found a great building, 17A mead-hall grander than men of the era

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

18Ever had heard of, and in it to share 19With young and old all of the blessings 20The Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers. 21Then the work I find afar was assigned 22To many races in middle-earth’s regions, 23To adorn the great folk-hall. In due time it happened 24Early ’mong men, that ’twas finished entirely, 25The greatest of hall-buildings; Heorot he named it

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

26Who wide-reaching word-sway wielded ’mong earlmen. 27His promise he brake not, rings he lavished, 28Treasure at banquet. Towered the hall up 29High and horn-crested, huge between antlers: 30It battle-waves bided, the blasting fire-demon; 31Ere long then from hottest hatred must sword-wrath 32Arise for a woman’s husband and father. 33Then the mighty war-spirit endured for a season,

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

34Bore it bitterly, he who bided in darkness, 35That light-hearted laughter loud in the building 36Greeted him daily; there was dulcet harp-music, 37Clear song of the singer. He said that was able

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

38To tell from of old earthmen’s beginnings, 39That Father Almighty earth had created, 40The winsome wold that the water encircleth, 41Set exultingly the sun’s and the moon’s beams 42To lavish their lustre on land-folk and races, 43And earth He embellished in all her regions 44With limbs and leaves; life He bestowed too 45On all the kindreds that live under heaven.

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

46So blessed with abundance, brimming with joyance, 47The warriors abided, till a certain one gan to 48Dog them with deeds of direfullest malice, 49A foe in the hall-building: this horrible stranger 50Was Grendel entitled, the march-stepper famous 51Who dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness; 52The wan-mooded being abode for a season 53In the land of the giants, when the Lord and Creator 54Had banned him and branded. For that bitter murder, 55The killing of Abel, all-ruling Father

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

56The kindred of Cain crushed with His vengeance; 57In the feud He rejoiced not, but far away drove him 58From kindred and kind, that crime to atone for, 59Meter of Justice. Thence ill-favored creatures, 60Elves and giants, monsters of ocean, 61Came into being, and the giants that longtime 62Grappled with God; He gave them requital.

Grendel attacks the sleeping heroes

1When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit 2The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used it 3For beds and benches when the banquet was over. 4Then he found there reposing many a noble 5Asleep after supper; sorrow the heroes, 6Misery knew not. The monster of evil 7Greedy and cruel tarried but little,

He drags off thirty of them, and devours them

8Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers 9Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed 10Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to, 11With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward. 12In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking, 13Was Grendel’s prowess revealed to the warriors:

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

14Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted, 15Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous, 16The long-worthy atheling, sat very woful, 17Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen, 18When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer, 19The spirit accursèd: too crushing that sorrow,

The monster returns the next night.

20Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried, 21But one night after continued his slaughter 22Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little 23From malice and murder; they mastered him fully. 24He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for 25A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges, 26A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice 27Told him truly by token apparent 28The hall-thane’s hatred: he held himself after 29Further and faster who the foeman did baffle. 30So ruled he and strongly strove against justice 31Lone against all men, till empty uptowered

King Hrothgar’s agony and suspense last twelve years.

32The choicest of houses. Long was the season: 33Twelve-winters’ time torture suffered 34The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction, 35Endless agony; hence it after became 36Certainly known to the children of men 37Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar 38Grendel struggled:—his grudges he cherished, 39Murderous malice, many a winter, 40Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he 41Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of 42The men of the Dane-folk, for money to settle, 43No counsellor needed count for a moment 44On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer;

Grendel is unremitting in his persecutions.

45The monster of evil fiercely did harass, 46The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger, 47Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then 48The mist-covered moor-fens; men do not know where 49Witches and wizards wander and ramble. 50So the foe of mankind many of evils 51Grievous injuries, often accomplished, 52Horrible hermit; Heort he frequented, 53Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen

God is against the monster.

54(Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch, 55The light-flashing jewel, love of Him knew not). 56’Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings

The king and his council deliberate in vain.

57Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private 58Sat the king in his council; conference held they 59What the braves should determine ’gainst terrors unlooked for.

They invoke the aid of their gods.

60At the shrines of their idols often they promised 61Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they 62The devil from hell would help them to lighten 63Their people’s oppression. Such practice they used then, 64Hope of the heathen; hell they remembered 65In innermost spirit, God they knew not,

The true God they do not know.

66Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler, 67No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven, 68The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who 69Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to 70The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for, 71Wax no wiser; well for the man who, 72Living his life-days, his Lord may face 73And find defence in his Father’s embrace!

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

1So Healfdene’s kinsman constantly mused on 2His long-lasting sorrow; the battle-thane clever 3Was not anywise able evils to ’scape from: 4Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people, 5Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture,

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

6Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac’s liegeman, 7Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel’s achievements 8Heard in his home: of heroes then living 9He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble. 10He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty; 11He said he the war-king would seek o’er the ocean, 12The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers. 13For the perilous project prudent companions 14Chided him little, though loving him dearly; 15They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.

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

16The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen 17Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them 18Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions 19The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them, 20A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country. 21Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water, 22The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then 23Well-equipped warriors: the wave-currents twisted 24The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried 25On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels, 26Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then, 27Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.

The vessel sails like a bird

28The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze, 29Likest a bird, glided the waters,

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

30Till twenty and four hours thereafter 31The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance 32That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments, 33The sea cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains, 34Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits 35At the end of the ocean. Up thence quickly 36The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland, 37Fastened their vessel (battle weeds rattled, 38War burnies clattered), the Wielder they thanked 39That the ways o’er the waters had waxen so gentle.

They are hailed by the Danish coast guard

40Then well from the cliff edge the guard of the Scyldings 41Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o’er the gangway 42Brave ones bearing beauteous targets, 43Armor all ready, anxiously thought he, 44Musing and wondering what men were approaching. 45High on his horse then Hrothgar’s retainer 46Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished 47His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness.

His challenge

48“Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors 49Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving 50A high riding ship o’er the shoals of the waters, 51And hither ’neath helmets have hied o’er the ocean? 52I have been strand-guard, standing as warden, 53Lest enemies ever anywise ravage 54Danish dominions with army of war-ships. 55More boldly never have warriors ventured 56Hither to come; of kinsmen’s approval, 57Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely

He is struck by Beowulf’s appearance.

58Nothing have known. Never a greater one 59Of earls o’er the earth have I had a sight of 60Than is one of your number, a hero in armor; 61No low-ranking fellow adorned with his weapons, 62But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving, 63And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey 64As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings 65And farther fare, I fully must know now 66What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers, 67Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion 68Hear ye and hearken: haste is most fitting 69Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from.”

Beowulf courteously replies.

1The chief of the strangers rendered him answer, 2War-troopers’ leader, and word-treasure opened:

We are Geats.

3“We are sprung from the lineage of the people of Geatland, 4And Higelac’s hearth-friends. To heroes unnumbered

My father Ecgtheow was well-known in his day.

5My father was known, a noble head-warrior 6Ecgtheow titled; many a winter 7He lived with the people, ere he passed on his journey, 8Old from his dwelling; each of the counsellors 9Widely mid world-folk well remembers him.

Our intentions towards King Hrothgar are of the kindest.

10We, kindly of spirit, the lord of thy people, 11The son of King Healfdene, have come here to visit, 12Folk-troop’s defender: be free in thy counsels! 13To the noble one bear we a weighty commission, 14The helm of the Danemen; we shall hide, I ween,

Is it true that a monster is slaying Danish heroes?

15Naught of our message. Thou know’st if it happen, 16As we soothly heard say, that some savage despoiler, 17Some hidden pursuer, on nights that are murky 18By deeds very direful ’mid the Danemen exhibits 19Hatred unheard of, horrid destruction 20And the falling of dead. From feelings least selfish

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

21I am able to render counsel to Hrothgar, 22How he, wise and worthy, may worst the destroyer, 23If the anguish of sorrow should ever be lessened, 24Comfort come to him, and care-waves grow cooler, 25Or ever hereafter he agony suffer 26And troublous distress, while towereth upward 27The handsomest of houses high on the summit.”

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

28Bestriding his stallion, the strand-watchman answered, 29The doughty retainer: “The difference surely 30’Twixt words and works, the warlike shield-bearer 31Who judgeth wisely well shall determine. 32This band, I hear, beareth no malice

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

33To the prince of the Scyldings. Pass ye then onward 34With weapons and armor. I shall lead you in person; 35To my war-trusty vassals command I shall issue 36To keep from all injury your excellent vessel,

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

37Your fresh-tarred craft, ’gainst every opposer 38Close by the sea-shore, till the curved-neckèd bark shall 39Waft back again the well-beloved hero 40O’er the way of the water to Weder dominions.

He again compliments Beowulf.

41To warrior so great ’twill be granted sure 42In the storm of strife to stand secure.” 43Onward they fared then (the vessel lay quiet, 44The broad-bosomed bark was bound by its cable, 45Firmly at anchor); the boar-signs glistened 46Bright on the visors vivid with gilding, 47Blaze-hardened, brilliant; the boar acted warden. 48The heroes hastened, hurried the liegemen,

The land is perhaps rolling.

49Descended together, till they saw the great palace, 50The well-fashioned wassail-hall wondrous and gleaming:

Heorot flashes on their view.

51’Mid world-folk and kindreds that was widest reputed 52Of halls under heaven which the hero abode in; 53Its lustre enlightened lands without number. 54Then the battle-brave hero showed them the glittering 55Court of the bold ones, that they easily thither 56Might fare on their journey; the aforementioned warrior 57Turning his courser, quoth as he left them:

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

58“’Tis time I were faring; Father Almighty 59Grant you His grace, and give you to journey 60Safe on your mission! To the sea I will get me 61’Gainst hostile warriors as warden to stand.”
VI. BEOWULF INTRODUCES HIMSELF AT THE PALACE. 1The highway glistened with many-hued pebble, 2A by-path led the liegemen together. 3Firm and hand-locked the war-burnie glistened, 4The ring-sword radiant rang ’mid the armor 5As the party was approaching the palace together

They set their arms and armor against the wall.

6In warlike equipments. ’Gainst the wall of the building 7Their wide-fashioned war-shields they weary did set then, 8Battle-shields sturdy; benchward they turned then; 9Their battle-sarks rattled, the gear of the heroes; 10The lances stood up then, all in a cluster, 11The arms of the seamen, ashen-shafts mounted 12With edges of iron: the armor-clad troopers

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

13Were decked with weapons. Then a proud-mooded hero 14Asked of the champions questions of lineage: 15“From what borders bear ye your battle-shields plated, 16Gilded and gleaming, your gray-colored burnies, 17Helmets with visors and heap of war-lances?— 18To Hrothgar the king I am servant and liegeman. 19’Mong folk from far-lands found I have never

He expresses no little admiration for the strangers.

20Men so many of mien more courageous. 21I ween that from valor, nowise as outlaws, 22But from greatness of soul ye sought for King Hrothgar.”

Beowulf replies.

23Then the strength-famous earlman answer rendered, 24The proud-mooded Wederchief replied to his question,

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

25Hardy ’neath helmet: “Higelac’s mates are we; 26Beowulf hight I. To the bairn of Healfdene, 27The famous folk-leader, I freely will tell 28To thy prince my commission, if pleasantly hearing 29He’ll grant we may greet him so gracious to all men.” 30Wulfgar replied then (he was prince of the Wendels, 31His boldness of spirit was known unto many, 32His prowess and prudence): “The prince of the Scyldings,

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

33The friend-lord of Danemen, I will ask of thy journey, 34The giver of rings, as thou urgest me do it, 35The folk-chief famous, and inform thee early 36What answer the good one mindeth to render me.” 37He turned then hurriedly where Hrothgar was sitting, 38Old and hoary, his earlmen attending him; 39The strength-famous went till he stood at the shoulder 40Of the lord of the Danemen, of courteous thanemen 41The custom he minded. Wulfgar addressed then 42His friendly liegelord: “Folk of the Geatmen

He thereupon urges his liegelord to receive the visitors courteously.

43O’er the way of the waters are wafted hither, 44Faring from far-lands: the foremost in rank 45The battle-champions Beowulf title. 46They make this petition: with thee, O my chieftain, 47To be granted a conference; O gracious King Hrothgar, 48Friendly answer refuse not to give them!

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

49In war-trappings weeded worthy they seem 50Of earls to be honored; sure the atheling is doughty 51Who headed the heroes hitherward coming.”

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

1Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings: 2“I remember this man as the merest of striplings. 3His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled, 4Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his 5One only daughter; his battle-brave son 6Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend. 7Seafaring sailors asserted it then,

Beowulf is reported to have the strength of thirty men.

8Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen carried 9As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men’s grapple 10Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

God hath sent him to our rescue.

11The holy Creator usward sent him, 12To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render 13’Gainst Grendel’s grimness gracious assistance: 14I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage. 15Hasten to bid them hither to speed them, 16To see assembled this circle of kinsmen; 17Tell them expressly they’re welcome in sooth to 18The men of the Danes.” To the door of the building

Wulfgar invites the strangers in.

19Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted: 20“My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you, 21The East-Danes’ atheling, that your origin knows he, 22And o’er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither, 23Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter 24Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets, 25To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle-boards, 26Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring.” 27The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman, 28An excellent thane-group; some there did await them, 29And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded. 30Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them, 31’Neath Heorot’s roof; the high-minded went then 32Sturdy ’neath helmet till he stood in the building. 33Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten, 34His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman):

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

35“Hail thou, Hrothgar! I am Higelac’s kinsman 36And vassal forsooth; many a wonder 37I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel, 38In far-off fatherland I fully did know of: 39Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth, 40Excellent edifice, empty and useless 41To all the earlmen after evenlight’s glimmer 42’Neath heaven’s bright hues hath hidden its glory. 43This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them, 44Carles very clever, to come and assist thee, 45Folk-leader Hrothgar; fully they knew of

His fight with the nickers.

46The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me 47When I came from the contest, when covered with gore 48Foes I escaped from, where five I had bound, 49The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying 50The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows, 51The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered) 52Enemies ravaged; alone now with Grendel

He intends to fight Grendel unaided.

53I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil, 54The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore 55Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain, 56Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition: 57Not to refuse me, defender of warriors, 58Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee, 59That I may unaided, my earlmen assisting me, 60This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot. 61I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature

Since the monster uses no weapons,

62From veriest rashness recks not for weapons; 63I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious, 64My liegelord belovèd, lenient of spirit, 65To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target, 66A shield to the onset; only with hand-grip

I, too, shall disdain to use any.

67The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then, 68Foeman with foeman; he fain must rely on 69The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of.

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

70I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle, 71To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk, 72Boldly to swallow them, as of yore he did often 73The best of the Hrethmen! Thou needest not trouble 74A head-watch to give me; he will have me dripping

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

75And dreary with gore, if death overtake me, 76Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me, 77The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity, 78Marking the moor-fens; no more wilt thou need then

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

79Find me my food. If I fall in the battle, 80Send to Higelac the armor that serveth 81To shield my bosom, the best of equipments, 82Richest of ring-mails; ’tis the relic of Hrethla,

Weird is supreme

83The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go!”

Hrothgar responds.

1Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings: 2“To defend our folk and to furnish assistance, 3Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf.

Reminiscences of Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow.

4The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in, 5Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict 6’Mid Wilfingish warriors; then the Wederish people 7For fear of a feud were forced to disown him. 8Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes, 9The race of the Scyldings, o’er the roll of the waters; 10I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen, 11The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth, 12Rich in its jewels: dead was Heregar, 13My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken, 14Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am! 15That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded; 16O’er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent 17Ornaments old; oaths did he swear me.

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

18It pains me in spirit to any to tell it, 19What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me, 20What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing. 21Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop; 22Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel. 23God can easily hinder the scather 24From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer

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

25O’er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor 26They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches 27A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges. 28Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking, 29The building was bloody at breaking of daylight, 30The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied, 31The folk-hall was gory: I had fewer retainers, 32Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of.

Sit down to the feast, and give us comfort.

33Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes, 34Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee!”

A bench is made ready for Beowulf and his party.

35For the men of the Geats then together assembled, 36In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready; 37There warlike in spirit they went to be seated, 38Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service, 39Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum,

The gleeman sings

40And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom

The heroes all rejoice together.

41Hearty in Heorot; there was heroes’ rejoicing, 42A numerous war-band of Weders and Danemen.

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

1Unferth spoke up, Ecglaf his son, 2Who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, 3Opened the jousting (the journey of Beowulf, 4Sea-farer doughty, gave sorrow to Unferth 5And greatest chagrin, too, for granted he never 6That any man else on earth should attain to, 7Gain under heaven, more glory than he):

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

8“Art thou that Beowulf with Breca did struggle, 9On the wide sea-currents at swimming contended, 10Where to humor your pride the ocean ye tried,

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

11From vainest vaunting adventured your bodies 12In care of the waters? And no one was able 13Nor lief nor loth one, in the least to dissuade you 14Your difficult voyage; then ye ventured a-swimming, 15Where your arms outstretching the streams ye did cover, 16The mere-ways measured, mixing and stirring them, 17Glided the ocean; angry the waves were, 18With the weltering of winter. In the water’s possession, 19Ye toiled for a seven-night; he at swimming outdid thee, 20In strength excelled thee. Then early at morning 21On the Heathoremes’ shore the holm-currents tossed him, 22Sought he thenceward the home of his fathers, 23Beloved of his liegemen, the land of the Brondings, 24The peace-castle pleasant, where a people he wielded, 25Had borough and jewels. The pledge that he made thee

Breca outdid you entirely.

26The son of Beanstan hath soothly accomplished. 27Then I ween thou wilt find thee less fortunate issue,

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

28Though ever triumphant in onset of battle, 29A grim grappling, if Grendel thou darest 30For the space of a night near-by to wait for!”

Beowulf retaliates.

31Beowulf answered, offspring of Ecgtheow: 32“My good friend Unferth, sure freely and wildly,

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

33Thou fuddled with beer of Breca hast spoken, 34Hast told of his journey! A fact I allege it, 35That greater strength in the waters I had then, 36Ills in the ocean, than any man else had. 37We made agreement as the merest of striplings 38Promised each other (both of us then were

We simply kept an engagement made in early life.

39Younkers in years) that we yet would adventure 40Out on the ocean; it all we accomplished. 41While swimming the sea-floods, sword-blade unscabbarded 42Boldly we brandished, our bodies expected 43To shield from the sharks. He sure was unable

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

44To swim on the waters further than I could, 45More swift on the waves, nor would I from him go. 46Then we two companions stayed in the ocean

After five days the currents separated us.

