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SAGA SIX PACK
THE PROSE EDDA
GUNNLAUG THE WORM-TONGUE AND RAVEN THE SKALD
ERIC THE RED
THE SEA FIGHT
SIGURD THE VOLSUNG
Saga Six Pack – Beowulf, The Prose Edda, Gunnlaugh The Worm-Tongue and Raven the Skald, Eric The Red, The Sea Fight, Sigurd the Volsung.
Beowulf by Anonymous. Translated by J. Lesslie Hall. First published in 1892. Originally published in manuscript form c. 975–1025. Date of poem - c. 700–1000.
The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. First published in 1916. Originally written or compiled c. 1220.
The Story Of Gunnlaug The Worm-Tongue and Raven The Skald by Anonymous. Translated by William Morris. First published in 1875. Originally written at end of 13th Century.
Eric The Red and The Sea Fight from Viking Tales by Jennie Hall. First published in 1902.
Sigurd The Volsung by William Morris. First published in 1876.
What The Sagas Were by Jennie Hall. From Viking Tales by Jennie Hall. First published in 1902.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America.
First printing, 2015.
Enhanced Media Publishing.
Copyright © Enhanced Media 2015.
All rights reserved.
SAGA SIX PACK
INTRODUCTION: WHAT THE SAGAS WERE
Translated by J. Lesslie Hall
I. THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SCYLD
II. SCYLD’S SUCCESSORS.—HROTHGAR’S GREAT MEAD-HALL.
III. GRENDEL THE MURDERER.
IV. BEOWULF GOES TO HROTHGAR’S ASSISTANCE.
V. THE GEATS REACH HEOROT.
VI. BEOWULF INTRODUCES HIMSELF AT THE PALACE.
VII. HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF.
VIII. HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF.—Continued.
IX. UNFERTH TAUNTS BEOWULF.
X. BEOWULF SILENCES UNFERTH.—GLEE IS HIGH.
XI. ALL SLEEP SAVE ONE.
XII. GRENDEL AND BEOWULF.
XIII. GRENDEL IS VANQUISHED.
XIV. REJOICING OF THE DANES.
XV. HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE.
XVI. HROTHGAR LAVISHES GIFTS UPON HIS DELIVERER.
XVII. BANQUET (continued).—THE SCOP’S SONG OF FINN AND HNAEF.
XVIII. THE FINN EPISODE (continued).—THE BANQUET CONTINUES.
XIX. BEOWULF RECEIVES FURTHER HONOR.
XX. THE MOTHER OF GRENDEL.
XXI. HROTHGAR’S ACCOUNT OF THE MONSTERS.
XXII. BEOWULF SEEKS GRENDEL’S MOTHER.
XXIII. BEOWULF’S FIGHT WITH GRENDEL’S MOTHER.
XXIV. BEOWULF IS DOUBLE-CONQUEROR.
XXV. BEOWULF BRINGS HIS TROPHIES.—HROTHGAR’S GRATITUDE.
XXVI. HROTHGAR MORALIZES.—REST AFTER LABOR.
XXVII. SORROW AT PARTING.
XXVIII. THE HOMEWARD JOURNEY.—THE TWO QUEENS.
XXIX. BEOWULF AND HIGELAC.
XXX. BEOWULF NARRATES HIS ADVENTURES TO HIGELAC.
XXI. GIFT-GIVING IS MUTUAL.
XXXII. THE HOARD AND THE DRAGON.
XXXIII. BRAVE THOUGH AGED.—REMINISCENCES.
XXXIV. BEOWULF SEEKS THE DRAGON.—BEOWULF’S REMINISCENCES.
XXXV. REMINISCENCES (continued).—BEOWULF’S LAST BATTLE.
XXXVI. WIGLAF THE TRUSTY.—BEOWULF IS DESERTED BY FRIENDS AND BY SWORD.
XXXVII. THE FATAL STRUGGLE.—BEOWULF’S LAST MOMENTS.
XXXVIII. WIGLAF PLUNDERS THE DRAGON’S DEN.—BEOWULF’S DEATH.
XXXIX. THE DEAD FOES.—WIGLAF’S BITTER TAUNTS.
XL. THE MESSENGER OF DEATH.
XLI. THE MESSENGER’S RETROSPECT.
XLII. WIGLAF’S SAD STORY.—THE HOARD CARRIED OFF.
XLIII. THE BURNING OF BEOWULF.
THE PROSE EDDA
Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
THE STORY OF GUNNLAUG THE WORM-TONGUE AND RAVEN THE SKALD
Translated by William Morris
CHAPTER I. Of Thorstein Egilson and his Kin.
CHAPTER II. Of Thorsteins Dream.
CHAPTER III. Of the Birth and Fostering of Helga the Fair.
CHAPTER IV. Of Gunnlaug Worm-tongue and his Kin.
CHAPTER V. Of Raven and his Kin.
CHAPTER VI. How Helga was vowed to Gunnlaug, and of Gunnlaug's faring abroad.
CHAPTER VII. Of Gunnlaug in the East and the West.
CHAPTER VIII. Of Gunnlaug in Ireland.
CHAPTER IX. Of the Quarrel between Gunnlaug and Raven before the Swedish King.
CHAPTER X. How Raven came home to Iceland, and asked for Helga to Wife.
CHAPTER XI. Of how Gunnlaug must needs abide away from Iceland.
CHAPTER XII. Of Gunnlaug's landing, and how he found Helga wedded to Raven.
CHAPTER XIII. Of the Winter-Wedding at Skaney, and how Gunnlaug gave the Kings Cloak to Helga.
CHAPTER XIV. Of the Holmgang at the Althing.
CHAPTER XV. How Gunnlaug and Raven agreed to go East to Norway, to try the matter again.
CHAPTER XVI. How the two Foes met and fought at Dingness.
CHAPTER XVII. The News of the Fight brought to Iceland.
CHAPTER XVIII. The Death of Helga the Fair.
