Lines 1888-2199


CAME now to ocean the ever-courageous

hardy henchmen, their harness bearing,

woven war-sarks. The warden marked,

trusty as ever, the earl's return.

From the height of the hill no hostile words

reached the guests as he rode to greet them;

but "Welcome!" he called to that Weder clan

as the sheen-mailed spoilers to ship marched on.

Then on the strand, with steeds and treasure

and armor their roomy and ring-dight ship

was heavily laden: high its mast

rose over Hrothgar's hoarded gems.

A sword to the boat-guard Beowulf gave,

mounted with gold; on the mead-bench since

he was better esteemed, that blade possessing,

heirloom old. - Their ocean-keel boarding,

they drove through the deep, and Daneland left.

A sea-cloth was set, a sail with ropes,

firm to the mast; the flood-timbers moaned; {27a}

nor did wind over billows that wave-swimmer blow

across from her course. The craft sped on,

foam-necked it floated forth o'er the waves,

keel firm-bound over briny currents,

till they got them sight of the Geatish cliffs,

home-known headlands. High the boat,

stirred by winds, on the strand updrove.

Helpful at haven the harbor-guard stood,

who long already for loved companions

by the water had waited and watched afar.

He bound to the beach the broad-bosomed ship

with anchor-bands, lest ocean-billows

that trusty timber should tear away.

Then Beowulf bade them bear the treasure,

gold and jewels; no journey far

was it thence to go to the giver of rings,

Hygelac Hrethling: at home he dwelt

by the sea-wall close, himself and clan.

Haughty that house, a hero the king,

high the hall, and Hygd {27b} right young,

wise and wary, though winters few

in those fortress walls she had found a home,

Haereth's daughter. Nor humble her ways,

nor grudged she gifts to the Geatish men,

of precious treasure. Not Thryth's pride showed she,

folk-queen famed, or that fell deceit.

Was none so daring that durst make bold

(save her lord alone) of the liegemen dear

that lady full in the face to look,

but forged fetters he found his lot,

bonds of death! And brief the respite;

soon as they seized him, his sword-doom was spoken,

and the burnished blade a baleful murder

proclaimed and closed. No queenly way

for woman to practise, though peerless she,

that the weaver-of-peace {27c} from warrior dear

by wrath and lying his life should reave!

But Hemming's kinsman hindered this. -

For over their ale men also told

that of these folk-horrors fewer she wrought,

onslaughts of evil, after she went,

gold-decked bride, to the brave young prince,

atheling haughty, and Offa's hall

o'er the fallow flood at her father's bidding

safely sought, where since she prospered,

royal, throned, rich in goods,

fain of the fair life fate had sent her,

and leal in love to the lord of warriors.

He, of all heroes I heard of ever

from sea to sea, of the sons of earth,

most excellent seemed. Hence Offa was praised

for his fighting and feeing by far-off men,

the spear-bold warrior; wisely he ruled

over his empire. Eomer woke to him,

help of heroes, Hemming's kinsman,

Grandson of Garmund, grim in war.


HASTENED the hardy one, henchmen with him,

sandy strand of the sea to tread

and widespread ways. The world's great candle,

sun shone from south. They strode along

with sturdy steps to the spot they knew

where the battle-king young, his burg within,

slayer of Ongentheow, shared the rings,

shelter-of-heroes. To Hygelac

Beowulf's coming was quickly told, -

that there in the court the clansmen's refuge,

the shield-companion sound and alive,

hale from the hero-play homeward strode.

With haste in the hall, by highest order,

room for the rovers was readily made.

By his sovran he sat, come safe from battle,

kinsman by kinsman. His kindly lord

he first had greeted in gracious form,

with manly words. The mead dispensing,

came through the high hall Haereth's daughter,

winsome to warriors, wine-cup bore

to the hands of the heroes. Hygelac then

his comrade fairly with question plied

in the lofty hall, sore longing to know

what manner of sojourn the Sea-Geats made.

"What came of thy quest, my kinsman Beowulf,

when thy yearnings suddenly swept thee yonder

battle to seek o'er the briny sea,

combat in Heorot? Hrothgar couldst thou

aid at all, the honored chief,

in his wide-known woes? With waves of care

my sad heart seethed; I sore mistrusted

my loved one's venture: long I begged thee

by no means to seek that slaughtering monster,

but suffer the South-Danes to settle their feud

themselves with Grendel. Now God be thanked

that safe and sound I can see thee now!"

Beowulf spake, the bairn of Ecgtheow: -

"'Tis known and unhidden, Hygelac Lord,

to many men, that meeting of ours,

struggle grim between Grendel and me,

which we fought on the field where full too many

sorrows he wrought for the Scylding-Victors,

evils unending. These all I avenged.

No boast can be from breed of Grendel,

any on earth, for that uproar at dawn,

from the longest-lived of the loathsome race

in fleshly fold! - But first I went

Hrothgar to greet in the hall of gifts,

where Healfdene's kinsman high-renowned,

soon as my purpose was plain to him,

assigned me a seat by his son and heir.