47Five nights together, till the currents did part us, 48The weltering waters, weathers the bleakest, 49And nethermost night, and the north-wind whistled 50Fierce in our faces; fell were the billows. 51The mere fishes’ mood was mightily ruffled: 52And there against foemen my firm-knotted corslet, 53Hand-jointed, hardy, help did afford me; 54My battle-sark braided, brilliantly gilded,

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

55Lay on my bosom. To the bottom then dragged me, 56A hateful fiend-scather, seized me and held me, 57Grim in his grapple: ’twas granted me, nathless, 58To pierce the monster with the point of my weapon, 59My obedient blade; battle offcarried 60The mighty mere-creature by means of my hand-blow.
X. BEOWULF SILENCES UNFERTH.—GLEE IS HIGH. 1“So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me 2Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance,

My dear sword always served me faithfully.

3With my dear-lovèd sword, as in sooth it was fitting; 4They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly, 5Ill-doers evil, of eating my body, 6Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean; 7But wounded with edges early at morning 8They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean,

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

9Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers 10No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing 11The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east, 12God’s beautiful beacon; the billows subsided, 13That well I could see the nesses projecting,

Fortune helps the brave earl.

14The blustering crags. Weird often saveth 15The undoomed hero if doughty his valor! 16But me did it fortune to fell with my weapon 17Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder 18’Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely, 19Nor of wight more woful in the waves of the ocean; 20Yet I ’scaped with my life the grip of the monsters,

After that escape I drifted to Finland.

21Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me 22To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current,

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

23The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me 24Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth, 25And of sword-terror none; never hath Breca 26At the play of the battle, nor either of you two, 27Feat so fearless performèd with weapons 28Glinting and gleaming . . . . . . . . . . . . 29. . . . . . . . . . . . I utter no boasting;

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

30Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers, 31Thy nearest of kin; thou needs must in hell get 32Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom. 33I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf, 34Never had Grendel such numberless horrors, 35The direful demon, done to thy liegelord, 36Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy,

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

37Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them. 38He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred, 39The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred, 40Of the Victory-Scyldings, need little dismay him: 41Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares

The monster is not afraid of the Danes,

42Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure, 43Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth

but he will soon learn to dread the Geats.

44From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor 45Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture 46To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able 47Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning

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

48Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes, 49O’er children of men shines from the southward!” 50Then the gray-haired, war-famed giver of treasure

Hrothgar’s spirits are revived.

51Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright-Danish ruler 52Expected assistance; the people’s protector

The old king trusts Beowulf. The heroes are joyful.

53Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution. 54There was laughter of heroes; loud was the clatter, 55The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then,

Queen Wealhtheow plays the hostess.

56Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful, 57Gold-decked saluted the men in the building, 58And the freeborn woman the beaker presented

She offers the cup to her husband first.

59To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes, 60Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing, 61Lief to his liegemen; he lustily tasted 62Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler. 63The Helmingish lady then graciously circled 64’Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater:

She gives presents to the heroes.

65Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded 66That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen

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

67Might bear to Beowulf the bumper o’errunning; 68She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank, 69Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished, 70That in any of earlmen she ever should look for 71Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker, 72Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow’s giving,

Beowulf states to the queen the object of his visit.

73Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures, 74Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow: 75“I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean,

I determined to do or die.

76When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen, 77I would work to the fullest the will of your people 78Or in foe’s-clutches fastened fall in the battle. 79Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess, 80Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall.” 81These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing, 82The boast of the Geatman; with gold trappings broidered 83Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by.

Glee is high.

84Then again as of yore was heard in the building 85Courtly discussion, conquerors’ shouting, 86Heroes were happy, till Healfdene’s son would 87Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing; 88For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he 89A fight was determined, since the light of the sun they 90No longer could see, and lowering darkness 91O’er all had descended, and dark under heaven 92Shadowy shapes came shying around them.

Hrothgar retires, leaving Beowulf in charge of the hall.

93The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other, 94Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures, 95Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving 96To his care and keeping, quoth he departing: 97“Not to any one else have I ever entrusted, 98But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen, 99Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler. 100Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses; 101Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess, 102Watch ’gainst the foeman! Thou shalt want no enjoyments, 103Survive thou safely adventure so glorious!”

Hrothgar retires.

1Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him, 2Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building; 3The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for, 4The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel

God has provided a watch for the hall.

5The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch, 6As men heard recounted: for the king of the Danemen 7He did special service, gave the giant a watcher: 8And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted

Beowulf is self-confident

9His warlike strength and the Wielder’s protection.

He prepares for rest.

10His armor of iron off him he did then, 11His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed 12His chased-handled chain-sword, choicest of weapons, 13And bade him bide with his battle-equipments. 14The good one then uttered words of defiance, 15Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted:

Beowulf boasts of his ability to cope with Grendel.

16“I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess, 17In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself; 18Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber, 19Of life to bereave him, though well I am able.

We will fight with nature’s weapons only.

20No battle-skill has he, that blows he should strike me, 21To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty 22In strife and destruction; but struggling by night we 23Shall do without edges, dare he to look for 24Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father 25The glory apportion, God ever-holy,

God may decide who shall conquer

26On which hand soever to him seemeth proper.” 27Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber, 28The pillow received the cheek of the noble;

The Geatish warriors lie down.

29And many a martial mere-thane attending 30Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely

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

31That ever thereafter any should hope to 32Be happy at home, hero-friends visit 33Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood; 34They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall, 35Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings

But God raised up a deliverer.

36Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted 37The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes 38Aid and comfort, that every opponent 39By one man’s war-might they worsted and vanquished,

God rules the world.

40By the might of himself; the truth is established 41That God Almighty hath governed for ages 42Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid

Grendel comes to Heorot.

43The trav’ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding. 44The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building,

Only one warrior is awake.

45One only excepted. ’Mid earthmen ’twas ’stablished, 46Th’ implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them 47To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling; 48But serving as warder, in terror to foemen, 49He angrily bided the issue of battle.

Grendel comes from the fens.

1’Neath the cloudy cliffs came from the moor then 2Grendel going, God’s anger bare he. 3The monster intended some one of earthmen 4In the hall-building grand to entrap and make way with:

He goes towards the joyous building.

5He went under welkin where well he knew of 6The wine-joyous building, brilliant with plating, 7Gold-hall of earthmen. Not the earliest occasion

This was not his first visit there.

8He the home and manor of Hrothgar had sought: 9Ne’er found he in life-days later nor earlier 10Hardier hero, hall-thanes more sturdy! 11Then came to the building the warrior marching,

His horrid fingers tear the door open.

12Bereft of his joyance. The door quickly opened 13On fire-hinges fastened, when his fingers had touched it; 14The fell one had flung then—his fury so bitter— 15Open the entrance. Early thereafter 16The foeman trod the shining hall-pavement,

He strides furiously into the hall.

17Strode he angrily; from the eyes of him glimmered 18A lustre unlovely likest to fire. 19He beheld in the hall the heroes in numbers, 20A circle of kinsmen sleeping together,

He exults over his supposed prey.

21A throng of thanemen: then his thoughts were exultant, 22He minded to sunder from each of the thanemen 23The life from his body, horrible demon, 24Ere morning came, since fate had allowed him

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

25The prospect of plenty. Providence willed not 26To permit him any more of men under heaven 27To eat in the night-time. Higelac’s kinsman 28Great sorrow endured how the dire-mooded creature 29In unlooked-for assaults were likely to bear him. 30No thought had the monster of deferring the matter,

Grendel immediately seizes a sleeping warrior, and devours him.

31But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of 32A soldier asleep, suddenly tore him, 33Bit his bone-prison, the blood drank in currents, 34Swallowed in mouthfuls: he soon had the dead man’s 35Feet and hands, too, eaten entirely. 36Nearer he strode then, the stout-hearted warrior

Beowulf and Grendel grapple.

37Snatched as he slumbered, seizing with hand-grip, 38Forward the foeman foined with his hand; 39Caught he quickly the cunning deviser, 40On his elbow he rested. This early discovered 41The master of malice, that in middle-earth’s regions, 42’Neath the whole of the heavens, no hand-grapple greater

The monster is amazed at Beowulf’s strength.

43In any man else had he ever encountered: 44Fearful in spirit, faint-mooded waxed he, 45Not off could betake him; death he was pondering,

He is anxious to flee.

46Would fly to his covert, seek the devils’ assembly: 47His calling no more was the same he had followed 48Long in his lifetime. The liege-kinsman worthy

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

49Of Higelac minded his speech of the evening, 50Stood he up straight and stoutly did seize him. 51His fingers crackled; the giant was outward, 52The earl stepped farther. The famous one minded 53To flee away farther, if he found an occasion, 54And off and away, avoiding delay, 55To fly to the fen-moors; he fully was ware of 56The strength of his grapple in the grip of the foeman.

’Twas a luckless day for Grendel.

57’Twas an ill-taken journey that the injury-bringing, 58Harrying harmer to Heorot wandered:

The hall groans.

59The palace re-echoed; to all of the Danemen, 60Dwellers in castles, to each of the bold ones, 61Earlmen, was terror. Angry they both were, 62Archwarders raging. Rattled the building; 63’Twas a marvellous wonder that the wine-hall withstood then 64The bold-in-battle, bent not to earthward, 65Excellent earth-hall; but within and without it 66Was fastened so firmly in fetters of iron, 67By the art of the armorer. Off from the sill there 68Bent mead-benches many, as men have informed me, 69Adorned with gold-work, where the grim ones did struggle. 70The Scylding wise men weened ne’er before 71That by might and main-strength a man under heaven 72Might break it in pieces, bone-decked, resplendent, 73Crush it by cunning, unless clutch of the fire 74In smoke should consume it. The sound mounted upward

Grendel’s cries terrify the Danes.

75Novel enough; on the North Danes fastened 76A terror of anguish, on all of the men there 77Who heard from the wall the weeping and plaining, 78The song of defeat from the foeman of heaven, 79Heard him hymns of horror howl, and his sorrow 80Hell-bound bewailing. He held him too firmly 81Who was strongest of main-strength of men of that era.

Beowulf has no idea of letting Grendel live.

1For no cause whatever would the earlmen’s defender 2Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer, 3He deemed his existence utterly useless 4To men under heaven. Many a noble 5Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old, 6Would guard the life of his lord and protector, 7The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so; 8While waging the warfare, this wist they but little, 9Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending

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

10To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit: 11That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons 12Of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills 13Was willing to injure; but weapons of victory 14Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with. 15His death at that time must prove to be wretched, 16And the far-away spirit widely should journey 17Into enemies’ power. This plainly he saw then 18Who with mirth of mood malice no little 19Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen 20(To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him, 21But Higelac’s hardy henchman and kinsman 22Held him by the hand; hateful to other

Grendel is sorely wounded.

23Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered 24The direful demon, damage incurable

His body bursts.

25Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered, 26His body did burst. To Beowulf was given 27Glory in battle; Grendel from thenceward 28Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes, 29Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for 30Unwinsome and woful; he wist the more fully

The monster flees away to hide in the moors.

31The end of his earthly existence was nearing, 32His life-days’ limits. At last for the Danemen, 33When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished. 34The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil, 35Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar, 36Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work, 37In repute for prowess; the prince of the Geatmen 38For the East-Danish people his boast had accomplished, 39Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully, 40The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered 41And were forced to endure from crushing oppression, 42Their manifold misery. ’Twas a manifest token,

Beowulf suspends Grendel’s hand and arm in Heorot.

43When the hero-in-battle the hand suspended, 44The arm and the shoulder (there was all of the claw 45Of Grendel together) ’neath great-stretching hall-roof.

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

1In the mist of the morning many a warrior 2Stood round the gift-hall, as the story is told me: 3Folk-princes fared then from far and from near 4Through long-stretching journeys to look at the wonder, 5The footprints of the foeman. Few of the warriors

Few warriors lamented Grendel’s destruction.

6Who gazed on the foot-tracks of the inglorious creature 7His parting from life pained very deeply, 8How, weary in spirit, off from those regions 9In combats conquered he carried his traces, 10Fated and flying, to the flood of the nickers.

Grendel’s blood dyes the waters.

11There in bloody billows bubbled the currents, 12The angry eddy was everywhere mingled 13And seething with gore, welling with sword-blood; 14He death-doomed had hid him, when reaved of his joyance 15He laid down his life in the lair he had fled to, 16His heathenish spirit, where hell did receive him. 17Thence the friends from of old backward turned them, 18And many a younker from merry adventure, 19Striding their stallions, stout from the seaward, 20Heroes on horses. There were heard very often

Beowulf is the hero of the hour.

21Beowulf’s praises; many often asserted 22That neither south nor north, in the circuit of waters,

He is regarded as a probable successor to Hrothgar.

23O’er outstretching earth-plain, none other was better 24’Mid bearers of war-shields, more worthy to govern, 25’Neath the arch of the ether. Not any, however, 26’Gainst the friend-lord muttered, mocking-words uttered

But no word is uttered to derogate from the old king

27Of Hrothgar the gracious (a good king he). 28Oft the famed ones permitted their fallow-skinned horses 29To run in rivalry, racing and chasing, 30Where the fieldways appeared to them fair and inviting, 31Known for their excellence; oft a thane of the folk-lord,

The gleeman sings the deeds of heroes.

32A man of celebrity, mindful of rhythms, 33Who ancient traditions treasured in memory, 34New word-groups found properly bound: 35The bard after ’gan then Beowulf’s venture

He sings in alliterative measures of Beowulf’s prowess.

36Wisely to tell of, and words that were clever 37To utter skilfully, earnestly speaking, 38Everything told he that he heard as to Sigmund’s

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

39Mighty achievements, many things hidden, 40The strife of the Wælsing, the wide-going ventures 41The children of men knew of but little, 42The feud and the fury, but Fitela with him, 43When suchlike matters he minded to speak of, 44Uncle to nephew, as in every contention 45Each to other was ever devoted: 46A numerous host of the race of the scathers 47They had slain with the sword-edge. To Sigmund accrued then 48No little of glory, when his life-days were over, 49Since he sturdy in struggle had destroyed the great dragon, 50The hoard-treasure’s keeper; ’neath the hoar-grayish stone he, 51The son of the atheling, unaided adventured 52The perilous project; not present was Fitela, 53Yet the fortune befell him of forcing his weapon 54Through the marvellous dragon, that it stood in the wall, 55Well-honored weapon; the worm was slaughtered. 56The great one had gained then by his glorious achievement 57To reap from the ring-hoard richest enjoyment, 58As best it did please him: his vessel he loaded, 59Shining ornaments on the ship’s bosom carried, 60Kinsman of Wæls: the drake in heat melted.

Sigemund was widely famed.

61He was farthest famed of fugitive pilgrims, 62Mid wide-scattered world-folk, for works of great prowess, 63War-troopers’ shelter: hence waxed he in honor.

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

64Afterward Heremod’s hero-strength failed him, 65His vigor and valor. ’Mid venomous haters 66To the hands of foemen he was foully delivered, 67Offdriven early. Agony-billows

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

68Oppressed him too long, to his people he became then, 69To all the athelings, an ever-great burden; 70And the daring one’s journey in days of yore 71Many wise men were wont to deplore, 72Such as hoped he would bring them help in their sorrow, 73That the son of their ruler should rise into power, 74Holding the headship held by his fathers, 75Should govern the people, the gold-hoard and borough, 76The kingdom of heroes, the realm of the Scyldings.

Beowulf is an honor to his race.

77He to all men became then far more beloved, 78Higelac’s kinsman, to kindreds and races, 79To his friends much dearer; him malice assaulted.—

The story is resumed.

80Oft running and racing on roadsters they measured 81The dun-colored highways. Then the light of the morning 82Was hurried and hastened. Went henchmen in numbers 83To the beautiful building, bold ones in spirit, 84To look at the wonder; the liegelord himself then 85From his wife-bower wending, warden of treasures, 86Glorious trod with troopers unnumbered, 87Famed for his virtues, and with him the queen-wife 88Measured the mead-ways, with maidens attending.
XV. HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE. 1Hrothgar discoursed (to the hall-building went he, 2He stood by the pillar, saw the steep-rising hall-roof 3Gleaming with gold-gems, and Grendel his hand there):

Hrothgar gives thanks for the overthrow of the monster.

4“For the sight we behold now, thanks to the Wielder 5Early be offered! Much evil I bided, 6Snaring from Grendel: God can e’er ’complish 7Wonder on wonder, Wielder of Glory!

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

8But lately I reckoned ne’er under heaven 9Comfort to gain me for any of sorrows, 10While the handsomest of houses horrid with bloodstain 11Gory uptowered; grief had offfrightened 12Each of the wise ones who weened not that ever 13The folk-troop’s defences ’gainst foes they should strengthen, 14’Gainst sprites and monsters. Through the might of the Wielder 15A doughty retainer hath a deed now accomplished 16Which erstwhile we all with our excellent wisdom

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

17Failed to perform. May affirm very truly 18What woman soever in all of the nations 19Gave birth to the child, if yet she surviveth, 20That the long-ruling Lord was lavish to herward 21In the birth of the bairn. Now, Beowulf dear,

Hereafter, Beowulf, thou shalt be my son.

22Most excellent hero, I’ll love thee in spirit 23As bairn of my body; bear well henceforward 24The relationship new. No lack shall befall thee 25Of earth-joys any I ever can give thee. 26Full often for lesser service I’ve given 27Hero less hardy hoard-treasure precious,

Thou hast won immortal distinction.

28To a weaker in war-strife. By works of distinction 29Thou hast gained for thyself now that thy glory shall flourish 30Forever and ever. The All-Ruler quite thee 31With good from His hand as He hitherto did thee!”

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

32Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow’s offspring: 33“That labor of glory most gladly achieved we, 34The combat accomplished, unquailing we ventured 35The enemy’s grapple; I would grant it much rather 36Thou wert able to look at the creature in person, 37Faint unto falling, the foe in his trappings! 38On murder-bed quickly I minded to bind him, 39With firm-holding fetters, that forced by my grapple 40Low he should lie in life-and-death struggle 41’Less his body escape; I was wholly unable,

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

42Since God did not will it, to keep him from going, 43Not held him that firmly, hated opposer; 44Too swift was the foeman. Yet safety regarding 45He suffered his hand behind him to linger, 46His arm and shoulder, to act as watcher;

He left his hand and arm behind.