ERIC THE RED
Translated by Jennie Hall
THE SEA FIGHT
Translated by Jennie Hall
SIGURD THE VOLSUNG
SAGA IMAGE GALLERY
Excerpt from Njáls Saga in the Möðruvallabók circa 1350
Gunnarr and Hallgerðr from Njáls Saga at the Althing
Kári Sölmundarson from Njáls Saga
Egill Skallagrímsson in a 17th-century manuscript of Egils Saga
Grettir is ready to fight in this illustration from a 17th-century Icelandic manuscript
Detail of a miniature from a 13th-century Icelandic manuscript
Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 1241)
William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1887
Bronze valkyrie by H. W. Bissen (1834-5)
Sigurd and Brunhild – Illustration by Harry George Theaker
Kriemhild showing Gunther's head to Hagen (Johann Heinrich Füssli, ca. 1805)
Kriemhild and Gunther, Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1807
Siegfried blows his horn (1911) by Arthur Rackham
"Sigurd proofs the sword Gram" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts
First page of Beowulf from the Cotton MS Vitellius A XV manuscript
Aethelstan presenting a gospel book to (the long-dead) St Cuthbert (934)
Silver brooch imitating a coin of Edward the Elder, c. 920
Depiction of the Battle of Hastings (1066) on the Bayeux Tapestry
The right half of the front panel of the seventh century Franks Casket
Book of Cerne, evangelist portrait of Saint Mark
The Codex Aureus of Canterbury
The Textus Roffensis, which contains the only surviving copy of Aethelberht's laws
Sweden in the 12th century before the incorporation of Finland during the 13th century
Manuscript of Bede
LINK TO FREE AUDIO RECORDING OF BEOWULF
Iceland is a little country far north in the cold sea. Men found it and went there to live more than a thousand years ago. During the warm season they used to fish and make fish-oil and hunt sea-birds and gather feathers and tend their sheep and make hay. But the winters were long and dark and cold. Men and women and children stayed in the house and carded and spun and wove and knit. A whole family sat for hours around the fire in the middle of the room. That fire gave the only light. Shadows flitted in the dark corners. Smoke curled along the high beams in the ceiling. The children sat on the dirt floor close by the fire. The grown people were on a long narrow bench that they had pulled up to the light and warmth. Everybody's hands were busy with wool. The work left their minds free to think and their lips to talk. What was there to talk about? The summer's fishing, the killing of a fox, a voyage to Norway. But the people grew tired of this little gossip. Fathers looked at their children and thought:
"They are not learning much. What will make them brave and wise? What will teach them to love their country and old Norway? Will not the stories of battles, of brave deeds, of mighty men, do this?"
So, as the family worked in the red fire-light, the father told of the kings of Norway, of long voyages to strange lands, of good fights. And in farmhouses all through Iceland these old tales were told over and over until everybody knew them and loved them. Some men could sing and play the harp. This made the stories all the more interesting. People called such men "skalds," and they called their songs "sagas."
Every midsummer there was a great meeting. Men from all over Iceland came to it and made laws. During the day there were rest times, when no business was going on. Then some skald would take his harp and walk to a large stone or a knoll and stand on it and begin a song of some brave deed of an old Norse hero. At the first sound of the harp and the voice, men came running from all directions, crying out:
"The skald! The skald! A saga!"
They stood about for hours and listened. They shouted applause. When the skald was tired, some other man would come up from the crowd and sing or tell a story. As the skald stepped down from his high position, some rich man would rush up to him and say:
"Come and spend next winter at my house. Our ears are thirsty for song."
So the best skalds traveled much and visited many people. Their songs made them welcome everywhere. They were always honored with good seats at a feast. They were given many rich gifts. Even the King of Norway would sometimes send across the water to Iceland, saying to some famous skald:
"Come and visit me. You shall not go away empty-handed. Men say that the sweetest songs are in Iceland. I wish to hear them."
These tales were not written. Few men wrote or read in those days. Skalds learned songs from hearing them sung. At last people began to write more easily. Then they said:
"These stories are very precious. We must write them down to save them from being forgotten."
After that many men in Iceland spent their winters in writing books. They wrote on sheepskin; vellum, we call it. Many of these old vellum books have been saved for hundreds of years, and are now in museums in Norway. Some leaves are lost, some are torn, all are yellow and crumpled. But they are precious. They tell us all that we know about that olden time. There are the very words that the men of Iceland wrote so long ago—stories of kings and of battles and of ship-sailing. Some of the more famous Icelandic stories are presented in this book, as well as examples from other Northern European countries like Denmark, Germany and England.
The famous race of Spear-Danes
Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements
The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of,
How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.
Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers
From many a people their mead-benches tore.
Since first he found him friendless and wretched,
The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it,
Waxed ’neath the welkin, world-honor gained,
Till all his neighbors o’er sea were compelled to
Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute:
An excellent atheling! After was borne him
A son and heir, young in his dwelling,
Whom God-Father sent to solace the people.
He had marked the misery malice had caused them,
That reaved of their rulers they wretched had erstwhile
Long been afflicted. The Lord, in requital,
Wielder of Glory, with world-honor blessed him.
Famed was Beowulf, far spread the glory
Of Scyld’s great son in the lands of the Danemen.
The ideal Teutonic king lavishes gifts on his vassals.
So the carle that is young, by kindnesses rendered
The friends of his father, with fees in abundance
Must be able to earn that when age approacheth
Eager companions aid him requitingly,
When war assaults him serve him as liegemen:
By praise-worthy actions must honor be got
’Mong all of the races. At the hour that was fated
Scyld dies at the hour appointed by Fate.
Scyld then departed to the All-Father’s keeping
Warlike to wend him; away then they bare him
To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades,
As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings
Word-sway wielded, and the well-lovèd land-prince
Long did rule them. The ring-stemmèd vessel,
Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor,
Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing;
By his own request, his body is laid on a vessel and wafted seaward.