The liegemen were lusty; my life-days never

such merry men over mead in hall

have I heard under heaven! The high-born queen,

people's peace-bringer, passed through the hall,

cheered the young clansmen, clasps of gold,

ere she sought her seat, to sundry gave.

Oft to the heroes Hrothgar's daughter,

to earls in turn, the ale-cup tendered, -

she whom I heard these hall-companions

Freawaru name, when fretted gold

she proffered the warriors. Promised is she,

gold-decked maid, to the glad son of Froda.

Sage this seems to the Scylding's-friend,

kingdom's-keeper: he counts it wise

the woman to wed so and ward off feud,

store of slaughter. But seldom ever

when men are slain, does the murder-spear sink

but briefest while, though the bride be fair! {28a}

"Nor haply will like it the Heathobard lord,

and as little each of his liegemen all,

when a thane of the Danes, in that doughty throng,

goes with the lady along their hall,

and on him the old-time heirlooms glisten

hard and ring-decked, Heathobard's treasure,

weapons that once they wielded fair

until they lost at the linden-play {28b}

liegeman leal and their lives as well.

Then, over the ale, on this heirloom gazing,

some ash-wielder old who has all in mind

that spear-death of men, {28c} - he is stern of mood,

heavy at heart, - in the hero young

tests the temper and tries the soul

and war-hate wakens, with words like these: -

Canst thou not, comrade, ken that sword

which to the fray thy father carried

in his final feud, 'neath the fighting-mask,

dearest of blades, when the Danish slew him

and wielded the war-place on Withergild's fall,

after havoc of heroes, those hardy Scyldings?

Now, the son of a certain slaughtering Dane,

proud of his treasure, paces this hall,

joys in the killing, and carries the jewel {28d}

that rightfully ought to be owned by thee!_

Thus he urges and eggs him all the time

with keenest words, till occasion offers

that Freawaru's thane, for his father's deed,

after bite of brand in his blood must slumber,

losing his life; but that liegeman flies

living away, for the land he kens.

And thus be broken on both their sides

oaths of the earls, when Ingeld's breast

wells with war-hate, and wife-love now

after the care-billows cooler grows.

"So {28e} I hold not high the Heathobards' faith

due to the Danes, or their during love

and pact of peace. - But I pass from that,

turning to Grendel, O giver-of-treasure,

and saying in full how the fight resulted,

hand-fray of heroes. When heaven's jewel

had fled o'er far fields, that fierce sprite came,

night-foe savage, to seek us out

where safe and sound we sentried the hall.

To Hondscio then was that harassing deadly,

his fall there was fated. He first was slain,

girded warrior. Grendel on him

turned murderous mouth, on our mighty kinsman,

and all of the brave man's body devoured.

Yet none the earlier, empty-handed,

would the bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of bale,

outward go from the gold-decked hall:

but me he attacked in his terror of might,

with greedy hand grasped me. A glove hung by him {28f}

wide and wondrous, wound with bands;

and in artful wise it all was wrought,

by devilish craft, of dragon-skins.

Me therein, an innocent man,

the fiendish foe was fain to thrust

with many another. He might not so,

when I all angrily upright stood.

'Twere long to relate how that land-destroyer

I paid in kind for his cruel deeds;

yet there, my prince, this people of thine

got fame by my fighting. He fled away,

and a little space his life preserved;

but there staid behind him his stronger hand

left in Heorot; heartsick thence

on the floor of the ocean that outcast fell.

Me for this struggle the Scyldings'-friend

paid in plenty with plates of gold,

with many a treasure, when morn had come

and we all at the banquet-board sat down.

Then was song and glee. The gray-haired Scylding,

much tested, told of the times of yore.

Whiles the hero his harp bestirred,

wood-of-delight; now lays he chanted

of sooth and sadness, or said aright

legends of wonder, the wide-hearted king;

or for years of his youth he would yearn at times,

for strength of old struggles, now stricken with age,

hoary hero: his heart surged full

when, wise with winters, he wailed their flight.

Thus in the hall the whole of that day

at ease we feasted, till fell o'er earth

another night. Anon full ready

in greed of vengeance, Grendel's mother

set forth all doleful. Dead was her son

through war-hate of Weders; now, woman monstrous

with fury fell a foeman she slew,

avenged her offspring. From Aeschere old,

loyal councillor, life was gone;

nor might they e'en, when morning broke,

those Danish people, their death-done comrade

burn with brands, on balefire lay

the man they mourned. Under mountain stream

she had carried the corpse with cruel hands.

For Hrothgar that was the heaviest sorrow

of all that had laden the lord of his folk.

The leader then, by thy life, besought me

(sad was his soul) in the sea-waves' coil

to play the hero and hazard my being

for glory of prowess: my guerdon he pledged.

I then in the waters - 'tis widely known -

that sea-floor-guardian savage found.

Hand-to-hand there a while we struggled;

billows welled blood; in the briny hall

her head I hewed with a hardy blade

from Grendel's mother, - and gained my life,

though not without danger. My doom was not yet.

Then the haven-of-heroes, Healfdene's son,

gave me in guerdon great gifts of price.