47No shadow of solace the woe-begone creature 48Found him there nathless: the hated destroyer 49Liveth no longer, lashed for his evils, 50But sorrow hath seized him, in snare-meshes hath him 51Close in its clutches, keepeth him writhing 52In baleful bonds: there banished for evil 53The man shall wait for the mighty tribunal,

God will give him his deserts.

54How the God of glory shall give him his earnings.” 55Then the soldier kept silent, son of old Ecglaf,

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

56From boasting and bragging of battle-achievements, 57Since the princes beheld there the hand that depended 58’Neath the lofty hall-timbers by the might of the nobleman, 59Each one before him, the enemy’s fingers; 60Each finger-nail strong steel most resembled, 61The heathen one’s hand-spur, the hero-in-battle’s 62Claw most uncanny; quoth they agreeing,

No sword will harm the monster.

63That not any excellent edges of brave ones 64Was willing to touch him, the terrible creature’s 65Battle-hand bloody to bear away from him.

Heorot is adorned with hands.

1Then straight was ordered that Heorot inside 2With hands be embellished: a host of them gathered, 3Of men and women, who the wassailing-building 4The guest-hall begeared. Gold-flashing sparkled 5Webs on the walls then, of wonders a many 6To each of the heroes that look on such objects.

The hall is defaced, however.

7The beautiful building was broken to pieces 8Which all within with irons was fastened, 9Its hinges torn off: only the roof was 10Whole and uninjured when the horrible creature 11Outlawed for evil off had betaken him, 12Hopeless of living. ’Tis hard to avoid it

[A vague passage of five verses.]

13(Whoever will do it!); but he doubtless must come to 14The place awaiting, as Wyrd hath appointed, 15Soul-bearers, earth-dwellers, earls under heaven, 16Where bound on its bed his body shall slumber

Hrothgar goes to the banquet.

17When feasting is finished. Full was the time then 18That the son of Healfdene went to the building; 19The excellent atheling would eat of the banquet. 20Ne’er heard I that people with hero-band larger 21Bare them better tow’rds their bracelet-bestower. 22The laden-with-glory stooped to the bench then 23(Their kinsmen-companions in plenty were joyful, 24Many a cupful quaffing complaisantly), 25Doughty of spirit in the high-tow’ring palace,

Hrothgar’s nephew, Hrothulf, is present.

26Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Heorot then inside 27Was filled with friendly ones; falsehood and treachery 28The Folk-Scyldings now nowise did practise.

Hrothgar lavishes gifts upon Beowulf.

29Then the offspring of Healfdene offered to Beowulf 30A golden standard, as reward for the victory, 31A banner embossed, burnie and helmet; 32Many men saw then a song-famous weapon 33Borne ’fore the hero. Beowulf drank of 34The cup in the building; that treasure-bestowing 35He needed not blush for in battle-men’s presence.

Four handsomer gifts were never presented.

36Ne’er heard I that many men on the ale-bench 37In friendlier fashion to their fellows presented 38Four bright jewels with gold-work embellished. 39’Round the roof of the helmet a head-guarder outside 40Braided with wires, with bosses was furnished, 41That swords-for-the-battle fight-hardened might fail 42Boldly to harm him, when the hero proceeded

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

43Forth against foemen. The defender of earls then 44Commanded that eight steeds with bridles 45Gold-plated, gleaming, be guided to hallward, 46Inside the building; on one of them stood then 47An art-broidered saddle embellished with jewels; 48’Twas the sovereign’s seat, when the son of King Healfdene 49Was pleased to take part in the play of the edges; 50The famous one’s valor ne’er failed at the front when 51Slain ones were bowing. And to Beowulf granted 52The prince of the Ingwins, power over both, 53O’er war-steeds and weapons; bade him well to enjoy them. 54In so manly a manner the mighty-famed chieftain, 55Hoard-ward of heroes, with horses and jewels 56War-storms requited, that none e’er condemneth 57Who willeth to tell truth with full justice.

Each of Beowulf’s companions receives a costly gift.

1And the atheling of earlmen to each of the heroes 2Who the ways of the waters went with Beowulf, 3A costly gift-token gave on the mead-bench, 4Offered an heirloom, and ordered that that man

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

5With gold should be paid for, whom Grendel had erstwhile 6Wickedly slaughtered, as he more of them had done 7Had far-seeing God and the mood of the hero 8The fate not averted: the Father then governed 9All of the earth-dwellers, as He ever is doing; 10Hence insight for all men is everywhere fittest, 11Forethought of spirit! much he shall suffer 12Of lief and of loathsome who long in this present 13Useth the world in this woful existence. 14There was music and merriment mingling together

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

15Touching Healfdene’s leader; the joy-wood was fingered, 16Measures recited, when the singer of Hrothgar 17On mead-bench should mention the merry hall-joyance 18Of the kinsmen of Finn, when onset surprised them:

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

19“The Half-Danish hero, Hnæf of the Scyldings, 20On the field of the Frisians was fated to perish. 21Sure Hildeburg needed not mention approving 22The faith of the Jutemen: though blameless entirely,

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

23When shields were shivered she was shorn of her darlings, 24Of bairns and brothers: they bent to their fate 25With war-spear wounded; woe was that woman. 26Not causeless lamented the daughter of Hoce 27The decree of the Wielder when morning-light came and 28She was able ’neath heaven to behold the destruction 29Of brothers and bairns, where the brightest of earth-joys

Finn’s force is almost exterminated.

30She had hitherto had: all the henchmen of Finn 31War had offtaken, save a handful remaining, 32That he nowise was able to offer resistance

Hengest succeeds Hnæf as Danish general.

33To the onset of Hengest in the parley of battle, 34Nor the wretched remnant to rescue in war from 35The earl of the atheling; but they offered conditions,

Compact between the Frisians and the Danes.

36Another great building to fully make ready, 37A hall and a high-seat, that half they might rule with 38The sons of the Jutemen, and that Folcwalda’s son would 39Day after day the Danemen honor 40When gifts were giving, and grant of his ring-store 41To Hengest’s earl-troop ever so freely, 42Of his gold-plated jewels, as he encouraged the Frisians

Equality of gifts agreed on.

43On the bench of the beer-hall. On both sides they swore then 44A fast-binding compact; Finn unto Hengest 45With no thought of revoking vowed then most solemnly 46The woe-begone remnant well to take charge of, 47His Witan advising; the agreement should no one 48By words or works weaken and shatter, 49By artifice ever injure its value, 50Though reaved of their ruler their ring-giver’s slayer 51They followed as vassals, Fate so requiring:

No one shall refer to old grudges.

52Then if one of the Frisians the quarrel should speak of 53In tones that were taunting, terrible edges 54Should cut in requital. Accomplished the oath was, 55And treasure of gold from the hoard was uplifted.

Danish warriors are burned on a funeral-pyre.

56The best of the Scylding braves was then fully 57Prepared for the pile; at the pyre was seen clearly 58The blood-gory burnie, the boar with his gilding, 59The iron-hard swine, athelings many 60Fatally wounded; no few had been slaughtered. 61Hildeburg bade then, at the burning of Hnæf,

Queen Hildeburg has her son burnt along with Hnæf.

62The bairn of her bosom to bear to the fire, 63That his body be burned and borne to the pyre. 64The woe-stricken woman wept on his shoulder, 65In measures lamented; upmounted the hero. 66The greatest of dead-fires curled to the welkin, 67On the hill’s-front crackled; heads were a-melting, 68Wound-doors bursting, while the blood was a-coursing 69From body-bite fierce. The fire devoured them, 70Greediest of spirits, whom war had offcarried 71From both of the peoples; their bravest were fallen.

The survivors go to Friesland, the home of Finn.

1“Then the warriors departed to go to their dwellings, 2Reaved of their friends, Friesland to visit, 3Their homes and high-city. Hengest continued

Hengest remains there all winter, unable to get away.

4Biding with Finn the blood-tainted winter, 5Wholly unsundered; of fatherland thought he 6Though unable to drive the ring-stemmèd vessel 7O’er the ways of the waters; the wave-deeps were tossing, 8Fought with the wind; winter in ice-bonds 9Closed up the currents, till there came to the dwelling 10A year in its course, as yet it revolveth, 11If season propitious one alway regardeth, 12World-cheering weathers. Then winter was gone, 13Earth’s bosom was lovely; the exile would get him,

He devises schemes of vengeance.

14The guest from the palace; on grewsomest vengeance 15He brooded more eager than on oversea journeys, 16Whe’r onset-of-anger he were able to ’complish, 17The bairns of the Jutemen therein to remember. 18Nowise refused he the duties of liegeman 19When Hun of the Frisians the battle-sword Láfing, 20Fairest of falchions, friendly did give him: 21Its edges were famous in folk-talk of Jutland. 22And savage sword-fury seized in its clutches 23Bold-mooded Finn where he bode in his palace,

Guthlaf and Oslaf revenge Hnæf’s slaughter.

24When the grewsome grapple Guthlaf and Oslaf 25Had mournfully mentioned, the mere-journey over, 26For sorrows half-blamed him; the flickering spirit 27Could not bide in his bosom. Then the building was covered

Finn is slain.

28With corpses of foemen, and Finn too was slaughtered, 29The king with his comrades, and the queen made a prisoner.

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

30The troops of the Scyldings bore to their vessels 31All that the land-king had in his palace, 32Such trinkets and treasures they took as, on searching, 33At Finn’s they could find. They ferried to Daneland 34The excellent woman on oversea journey,

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

35Led her to their land-folk.” The lay was concluded, 36The gleeman’s recital. Shouts again rose then, 37Bench-glee resounded, bearers then offered

Skinkers carry round the beaker.

38Wine from wonder-vats. Wealhtheo advanced then 39Going ’neath gold-crown, where the good ones were seated

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

40Uncle and nephew; their peace was yet mutual, 41True each to the other. And Unferth the spokesman 42Sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings: 43Each trusted his spirit that his mood was courageous, 44Though at fight he had failed in faith to his kinsmen. 45Said the queen of the Scyldings: “My lord and protector, 46Treasure-bestower, take thou this beaker; 47Joyance attend thee, gold-friend of heroes,

Be generous to the Geats.

48And greet thou the Geatmen with gracious responses! 49So ought one to do. Be kind to the Geatmen, 50In gifts not niggardly; anear and afar now 51Peace thou enjoyest. Report hath informed me 52Thou’lt have for a bairn the battle-brave hero. 53Now is Heorot cleansèd, ring-palace gleaming;

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

54Give while thou mayest many rewards, 55And bequeath to thy kinsmen kingdom and people, 56On wending thy way to the Wielder’s splendor. 57I know good Hrothulf, that the noble young troopers

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

58He’ll care for and honor, lord of the Scyldings, 59If earth-joys thou endest earlier than he doth; 60I reckon that recompense he’ll render with kindness 61Our offspring and issue, if that all he remember, 62What favors of yore, when he yet was an infant, 63We awarded to him for his worship and pleasure.” 64Then she turned by the bench where her sons were carousing, 65Hrethric and Hrothmund, and the heroes’ offspring,

Beowulf is sitting by the two royal sons.

66The war-youth together; there the good one was sitting 67’Twixt the brothers twain, Beowulf Geatman.

More gifts are offered Beowulf.

1A beaker was borne him, and bidding to quaff it 2Graciously given, and gold that was twisted 3Pleasantly proffered, a pair of arm-jewels, 4Rings and corslet, of collars the greatest 5I’ve heard of ’neath heaven. Of heroes not any 6More splendid from jewels have I heard ’neath the welkin,

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

7Since Hama off bore the Brosingmen’s necklace, 8The bracteates and jewels, from the bright-shining city, 9Eormenric’s cunning craftiness fled from, 10Chose gain everlasting. Geatish Higelac, 11Grandson of Swerting, last had this jewel 12When tramping ’neath banner the treasure he guarded, 13The field-spoil defended; Fate offcarried him 14When for deeds of daring he endured tribulation, 15Hate from the Frisians; the ornaments bare he 16O’er the cup of the currents, costly gem-treasures, 17Mighty folk-leader, he fell ’neath his target; 18The corpse of the king then came into charge of 19The race of the Frankmen, the mail-shirt and collar: 20Warmen less noble plundered the fallen, 21When the fight was finished; the folk of the Geatmen 22The field of the dead held in possession. 23The choicest of mead-halls with cheering resounded. 24Wealhtheo discoursed, the war-troop addressed she:

Queen Wealhtheow magnifies Beowulf’s achievements.

25“This collar enjoy thou, Beowulf worthy, 26Young man, in safety, and use thou this armor, 27Gems of the people, and prosper thou fully, 28Show thyself sturdy and be to these liegemen 29Mild with instruction! I’ll mind thy requital. 30Thou hast brought it to pass that far and near 31Forever and ever earthmen shall honor thee, 32Even so widely as ocean surroundeth 33The blustering bluffs. Be, while thou livest, 34A wealth-blessèd atheling. I wish thee most truly

May gifts never fail thee.

35Jewels and treasure. Be kind to my son, thou 36Living in joyance! Here each of the nobles 37Is true unto other, gentle in spirit, 38Loyal to leader. The liegemen are peaceful, 39The war-troops ready: well-drunken heroes, 40Do as I bid ye.” Then she went to the settle. 41There was choicest of banquets, wine drank the heroes:

They little know of the sorrow in store for them.

42Weird they knew not, destiny cruel, 43As to many an earlman early it happened, 44When evening had come and Hrothgar had parted 45Off to his manor, the mighty to slumber. 46Warriors unnumbered warded the building 47As erst they did often: the ale-settle bared they, 48’Twas covered all over with beds and pillows.

A doomed thane is there with them.

49Doomed unto death, down to his slumber 50Bowed then a beer-thane. Their battle-shields placed they, 51Bright-shining targets, up by their heads then; 52O’er the atheling on ale-bench ’twas easy to see there 53Battle-high helmet, burnie of ring-mail,

They were always ready for battle.

54And mighty war-spear. ’Twas the wont of that people 55To constantly keep them equipped for the battle, 56At home or marching—in either condition— 57At seasons just such as necessity ordered 58As best for their ruler; that people was worthy.
XX. THE MOTHER OF GRENDEL. 1They sank then to slumber. With sorrow one paid for 2His evening repose, as often betid them 3While Grendel was holding the gold-bedecked palace, 4Ill-deeds performing, till his end overtook him, 5Death for his sins. ’Twas seen very clearly,

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

6Known unto earth-folk, that still an avenger 7Outlived the loathed one, long since the sorrow 8Caused by the struggle; the mother of Grendel, 9Devil-shaped woman, her woe ever minded, 10Who was held to inhabit the horrible waters,

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

11The cold-flowing currents, after Cain had become a 12Slayer-with-edges to his one only brother, 13The son of his sire; he set out then banished, 14Marked as a murderer, man-joys avoiding, 15Lived in the desert. Thence demons unnumbered

The poet again magnifies Beowulf’s valor.

16Fate-sent awoke; one of them Grendel, 17Sword-cursèd, hateful, who at Heorot met with 18A man that was watching, waiting the struggle, 19Where a horrid one held him with hand-grapple sturdy; 20Nathless he minded the might of his body, 21The glorious gift God had allowed him, 22And folk-ruling Father’s favor relied on, 23His help and His comfort: so he conquered the foeman, 24The hell-spirit humbled: he unhappy departed then, 25Reaved of his joyance, journeying to death-haunts, 26Foeman of man. His mother moreover

Grendel’s mother comes to avenge her son.

27Eager and gloomy was anxious to go on 28Her mournful mission, mindful of vengeance 29For the death of her son. She came then to Heorot 30Where the Armor-Dane earlmen all through the building 31Were lying in slumber. Soon there became then 32Return to the nobles, when the mother of Grendel 33Entered the folk-hall; the fear was less grievous 34By even so much as the vigor of maidens, 35War-strength of women, by warrior is reckoned, 36When well-carved weapon, worked with the hammer, 37Blade very bloody, brave with its edges, 38Strikes down the boar-sign that stands on the helmet. 39Then the hard-edgèd weapon was heaved in the building, 40The brand o’er the benches, broad-lindens many 41Hand-fast were lifted; for helmet he recked not, 42For armor-net broad, whom terror laid hold of. 43She went then hastily, outward would get her 44Her life for to save, when some one did spy her;

She seizes a favorite liegemen of Hrothgar’s.

45Soon she had grappled one of the athelings 46Fast and firmly, when fenward she hied her; 47That one to Hrothgar was liefest of heroes 48In rank of retainer where waters encircle, 49A mighty shield-warrior, whom she murdered at slumber, 50A broadly-famed battle-knight. Beowulf was absent,

Beowulf was asleep in another part of the palace.

51But another apartment was erstwhile devoted 52To the glory-decked Geatman when gold was distributed. 53There was hubbub in Heorot. The hand that was famous 54She grasped in its gore; grief was renewed then 55In homes and houses: ’twas no happy arrangement 56In both of the quarters to barter and purchase 57With lives of their friends. Then the well-agèd ruler, 58The gray-headed war-thane, was woful in spirit, 59When his long-trusted liegeman lifeless he knew of,

Beowulf is sent for.

60His dearest one gone. Quick from a room was 61Beowulf brought, brave and triumphant. 62As day was dawning in the dusk of the morning,

He comes at Hrothgar’s summons.

63Went then that earlman, champion noble, 64Came with comrades, where the clever one bided 65Whether God all gracious would grant him a respite 66After the woe he had suffered. The war-worthy hero 67With a troop of retainers trod then the pavement 68(The hall-building groaned), till he greeted the wise one,

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

69The earl of the Ingwins; asked if the night had 70Fully refreshed him, as fain he would have it.

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

1Hrothgar rejoined, helm of the Scyldings: 2“Ask not of joyance! Grief is renewed to 3The folk of the Danemen. Dead is Æschere, 4Yrmenlaf’s brother, older than he, 5My true-hearted counsellor, trusty adviser, 6Shoulder-companion, when fighting in battle 7Our heads we protected, when troopers were clashing,

He was my ideal hero.

8And heroes were dashing; such an earl should be ever, 9An erst-worthy atheling, as Æschere proved him. 10The flickering death-spirit became in Heorot 11His hand-to-hand murderer; I can not tell whither 12The cruel one turned in the carcass exulting,

This horrible creature came to avenge Grendel’s death.