The belovèd leader laid they down there,
Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel,
The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels,
Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over,
Was placed near at hand then; and heard I not ever
That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly
With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle,
Bills and burnies; on his bosom sparkled
Many a jewel that with him must travel
On the flush of the flood afar on the current.
And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly,
Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him
He leaves Daneland on the breast of a bark.
Who when first he was born outward did send him
Lone on the main, the merest of infants:
And a gold-fashioned standard they stretched under heaven
High o’er his head, let the holm-currents bear him,
Seaward consigned him: sad was their spirit,
Their mood very mournful. Men are not able
No one knows whither the boat drifted.
Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside,
Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied.
Beowulf succeeds his father Scyld
In the boroughs then Beowulf, bairn of the Scyldings,
Belovèd land-prince, for long-lasting season
Was famed mid the folk (his father departed,
The prince from his dwelling), till afterward sprang
Great-minded Healfdene; the Danes in his lifetime
He graciously governed, grim-mooded, agèd.
Four bairns of his body born in succession
Woke in the world, war-troopers’ leader
Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good;
Heard I that Elan was Ongentheow’s consort,
The well-beloved bedmate of the War-Scylfing leader.
Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given,
Waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen
Obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood,
A numerous band. It burned in his spirit
To urge his folk to found a great building,
A mead-hall grander than men of the era
Ever had heard of, and in it to share
With young and old all of the blessings
The Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers.
Then the work I find afar was assigned
To many races in middle-earth’s regions,
To adorn the great folk-hall. In due time it happened
Early ’mong men, that ’twas finished entirely,
The greatest of hall-buildings; Heorot he named it
The hall is completed, and is called Heort, or Heorot.
Who wide-reaching word-sway wielded ’mong earlmen.
His promise he brake not, rings he lavished,
Treasure at banquet. Towered the hall up
High and horn-crested, huge between antlers:
It battle-waves bided, the blasting fire-demon;
Ere long then from hottest hatred must sword-wrath
Arise for a woman’s husband and father.
Then the mighty war-spirit endured for a season,
Bore it bitterly, he who bided in darkness,
That light-hearted laughter loud in the building
Greeted him daily; there was dulcet harp-music,
Clear song of the singer. He said that was able
To tell from of old earthmen’s beginnings,
That Father Almighty earth had created,
The winsome wold that the water encircleth,
Set exultingly the sun’s and the moon’s beams
To lavish their lustre on land-folk and races,
And earth He embellished in all her regions
With limbs and leaves; life He bestowed too
On all the kindreds that live under heaven.
The glee of the warriors is overcast by a horrible dread.
So blessed with abundance, brimming with joyance,
The warriors abided, till a certain one gan to
Dog them with deeds of direfullest malice,
A foe in the hall-building: this horrible stranger
Was Grendel entitled, the march-stepper famous
Who dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness;
The wan-mooded being abode for a season
In the land of the giants, when the Lord and Creator
Had banned him and branded. For that bitter murder,
The killing of Abel, all-ruling Father
The kindred of Cain crushed with His vengeance;
In the feud He rejoiced not, but far away drove him
From kindred and kind, that crime to atone for,
Meter of Justice. Thence ill-favored creatures,
Elves and giants, monsters of ocean,
Came into being, and the giants that longtime
Grappled with God; He gave them requital.
Grendel attacks the sleeping heroes
When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit
The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used it
For beds and benches when the banquet was over.
Then he found there reposing many a noble
Asleep after supper; sorrow the heroes,
Misery knew not. The monster of evil
Greedy and cruel tarried but little,
He drags off thirty of them, and devours them
Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers
Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed
Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to,
With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward.
In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking,
Was Grendel’s prowess revealed to the warriors:
Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted,
Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous,
The long-worthy atheling, sat very woeful,
Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen,
When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer,
The spirit accursèd: too crushing that sorrow,
Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried,
But one night after continued his slaughter
Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little
From malice and murder; they mastered him fully.
He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for
A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges,
A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice
Told him truly by token apparent
The hall-thane’s hatred: he held himself after
Further and faster who the foeman did baffle.
So ruled he and strongly strove against justice
Lone against all men, till empty uptowered
King Hrothgar’s agony and suspense last twelve years.
The choicest of houses. Long was the season:
Twelve-winters’ time torture suffered
The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction,
Endless agony; hence it after became
Certainly known to the children of men
Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar
Grendel struggled:—his grudges he cherished,
Murderous malice, many a winter,
Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he
Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of
The men of the Dane-folk, for money to settle,
No counsellor needed count for a moment
On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer;
Grendel is unremitting in his persecutions.
The monster of evil fiercely did harass,
The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger,
Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then
The mist-covered moor-fens; men do not know where
Witches and wizards wander and ramble.
So the foe of mankind many of evils
Grievous injuries, often accomplished,
Horrible hermit; Heort he frequented,
Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen
(Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch,
The light-flashing jewel, love of Him knew not).
’Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings
The king and his council deliberate in vain.
Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private
Sat the king in his council; conference held they
What the braves should determine ’gainst terrors unlooked for.
They invoke the aid of their gods.
At the shrines of their idols often they promised
Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they
The devil from hell would help them to lighten
Their people’s oppression. Such practice they used then,
Hope of the heathen; hell they remembered
In innermost spirit, God they knew not,
The true God they do not know.
Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler,
No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven,
The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who
Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to
The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for,
Wax no wiser; well for the man who,
Living his life-days, his Lord may face
And find defence in his Father’s embrace!
Hrothgar sees no way of escape from the persecutions of Grendel
So Healfdene’s kinsman constantly mused on
His long-lasting sorrow; the battle-thane clever
Was not anywise able evils to ’scape from:
Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people,
Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture,
Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac’s liegeman,
Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel’s achievements
Heard in his home: of heroes then living
He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble.
He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty;
He said he the war-king would seek o’er the ocean,
The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers.
For the perilous project prudent companions
Chided him little, though loving him dearly;
They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.
The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen
Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them
Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions
The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them,
A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country.
Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water,
The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then
Well-equipped warriors: the wave-currents twisted
The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried
On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels,
Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then,
Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.
The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze,
Likest a bird, glided the waters,
Till twenty and four hours thereafter
The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance
That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments,
The sea cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains,
Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits
At the end of the ocean. Up thence quickly
The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland,
Fastened their vessel (battle weeds rattled,
War burnies clattered), the Wielder they thanked
That the ways o’er the waters had waxen so gentle.
They are hailed by the Danish coast guard
Then well from the cliff edge the guard of the Scyldings
Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o’er the gangway
Brave ones bearing beauteous targets,
Armor all ready, anxiously thought he,
Musing and wondering what men were approaching.
High on his horse then Hrothgar’s retainer
Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished
His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness.
“Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors
Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving
A high riding ship o’er the shoals of the waters,
And hither ’neath helmets have hied o’er the ocean?
I have been strand-guard, standing as warden,
Lest enemies ever anywise ravage
Danish dominions with army of war-ships.
More boldly never have warriors ventured
Hither to come; of kinsmen’s approval,
Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely
He is struck by Beowulf’s appearance.
Nothing have known. Never a greater one
Of earls o’er the earth have I had a sight of
Than is one of your number, a hero in armor;
No low-ranking fellow adorned with his weapons,
But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving,
And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey
As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings
And farther fare, I fully must know now
What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers,
Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion
Hear ye and hearken: haste is most fitting
Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from.”
Beowulf courteously replies
The chief of the strangers rendered him answer,
War-troopers’ leader, and word-treasure opened:
“We are sprung from the lineage of the people of Geatland,
And Higelac’s hearth-friends. To heroes unnumbered
My father Ecgtheow was well-known in his day.
My father was known, a noble head-warrior
Ecgtheow titled; many a winter
He lived with the people, ere he passed on his journey,
Old from his dwelling; each of the counsellors
Widely mid world-folk well remembers him.
Our intentions towards King Hrothgar are of the kindest.
We, kindly of spirit, the lord of thy people,
The son of King Healfdene, have come here to visit,
Folk-troop’s defender: be free in thy counsels!
To the noble one bear we a weighty commission,
The helm of the Danemen; we shall hide, I ween,
Is it true that a monster is slaying Danish heroes?
Naught of our message. Thou know’st if it happen,
As we soothly heard say, that some savage despoiler,
Some hidden pursuer, on nights that are murky
By deeds very direful ’mid the Danemen exhibits
Hatred unheard of, horrid destruction
And the falling of dead. From feelings least selfish
I can help your king to free himself from this horrible creature.
I am able to render counsel to Hrothgar,
How he, wise and worthy, may worst the destroyer,
If the anguish of sorrow should ever be lessened,
Comfort come to him, and care-waves grow cooler,
Or ever hereafter he agony suffer
And troublous distress, while towereth upward
The handsomest of houses high on the summit.”
The coast-guard reminds Beowulf that it is easier to say than to do.
Bestriding his stallion, the strand-watchman answered,
The doughty retainer: “The difference surely
’Twixt words and works, the warlike shield-bearer
Who judgeth wisely well shall determine.
This band, I hear, beareth no malice
I am satisfied of your good intentions, and shall lead you to the palace.
To the prince of the Scyldings. Pass ye then onward
With weapons and armor. I shall lead you in person;
To my war-trusty vassals command I shall issue
To keep from all injury your excellent vessel,
Your boat shall be well cared for during your stay here.
Your fresh-tarred craft, ’gainst every opposer
Close by the sea-shore, till the curved-neckèd bark shall
Waft back again the well-beloved hero
O’er the way of the water to Weder dominions.
He again compliments Beowulf.
To warrior so great ’twill be granted sure
In the storm of strife to stand secure.”
Onward they fared then (the vessel lay quiet,
The broad-bosomed bark was bound by its cable,
Firmly at anchor); the boar-signs glistened
Bright on the visors vivid with gilding,
Blaze-hardened, brilliant; the boar acted warden.
The heroes hastened, hurried the liegemen,
The land is perhaps rolling.
Descended together, till they saw the great palace,
The well-fashioned wassail-hall wondrous and gleaming:
Heorot flashes on their view.
’Mid world-folk and kindreds that was widest reputed
Of halls under heaven which the hero abode in;
Its lustre enlightened lands without number.
Then the battle-brave hero showed them the glittering
Court of the bold ones, that they easily thither
Might fare on their journey; the aforementioned warrior
Turning his courser, quoth as he left them:
The coast-guard, having discharged his duty, bids them God-speed.
“’Tis time I were faring; Father Almighty
Grant you His grace, and give you to journey
Safe on your mission! To the sea I will get me
’Gainst hostile warriors as warden to stand.”
The highway glistened with many-hued pebble,
A by-path led the liegemen together.
Firm and hand-locked the war-burnie glistened,
The ring-sword radiant rang ’mid the armor
As the party was approaching the palace together
They set their arms and armor against the wall.
In warlike equipments. ’Gainst the wall of the building
Their wide-fashioned war-shields they weary did set then,
Battle-shields sturdy; benchward they turned then;
Their battle-sarks rattled, the gear of the heroes;
The lances stood up then, all in a cluster,
The arms of the seamen, ashen-shafts mounted
With edges of iron: the armor-clad troopers
Were decked with weapons. Then a proud-mooded hero
Asked of the champions questions of lineage:
“From what borders bear ye your battle-shields plated,
Gilded and gleaming, your gray-colored burnies,
Helmets with visors and heap of war-lances?—
To Hrothgar the king I am servant and liegeman.
’Mong folk from far-lands found I have never
Men so many of mien more courageous.
I ween that from valor, nowise as outlaws,
But from greatness of soul ye sought for King Hrothgar.”
Then the strength-famous earlman answer rendered,
The proud-mooded Wederchief replied to his question,
We are Higelac’s table-companions, and bear an important commission to your prince.
