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Beowulf, anonymous (translated by Gummere), I

I

Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,

leader beloved, and long he ruled

in fame with all folk, since his father had gone

away from the world, till awoke an heir,

haughty Healfdene, who held through life,

sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.

Then, one after one, there woke to him,

to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:

Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;

and I heard that -- was -- 's queen, the Heathoscylfing's helpmate dear. To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,

such honor of combat, that all his kin

obeyed him gladly till great grew his band

of youthful comrades. It came in his mind

to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,

a master mead-house, mightier far

than ever was seen by the sons of earth,

and within it, then, to old and young

he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,

save only the land and the lives of his men.

Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,

for many a tribe this mid-earth round,

to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,

in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,

of halls the noblest: Heorot he named it

whose message had might in many a land.

Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,

treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,

high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting

of furious flame. Nor far was that day

when father and son-in-law stood in feud

for warfare and hatred that woke again.

With envy and anger an evil spirit

endured the dole in his dark abode,

that he heard each day the din of revel

high in the hall: there harps rang out,

clear song of the singer. He sang who knew

tales of the early time of man,

how the Almighty made the earth,

fairest fields enfolded by water,

set, triumphant, sun and moon

for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,

and braided bright the breast of earth

with limbs and leaves, made life for all

of mortal beings that breathe and move.

So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel

a winsome life, till one began

to fashion evils, that field of hell.

Grendel this monster grim was called,

march-riever mighty, in moorland living,

in fen and fastness; fief of the giants

the hapless wight a while had kept

since the Creator his exile doomed.

On kin of Cain was the killing avenged

by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.

Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven,

for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men. Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,

Etins and elves and evil-spirits,

as well as the giants that warred with God

weary while: but their wage was paid them!


I

Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,

leader beloved, and long he ruled

in fame with all folk, since his father had gone

away from the world, till awoke an heir,

haughty Healfdene, who held through life,

sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.

Then, one after one, there woke to him,

to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:

Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;

and I heard that -- was -- 's queen, the Heathoscylfing's helpmate dear. To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,

such honor of combat, that all his kin

obeyed him gladly till great grew his band

of youthful comrades. It came in his mind

to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,

a master mead-house, mightier far

than ever was seen by the sons of earth,

and within it, then, to old and young

he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,

save only the land and the lives of his men.

Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,

for many a tribe this mid-earth round,

to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,

in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,

of halls the noblest: Heorot he named it

whose message had might in many a land.

Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,

treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,

high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting

of furious flame. Nor far was that day

when father and son-in-law stood in feud

for warfare and hatred that woke again.

With envy and anger an evil spirit

endured the dole in his dark abode,

that he heard each day the din of revel

high in the hall: there harps rang out,

clear song of the singer. He sang who knew

tales of the early time of man,

how the Almighty made the earth,

fairest fields enfolded by water,

set, triumphant, sun and moon

for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,

and braided bright the breast of earth

with limbs and leaves, made life for all

of mortal beings that breathe and move.

So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel

a winsome life, till one began

to fashion evils, that field of hell.

Grendel this monster grim was called,

march-riever mighty, in moorland living,

in fen and fastness; fief of the giants

the hapless wight a while had kept

since the Creator his exile doomed.

On kin of Cain was the killing avenged

by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.

Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven,

for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men. Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,

Etins and elves and evil-spirits,

as well as the giants that warred with God

weary while: but their wage was paid them!