13By cramming discovered. The quarrel she wreaked then, 14That last night igone Grendel thou killedst 15In grewsomest manner, with grim-holding clutches, 16Since too long he had lessened my liege-troop and wasted 17My folk-men so foully. He fell in the battle 18With forfeit of life, and another has followed, 19A mighty crime-worker, her kinsman avenging, 20And henceforth hath ‘stablished her hatred unyielding, 21As it well may appear to many a liegeman, 22Who mourneth in spirit the treasure-bestower, 23Her heavy heart-sorrow; the hand is now lifeless 24Which availed you in every wish that you cherished.

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

25Land-people heard I, liegemen, this saying, 26Dwellers in halls, they had seen very often 27A pair of such mighty march-striding creatures, 28Far-dwelling spirits, holding the moorlands: 29One of them wore, as well they might notice, 30The image of woman, the other one wretched 31In guise of a man wandered in exile, 32Except he was huger than any of earthmen; 33Earth-dwelling people entitled him Grendel 34In days of yore: they know not their father, 35Whe’r ill-going spirits any were borne him

The inhabit the most desolate and horrible places.

36Ever before. They guard the wolf-coverts, 37Lands inaccessible, wind-beaten nesses, 38Fearfullest fen-deeps, where a flood from the mountains 39’Neath mists of the nesses netherward rattles, 40The stream under earth: not far is it henceward 41Measured by mile-lengths that the mere-water standeth, 42Which forests hang over, with frost-whiting covered, 43A firm-rooted forest, the floods overshadow. 44There ever at night one an ill-meaning portent 45A fire-flood may see; ’mong children of men 46None liveth so wise that wot of the bottom; 47Though harassed by hounds the heath-stepper seek for,

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

48Fly to the forest, firm-antlered he-deer, 49Spurred from afar, his spirit he yieldeth, 50His life on the shore, ere in he will venture 51To cover his head. Uncanny the place is: 52Thence upward ascendeth the surging of waters, 53Wan to the welkin, when the wind is stirring 54The weathers unpleasing, till the air groweth gloomy,

To thee only can I look for assistance.

55And the heavens lower. Now is help to be gotten 56From thee and thee only! The abode thou know’st not, 57The dangerous place where thou’rt able to meet with 58The sin-laden hero: seek if thou darest! 59For the feud I will fully fee thee with money, 60With old-time treasure, as erstwhile I did thee, 61With well-twisted jewels, if away thou shalt get thee.”
XXII. BEOWULF SEEKS GRENDEL’S MOTHER. 1Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow’s son:

Beowulf exhorts the old king to arouse himself for action.

2“Grieve not, O wise one! for each it is better, 3His friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him; 4Each of us must the end-day abide of 5His earthly existence; who is able accomplish 6Glory ere death! To battle-thane noble 7Lifeless lying, ’tis at last most fitting. 8Arise, O king, quick let us hasten 9To look at the footprint of the kinsman of Grendel! 10I promise thee this now: to his place he’ll escape not, 11To embrace of the earth, nor to mountainous forest, 12Nor to depths of the ocean, wherever he wanders. 13Practice thou now patient endurance 14Of each of thy sorrows, as I hope for thee soothly!”

Hrothgar rouses himself. His horse is brought.

15Then up sprang the old one, the All-Wielder thanked he, 16Ruler Almighty, that the man had outspoken. 17Then for Hrothgar a war-horse was decked with a bridle, 18Curly-maned courser. The clever folk-leader

They start on the track of the female monster.

19Stately proceeded: stepped then an earl-troop 20Of linden-wood bearers. Her footprints were seen then 21Widely in wood-paths, her way o’er the bottoms, 22Where she faraway fared o’er fen-country murky, 23Bore away breathless the best of retainers 24Who pondered with Hrothgar the welfare of country. 25The son of the athelings then went o’er the stony, 26Declivitous cliffs, the close-covered passes, 27Narrow passages, paths unfrequented, 28Nesses abrupt, nicker-haunts many; 29One of a few of wise-mooded heroes, 30He onward advanced to view the surroundings, 31Till he found unawares woods of the mountain 32O’er hoar-stones hanging, holt-wood unjoyful; 33The water stood under, welling and gory. 34’Twas irksome in spirit to all of the Danemen, 35Friends of the Scyldings, to many a liegeman

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

36Sad to be suffered, a sorrow unlittle 37To each of the earlmen, when to Æschere’s head they 38Came on the cliff. The current was seething 39With blood and with gore (the troopers gazed on it). 40The horn anon sang the battle-song ready. 41The troop were all seated; they saw ’long the water then

The water is filled with serpents and sea-dragons.

42Many a serpent, mere-dragons wondrous 43Trying the waters, nickers a-lying 44On the cliffs of the nesses, which at noonday full often 45Go on the sea-deeps their sorrowful journey, 46Wild-beasts and wormkind; away then they hastened

One of them is killed by Beowulf.

47Hot-mooded, hateful, they heard the great clamor, 48The war-trumpet winding. One did the Geat-prince 49Sunder from earth-joys, with arrow from bowstring, 50From his sea-struggle tore him, that the trusty war-missile

The dead beast is a poor swimmer

51Pierced to his vitals; he proved in the currents 52Less doughty at swimming whom death had offcarried. 53Soon in the waters the wonderful swimmer 54Was straitened most sorely with sword-pointed boar-spears, 55Pressed in the battle and pulled to the cliff-edge; 56The liegemen then looked on the loath-fashioned stranger.

Beowulf prepares for a struggle with the monster.

57Beowulf donned then his battle-equipments, 58Cared little for life; inlaid and most ample, 59The hand-woven corslet which could cover his body, 60Must the wave-deeps explore, that war might be powerless 61To harm the great hero, and the hating one’s grasp might 62Not peril his safety; his head was protected 63By the light-flashing helmet that should mix with the bottoms, 64Trying the eddies, treasure-emblazoned, 65Encircled with jewels, as in seasons long past 66The weapon-smith worked it, wondrously made it, 67With swine-bodies fashioned it, that thenceforward no longer 68Brand might bite it, and battle-sword hurt it. 69And that was not least of helpers in prowess

He has Unferth’s sword in his hand.

70That Hrothgar’s spokesman had lent him when straitened; 71And the hilted hand-sword was Hrunting entitled, 72Old and most excellent ’mong all of the treasures; 73Its blade was of iron, blotted with poison, 74Hardened with gore; it failed not in battle 75Any hero under heaven in hand who it brandished, 76Who ventured to take the terrible journeys, 77The battle-field sought; not the earliest occasion 78That deeds of daring ’twas destined to ’complish.

Unferth has little use for swords.

79Ecglaf’s kinsman minded not soothly, 80Exulting in strength, what erst he had spoken 81Drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent to 82A sword-hero bolder; himself did not venture 83’Neath the strife of the currents his life to endanger, 84To fame-deeds perform; there he forfeited glory, 85Repute for his strength. Not so with the other 86When he clad in his corslet had equipped him for battle.

Beowulf makes a parting speech to Hrothgar.

1Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s son: 2“Recall now, oh, famous kinsman of Healfdene, 3Prince very prudent, now to part I am ready, 4Gold-friend of earlmen, what erst we agreed on,

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

5Should I lay down my life in lending thee assistance, 6When my earth-joys were over, thou wouldst evermore serve me 7In stead of a father; my faithful thanemen, 8My trusty retainers, protect thou and care for, 9Fall I in battle: and, Hrothgar belovèd,

and send Higelac the jewels thou hast given me

10Send unto Higelac the high-valued jewels 11Thou to me hast allotted. The lord of the Geatmen 12May perceive from the gold, the Hrethling may see it

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

13When he looks on the jewels, that a gem-giver found I 14Good over-measure, enjoyed him while able. 15And the ancient heirloom Unferth permit thou, 16The famed one to have, the heavy-sword splendid 17The hard-edgèd weapon; with Hrunting to aid me, 18I shall gain me glory, or grim-death shall take me.”

Beowulf is eager for the fray.

19The atheling of Geatmen uttered these words and 20Heroic did hasten, not any rejoinder 21Was willing to wait for; the wave-current swallowed

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

22The doughty-in-battle. Then a day’s-length elapsed ere 23He was able to see the sea at its bottom. 24Early she found then who fifty of winters 25The course of the currents kept in her fury, 26Grisly and greedy, that the grim one’s dominion

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

27Some one of men from above was exploring. 28Forth did she grab them, grappled the warrior 29With horrible clutches; yet no sooner she injured 30His body unscathèd: the burnie out-guarded, 31That she proved but powerless to pierce through the armor, 32The limb-mail locked, with loath-grabbing fingers. 33The sea-wolf bare then, when bottomward came she,

She grabs him, and bears him to her den.

34The ring-prince homeward, that he after was powerless 35(He had daring to do it) to deal with his weapons, 36But many a mere-beast tormented him swimming,

Sea-monsters bite and strike him.

37Flood-beasts no few with fierce-biting tusks did 38Break through his burnie, the brave one pursued they. 39The earl then discovered he was down in some cavern 40Where no water whatever anywise harmed him, 41And the clutch of the current could come not anear him, 42Since the roofed-hall prevented; brightness a-gleaming 43Fire-light he saw, flashing resplendent. 44The good one saw then the sea-bottom’s monster,

Beowulf attacks the mother of Grendel.

45The mighty mere-woman; he made a great onset 46With weapon-of-battle, his hand not desisted 47From striking, that war-blade struck on her head then 48A battle-song greedy. The stranger perceived then

The sword will not bite.

49The sword would not bite, her life would not injure, 50But the falchion failed the folk-prince when straitened: 51Erst had it often onsets encountered, 52Oft cloven the helmet, the fated one’s armor: 53’Twas the first time that ever the excellent jewel 54Had failed of its fame. Firm-mooded after, 55Not heedless of valor, but mindful of glory, 56Was Higelac’s kinsman; the hero-chief angry 57Cast then his carved-sword covered with jewels 58That it lay on the earth, hard and steel-pointed;

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

59He hoped in his strength, his hand-grapple sturdy. 60So any must act whenever he thinketh 61To gain him in battle glory unending, 62And is reckless of living. The lord of the War-Geats 63(He shrank not from battle) seized by the shoulder 64The mother of Grendel; then mighty in struggle 65Swung he his enemy, since his anger was kindled, 66That she fell to the floor. With furious grapple

Beowulf falls.

67She gave him requital early thereafter, 68And stretched out to grab him; the strongest of warriors 69Faint-mooded stumbled, till he fell in his traces,

The monster sits on him with drawn sword.

70Foot-going champion. Then she sat on the hall-guest 71And wielded her war-knife wide-bladed, flashing, 72For her son would take vengeance, her one only bairn.

His armor saves his life.

73His breast-armor woven bode on his shoulder; 74It guarded his life, the entrance defended 75’Gainst sword-point and edges. Ecgtheow’s son there 76Had fatally journeyed, champion of Geatmen, 77In the arms of the ocean, had the armor not given, 78Close-woven corslet, comfort and succor,

God arranged for his escape.

79And had God most holy not awarded the victory, 80All-knowing Lord; easily did heaven’s 81Ruler most righteous arrange it with justice; 82Uprose he erect ready for battle.

Beowulf grasps a giant-sword,

1Then he saw mid the war-gems a weapon of victory, 2An ancient giant-sword, of edges a-doughty, 3Glory of warriors: of weapons ’twas choicest, 4Only ’twas larger than any man else was 5Able to bear to the battle-encounter, 6The good and splendid work of the giants. 7He grasped then the sword-hilt, knight of the Scyldings, 8Bold and battle-grim, brandished his ring-sword, 9Hopeless of living, hotly he smote her, 10That the fiend-woman’s neck firmly it grappled,

and fells the female monster.

11Broke through her bone-joints, the bill fully pierced her 12Fate-cursèd body, she fell to the ground then: 13The hand-sword was bloody, the hero exulted. 14The brand was brilliant, brightly it glimmered, 15Just as from heaven gemlike shineth 16The torch of the firmament. He glanced ’long the building, 17And turned by the wall then, Higelac’s vassal 18Raging and wrathful raised his battle-sword 19Strong by the handle. The edge was not useless 20To the hero-in-battle, but he speedily wished to 21Give Grendel requital for the many assaults he 22Had worked on the West-Danes not once, but often, 23When he slew in slumber the subjects of Hrothgar, 24Swallowed down fifteen sleeping retainers 25Of the folk of the Danemen, and fully as many 26Carried away, a horrible prey. 27He gave him requital, grim-raging champion,

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

28When he saw on his rest-place weary of conflict 29Grendel lying, of life-joys bereavèd, 30As the battle at Heorot erstwhile had scathed him; 31His body far bounded, a blow when he suffered, 32Death having seized him, sword-smiting heavy, 33And he cut off his head then. Early this noticed 34The clever carles who as comrades of Hrothgar

The waters are gory.

35Gazed on the sea-deeps, that the surging wave-currents 36Were mightily mingled, the mere-flood was gory: 37Of the good one the gray-haired together held converse,

Beowulf is given up for dead.

38The hoary of head, that they hoped not to see again 39The atheling ever, that exulting in victory 40He’d return there to visit the distinguished folk-ruler: 41Then many concluded the mere-wolf had killed him. 42The ninth hour came then. From the ness-edge departed 43The bold-mooded Scyldings; the gold-friend of heroes 44Homeward betook him. The strangers sat down then 45Soul-sick, sorrowful, the sea-waves regarding: 46They wished and yet weened not their well-loved friend-lord

The giant-sword melts.

47To see any more. The sword-blade began then, 48The blood having touched it, contracting and shriveling 49With battle-icicles; ’twas a wonderful marvel 50That it melted entirely, likest to ice when 51The Father unbindeth the bond of the frost and 52Unwindeth the wave-bands, He who wieldeth dominion 53Of times and of tides: a truth-firm Creator. 54Nor took he of jewels more in the dwelling, 55Lord of the Weders, though they lay all around him, 56Than the head and the handle handsome with jewels; 57The brand early melted, burnt was the weapon: 58So hot was the blood, the strange-spirit poisonous

The hero swims back to the realms of day.

59That in it did perish. He early swam off then 60Who had bided in combat the carnage of haters, 61Went up through the ocean; the eddies were cleansèd, 62The spacious expanses, when the spirit from farland 63His life put aside and this short-lived existence. 64The seamen’s defender came swimming to land then 65Doughty of spirit, rejoiced in his sea-gift, 66The bulky burden which he bore in his keeping. 67The excellent vassals advanced then to meet him, 68To God they were grateful, were glad in their chieftain, 69That to see him safe and sound was granted them. 70From the high-minded hero, then, helmet and burnie 71Were speedily loosened: the ocean was putrid, 72The water ’neath welkin weltered with gore. 73Forth did they fare, then, their footsteps retracing, 74Merry and mirthful, measured the earth-way, 75The highway familiar: men very daring 76Bare then the head from the sea-cliff, burdening 77Each of the earlmen, excellent-valiant.

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

78Four of them had to carry with labor 79The head of Grendel to the high towering gold-hall 80Upstuck on the spear, till fourteen most-valiant 81And battle-brave Geatmen came there going 82Straight to the palace: the prince of the people 83Measured the mead-ways, their mood-brave companion. 84The atheling of earlmen entered the building, 85Deed-valiant man, adorned with distinction, 86Doughty shield-warrior, to address King Hrothgar: 87Then hung by the hair, the head of Grendel 88Was borne to the building, where beer-thanes were drinking, 89Loth before earlmen and eke ’fore the lady: 90The warriors beheld then a wonderful sight.

Beowulf relates his last exploit.

1Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow: 2“Lo! we blithely have brought thee, bairn of Healfdene, 3Prince of the Scyldings, these presents from ocean 4Which thine eye looketh on, for an emblem of glory. 5I came off alive from this, narrowly ’scaping: 6In war ’neath the water the work with great pains I 7Performed, and the fight had been finished quite nearly, 8Had God not defended me. I failed in the battle 9Aught to accomplish, aided by Hrunting, 10Though that weapon was worthy, but the Wielder of earth-folk

God was fighting with me.

11Gave me willingly to see on the wall a 12Heavy old hand-sword hanging in splendor 13(He guided most often the lorn and the friendless), 14That I swung as a weapon. The wards of the house then 15I killed in the conflict (when occasion was given me). 16Then the battle-sword burned, the brand that was lifted, 17As the blood-current sprang, hottest of war-sweats; 18Seizing the hilt, from my foes I offbore it; 19I avenged as I ought to their acts of malignity, 20The murder of Danemen. I then make thee this promise,

Heorot is freed from monsters.

21Thou’lt be able in Heorot careless to slumber 22With thy throng of heroes and the thanes of thy people 23Every and each, of greater and lesser, 24And thou needest not fear for them from the selfsame direction 25As thou formerly fearedst, oh, folk-lord of Scyldings, 26End-day for earlmen.” To the age-hoary man then,

The famous sword is presented to Hrothgar.

27The gray-haired chieftain, the gold-fashioned sword-hilt, 28Old-work of giants, was thereupon given; 29Since the fall of the fiends, it fell to the keeping 30Of the wielder of Danemen, the wonder-smith’s labor, 31And the bad-mooded being abandoned this world then, 32Opponent of God, victim of murder, 33And also his mother; it went to the keeping 34Of the best of the world-kings, where waters encircle, 35Who the scot divided in Scylding dominion.

Hrothgar looks closely at the old sword.

36Hrothgar discoursed, the hilt he regarded, 37The ancient heirloom where an old-time contention’s 38Beginning was graven: the gurgling currents, 39The flood slew thereafter the race of the giants, 40They had proved themselves daring: that people was loth to

It had belonged to a race hateful to God.

41The Lord everlasting, through lash of the billows 42The Father gave them final requital. 43So in letters of rune on the clasp of the handle 44Gleaming and golden, ’twas graven exactly, 45Set forth and said, whom that sword had been made for, 46Finest of irons, who first it was wrought for, 47Wreathed at its handle and gleaming with serpents. 48The wise one then said (silent they all were)

Hrothgar praises Beowulf.