Hardy ’neath helmet: “Higelac’s mates are we;
Beowulf hight I. To the bairn of Healfdene,
The famous folk-leader, I freely will tell
To thy prince my commission, if pleasantly hearing
He’ll grant we may greet him so gracious to all men.”
Wulfgar replied then (he was prince of the Wendels,
His boldness of spirit was known unto many,
His prowess and prudence): “The prince of the Scyldings,
Wulfgar, the thane, says that he will go and ask Hrothgar whether he will see the strangers.
The friend-lord of Danemen, I will ask of thy journey,
The giver of rings, as thou urgest me do it,
The folk-chief famous, and inform thee early
What answer the good one mindeth to render me.”
He turned then hurriedly where Hrothgar was sitting,
Old and hoary, his earlmen attending him;
The strength-famous went till he stood at the shoulder
Of the lord of the Danemen, of courteous thanemen
The custom he minded. Wulfgar addressed then
His friendly liegelord: “Folk of the Geatmen
He thereupon urges his liegelord to receive the visitors courteously.
O’er the way of the waters are wafted hither,
Faring from far-lands: the foremost in rank
The battle-champions Beowulf title.
They make this petition: with thee, O my chieftain,
To be granted a conference; O gracious King Hrothgar,
Friendly answer refuse not to give them!
Hrothgar, too, is struck with Beowulf’s appearance.
In war-trappings weeded worthy they seem
Of earls to be honored; sure the atheling is doughty
Who headed the heroes hitherward coming.”
Hrothgar remembers Beowulf as a youth, and also remembers his father
Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings:
“I remember this man as the merest of striplings.
His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled,
Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his
One only daughter; his battle-brave son
Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend.
Seafaring sailors asserted it then,
Beowulf is reported to have the strength of thirty men.
Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen carried
As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men’s grapple
Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.
God hath sent him to our rescue.
The holy Creator usward sent him,
To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render
’Gainst Grendel’s grimness gracious assistance:
I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage.
Hasten to bid them hither to speed them,
To see assembled this circle of kinsmen;
Tell them expressly they’re welcome in sooth to
The men of the Danes.” To the door of the building
Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted:
“My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you,
The East-Danes’ atheling, that your origin knows he,
And o’er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither,
Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter
Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets,
To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle-boards,
Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring.”
The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman,
An excellent thane-group; some there did await them,
And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded.
Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them,
’Neath Heorot’s roof; the high-minded went then
Sturdy ’neath helmet till he stood in the building.
Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten,
His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman):
Beowulf salutes Hrothgar, and then proceeds to boast of his youthful achievements.
“Hail thou, Hrothgar! I am Higelac’s kinsman
And vassal forsooth; many a wonder
I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel,
In far-off fatherland I fully did know of:
Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth,
Excellent edifice, empty and useless
To all the earlmen after evenlight’s glimmer
’Neath heaven’s bright hues hath hidden its glory.
This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them,
Carles very clever, to come and assist thee,
Folk-leader Hrothgar; fully they knew of
His fight with the nickers.
The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me
When I came from the contest, when covered with gore
Foes I escaped from, where five I had bound,
The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying
The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows,
The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered)
Enemies ravaged; alone now with Grendel
He intends to fight Grendel unaided.
I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil,
The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore
Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain,
Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition:
Not to refuse me, defender of warriors,
Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee,
That I may unaided, my earlmen assisting me,
This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot.
I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature
Since the monster uses no weapons,
From veriest rashness recks not for weapons;
I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious,
My liegelord belovèd, lenient of spirit,
To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target,
A shield to the onset; only with hand-grip
I, too, shall disdain to use any.
The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then,
Foeman with foeman; he fain must rely on
The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of.
Should he crush me, he will eat my companions as he has eaten thy thanes.
I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle,
To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk,
Boldly to swallow them, as of yore he did often
The best of the Hrethmen! Thou needest not trouble
A head-watch to give me; he will have me dripping
In case of my defeat, thou wilt not have the trouble of burying me.
And dreary with gore, if death overtake me,
Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me,
The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity,
Marking the moor-fens; no more wilt thou need then
Should I fall, send my armor to my lord, King Higelac.
Find me my food. If I fall in the battle,
Send to Higelac the armor that serveth
To shield my bosom, the best of equipments,
Richest of ring-mails; ’tis the relic of Hrethla,
Weird is supreme
The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go!”
Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings:
“To defend our folk and to furnish assistance,
Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf.
Reminiscences of Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow.
The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in,
Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict
’Mid Wilfingish warriors; then the Wederish people
For fear of a feud were forced to disown him.
Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes,
The race of the Scyldings, o’er the roll of the waters;
I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen,
The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth,
Rich in its jewels: dead was Heregar,
My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken,
Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am!
That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded;
O’er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent
Ornaments old; oaths did he swear me.
Hrothgar recounts to Beowulf the horrors of Grendel’s persecutions.
It pains me in spirit to any to tell it,
What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me,
What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing.
Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop;
Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel.
God can easily hinder the scather
From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer
My thanes have made many boasts, but have not executed them.
O’er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor
They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches
A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges.
Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking,
The building was bloody at breaking of daylight,
The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied,
The folk-hall was gory: I had fewer retainers,
Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of.
Sit down to the feast, and give us comfort.
Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes,
Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee!”
A bench is made ready for Beowulf and his party.
For the men of the Geats then together assembled,
In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready;
There warlike in spirit they went to be seated,
Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service,
Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum,
The gleeman sings
And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom
The heroes all rejoice together.
Hearty in Heorot; there was heroes’ rejoicing,
A numerous war-band of Weders and Danemen.
Unferth, a thane of Hrothgar, is jealous of Beowulf, and undertakes to twit him
Unferth spoke up, Ecglaf his son,
Who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings,
Opened the jousting (the journey of Beowulf,
Sea-farer doughty, gave sorrow to Unferth
And greatest chagrin, too, for granted he never
That any man else on earth should attain to,
Gain under heaven, more glory than he):
Did you take part in a swimming-match with Breca?