49Son of old Healfdene: “He may say unrefuted 50Who performs ’mid the folk-men fairness and truth 51(The hoary old ruler remembers the past), 52That better by birth is this bairn of the nobles! 53Thy fame is extended through far-away countries, 54Good friend Beowulf, o’er all of the races, 55Thou holdest all firmly, hero-like strength with 56Prudence of spirit. I’ll prove myself grateful 57As before we agreed on; thou granted for long shalt 58Become a great comfort to kinsmen and comrades,

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

59A help unto heroes. Heremod became not 60Such to the Scyldings, successors of Ecgwela; 61He grew not to please them, but grievous destruction, 62And diresome death-woes to Danemen attracted; 63He slew in anger his table-companions, 64Trustworthy counsellors, till he turned off lonely 65From world-joys away, wide-famous ruler: 66Though high-ruling heaven in hero-strength raised him, 67In might exalted him, o’er men of all nations 68Made him supreme, yet a murderous spirit 69Grew in his bosom: he gave then no ring-gems

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

70To the Danes after custom; endured he unjoyful 71Standing the straits from strife that was raging, 72Longsome folk-sorrow. Learn then from this, 73Lay hold of virtue! Though laden with winters, 74I have sung thee these measures. ’Tis a marvel to tell it,

Hrothgar moralizes.

75How all-ruling God from greatness of spirit 76Giveth wisdom to children of men, 77Manor and earlship: all things He ruleth. 78He often permitteth the mood-thought of man of 79The illustrious lineage to lean to possessions, 80Allows him earthly delights at his manor, 81A high-burg of heroes to hold in his keeping, 82Maketh portions of earth-folk hear him, 83And a wide-reaching kingdom so that, wisdom failing him, 84He himself is unable to reckon its boundaries; 85He liveth in luxury, little debars him, 86Nor sickness nor age, no treachery-sorrow 87Becloudeth his spirit, conflict nowhere, 88No sword-hate, appeareth, but all of the world doth 89Wend as he wisheth; the worse he knoweth not, 90Till arrant arrogance inward pervading, 91Waxeth and springeth, when the warder is sleeping, 92The guard of the soul: with sorrows encompassed, 93Too sound is his slumber, the slayer is near him, 94Who with bow and arrow aimeth in malice.

A wounded spirit.

1“Then bruised in his bosom he with bitter-toothed missile 2Is hurt ’neath his helmet: from harmful pollution 3He is powerless to shield him by the wonderful mandates 4Of the loath-cursèd spirit; what too long he hath holden 5Him seemeth too small, savage he hoardeth, 6Nor boastfully giveth gold-plated rings, 7The fate of the future flouts and forgetteth 8Since God had erst given him greatness no little, 9Wielder of Glory. His end-day anear, 10It afterward happens that the bodily-dwelling 11Fleetingly fadeth, falls into ruins; 12Another lays hold who doleth the ornaments, 13The nobleman’s jewels, nothing lamenting, 14Heedeth no terror. Oh, Beowulf dear, 15Best of the heroes, from bale-strife defend thee, 16And choose thee the better, counsels eternal;

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

17Beware of arrogance, world-famous champion! 18But a little-while lasts thy life-vigor’s fulness; 19’Twill after hap early, that illness or sword-edge 20Shall part thee from strength, or the grasp of the fire, 21Or the wave of the current, or clutch of the edges, 22Or flight of the war-spear, or age with its horrors, 23Or thine eyes’ bright flashing shall fade into darkness: 24’Twill happen full early, excellent hero,

Hrothgar gives an account of his reign.

25That death shall subdue thee. So the Danes a half-century 26I held under heaven, helped them in struggles 27’Gainst many a race in middle-earth’s regions, 28With ash-wood and edges, that enemies none 29On earth molested me. Lo! offsetting change, now,

Sorrow after joy.

30Came to my manor, grief after joyance, 31When Grendel became my constant visitor, 32Inveterate hater: I from that malice 33Continually travailed with trouble no little. 34Thanks be to God that I gained in my lifetime, 35To the Lord everlasting, to look on the gory 36Head with mine eyes, after long-lasting sorrow! 37Go to the bench now, battle-adornèd 38Joy in the feasting: of jewels in common 39We’ll meet with many when morning appeareth.” 40The Geatman was gladsome, ganged he immediately 41To go to the bench, as the clever one bade him. 42Then again as before were the famous-for-prowess, 43Hall-inhabiters, handsomely banqueted, 44Feasted anew. The night-veil fell then 45Dark o’er the warriors. The courtiers rose then; 46The gray-haired was anxious to go to his slumbers, 47The hoary old Scylding. Hankered the Geatman,

Beowulf is fagged, and seeks rest.

48The champion doughty, greatly, to rest him: 49An earlman early outward did lead him, 50Fagged from his faring, from far-country springing, 51Who for etiquette’s sake all of a liegeman’s 52Needs regarded, such as seamen at that time 53Were bounden to feel. The big-hearted rested; 54The building uptowered, spacious and gilded, 55The guest within slumbered, till the sable-clad raven 56Blithely foreboded the beacon of heaven. 57Then the bright-shining sun o’er the bottoms came going; 58The warriors hastened, the heads of the peoples 59Were ready to go again to their peoples,

The Geats prepare to leave Dane-land.

60The high-mooded farer would faraway thenceward 61Look for his vessel. The valiant one bade then,

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

62Offspring of Ecglaf, off to bear Hrunting, 63To take his weapon, his well-beloved iron; 64He him thanked for the gift, saying good he accounted 65The war-friend and mighty, nor chid he with words then 66The blade of the brand: ’twas a brave-mooded hero. 67When the warriors were ready, arrayed in their trappings, 68The atheling dear to the Danemen advanced then 69On to the dais, where the other was sitting, 70Grim-mooded hero, greeted King Hrothgar.

Beowulf’s farewell.

1Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s offspring: 2“We men of the water wish to declare now 3Fared from far-lands, we’re firmly determined 4To seek King Higelac. Here have we fitly 5Been welcomed and feasted, as heart would desire it; 6Good was the greeting. If greater affection 7I am anywise able ever on earth to 8Gain at thy hands, ruler of heroes, 9Than yet I have done, I shall quickly be ready

I shall be ever ready to aid thee.

10For combat and conflict. O’er the course of the waters 11Learn I that neighbors alarm thee with terror, 12As haters did whilom, I hither will bring thee 13For help unto heroes henchmen by thousands.

My liegelord will encourage me in aiding thee.

14I know as to Higelac, the lord of the Geatmen, 15Though young in years, he yet will permit me, 16By words and by works, ward of the people, 17Fully to furnish thee forces and bear thee 18My lance to relieve thee, if liegemen shall fail thee, 19And help of my hand-strength; if Hrethric be treating, 20Bairn of the king, at the court of the Geatmen, 21He thereat may find him friends in abundance: 22Faraway countries he were better to seek for 23Who trusts in himself.” Hrothgar discoursed then, 24Making rejoinder: “These words thou hast uttered 25All-knowing God hath given thy spirit!

O Beowulf, thou art wise beyond thy years.

26Ne’er heard I an earlman thus early in life 27More clever in speaking: thou’rt cautious of spirit, 28Mighty of muscle, in mouth-answers prudent. 29I count on the hope that, happen it ever 30That missile shall rob thee of Hrethel’s descendant, 31Edge-horrid battle, and illness or weapon 32Deprive thee of prince, of people’s protector,

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

33And life thou yet holdest, the Sea-Geats will never 34Find a more fitting folk-lord to choose them, 35Gem-ward of heroes, than thou mightest prove thee, 36If the kingdom of kinsmen thou carest to govern. 37Thy mood-spirit likes me the longer the better, 38Beowulf dear: thou hast brought it to pass that 39To both these peoples peace shall be common,

Thou hast healed the ancient breach between our races.

40To Geat-folk and Danemen, the strife be suspended, 41The secret assailings they suffered in yore-days; 42And also that jewels be shared while I govern 43The wide-stretching kingdom, and that many shall visit 44Others o’er the ocean with excellent gift-gems: 45The ring-adorned bark shall bring o’er the currents 46Presents and love-gifts. This people I know 47Tow’rd foeman and friend firmly established, 48After ancient etiquette everywise blameless.” 49Then the warden of earlmen gave him still farther,

Parting gifts

50Kinsman of Healfdene, a dozen of jewels, 51Bade him safely seek with the presents 52His well-beloved people, early returning.

Hrothgar kisses Beowulf, and weeps.

53Then the noble-born king kissed the distinguished, 54Dear-lovèd liegeman, the Dane-prince saluted him, 55And claspèd his neck; tears from him fell, 56From the gray-headed man: he two things expected, 57Agèd and reverend, but rather the second, 58That bold in council they’d meet thereafter. 59The man was so dear that he failed to suppress the 60Emotions that moved him, but in mood-fetters fastened

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

61The long-famous hero longeth in secret 62Deep in his spirit for the dear-beloved man 63Though not a blood-kinsman. Beowulf thenceward, 64Gold-splendid warrior, walked o’er the meadows 65Exulting in treasure: the sea-going vessel 66Riding at anchor awaited its owner. 67As they pressed on their way then, the present of Hrothgar

Giving liberally is the true proof of kingship.

68Was frequently referred to: a folk-king indeed that 69Everyway blameless, till age did debar him 70The joys of his might, which hath many oft injured.
XXVIII. THE HOMEWARD JOURNEY.—THE TWO QUEENS. 1Then the band of very valiant retainers 2Came to the current; they were clad all in armor,

The coast-guard again.

3In link-woven burnies. The land-warder noticed 4The return of the earlmen, as he erstwhile had seen them; 5Nowise with insult he greeted the strangers 6From the naze of the cliff, but rode on to meet them; 7Said the bright-armored visitors vesselward traveled 8Welcome to Weders. The wide-bosomed craft then 9Lay on the sand, laden with armor, 10With horses and jewels, the ring-stemmèd sailer: 11The mast uptowered o’er the treasure of Hrothgar.

Beowulf gives the guard a handsome sword.

12To the boat-ward a gold-bound brand he presented, 13That he was afterwards honored on the ale-bench more highly 14As the heirloom’s owner. Set he out on his vessel, 15To drive on the deep, Dane-country left he. 16Along by the mast then a sea-garment fluttered, 17A rope-fastened sail. The sea-boat resounded, 18The wind o’er the waters the wave-floater nowise 19Kept from its journey; the sea-goer traveled, 20The foamy-necked floated forth o’er the currents, 21The well-fashioned vessel o’er the ways of the ocean,

The Geats see their own land again.

22Till they came within sight of the cliffs of the Geatmen, 23The well-known headlands. The wave-goer hastened 24Driven by breezes, stood on the shore.

The port-warden is anxiously looking for them.

25Prompt at the ocean, the port-ward was ready, 26Who long in the past outlooked in the distance, 27At water’s-edge waiting well-lovèd heroes; 28He bound to the bank then the broad-bosomed vessel 29Fast in its fetters, lest the force of the waters 30Should be able to injure the ocean-wood winsome. 31Bade he up then take the treasure of princes, 32Plate-gold and fretwork; not far was it thence 33To go off in search of the giver of jewels: 34Hrethel’s son Higelac at home there remaineth, 35Himself with his comrades close to the sea-coast. 36The building was splendid, the king heroic, 37Great in his hall, Hygd very young was,

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

38Fine-mooded, clever, though few were the winters 39That the daughter of Hæreth had dwelt in the borough; 40But she nowise was cringing nor niggard of presents, 41Of ornaments rare, to the race of the Geatmen.

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

42Thrytho nursed anger, excellent folk-queen, 43Hot-burning hatred: no hero whatever 44’Mong household companions, her husband excepted

She is a terror to all save her husband.

45Dared to adventure to look at the woman 46With eyes in the daytime; but he knew that death-chains 47Hand-wreathed were wrought him: early thereafter, 48When the hand-strife was over, edges were ready, 49That fierce-raging sword-point had to force a decision, 50Murder-bale show. Such no womanly custom 51For a lady to practise, though lovely her person, 52That a weaver-of-peace, on pretence of anger 53A belovèd liegeman of life should deprive. 54Soothly this hindered Heming’s kinsman; 55Other ale-drinking earlmen asserted 56That fearful folk-sorrows fewer she wrought them, 57Treacherous doings, since first she was given 58Adorned with gold to the war-hero youthful, 59For her origin honored, when Offa’s great palace 60O’er the fallow flood by her father’s instructions 61She sought on her journey, where she afterwards fully, 62Famed for her virtue, her fate on the king’s-seat 63Enjoyed in her lifetime, love did she hold with 64The ruler of heroes, the best, it is told me, 65Of all of the earthmen that oceans encompass, 66Of earl-kindreds endless; hence Offa was famous 67Far and widely, by gifts and by battles, 68Spear-valiant hero; the home of his fathers 69He governed with wisdom, whence Eomær did issue 70For help unto heroes, Heming’s kinsman, 71Grandson of Garmund, great in encounters.
XXIX. BEOWULF AND HIGELAC. 1Then the brave one departed, his band along with him,

Beowulf and his party seek Higelac.

2Seeking the sea-shore, the sea-marches treading, 3The wide-stretching shores. The world-candle glimmered, 4The sun from the southward; they proceeded then onward, 5Early arriving where they heard that the troop-lord, 6Ongentheow’s slayer, excellent, youthful 7Folk-prince and warrior was distributing jewels, 8Close in his castle. The coming of Beowulf 9Was announced in a message quickly to Higelac, 10That the folk-troop’s defender forth to the palace 11The linden-companion alive was advancing, 12Secure from the combat courtward a-going. 13The building was early inward made ready 14For the foot-going guests as the good one had ordered.

Beowulf sits by his liegelord.

15He sat by the man then who had lived through the struggle, 16Kinsman by kinsman, when the king of the people 17Had in lordly language saluted the dear one,

Queen Hygd receives the heroes.

18In words that were formal. The daughter of Hæreth 19Coursed through the building, carrying mead-cups: 20She loved the retainers, tendered the beakers 21To the high-minded Geatmen. Higelac ’gan then

Higelac is greatly interested in Beowulf’s adventures.

22Pleasantly plying his companion with questions 23In the high-towering palace. A curious interest 24Tormented his spirit, what meaning to see in 25The Sea-Geats’ adventures: “Beowulf worthy,

Give an account of thy adventures, Beowulf dear.

26How throve your journeying, when thou thoughtest suddenly 27Far o’er the salt-streams to seek an encounter, 28A battle at Heorot? Hast bettered for Hrothgar, 29The famous folk-leader, his far-published sorrows 30Any at all? In agony-billows

My suspense has been great.

31I mused upon torture, distrusted the journey 32Of the belovèd liegeman; I long time did pray thee 33By no means to seek out the murderous spirit, 34To suffer the South-Danes themselves to decide on 35Grappling with Grendel. To God I am thankful 36To be suffered to see thee safe from thy journey.”

Beowulf narrates his adventures.

37Beowulf answered, bairn of old Ecgtheow: 38“’Tis hidden by no means, Higelac chieftain, 39From many of men, the meeting so famous, 40What mournful moments of me and of Grendel 41Were passed in the place where he pressing affliction 42On the Victory-Scyldings scathefully brought, 43Anguish forever; that all I avengèd, 44So that any under heaven of the kinsmen of Grendel

Grendel’s kindred have no cause to boast.

45Needeth not boast of that cry-in-the-morning, 46Who longest liveth of the loth-going kindred, 47Encompassed by moorland. I came in my journey 48To the royal ring-hall, Hrothgar to greet there:

Hrothgar received me very cordially.

49Soon did the famous scion of Healfdene, 50When he understood fully the spirit that led me, 51Assign me a seat with the son of his bosom. 52The troop was in joyance; mead-glee greater 53’Neath arch of the ether not ever beheld I

The queen also showed up no little honor.

54’Mid hall-building holders. The highly-famed queen, 55Peace-tie of peoples, oft passed through the building, 56Cheered the young troopers; she oft tendered a hero 57A beautiful ring-band, ere she went to her sitting.

Hrothgar’s lovely daughter.

58Oft the daughter of Hrothgar in view of the courtiers 59To the earls at the end the ale-vessel carried, 60Whom Freaware I heard then hall-sitters title, 61When nail-adorned jewels she gave to the heroes:

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

62Gold-bedecked, youthful, to the glad son of Froda 63Her faith has been plighted; the friend of the Scyldings, 64The guard of the kingdom, hath given his sanction, 65And counts it a vantage, for a part of the quarrels, 66A portion of hatred, to pay with the woman. 67Somewhere not rarely, when the ruler has fallen, 68The life-taking lance relaxeth its fury 69For a brief breathing-spell, though the bride be charming!
XXX. BEOWULF NARRATES HIS ADVENTURES TO HIGELAC. 1“It well may discomfit the prince of the Heathobards 2And each of the thanemen of earls that attend him, 3When he goes to the building escorting the woman, 4That a noble-born Daneman the knights should be feasting: 5There gleam on his person the leavings of elders 6Hard and ring-bright, Heathobards’ treasure, 7While they wielded their arms, till they misled to the battle 8Their own dear lives and belovèd companions. 9He saith at the banquet who the collar beholdeth, 10An ancient ash-warrior who earlmen’s destruction 11Clearly recalleth (cruel his spirit), 12Sadly beginneth sounding the youthful 13Thane-champion’s spirit through the thoughts of his bosom, 14War-grief to waken, and this word-answer speaketh:

Ingeld is stirred up to break the truce.

15‘Art thou able, my friend, to know when thou seest it 16The brand which thy father bare to the conflict 17In his latest adventure, ’neath visor of helmet, 18The dearly-loved iron, where Danemen did slay him, 19And brave-mooded Scyldings, on the fall of the heroes, 20(When vengeance was sleeping) the slaughter-place wielded? 21E’en now some man of the murderer’s progeny 22Exulting in ornaments enters the building, 23Boasts of his blood-shedding, offbeareth the jewel 24Which thou shouldst wholly hold in possession!’ 25So he urgeth and mindeth on every occasion 26With woe-bringing words, till waxeth the season 27When the woman’s thane for the works of his father, 28The bill having bitten, blood-gory sleepeth, 29Fated to perish; the other one thenceward 30’Scapeth alive, the land knoweth thoroughly. 31Then the oaths of the earlmen on each side are broken, 32When rancors unresting are raging in Ingeld 33And his wife-love waxeth less warm after sorrow. 34So the Heathobards’ favor not faithful I reckon, 35Their part in the treaty not true to the Danemen, 36Their friendship not fast. I further shall tell thee

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

37More about Grendel, that thou fully mayst hear, 38Ornament-giver, what afterward came from 39The hand-rush of heroes. When heaven’s bright jewel 40O’er earthfields had glided, the stranger came raging, 41The horrible night-fiend, us for to visit, 42Where wholly unharmed the hall we were guarding.

Hondscio fell first

43To Hondscio happened a hopeless contention, 44Death to the doomed one, dead he fell foremost, 45Girded war-champion; to him Grendel became then, 46To the vassal distinguished, a tooth-weaponed murderer, 47The well-beloved henchman’s body all swallowed. 48Not the earlier off empty of hand did 49The bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of evils, 50Wish to escape from the gold-giver’s palace, 51But sturdy of strength he strove to outdo me, 52Hand-ready grappled. A glove was suspended 53Spacious and wondrous, in art-fetters fastened, 54Which was fashioned entirely by touch of the craftman 55From the dragon’s skin by the devil’s devices: 56He down in its depths would do me unsadly 57One among many, deed-doer raging, 58Though sinless he saw me; not so could it happen 59When I in my anger upright did stand. 60’Tis too long to recount how requital I furnished 61For every evil to the earlmen’s destroyer;

I reflected honor upon my people.

62’Twas there, my prince, that I proudly distinguished 63Thy land with my labors. He left and retreated, 64He lived his life a little while longer: 65Yet his right-hand guarded his footstep in Heorot, 66And sad-mooded thence to the sea-bottom fell he, 67Mournful in mind. For the might-rush of battle

King Hrothgar lavished gifts upon me.

68The friend of the Scyldings, with gold that was plated, 69With ornaments many, much requited me, 70When daylight had dawned, and down to the banquet 71We had sat us together. There was chanting and joyance: 72The age-stricken Scylding asked many questions 73And of old-times related; oft light-ringing harp-strings, 74Joy-telling wood, were touched by the brave one; 75Now he uttered measures, mourning and truthful, 76Then the large-hearted land-king a legend of wonder 77Truthfully told us. Now troubled with years

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

78The age-hoary warrior afterward began to 79Mourn for the might that marked him in youth-days; 80His breast within boiled, when burdened with winters 81Much he remembered. From morning till night then 82We joyed us therein as etiquette suffered, 83Till the second night season came unto earth-folk. 84Then early thereafter, the mother of Grendel

Grendel’s mother.

85Was ready for vengeance, wretched she journeyed; 86Her son had death ravished, the wrath of the Geatmen. 87The horrible woman avengèd her offspring, 88And with mighty mainstrength murdered a hero.

Æschere falls a prey to her vengeance.

89There the spirit of Æschere, agèd adviser, 90Was ready to vanish; nor when morn had lightened 91Were they anywise suffered to consume him with fire, 92Folk of the Danemen, the death-weakened hero, 93Nor the belovèd liegeman to lay on the pyre;

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

94She the corpse had offcarried in the clutch of the foeman 95’Neath mountain-brook’s flood. To Hrothgar ’twas saddest 96Of pains that ever had preyed on the chieftain; 97By the life of thee the land-prince then me 98Besought very sadly, in sea-currents’ eddies 99To display my prowess, to peril my safety, 100Might-deeds accomplish; much did he promise.

I sought the creature in her den,

101I found then the famous flood-current’s cruel, 102Horrible depth-warder. A while unto us two 103Hand was in common; the currents were seething 104With gore that was clotted, and Grendel’s fierce mother’s

and hewed her head off.

105Head I offhacked in the hall at the bottom 106With huge-reaching sword-edge, hardly I wrested 107My life from her clutches; not doomed was I then,

Jewels were freely bestowed upon me.

108But the warden of earlmen afterward gave me 109Jewels in quantity, kinsman of Healfdene.
XXXI. GIFT-GIVING IS MUTUAL. 1“So the belovèd land-prince lived in decorum; 2I had missed no rewards, no meeds of my prowess, 3But he gave me jewels, regarding my wishes, 4Healfdene his bairn; I’ll bring them to thee, then,

All my gifts I lay at thy feet.

5Atheling of earlmen, offer them gladly. 6And still unto thee is all my affection: 7But few of my folk-kin find I surviving 8But thee, dear Higelac!” Bade he in then to carry 9The boar-image, banner, battle-high helmet, 10Iron-gray armor, the excellent weapon,

This armor I have belonged of yore to Heregar.

11In song-measures said: “This suit-for-the-battle 12Hrothgar presented me, bade me expressly, 13Wise-mooded atheling, thereafter to tell thee 14The whole of its history, said King Heregar owned it, 15Dane-prince for long: yet he wished not to give then 16The mail to his son, though dearly he loved him, 17Hereward the hardy. Hold all in joyance!” 18I heard that there followed hard on the jewels 19Two braces of stallions of striking resemblance, 20Dappled and yellow; he granted him usance 21Of horses and treasures. So a kinsman should bear him, 22No web of treachery weave for another, 23Nor by cunning craftiness cause the destruction

Higelac loves his nephew Beowulf.

24Of trusty companion. Most precious to Higelac, 25The bold one in battle, was the bairn of his sister, 26And each unto other mindful of favors.

Beowulf gives Hygd the necklace that Wealhtheow had given him.

27I am told that to Hygd he proffered the necklace, 28Wonder-gem rare that Wealhtheow gave him, 29The troop-leader’s daughter, a trio of horses 30Slender and saddle-bright; soon did the jewel 31Embellish her bosom, when the beer-feast was over. 32So Ecgtheow’s bairn brave did prove him,

Beowulf is famous.

33War-famous man, by deeds that were valiant, 34He lived in honor, belovèd companions 35Slew not carousing; his mood was not cruel, 36But by hand-strength hugest of heroes then living 37The brave one retained the bountiful gift that 38The Lord had allowed him. Long was he wretched, 39So that sons of the Geatmen accounted him worthless, 40And the lord of the liegemen loth was to do him 41Mickle of honor, when mead-cups were passing; 42They fully believed him idle and sluggish,

He is requited for the slights suffered in earlier days.

43An indolent atheling: to the honor-blest man there 44Came requital for the cuts he had suffered. 45The folk-troop’s defender bade fetch to the building 46The heirloom of Hrethel, embellished with gold,

Higelac overwhelms the conqueror with gifts.

47So the brave one enjoined it; there was jewel no richer 48In the form of a weapon ’mong Geats of that era; 49In Beowulf’s keeping he placed it and gave him 50Seven of thousands, manor and lordship. 51Common to both was land ’mong the people, 52Estate and inherited rights and possessions, 53To the second one specially spacious dominions, 54To the one who was better. It afterward happened 55In days that followed, befell the battle-thanes,

After Heardred’s death, Beowulf becomes king.

56After Higelac’s death, and when Heardred was murdered 57With weapons of warfare ’neath well-covered targets, 58When valiant battlemen in victor-band sought him, 59War-Scylfing heroes harassed the nephew 60Of Hereric in battle. To Beowulf’s keeping 61Turned there in time extensive dominions:

He rules the Geats fifty years.

62He fittingly ruled them a fifty of winters 63(He a man-ruler wise was, manor-ward old) till 64A certain one ’gan, on gloom-darkening nights, a

The fire-drake.

65Dragon, to govern, who guarded a treasure, 66A high-rising stone-cliff, on heath that was grayish: 67A path ’neath it lay, unknown unto mortals. 68Some one of earthmen entered the mountain, 69The heathenish hoard laid hold of with ardor; 70*          *          *          *          *          *         * 71*          *          *          *          *          *         * 72*          *          *          *          *          *         * 73*          *          *          *          *          *         * 74*          *          *          *          *          *         *
XXXII. THE HOARD AND THE DRAGON. 1*          *          *          *          *          *         * 2He sought of himself who sorely did harm him, 3But, for need very pressing, the servant of one of 4The sons of the heroes hate-blows evaded, 5Seeking for shelter and the sin-driven warrior 6Took refuge within there. He early looked in it, 7*          *          *          *          *          *         * 8*          *          *          *          *          *         * 9*    *    *    *    *  when the onset surprised him,

The hoard.

10He a gem-vessel saw there: many of suchlike 11Ancient ornaments in the earth-cave were lying, 12As in days of yore some one of men of 13Illustrious lineage, as a legacy monstrous, 14There had secreted them, careful and thoughtful, 15Dear-valued jewels. Death had offsnatched them, 16In the days of the past, and the one man moreover 17Of the flower of the folk who fared there the longest, 18Was fain to defer it, friend-mourning warder, 19A little longer to be left in enjoyment 20Of long-lasting treasure. A barrow all-ready 21Stood on the plain the stream-currents nigh to, 22New by the ness-edge, unnethe of approaching: 23The keeper of rings carried within a 24Ponderous deal of the treasure of nobles, 25Of gold that was beaten, briefly he spake then:

The ring-giver bewails the loss of retainers.

26“Hold thou, O Earth, now heroes no more may, 27The earnings of earlmen. Lo! erst in thy bosom 28Worthy men won them; war-death hath ravished, 29Perilous life-bale, all my warriors, 30Liegemen belovèd, who this life have forsaken, 31Who hall-pleasures saw. No sword-bearer have I, 32And no one to burnish the gold-plated vessel, 33The high-valued beaker: my heroes are vanished. 34The hardy helmet behung with gilding 35Shall be reaved of its riches: the ring-cleansers slumber 36Who were charged to have ready visors-for-battle, 37And the burnie that bided in battle-encounter 38O’er breaking of war-shields the bite of the edges 39Moulds with the hero. The ring-twisted armor, 40Its lord being lifeless, no longer may journey 41Hanging by heroes; harp-joy is vanished, 42The rapture of glee-wood, no excellent falcon 43Swoops through the building, no swift-footed charger 44Grindeth the gravel. A grievous destruction 45No few of the world-folk widely hath scattered!” 46So, woful of spirit one after all 47Lamented mournfully, moaning in sadness 48By day and by night, till death with its billows

The fire-dragon

49Dashed on his spirit. Then the ancient dusk-scather 50Found the great treasure standing all open, 51He who flaming and fiery flies to the barrows, 52Naked war-dragon, nightly escapeth 53Encompassed with fire; men under heaven 54Widely beheld him. ’Tis said that he looks for 55The hoard in the earth, where old he is guarding 56The heathenish treasure; he’ll be nowise the better.

The dragon meets his match.

57So three-hundred winters the waster of peoples 58Held upon earth that excellent hoard-hall, 59Till the forementioned earlman angered him bitterly: 60The beat-plated beaker he bare to his chieftain 61And fullest remission for all his remissness 62Begged of his liegelord. Then the hoard was discovered, 63The treasure was taken, his petition was granted

The hero plunders the dragon’s den

64The lorn-mooded liegeman. His lord regarded 65The old-work of earth-folk—’twas the earliest occasion. 66When the dragon awoke, the strife was renewed there; 67He snuffed ’long the stone then, stout-hearted found he 68The footprint of foeman; too far had he gone 69With cunning craftiness close to the head of 70The fire-spewing dragon. So undoomed he may ’scape from 71Anguish and exile with ease who possesseth 72The favor of Heaven. The hoard-warden eagerly 73Searched o’er the ground then, would meet with the person 74That caused him sorrow while in slumber reclining: 75Gleaming and wild he oft went round the cavern, 76All of it outward; not any of earthmen 77Was seen in that desert. Yet he joyed in the battle, 78Rejoiced in the conflict: oft he turned to the barrow, 79Sought for the gem-cup; this he soon perceived then

The dragon perceives that some one has disturbed his treasure.

80That some man or other had discovered the gold, 81The famous folk-treasure. Not fain did the hoard-ward 82Wait until evening; then the ward of the barrow 83Was angry in spirit, the loathèd one wished to 84Pay for the dear-valued drink-cup with fire. 85Then the day was done as the dragon would have it, 86He no longer would wait on the wall, but departed

The dragon is infuriated.

87Fire-impelled, flaming. Fearful the start was 88To earls in the land, as it early thereafter 89To their giver-of-gold was grievously ended.

The dragon spits fire.

1The stranger began then to vomit forth fire, 2To burn the great manor; the blaze then glimmered 3For anguish to earlmen, not anything living 4Was the hateful air-goer willing to leave there. 5The war of the worm widely was noticed, 6The feud of the foeman afar and anear, 7How the enemy injured the earls of the Geatmen, 8Harried with hatred: back he hied to the treasure, 9To the well-hidden cavern ere the coming of daylight. 10He had circled with fire the folk of those regions, 11With brand and burning; in the barrow he trusted, 12In the wall and his war-might: the weening deceived him.

Beowulf hears of the havoc wrought by the dragon.

13Then straight was the horror to Beowulf published, 14Early forsooth, that his own native homestead, 15The best of buildings, was burning and melting, 16Gift-seat of Geatmen. ’Twas a grief to the spirit 17Of the good-mooded hero, the greatest of sorrows:

He fears that Heaven is punishing him for some crime.

18The wise one weened then that wielding his kingdom 19’Gainst the ancient commandments, he had bitterly angered 20The Lord everlasting: with lorn meditations 21His bosom welled inward, as was nowise his custom. 22The fire-spewing dragon fully had wasted 23The fastness of warriors, the water-land outward, 24The manor with fire. The folk-ruling hero, 25Prince of the Weders, was planning to wreak him. 26The warmen’s defender bade them to make him, 27Earlmen’s atheling, an excellent war-shield

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

28Wholly of iron: fully he knew then 29That wood from the forest was helpless to aid him, 30Shield against fire. The long-worthy ruler 31Must live the last of his limited earth-days, 32Of life in the world and the worm along with him, 33Though he long had been holding hoard-wealth in plenty.

He determines to fight alone.

34Then the ring-prince disdained to seek with a war-band, 35With army extensive, the air-going ranger; 36He felt no fear of the foeman’s assaults and 37He counted for little the might of the dragon, 38His power and prowess: for previously dared he

Beowulf’s early triumphs referred to

39A heap of hostility, hazarded dangers, 40War-thane, when Hrothgar’s palace he cleansèd, 41Conquering combatant, clutched in the battle 42The kinsmen of Grendel, of kindred detested.

Higelac’s death recalled.

43’Twas of hand-fights not least where Higelac was slaughtered, 44When the king of the Geatmen with clashings of battle, 45Friend-lord of folks in Frisian dominions, 46Offspring of Hrethrel perished through sword-drink, 47With battle-swords beaten; thence Beowulf came then 48On self-help relying, swam through the waters; 49He bare on his arm, lone-going, thirty 50Outfits of armor, when the ocean he mounted. 51The Hetwars by no means had need to be boastful 52Of their fighting afoot, who forward to meet him 53Carried their war-shields: not many returned from 54The brave-mooded battle-knight back to their homesteads. 55Ecgtheow’s bairn o’er the bight-courses swam then, 56Lone-goer lorn to his land-folk returning, 57Where Hygd to him tendered treasure and kingdom,

Heardred’s lack of capacity to rule.

58Rings and dominion: her son she not trusted, 59To be able to keep the kingdom devised him 60’Gainst alien races, on the death of King Higelac.

Beowulf’s tact and delicacy recalled.

61Yet the sad ones succeeded not in persuading the atheling 62In any way ever, to act as a suzerain 63To Heardred, or promise to govern the kingdom; 64Yet with friendly counsel in the folk he sustained him, 65Gracious, with honor, till he grew to be older,

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

66Wielded the Weders. Wide-fleeing outlaws, 67Ohthere’s sons, sought him o’er the waters: 68They had stirred a revolt ’gainst the helm of the Scylfings, 69The best of the sea-kings, who in Swedish dominions 70Distributed treasure, distinguished folk-leader. 71’Twas the end of his earth-days; injury fatal 72By swing of the sword he received as a greeting, 73Offspring of Higelac; Ongentheow’s bairn 74Later departed to visit his homestead, 75When Heardred was dead; let Beowulf rule them, 76Govern the Geatmen: good was that folk-king.
XXXIV. BEOWULF SEEKS THE DRAGON.—BEOWULF’S REMINISCENCES. 1He planned requital for the folk-leader’s ruin 2In days thereafter, to Eadgils the wretched 3Becoming an enemy. Ohthere’s son then 4Went with a war-troop o’er the wide-stretching currents 5With warriors and weapons: with woe-journeys cold he 6After avenged him, the king’s life he took.

Beowulf has been preserved through many perils.

7So he came off uninjured from all of his battles, 8Perilous fights, offspring of Ecgtheow, 9From his deeds of daring, till that day most momentous 10When he fate-driven fared to fight with the dragon.

With eleven comrades, he seeks the dragon.

11With eleven companions the prince of the Geatmen 12Went lowering with fury to look at the fire-drake: 13Inquiring he’d found how the feud had arisen, 14Hate to his heroes; the highly-famed gem-vessel 15Was brought to his keeping through the hand of th’ informer.

A guide leads the way, but very reluctantly.

16That in the throng was thirteenth of heroes, 17That caused the beginning of conflict so bitter, 18Captive and wretched, must sad-mooded thenceward 19Point out the place: he passed then unwillingly 20To the spot where he knew of the notable cavern, 21The cave under earth, not far from the ocean, 22The anger of eddies, which inward was full of 23Jewels and wires: a warden uncanny, 24Warrior weaponed, wardered the treasure, 25Old under earth; no easy possession 26For any of earth-folk access to get to. 27Then the battle-brave atheling sat on the naze-edge, 28While the gold-friend of Geatmen gracious saluted 29His fireside-companions: woe was his spirit, 30Death-boding, wav’ring; Weird very near him, 31Who must seize the old hero, his soul-treasure look for, 32Dragging aloof his life from his body: 33Not flesh-hidden long was the folk-leader’s spirit. 34Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow’s son:

Beowulf’s retrospect.

35“I survived in my youth-days many a conflict, 36Hours of onset: that all I remember. 37I was seven-winters old when the jewel-prince took me, 38High-lord of heroes, at the hands of my father, 39Hrethel the hero-king had me in keeping,

Hrethel took me when I was seven.

40Gave me treasure and feasting, our kinship remembered; 41Not ever was I any less dear to him

He treated me as a son.

42Knight in the boroughs, than the bairns of his household, 43Herebald and Hæthcyn and Higelac mine. 44To the eldest unjustly by acts of a kinsman 45Was murder-bed strewn, since him Hæthcyn from horn-bow

One of the brothers accidentally kills another.

46His sheltering chieftain shot with an arrow, 47Erred in his aim and injured his kinsman, 48One brother the other, with blood-sprinkled spear:

No fee could compound for such a calamity.

49’Twas a feeless fight, finished in malice, 50Sad to his spirit; the folk-prince however 51Had to part from existence with vengeance untaken.

[A parallel case is supposed.]