“Art thou that Beowulf with Breca did struggle,
On the wide sea-currents at swimming contended,
Where to humor your pride the ocean ye tried,
’Twas mere folly that actuated you both to risk your lives on the ocean.
From vainest vaunting adventured your bodies
In care of the waters? And no one was able
Nor lief nor loth one, in the least to dissuade you
Your difficult voyage; then ye ventured a-swimming,
Where your arms outstretching the streams ye did cover,
The mere-ways measured, mixing and stirring them,
Glided the ocean; angry the waves were,
With the weltering of winter. In the water’s possession,
Ye toiled for a seven-night; he at swimming outdid thee,
In strength excelled thee. Then early at morning
On the Heathoremes’ shore the holm-currents tossed him,
Sought he thenceward the home of his fathers,
Beloved of his liegemen, the land of the Brondings,
The peace-castle pleasant, where a people he wielded,
Had borough and jewels. The pledge that he made thee
Breca outdid you entirely.
The son of Beanstan hath soothly accomplished.
Then I ween thou wilt find thee less fortunate issue,
Much more will Grendel outdo you, if you vie with him in prowess.
Though ever triumphant in onset of battle,
A grim grappling, if Grendel thou darest
For the space of a night near-by to wait for!”
Beowulf answered, offspring of Ecgtheow:
“My good friend Unferth, sure freely and wildly,
O friend Unferth, you are fuddled with beer, and cannot talk coherently.
Thou fuddled with beer of Breca hast spoken,
Hast told of his journey! A fact I allege it,
That greater strength in the waters I had then,
Ills in the ocean, than any man else had.
We made agreement as the merest of striplings
Promised each other (both of us then were
We simply kept an engagement made in early life.
Younkers in years) that we yet would adventure
Out on the ocean; it all we accomplished.
While swimming the sea-floods, sword-blade unscabbarded
Boldly we brandished, our bodies expected
To shield from the sharks. He sure was unable
He could not excel me, and I would not excel him.
To swim on the waters further than I could,
More swift on the waves, nor would I from him go.
Then we two companions stayed in the ocean
After five days the currents separated us.
Five nights together, till the currents did part us,
The weltering waters, weathers the bleakest,
And nethermost night, and the north-wind whistled
Fierce in our faces; fell were the billows.
The mere fishes’ mood was mightily ruffled:
And there against foemen my firm-knotted corslet,
Hand-jointed, hardy, help did afford me;
My battle-sark braided, brilliantly gilded,
A horrible sea-beast attacked me, but I slew him.
Lay on my bosom. To the bottom then dragged me,
A hateful fiend-scather, seized me and held me,
Grim in his grapple: ’twas granted me, nathless,
To pierce the monster with the point of my weapon,
My obedient blade; battle off carried
The mighty mere-creature by means of my hand-blow.
“So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me
Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance,
My dear sword always served me faithfully.
With my dear-lovèd sword, as in sooth it was fitting;
They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly,
Ill-doers evil, of eating my body,
Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean;
But wounded with edges early at morning
They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean,
I put a stop to the outrages of the sea-monsters.
Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers
No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing
The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east,
God’s beautiful beacon; the billows subsided,
That well I could see the nesses projecting,
Fortune helps the brave earl.
The blustering crags. Weird often saveth
The undoomed hero if doughty his valor!
But me did it fortune to fell with my weapon
Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder
’Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely,
Nor of wight more woeful in the waves of the ocean;
Yet I ’scaped with my life the grip of the monsters,
After that escape I drifted to Finland.
Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me
To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current,
I have never heard of your doing any such bold deeds.
The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me
Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth,
And of sword-terror none; never hath Breca
At the play of the battle, nor either of you two,
Feat so fearless performèd with weapons
Glinting and gleaming .
I utter no boasting;
You are a slayer of brothers, and will suffer damnation, wise as you may be.
Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers,
Thy nearest of kin; thou needs must in hell get
Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom.
I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf,
Never had Grendel such numberless horrors,
The direful demon, done to thy liegelord,
Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy,
Had your acts been as brave as your words, Grendel had not ravaged your land so long.
Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them.
He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred,
The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred,
Of the Victory-Scyldings, need little dismay him:
Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares
The monster is not afraid of the Danes,
Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure,
Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth
but he will soon learn to dread the Geats.
From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor
Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture
To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able
Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning
On the second day, any warrior may go unmolested to the mead-banquet.
Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes,
O’er children of men shines from the southward!”
Then the gray-haired, war-famed giver of treasure
Hrothgar’s spirits are revived.
Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright-Danish ruler
Expected assistance; the people’s protector
The old king trusts Beowulf. The heroes are joyful.
Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution.
There was laughter of heroes; loud was the clatter,
The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then,
Queen Wealhtheow plays the hostess.
Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful,
Gold-decked saluted the men in the building,
And the freeborn woman the beaker presented
She offers the cup to her husband first.
To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes,
Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing,
Lief to his liegemen; he lustily tasted
Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler.
The Helmingish lady then graciously circled
’Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater:
She gives presents to the heroes.
Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded
That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen
Then she offers the cup to Beowulf, thanking God that aid has come.
Might bear to Beowulf the bumper o’errunning;
She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank,
Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished,
That in any of earlmen she ever should look for
Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker,
Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow’s giving,
Beowulf states to the queen the object of his visit.
Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures,
Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow:
“I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean,
I determined to do or die.
When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen,
I would work to the fullest the will of your people
Or in foe’s-clutches fastened fall in the battle.
Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess,
Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall.”
These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing,
The boast of the Geatman; with gold trappings broidered
Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by.
Then again as of yore was heard in the building
Courtly discussion, conquerors’ shouting,
Heroes were happy, till Healfdene’s son would
Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing;
For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he
A fight was determined, since the light of the sun they
No longer could see, and lowering darkness
O’er all had descended, and dark under heaven
Shadowy shapes came shying around them.