52So to hoar-headed hero ’tis heavily crushing 53To live to see his son as he rideth 54Young on the gallows: then measures he chanteth, 55A song of sorrow, when his son is hanging 56For the raven’s delight, and aged and hoary 57He is unable to offer any assistance. 58Every morning his offspring’s departure 59Is constant recalled: he cares not to wait for 60The birth of an heir in his borough-enclosures, 61Since that one through death-pain the deeds hath experienced. 62He heart-grieved beholds in the house of his son the 63Wine-building wasted, the wind-lodging places 64Reaved of their roaring; the riders are sleeping, 65The knights in the grave; there’s no sound of the harp-wood, 66Joy in the yards, as of yore were familiar.
XXXV. REMINISCENCES (continued).—BEOWULF’S LAST BATTLE. 1“He seeks then his chamber, singeth a woe-song 2One for the other; all too extensive 3Seemed homesteads and plains. So the helm of the Weders

Hrethel grieves for Herebald.

4Mindful of Herebald heart-sorrow carried, 5Stirred with emotion, nowise was able 6To wreak his ruin on the ruthless destroyer: 7He was unable to follow the warrior with hatred, 8With deeds that were direful, though dear he not held him. 9Then pressed by the pang this pain occasioned him, 10He gave up glee, God-light elected; 11He left to his sons, as the man that is rich does, 12His land and fortress, when from life he departed.

Strife between Swedes and Geats.

13Then was crime and hostility ’twixt Swedes and Geatmen, 14O’er wide-stretching water warring was mutual, 15Burdensome hatred, when Hrethel had perished, 16And Ongentheow’s offspring were active and valiant, 17Wished not to hold to peace oversea, but 18Round Hreosna-beorh often accomplished 19Cruelest massacre. This my kinsman avengèd, 20The feud and fury, as ’tis found on inquiry, 21Though one of them paid it with forfeit of life-joys,

Hæthcyn’s fall at Ravenswood.

22With price that was hard: the struggle became then 23Fatal to Hæthcyn, lord of the Geatmen. 24Then I heard that at morning one brother the other 25With edges of irons egged on to murder, 26Where Ongentheow maketh onset on Eofor: 27The helmet crashed, the hoary-haired Scylfing 28Sword-smitten fell, his hand then remembered 29Feud-hate sufficient, refused not the death-blow.

I requited him for the jewels he gave me.

30The gems that he gave me, with jewel-bright sword I 31’Quited in contest, as occasion was offered: 32Land he allowed me, life-joy at homestead, 33Manor to live on. Little he needed 34From Gepids or Danes or in Sweden to look for 35Trooper less true, with treasure to buy him; 36’Mong foot-soldiers ever in front I would hie me, 37Alone in the vanguard, and evermore gladly 38Warfare shall wage, while this weapon endureth 39That late and early often did serve me

Beowulf refers to his having slain Dæghrefn.

40When I proved before heroes the slayer of Dæghrefn, 41Knight of the Hugmen: he by no means was suffered 42To the king of the Frisians to carry the jewels, 43The breast-decoration; but the banner-possessor 44Bowed in the battle, brave-mooded atheling. 45No weapon was slayer, but war-grapple broke then 46The surge of his spirit, his body destroying. 47Now shall weapon’s edge make war for the treasure, 48And hand and firm-sword.” Beowulf spake then, 49Boast-words uttered—the latest occasion:

He boasts of his youthful prowess, and declares himself still fearless.

50“I braved in my youth-days battles unnumbered; 51Still am I willing the struggle to look for, 52Fame-deeds perform, folk-warden prudent, 53If the hateful despoiler forth from his cavern 54Seeketh me out!” Each of the heroes, 55Helm-bearers sturdy, he thereupon greeted

His last salutations.

56Belovèd co-liegemen—his last salutation: 57“No brand would I bear, no blade for the dragon, 58Wist I a way my word-boast to ’complish 59Else with the monster, as with Grendel I did it; 60But fire in the battle hot I expect there, 61Furious flame-burning: so I fixed on my body 62Target and war-mail. The ward of the barrow 63I’ll not flee from a foot-length, the foeman uncanny. 64At the wall ’twill befall us as Fate decreeth,

Let Fate decide between us.

65Each one’s Creator. I am eager in spirit, 66With the wingèd war-hero to away with all boasting. 67Bide on the barrow with burnies protected,

Wait ye here till the battle is over.

68Earls in armor, which of us two may better 69Bear his disaster, when the battle is over. 70’Tis no matter of yours, and man cannot do it, 71But me and me only, to measure his strength with 72The monster of malice, might-deeds to ’complish. 73I with prowess shall gain the gold, or the battle, 74Direful death-woe will drag off your ruler!” 75The mighty champion rose by his shield then, 76Brave under helmet, in battle-mail went he 77’Neath steep-rising stone-cliffs, the strength he relied on 78Of one man alone: no work for a coward. 79Then he saw by the wall who a great many battles 80Had lived through, most worthy, when foot-troops collided,

The place of strife is described.

81Stone-arches standing, stout-hearted champion, 82Saw a brook from the barrow bubbling out thenceward: 83The flood of the fountain was fuming with war-flame: 84Not nigh to the hoard, for season the briefest 85Could he brave, without burning, the abyss that was yawning, 86The drake was so fiery. The prince of the Weders 87Caused then that words came from his bosom, 88So fierce was his fury; the firm-hearted shouted: 89His battle-clear voice came in resounding 90’Neath the gray-colored stone. Stirred was his hatred,

Beowulf calls out under the stone arches.

91The hoard-ward distinguished the speech of a man; 92Time was no longer to look out for friendship. 93The breath of the monster issued forth first, 94Vapory war-sweat, out of the stone-cave:

The terrible encounter.

95The earth re-echoed. The earl ’neath the barrow 96Lifted his shield, lord of the Geatmen, 97Tow’rd the terrible stranger: the ring-twisted creature’s 98Heart was then ready to seek for a struggle.

Beowulf brandishes his sword,

99The excellent battle-king first brandished his weapon, 100The ancient heirloom, of edges unblunted, 101To the death-planners twain was terror from other.

and stands against his shield.

102The lord of the troopers intrepidly stood then 103’Gainst his high-rising shield, when the dragon coiled him

The dragon coils himself.

104Quickly together: in corslet he bided. 105He went then in blazes, bended and striding, 106Hasting him forward. His life and body 107The targe well protected, for time-period shorter 108Than wish demanded for the well-renowned leader, 109Where he then for the first day was forced to be victor, 110Famous in battle, as Fate had not willed it. 111The lord of the Geatmen uplifted his hand then, 112Smiting the fire-drake with sword that was precious, 113That bright on the bone the blade-edge did weaken, 114Bit more feebly than his folk-leader needed, 115Burdened with bale-griefs. Then the barrow-protector,

The dragon rages

116When the sword-blow had fallen, was fierce in his spirit, 117Flinging his fires, flamings of battle 118Gleamed then afar: the gold-friend of Weders

Beowulf’s sword fails him.

119Boasted no conquests, his battle-sword failed him 120Naked in conflict, as by no means it ought to, 121Long-trusty weapon. ’Twas no slight undertaking 122That Ecgtheow’s famous offspring would leave 123The drake-cavern’s bottom; he must live in some region 124Other than this, by the will of the dragon, 125As each one of earthmen existence must forfeit. 126’Twas early thereafter the excellent warriors

The combat is renewed.

127Met with each other. Anew and afresh 128The hoard-ward took heart (gasps heaved then his bosom):

The great hero is reduced to extremities.

129Sorrow he suffered encircled with fire 130Who the people erst governed. His companions by no means 131Were banded about him, bairns of the princes,

His comrades flee!

132With valorous spirit, but they sped to the forest, 133Seeking for safety. The soul-deeps of one were

Blood is thicker than water.

134Ruffled by care: kin-love can never 135Aught in him waver who well doth consider.

Wiglaf remains true—the ideal Teutonic liegeman.

1The son of Weohstan was Wiglaf entitled, 2Shield-warrior precious, prince of the Scylfings, 3Ælfhere’s kinsman: he saw his dear liegelord 4Enduring the heat ’neath helmet and visor. 5Then he minded the holding that erst he had given him,

Wiglaf recalls Beowulf’s generosity.

6The Wægmunding warriors’ wealth-blessèd homestead, 7Each of the folk-rights his father had wielded; 8He was hot for the battle, his hand seized the target, 9The yellow-bark shield, he unsheathed his old weapon, 10Which was known among earthmen as the relic of Eanmund, 11Ohthere’s offspring, whom, exiled and friendless, 12Weohstan did slay with sword-edge in battle, 13And carried his kinsman the clear-shining helmet, 14The ring-made burnie, the old giant-weapon 15That Onela gave him, his boon-fellow’s armor, 16Ready war-trappings: he the feud did not mention, 17Though he’d fatally smitten the son of his brother. 18Many a half-year held he the treasures, 19The bill and the burnie, till his bairn became able, 20Like his father before him, fame-deeds to ’complish; 21Then he gave him ’mong Geatmen a goodly array of 22Weeds for his warfare; he went from life then 23Old on his journey. ’Twas the earliest time then

This is Wiglaf’s first battle as liegeman of Beowulf.

24That the youthful champion might charge in the battle 25Aiding his liegelord; his spirit was dauntless. 26Nor did kinsman’s bequest quail at the battle: 27This the dragon discovered on their coming together. 28Wiglaf uttered many a right-saying, 29Said to his fellows, sad was his spirit:

Wiglaf appeals to the pride of the cowards.

30“I remember the time when, tasting the mead-cup, 31We promised in the hall the lord of us all 32Who gave us these ring-treasures, that this battle-equipment, 33Swords and helmets, we’d certainly quite him, 34Should need of such aid ever befall him:

How we have forfeited our liegelord’s confidence!

35In the war-band he chose us for this journey spontaneously, 36Stirred us to glory and gave me these jewels, 37Since he held and esteemed us trust-worthy spearmen, 38Hardy helm-bearers, though this hero-achievement 39Our lord intended alone to accomplish, 40Ward of his people, for most of achievements, 41Doings audacious, he did among earth-folk.

Our lord is in sore need of us.

42The day is now come when the ruler of earthmen 43Needeth the vigor of valiant heroes: 44Let us wend us towards him, the war-prince to succor, 45While the heat yet rageth, horrible fire-fight.

I would rather die than go home with out my suzerain.

46God wot in me, ’tis mickle the liefer 47The blaze should embrace my body and eat it 48With my treasure-bestower. Meseemeth not proper 49To bear our battle-shields back to our country, 50’Less first we are able to fell and destroy the 51Long-hating foeman, to defend the life of

Surely he does not deserve to die alone.

52The prince of the Weders. Well do I know ’tisn’t 53Earned by his exploits, he only of Geatmen 54Sorrow should suffer, sink in the battle: 55Brand and helmet to us both shall be common, 56Shield-cover, burnie.” Through the bale-smoke he stalked then, 57Went under helmet to the help of his chieftain,

Wiglaf reminds Beowulf of his youthful boasts.

58Briefly discoursing: “Beowulf dear, 59Perform thou all fully, as thou formerly saidst, 60In thy youthful years, that while yet thou livedst 61Thou wouldst let thine honor not ever be lessened. 62Thy life thou shalt save, mighty in actions, 63Atheling undaunted, with all of thy vigor;

The monster advances on them.

64I’ll give thee assistance.” The dragon came raging, 65Wild-mooded stranger, when these words had been uttered 66(’Twas the second occasion), seeking his enemies, 67Men that were hated, with hot-gleaming fire-waves; 68With blaze-billows burned the board to its edges: 69The fight-armor failed then to furnish assistance 70To the youthful spear-hero: but the young-agèd stripling 71Quickly advanced ’neath his kinsman’s war-target, 72Since his own had been ground in the grip of the fire.

Beowulf strikes at the dragon.

73Then the warrior-king was careful of glory, 74He soundly smote with sword-for-the-battle, 75That it stood in the head by hatred driven; 76Nægling was shivered, the old and iron-made

His sword fails him.

77Brand of Beowulf in battle deceived him. 78’Twas denied him that edges of irons were able 79To help in the battle; the hand was too mighty 80Which every weapon, as I heard on inquiry, 81Outstruck in its stroke, when to struggle he carried 82The wonderful war-sword: it waxed him no better.

The dragon advances on Beowulf again.

83Then the people-despoiler—third of his onsets— 84Fierce-raging fire-drake, of feud-hate was mindful, 85Charged on the strong one, when chance was afforded, 86Heated and war-grim, seized on his neck 87With teeth that were bitter; he bloody did wax with 88Soul-gore seething; sword-blood in waves boiled.

Wiglaf defends Beowulf.

1Then I heard that at need of the king of the people 2The upstanding earlman exhibited prowess, 3Vigor and courage, as suited his nature; 4He his head did not guard, but the high-minded liegeman’s 5Hand was consumed, when he succored his kinsman, 6So he struck the strife-bringing strange-comer lower, 7Earl-thane in armor, that in went the weapon 8Gleaming and plated, that ’gan then the fire

Beowulf draws his knife,

9Later to lessen. The liegelord himself then 10Retained his consciousness, brandished his war-knife, 11Battle-sharp, bitter, that he bare on his armor:

and cuts the dragon.

12The Weder-lord cut the worm in the middle. 13They had felled the enemy (life drove out then 14Puissant prowess), the pair had destroyed him, 15Land-chiefs related: so a liegeman should prove him, 16A thaneman when needed. To the prince ’twas the last of 17His era of conquest by his own great achievements,

Beowulf’s wound swells and burns.

18The latest of world-deeds. The wound then began 19Which the earth-dwelling dragon erstwhile had wrought him 20To burn and to swell. He soon then discovered 21That bitterest bale-woe in his bosom was raging, 22Poison within. The atheling advanced then,

He sits down exhausted.

23That along by the wall, he prudent of spirit 24Might sit on a settle; he saw the giant-work, 25How arches of stone strengthened with pillars 26The earth-hall eternal inward supported. 27Then the long-worthy liegeman laved with his hand the

Wiglaf bathes his lord’s head.

28Far-famous chieftain, gory from sword-edge, 29Refreshing the face of his friend-lord and ruler, 30Sated with battle, unbinding his helmet. 31Beowulf answered, of his injury spake he, 32His wound that was fatal (he was fully aware 33He had lived his allotted life-days enjoying 34The pleasures of earth; then past was entirely 35His measure of days, death very near):

Beowulf regrets that he has no son.

36“My son I would give now my battle-equipments, 37Had any of heirs been after me granted, 38Along of my body. This people I governed 39Fifty of winters: no king ’mong my neighbors 40Dared to encounter me with comrades-in-battle, 41Try me with terror. The time to me ordered 42I bided at home, mine own kept fitly, 43Sought me no snares, swore me not many

I can rejoice in a well-spent life.

44Oaths in injustice. Joy over all this 45I’m able to have, though ill with my death-wounds; 46Hence the Ruler of Earthmen need not charge me 47With the killing of kinsmen, when cometh my life out 48Forth from my body. Fare thou with haste now

Bring me the hoard, Wiglaf, that my dying eyes may be refreshed by a sight of it.

49To behold the hoard ’neath the hoar-grayish stone, 50Well-lovèd Wiglaf, now the worm is a-lying, 51Sore-wounded sleepeth, disseized of his treasure. 52Go thou in haste that treasures of old I, 53Gold-wealth may gaze on, together see lying 54The ether-bright jewels, be easier able, 55Having the heap of hoard-gems, to yield my 56Life and the land-folk whom long I have governed.”

Wiglaf fulfils his lord’s behest.

1Then heard I that Wihstan’s son very quickly, 2These words being uttered, heeded his liegelord 3Wounded and war-sick, went in his armor, 4His well-woven ring-mail, ’neath the roof of the barrow. 5Then the trusty retainer treasure-gems many

The dragon’s den.

6Victorious saw, when the seat he came near to, 7Gold-treasure sparkling spread on the bottom, 8Wonder on the wall, and the worm-creature’s cavern, 9The ancient dawn-flier’s, vessels a-standing, 10Cups of the ancients of cleansers bereavèd, 11Robbed of their ornaments: there were helmets in numbers, 12Old and rust-eaten, arm-bracelets many, 13Artfully woven. Wealth can easily, 14Gold on the sea-bottom, turn into vanity 15Each one of earthmen, arm him who pleaseth! 16And he saw there lying an all-golden banner 17High o’er the hoard, of hand-wonders greatest, 18Linkèd with lacets: a light from it sparkled, 19That the floor of the cavern he was able to look on,

The dragon is not there.

20To examine the jewels. Sight of the dragon 21Not any was offered, but edge offcarried him.

Wiglaf bears the hoard away.

22Then I heard that the hero the hoard-treasure plundered, 23The giant-work ancient reaved in the cavern, 24Bare on his bosom the beakers and platters, 25As himself would fain have it, and took off the standard, 26The brightest of beacons; the bill had erst injured 27(Its edge was of iron), the old-ruler’s weapon, 28Him who long had watched as ward of the jewels, 29Who fire-terror carried hot for the treasure, 30Rolling in battle, in middlemost darkness, 31Till murdered he perished. The messenger hastened, 32Not loth to return, hurried by jewels: 33Curiosity urged him if, excellent-mooded, 34Alive he should find the lord of the Weders 35Mortally wounded, at the place where he left him. 36’Mid the jewels he found then the famous old chieftain, 37His liegelord belovèd, at his life’s-end gory: 38He thereupon ’gan to lave him with water, 39Till the point of his word piercèd his breast-hoard. 40Beowulf spake (the gold-gems he noticed),

Beowulf is rejoiced to see the jewels.

41The old one in sorrow: “For the jewels I look on 42Thanks do I utter for all to the Ruler, 43Wielder of Worship, with words of devotion, 44The Lord everlasting, that He let me such treasures 45Gain for my people ere death overtook me. 46Since I’ve bartered the agèd life to me granted 47For treasure of jewels, attend ye henceforward

He desires to be held in memory by his people.

48The wants of the war-thanes; I can wait here no longer. 49The battle-famed bid ye to build them a grave-hill, 50Bright when I’m burned, at the brim-current’s limit; 51As a memory-mark to the men I have governed, 52Aloft it shall tower on Whale’s-Ness uprising, 53That earls of the ocean hereafter may call it 54Beowulf’s barrow, those who barks ever-dashing 55From a distance shall drive o’er the darkness of waters.”

The hero’s last gift and last words.

56The bold-mooded troop-lord took from his neck then 57The ring that was golden, gave to his liegeman, 58The youthful war-hero, his gold-flashing helmet, 59His collar and war-mail, bade him well to enjoy them: 60“Thou art latest left of the line of our kindred, 61Of Wægmunding people: Weird hath offcarried 62All of my kinsmen to the Creator’s glory, 63Earls in their vigor: I shall after them fare.” 64’Twas the aged liegelord’s last-spoken word in 65His musings of spirit, ere he mounted the fire, 66The battle-waves burning: from his bosom departed 67His soul to seek the sainted ones’ glory.

Wiglaf is sorely grieved to see his lord look so un-warlike.

1It had wofully chanced then the youthful retainer 2To behold on earth the most ardent-belovèd 3At his life-days’ limit, lying there helpless. 4The slayer too lay there, of life all bereavèd, 5Horrible earth-drake, harassed with sorrow:

The dragon has plundered his last hoard.

6The round-twisted monster was permitted no longer 7To govern the ring-hoards, but edges of war-swords 8Mightily seized him, battle-sharp, sturdy 9Leavings of hammers, that still from his wounds 10The flier-from-farland fell to the earth 11Hard by his hoard-house, hopped he at midnight 12Not e’er through the air, nor exulting in jewels 13Suffered them to see him: but he sank then to earthward 14Through the hero-chief’s handwork. I heard sure it throve then

Few warriors dared to face the monster.

15But few in the land of liegemen of valor, 16Though of every achievement bold he had proved him, 17To run ’gainst the breath of the venomous scather, 18Or the hall of the treasure to trouble with hand-blows, 19If he watching had found the ward of the hoard-hall 20On the barrow abiding. Beowulf’s part of 21The treasure of jewels was paid for with death; 22Each of the twain had attained to the end of 23Life so unlasting. Not long was the time till

The cowardly thanes come out of the thicket.

24The tardy-at-battle returned from the thicket, 25The timid truce-breakers ten all together, 26Who durst not before play with the lances 27In the prince of the people’s pressing emergency;

They are ashamed of their desertion.

28But blushing with shame, with shields they betook them, 29With arms and armor where the old one was lying: 30They gazed upon Wiglaf. He was sitting exhausted, 31Foot-going fighter, not far from the shoulders 32Of the lord of the people, would rouse him with water; 33No whit did it help him; though he hoped for it keenly, 34He was able on earth not at all in the leader 35Life to retain, and nowise to alter 36The will of the Wielder; the World-Ruler’s power 37Would govern the actions of each one of heroes,

Wiglaf is ready to excoriate them.

38As yet He is doing. From the young one forthwith then 39Could grim-worded greeting be got for him quickly 40Whose courage had failed him. Wiglaf discoursed then, 41Weohstan his son, sad-mooded hero,

He begins to taunt them.

42Looked on the hated: “He who soothness will utter 43Can say that the liegelord who gave you the jewels, 44The ornament-armor wherein ye are standing, 45When on ale-bench often he offered to hall-men 46Helmet and burnie, the prince to his liegemen, 47As best upon earth he was able to find him,—

Surely our lord wasted his armor on poltroons.

48That he wildly wasted his war-gear undoubtedly 49When battle o’ertook him. The troop-king no need had 50To glory in comrades; yet God permitted him,

He, however, got along without you.

51Victory-Wielder, with weapon unaided 52Himself to avenge, when vigor was needed. 53I life-protection but little was able 54To give him in battle, and I ’gan, notwithstanding,

With some aid, I could have saved our liegelord.

55Helping my kinsman (my strength overtaxing): 56He waxed the weaker when with weapon I smote on 57My mortal opponent, the fire less strongly 58Flamed from his bosom. Too few of protectors 59Came round the king at the critical moment.

Gift-giving is over with your people: the ring-lord is dead.

60Now must ornament-taking and weapon-bestowing, 61Home-joyance all, cease for your kindred, 62Food for the people; each of your warriors 63Must needs be bereavèd of rights that he holdeth 64In landed possessions, when faraway nobles 65Shall learn of your leaving your lord so basely,

What is life without honor?

66The dastardly deed. Death is more pleasant 67To every earlman than infamous life is!”

Wiglaf sends the news of Beowulf’s death to liegemen near by.

1Then he charged that the battle be announced at the hedge 2Up o’er the cliff-edge, where the earl-troopers bided 3The whole of the morning, mood-wretched sat them, 4Bearers of battle-shields, both things expecting, 5The end of his lifetime and the coming again of 6The liegelord belovèd. Little reserved he 7Of news that was known, who the ness-cliff did travel, 8But he truly discoursed to all that could hear him:

The messenger speaks.

9“Now the free-giving friend-lord of the folk of the Weders, 10The folk-prince of Geatmen, is fast in his death-bed, 11By the deeds of the dragon in death-bed abideth; 12Along with him lieth his life-taking foeman 13Slain with knife-wounds: he was wholly unable 14To injure at all the ill-planning monster

Wiglaf sits by our dead lord.

15With bite of his sword-edge. Wiglaf is sitting, 16Offspring of Wihstan, up over Beowulf, 17Earl o’er another whose end-day hath reached him, 18Head-watch holdeth o’er heroes unliving,

Our lord’s death will lead to attacks from our old foes.

19For friend and for foeman. The folk now expecteth 20A season of strife when the death of the folk-king 21To Frankmen and Frisians in far-lands is published. 22The war-hatred waxed warm ’gainst the Hugmen,

Higelac’s death recalled.

23When Higelac came with an army of vessels 24Faring to Friesland, where the Frankmen in battle 25Humbled him and bravely with overmight ’complished 26That the mail-clad warrior must sink in the battle, 27Fell ’mid his folk-troop: no fret-gems presented 28The atheling to earlmen; aye was denied us 29Merewing’s mercy. The men of the Swedelands 30For truce or for truth trust I but little; 31But widely ’twas known that near Ravenswood Ongentheow

Hæthcyn’s fall referred to.

32Sundered Hæthcyn the Hrethling from life-joys, 33When for pride overweening the War-Scylfings first did 34Seek the Geatmen with savage intentions. 35Early did Ohthere’s age-laden father, 36Old and terrible, give blow in requital, 37Killing the sea-king, the queen-mother rescued, 38The old one his consort deprived of her gold, 39Onela’s mother and Ohthere’s also, 40And then followed the feud-nursing foemen till hardly, 41Reaved of their ruler, they Ravenswood entered. 42Then with vast-numbered forces he assaulted the remnant, 43Weary with wounds, woe often promised 44The livelong night to the sad-hearted war-troop: 45Said he at morning would kill them with edges of weapons, 46Some on the gallows for glee to the fowls. 47Aid came after to the anxious-in-spirit 48At dawn of the day, after Higelac’s bugle 49And trumpet-sound heard they, when the good one proceeded 50And faring followed the flower of the troopers.

The messenger continues, and refers to the feuds of Swedes and Geats.

1“The blood-stainèd trace of Swedes and Geatmen, 2The death-rush of warmen, widely was noticed, 3How the folks with each other feud did awaken. 4The worthy one went then with well-beloved comrades, 5Old and dejected to go to the fastness, 6Ongentheo earl upward then turned him; 7Of Higelac’s battle he’d heard on inquiry, 8The exultant one’s prowess, despaired of resistance, 9With earls of the ocean to be able to struggle, 10’Gainst sea-going sailors to save the hoard-treasure, 11His wife and his children; he fled after thenceward 12Old ’neath the earth-wall. Then was offered pursuance 13To the braves of the Swedemen, the banner to Higelac. 14They fared then forth o’er the field-of-protection, 15When the Hrethling heroes hedgeward had thronged them. 16Then with edges of irons was Ongentheow driven, 17The gray-haired to tarry, that the troop-ruler had to 18Suffer the power solely of Eofor:

Wulf wounds Ongentheow.

19Wulf then wildly with weapon assaulted him, 20Wonred his son, that for swinge of the edges 21The blood from his body burst out in currents, 22Forth ’neath his hair. He feared not however, 23Gray-headed Scylfing, but speedily quited

Ongentheow gives a stout blow in return.

24The wasting wound-stroke with worse exchange, 25When the king of the thane-troop thither did turn him: 26The wise-mooded son of Wonred was powerless 27To give a return-blow to the age-hoary man, 28But his head-shielding helmet first hewed he to pieces, 29That flecked with gore perforce he did totter, 30Fell to the earth; not fey was he yet then, 31But up did he spring though an edge-wound had reached him.

Eofor smites Ongentheow fiercely.

32Then Higelac’s vassal, valiant and dauntless, 33When his brother lay dead, made his broad-bladed weapon, 34Giant-sword ancient, defence of the giants, 35Bound o’er the shield-wall; the folk-prince succumbed then,

Ongentheow is slain.

36Shepherd of people, was pierced to the vitals. 37There were many attendants who bound up his kinsman, 38Carried him quickly when occasion was granted 39That the place of the slain they were suffered to manage. 40This pending, one hero plundered the other, 41His armor of iron from Ongentheow ravished, 42His hard-sword hilted and helmet together;

Eofor takes the old king’s war-gear to Higelac.

43The old one’s equipments he carried to Higelac. 44He the jewels received, and rewards ’mid the troopers 45Graciously promised, and so did accomplish: 46The king of the Weders requited the war-rush, 47Hrethel’s descendant, when home he repaired him,

Higelac rewards the brothers.

48To Eofor and Wulf with wide-lavished treasures, 49To each of them granted a hundred of thousands 50In land and rings wrought out of wire:

His gifts were beyond cavil.

51None upon mid-earth needed to twit him 52With the gifts he gave them, when glory they conquered;

To Eofor he also gives his only daughter in marriage.

53And to Eofor then gave he his one only daughter, 54The honor of home, as an earnest of favor. 55That’s the feud and hatred—as ween I ’twill happen— 56The anger of earthmen, that earls of the Swedemen 57Will visit on us, when they hear that our leader 58Lifeless is lying, he who longtime protected 59His hoard and kingdom ’gainst hating assailers, 60Who on the fall of the heroes defended of yore 61The deed-mighty Scyldings, did for the troopers 62What best did avail them, and further moreover

It is time for us to pay the last marks of respect to our lord.

63Hero-deeds ’complished. Now is haste most fitting, 64That the lord of liegemen we look upon yonder, 65And that one carry on journey to death-pyre 66Who ring-presents gave us. Not aught of it all 67Shall melt with the brave one—there’s a mass of bright jewels, 68Gold beyond measure, grewsomely purchased 69And ending it all ornament-rings too 70Bought with his life; these fire shall devour, 71Flame shall cover, no earlman shall wear 72A jewel-memento, nor beautiful virgin 73Have on her neck rings to adorn her, 74But wretched in spirit bereavèd of gold-gems 75She shall oft with others be exiled and banished, 76Since the leader of liegemen hath laughter forsaken, 77Mirth and merriment. Hence many a war-spear 78Cold from the morning shall be clutched in the fingers, 79Heaved in the hand, no harp-music’s sound shall 80Waken the warriors, but the wan-coated raven 81Fain over fey ones freely shall gabble, 82Shall say to the eagle how he sped in the eating, 83When, the wolf his companion, he plundered the slain.” 84So the high-minded hero was rehearsing these stories 85Loathsome to hear; he lied as to few of

The warriors go sadly to look at Beowulf’s lifeless body.

86Weirds and of words. All the war-troop arose then, 87’Neath the Eagle’s Cape sadly betook them, 88Weeping and woful, the wonder to look at. 89They saw on the sand then soulless a-lying, 90His slaughter-bed holding, him who rings had given them 91In days that were done; then the death-bringing moment 92Was come to the good one, that the king very warlike, 93Wielder of Weders, with wonder-death perished. 94First they beheld there a creature more wondrous,

They also see the dragon.

95The worm on the field, in front of them lying, 96The foeman before them: the fire-spewing dragon, 97Ghostly and grisly guest in his terrors, 98Was scorched in the fire; as he lay there he measured 99Fifty of feet; came forth in the night-time 100To rejoice in the air, thereafter departing 101To visit his den; he in death was then fastened, 102He would joy in no other earth-hollowed caverns. 103There stood round about him beakers and vessels, 104Dishes were lying and dear-valued weapons, 105With iron-rust eaten, as in earth’s mighty bosom 106A thousand of winters there they had rested:

The hoard was under a magic spell.

107That mighty bequest then with magic was guarded, 108Gold of the ancients, that earlman not any 109The ring-hall could touch, save Ruling-God only, 110Sooth-king of Vict’ries gave whom He wished to

God alone could give access to it.

111(He is earth-folk’s protector) to open the treasure, 112E’en to such among mortals as seemed to Him proper.
XLII. WIGLAF’S SAD STORY.—THE HOARD CARRIED OFF. 1Then ’twas seen that the journey prospered him little 2Who wrongly within had the ornaments hidden 3Down ’neath the wall. The warden erst slaughtered 4Some few of the folk-troop: the feud then thereafter 5Was hotly avengèd. ’Tis a wonder where, 6When the strength-famous trooper has attained to the end of 7Life-days allotted, then no longer the man may 8Remain with his kinsmen where mead-cups are flowing. 9So to Beowulf happened when the ward of the barrow, 10Assaults, he sought for: himself had no knowledge 11How his leaving this life was likely to happen. 12So to doomsday, famous folk-leaders down did 13Call it with curses—who ’complished it there— 14That that man should be ever of ill-deeds convicted, 15Confined in foul-places, fastened in hell-bonds, 16Punished with plagues, who this place should e’er ravage. 17He cared not for gold: rather the Wielder’s 18Favor preferred he first to get sight of.

Wiglaf addresses his comrades.

19Wiglaf discoursed then, Wihstan his son: 20“Oft many an earlman on one man’s account must 21Sorrow endure, as to us it hath happened. 22The liegelord belovèd we could little prevail on, 23Kingdom’s keeper, counsel to follow, 24Not to go to the guardian of the gold-hoard, but let him 25Lie where he long was, live in his dwelling 26Till the end of the world. Met we a destiny 27Hard to endure: the hoard has been looked at, 28Been gained very grimly; too grievous the fate that 29The prince of the people pricked to come thither. 30I was therein and all of it looked at, 31The building’s equipments, since access was given me, 32Not kindly at all entrance permitted

He tells them of Beowulf’s last moments.

33Within under earth-wall. Hastily seized I 34And held in my hands a huge-weighing burden 35Of hoard-treasures costly, hither out bare them 36To my liegelord belovèd: life was yet in him, 37And consciousness also; the old one discoursed then 38Much and mournfully, commanded to greet you,

Beowulf’s dying request.

39Bade that remembering the deeds of your friend-lord 40Ye build on the fire-hill of corpses a lofty 41Burial-barrow, broad and far-famous, 42As ’mid world-dwelling warriors he was widely most honored 43While he reveled in riches. Let us rouse us and hasten 44Again to see and seek for the treasure, 45The wonder ’neath wall. The way I will show you, 46That close ye may look at ring-gems sufficient 47And gold in abundance. Let the bier with promptness 48Fully be fashioned, when forth we shall come, 49And lift we our lord, then, where long he shall tarry, 50Well-beloved warrior, ’neath the Wielder’s protection.”

Wiglaf charges them to build a funeral-pyre.

51Then the son of Wihstan bade orders be given, 52Mood-valiant man, to many of heroes, 53Holders of homesteads, that they hither from far, 54Leaders of liegemen, should look for the good one 55With wood for his pyre: “The flame shall now swallow 56(The wan fire shall wax) the warriors’ leader 57Who the rain of the iron often abided, 58When, sturdily hurled, the storm of the arrows 59Leapt o’er linden-wall, the lance rendered service, 60Furnished with feathers followed the arrow.” 61Now the wise-mooded son of Wihstan did summon 62The best of the braves from the band of the ruler

He takes seven thanes, and enters the den.

63Seven together; ’neath the enemy’s roof he 64Went with the seven; one of the heroes 65Who fared at the front, a fire-blazing torch-light 66Bare in his hand. No lot then decided 67Who that hoard should havoc, when hero-earls saw it 68Lying in the cavern uncared-for entirely, 69Rusting to ruin: they rued then but little 70That they hastily hence hauled out the treasure,

They push the dragon over the wall.

71The dear-valued jewels; the dragon eke pushed they, 72The worm o’er the wall, let the wave-currents take him, 73The waters enwind the ward of the treasures.

The hoard is laid on a wain.

74There wounden gold on a wain was uploaded, 75A mass unmeasured, the men-leader off then, 76The hero hoary, to Whale’s-Ness was carried.

Beowulf’s pyre.

1The folk of the Geatmen got him then ready 2A pile on the earth strong for the burning, 3Behung with helmets, hero-knights’ targets, 4And bright-shining burnies, as he begged they should have them; 5Then wailing war-heroes their world-famous chieftain, 6Their liegelord beloved, laid in the middle.

The funeral-flame.

7Soldiers began then to make on the barrow 8The largest of dead-fires: dark o’er the vapor 9The smoke-cloud ascended, the sad-roaring fire, 10Mingled with weeping (the wind-roar subsided) 11Till the building of bone it had broken to pieces, 12Hot in the heart. Heavy in spirit 13They mood-sad lamented the men-leader’s ruin; 14And mournful measures the much-grieving widow 15*          *          *          *          *          *         * 16*          *          *          *          *          *         * 17*          *          *          *          *          *         * 18*          *          *          *          *          *         * 19*          *          *          *          *          *         * 20*          *          *          *          *          *         *

The Weders carry out their lord’s last request.

21The men of the Weders made accordingly 22A hill on the height, high and extensive, 23Of sea-going sailors to be seen from a distance, 24And the brave one’s beacon built where the fire was, 25In ten-days’ space, with a wall surrounded it, 26As wisest of world-folk could most worthily plan it. 27They placed in the barrow rings and jewels,

Rings and gems are laid in the barrow.

28All such ornaments as erst in the treasure 29War-mooded men had won in possession: 30The earnings of earlmen to earth they entrusted, 31The gold to the dust, where yet it remaineth 32As useless to mortals as in foregoing eras. 33’Round the dead-mound rode then the doughty-in-battle, 34Bairns of all twelve of the chiefs of the people,

They mourn for their lord, and sing his praises.

35More would they mourn, lament for their ruler, 36Speak in measure, mention him with pleasure, 37Weighed his worth, and his warlike achievements 38Mightily commended, as ’tis meet one praise his 39Liegelord in words and love him in spirit, 40When forth from his body he fares to destruction. 41So lamented mourning the men of the Geats, 42Fond-loving vassals, the fall of their lord,

An ideal king.

43Said he was kindest of kings under heaven, 44Gentlest of men, most winning of manner, 45Friendliest to folk-troops and fondest of honor.