Hrothgar retires, leaving Beowulf in charge of the hall.
The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other,
Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures,
Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving
To his care and keeping, quoth he departing:
“Not to any one else have I ever entrusted,
But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen,
Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler.
Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses;
Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess,
Watch ’gainst the foeman! Thou shalt want no enjoyments,
Survive thou safely adventure so glorious!”
Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him,
Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building;
The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for,
The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel
God has provided a watch for the hall.
The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch,
As men heard recounted: for the king of the Danemen
He did special service, gave the giant a watcher:
And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted
His warlike strength and the Wielder’s protection.
His armor of iron off him he did then,
His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed
His chased-handled chain-sword, choicest of weapons,
And bade him bide with his battle-equipments.
The good one then uttered words of defiance,
Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted:
Beowulf boasts of his ability to cope with Grendel.
“I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess,
In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself;
Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber,
Of life to bereave him, though well I am able.
We will fight with nature’s weapons only.
No battle-skill has he, that blows he should strike me,
To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty
In strife and destruction; but struggling by night we
Shall do without edges, dare he to look for
Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father
The glory apportion, God ever-holy,
God may decide who shall conquer
On which hand soever to him seemeth proper.”
Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber,
The pillow received the cheek of the noble;
The Geatish warriors lie down.
And many a martial mere-thane attending
Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely
They thought it very unlikely that they should ever see their homes again.
That ever thereafter any should hope to
Be happy at home, hero-friends visit
Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood;
They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall,
Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings
But God raised up a deliverer.
Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted
The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes
Aid and comfort, that every opponent
By one man’s war-might they worsted and vanquished,
God rules the world.
By the might of himself; the truth is established
That God Almighty hath governed for ages
Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid
Grendel comes to Heorot.
The trav’ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding.
The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building,
One only excepted. ’Mid earthmen ’twas ’stablished,
Th’ implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them
To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling;
But serving as warder, in terror to foemen,
He angrily bided the issue of battle.
Grendel comes from the fens
’Neath the cloudy cliffs came from the moor then
Grendel going, God’s anger bare he.
The monster intended some one of earthmen
In the hall-building grand to entrap and make way with:
He goes towards the joyous building.
He went under welkin where well he knew of
The wine-joyous building, brilliant with plating,
Gold-hall of earthmen. Not the earliest occasion
This was not his first visit there.
He the home and manor of Hrothgar had sought:
Ne’er found he in life-days later nor earlier
Hardier hero, hall-thanes more sturdy!
Then came to the building the warrior marching,
His horrid fingers tear the door open.
Bereft of his joyance. The door quickly opened
On fire-hinges fastened, when his fingers had touched it;
The fell one had flung then—his fury so bitter—
Open the entrance. Early thereafter
The foeman trod the shining hall-pavement,
He strides furiously into the hall.
Strode he angrily; from the eyes of him glimmered
A lustre unlovely likest to fire.
He beheld in the hall the heroes in numbers,
A circle of kinsmen sleeping together,
He exults over his supposed prey.
A throng of thanemen: then his thoughts were exultant,
He minded to sunder from each of the thanemen
The life from his body, horrible demon,
Ere morning came, since fate had allowed him
Fate has decreed that he shall devour no more heroes. Beowulf suffers from suspense.
The prospect of plenty. Providence willed not
To permit him any more of men under heaven
To eat in the night-time. Higelac’s kinsman
Great sorrow endured how the dire-mooded creature
In unlooked-for assaults were likely to bear him.
No thought had the monster of deferring the matter,
Grendel immediately seizes a sleeping warrior, and devours him.
But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of
A soldier asleep, suddenly tore him,
Bit his bone-prison, the blood drank in currents,
Swallowed in mouthfuls: he soon had the dead man’s
Feet and hands, too, eaten entirely.
Nearer he strode then, the stout-hearted warrior
Beowulf and Grendel grapple.
Snatched as he slumbered, seizing with hand-grip,
Forward the foeman foined with his hand;
Caught he quickly the cunning deviser,
On his elbow he rested. This early discovered
The master of malice, that in middle-earth’s regions,
’Neath the whole of the heavens, no hand-grapple greater
The monster is amazed at Beowulf’s strength.
In any man else had he ever encountered:
Fearful in spirit, faint-mooded waxed he,
Not off could betake him; death he was pondering,
Would fly to his covert, seek the devils’ assembly:
His calling no more was the same he had followed
Long in his lifetime. The liege-kinsman worthy
Beowulf recalls his boast of the evening, and determines to fulfil it.
Of Higelac minded his speech of the evening,
Stood he up straight and stoutly did seize him.
His fingers crackled; the giant was outward,
The earl stepped farther. The famous one minded
To flee away farther, if he found an occasion,
And off and away, avoiding delay,
To fly to the fen-moors; he fully was ware of
The strength of his grapple in the grip of the foeman.
’Twas a luckless day for Grendel.
’Twas an ill-taken journey that the injury-bringing,
Harrying harmer to Heorot wandered:
The palace re-echoed; to all of the Danemen,
Dwellers in castles, to each of the bold ones,
Earlmen, was terror. Angry they both were,
Archwarders raging. Rattled the building;
’Twas a marvellous wonder that the wine-hall withstood then
The bold-in-battle, bent not to earthward,
Excellent earth-hall; but within and without it
Was fastened so firmly in fetters of iron,
By the art of the armorer. Off from the sill there
Bent mead-benches many, as men have informed me,
Adorned with gold-work, where the grim ones did struggle.
The Scylding wise men weened ne’er before
That by might and main-strength a man under heaven
Might break it in pieces, bone-decked, resplendent,
Crush it by cunning, unless clutch of the fire
In smoke should consume it. The sound mounted upward
Grendel’s cries terrify the Danes.
Novel enough; on the North Danes fastened
A terror of anguish, on all of the men there
Who heard from the wall the weeping and plaining,
The song of defeat from the foeman of heaven,
Heard him hymns of horror howl, and his sorrow
Hell-bound bewailing. He held him too firmly
Who was strongest of main-strength of men of that era.
Beowulf has no idea of letting Grendel live
For no cause whatever would the earlmen’s defender
Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer,
He deemed his existence utterly useless
To men under heaven. Many a noble
Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old,
Would guard the life of his lord and protector,
The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so;
While waging the warfare, this wist they but little,
Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending
No weapon would harm Grendel; he bore a charmed life.
To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit:
That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons
Of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills
Was willing to injure; but weapons of victory
Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with.
His death at that time must prove to be wretched,
And the far-away spirit widely should journey
Into enemies’ power. This plainly he saw then
Who with mirth of mood malice no little
Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen
(To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him,
But Higelac’s hardy henchman and kinsman
Held him by the hand; hateful to other
Grendel is sorely wounded.
Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered
The direful demon, damage incurable
Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered,
His body did burst. To Beowulf was given
Glory in battle; Grendel from thenceward
Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes,
Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for
Unwinsome and woeful; he wist the more fully
The monster flees away to hide in the moors.
The end of his earthly existence was nearing,
His life-days’ limits. At last for the Danemen,
When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished.
The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil,
Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar,
Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work,
In repute for prowess; the prince of the Geatmen
For the East-Danish people his boast had accomplished,
Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully,
The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered
And were forced to endure from crushing oppression,
Their manifold misery. ’Twas a manifest token,
Beowulf suspends Grendel’s hand and arm in Heorot.
When the hero-in-battle the hand suspended,
The arm and the shoulder (there was all of the claw
Of Grendel together) ’neath great-stretching hall-roof.
At early dawn, warriors from far and near come together to hear of the night’s adventures
In the mist of the morning many a warrior
Stood round the gift-hall, as the story is told me:
Folk-princes fared then from far and from near
Through long-stretching journeys to look at the wonder,
The footprints of the foeman. Few of the warriors
Few warriors lamented Grendel’s destruction.
Who gazed on the foot-tracks of the inglorious creature
His parting from life pained very deeply,
How, weary in spirit, off from those regions
In combats conquered he carried his traces,
Fated and flying, to the flood of the nickers.
Grendel’s blood dyes the waters.
There in bloody billows bubbled the currents,
The angry eddy was everywhere mingled
And seething with gore, welling with sword-blood;
He death-doomed had hid him, when reaved of his joyance
He laid down his life in the lair he had fled to,
His heathenish spirit, where hell did receive him.
Thence the friends from of old backward turned them,
And many a younker from merry adventure,
Striding their stallions, stout from the seaward,
Heroes on horses. There were heard very often
Beowulf is the hero of the hour.
Beowulf’s praises; many often asserted
That neither south nor north, in the circuit of waters,
He is regarded as a probable successor to Hrothgar.
O’er outstretching earth-plain, none other was better
’Mid bearers of war-shields, more worthy to govern,
’Neath the arch of the ether. Not any, however,
’Gainst the friend-lord muttered, mocking-words uttered
But no word is uttered to derogate from the old king
Of Hrothgar the gracious (a good king he).
Oft the famed ones permitted their fallow-skinned horses
To run in rivalry, racing and chasing,
Where the fieldways appeared to them fair and inviting,
Known for their excellence; oft a thane of the folk-lord,
The gleeman sings the deeds of heroes.
A man of celebrity, mindful of rhythms,
Who ancient traditions treasured in memory,
New word-groups found properly bound:
The bard after ’gan then Beowulf’s venture
He sings in alliterative measures of Beowulf’s prowess.
Wisely to tell of, and words that were clever
To utter skilfully, earnestly speaking,
Everything told he that he heard as to Sigmund’s
Also of Sigemund, who has slain a great fire-dragon.
Mighty achievements, many things hidden,
The strife of the Waelsing, the wide-going ventures
The children of men knew of but little,
The feud and the fury, but Fitela with him,
When suchlike matters he minded to speak of,
Uncle to nephew, as in every contention
Each to other was ever devoted:
A numerous host of the race of the scathers
They had slain with the sword-edge. To Sigmund accrued then
No little of glory, when his life-days were over,
Since he sturdy in struggle had destroyed the great dragon,
The hoard-treasure’s keeper; ’neath the hoar-grayish stone he,
The son of the atheling, unaided adventured
The perilous project; not present was Fitela,
Yet the fortune befell him of forcing his weapon
Through the marvellous dragon, that it stood in the wall,
Well-honored weapon; the worm was slaughtered.
The great one had gained then by his glorious achievement
To reap from the ring-hoard richest enjoyment,
As best it did please him: his vessel he loaded,
Shining ornaments on the ship’s bosom carried,
Kinsman of Waels: the drake in heat melted.
He was farthest famed of fugitive pilgrims,
Mid wide-scattered world-folk, for works of great prowess,
War-troopers’ shelter: hence waxed he in honor.
Heremod, an unfortunate Danish king, is introduced by way of contrast.
Afterward Heremod’s hero-strength failed him,
His vigor and valor. ’Mid venomous haters
To the hands of foemen he was foully delivered,
Offdriven early. Agony-billows
Unlike Sigemund and Beowulf, Heremod was a burden to his people.
Oppressed him too long, to his people he became then,
To all the athelings, an ever-great burden;
And the daring one’s journey in days of yore
Many wise men were wont to deplore,
Such as hoped he would bring them help in their sorrow,
That the son of their ruler should rise into power,
Holding the headship held by his fathers,
Should govern the people, the gold-hoard and borough,
The kingdom of heroes, the realm of the Scyldings.
Beowulf is an honor to his race.
He to all men became then far more beloved,
Higelac’s kinsman, to kindreds and races,
To his friends much dearer; him malice assaulted.—
Oft running and racing on roadsters they measured
The dun-colored highways. Then the light of the morning
Was hurried and hastened. Went henchmen in numbers
To the beautiful building, bold ones in spirit,