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Beowulf, anonymous (translated by Gummere), II

II

WENT he forth to find at fall of night

that haughty house, and heed wherever

the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.

Found within it the atheling band

asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,

of human hardship. Unhallowed wight,

grim and greedy, he grasped betimes,

wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,

thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed

fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,

laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.

Then at the dawning, as day was breaking,

the might of Grendel to men was known;

then after wassail was wail uplifted,

loud moan in the morn. The mighty chief,

atheling excellent, unblithe sat,

labored in woe for the loss of his thanes,

when once had been traced the trail of the fiend,

spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow,

too long, too loathsome. Not late the respite;

with night returning, anew began

ruthless murder; he recked no whit,

firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime.

They were easy to find who elsewhere sought

in room remote their rest at night,

bed in the bowers, when that bale was shown,

was seen in sooth, with surest token, --

the hall-thane's hate. Such held themselves

far and fast who the fiend outran!

Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill

one against all; until empty stood

that lordly building, and long it bode so.

Twelve years' tide the trouble he bore, sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,

boundless cares. There came unhidden

tidings true to the tribes of men,

in sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel

harassed Hrothgar, what hate he bore him,

what murder and massacre, many a year,

feud unfading, -- refused consent

to deal with any of Daneland's earls, make pact of peace, or compound for gold:

still less did the wise men ween to get

great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.

But the evil one ambushed old and young

death-shadow dark, and dogged them still,

lured, or lurked in the livelong night

of misty moorlands: men may say not

where the haunts of these Hell-Runes be.

Such heaping of horrors the hater of men,

lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,

harassings heavy. O'er Heorot he lorded, gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;

and ne'er could the prince approach his throne, -- 'twas judgment of God, -- or have joy in his hall. Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings'-friend, heart-rending misery. Many nobles

sat assembled, and searched out counsel

how it were best for bold-hearted men

against harassing terror to try their hand.

Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes

altar-offerings, asked with words

that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them

for the pain of their people. Their practice this,

their heathen hope; 'twas Hell they thought of in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not,

Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,

nor Heaven's-Helmet heeded they ever, Wielder-of-Wonder. -- Woe for that man

who in harm and hatred hales his soul

to fiery embraces; -- nor favor nor change

awaits he ever. But well for him

that after death-day may draw to his Lord,

and friendship find in the Father's arms!



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II

WENT he forth to find at fall of night

that haughty house, and heed wherever

the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.

Found within it the atheling band

asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,

of human hardship. Unhallowed wight,

grim and greedy, he grasped betimes,

wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,

thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed

fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,

laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.

Then at the dawning, as day was breaking,

the might of Grendel to men was known;

then after wassail was wail uplifted,

loud moan in the morn. The mighty chief,

atheling excellent, unblithe sat,

labored in woe for the loss of his thanes,

when once had been traced the trail of the fiend,

spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow,

too long, too loathsome. Not late the respite;

with night returning, anew began

ruthless murder; he recked no whit,

firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime.

They were easy to find who elsewhere sought

in room remote their rest at night,

bed in the bowers, when that bale was shown,

was seen in sooth, with surest token, --

the hall-thane's hate. Such held themselves

far and fast who the fiend outran!

Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill

one against all; until empty stood

that lordly building, and long it bode so.

Twelve years' tide the trouble he bore, sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,

boundless cares. There came unhidden

tidings true to the tribes of men,

in sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel

harassed Hrothgar, what hate he bore him,

what murder and massacre, many a year,

feud unfading, -- refused consent

to deal with any of Daneland's earls, make pact of peace, or compound for gold:

still less did the wise men ween to get

great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.

But the evil one ambushed old and young

death-shadow dark, and dogged them still,

lured, or lurked in the livelong night

of misty moorlands: men may say not

where the haunts of these Hell-Runes be.

Such heaping of horrors the hater of men,

lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,

harassings heavy. O'er Heorot he lorded, gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;

and ne'er could the prince approach his throne, -- 'twas judgment of God, -- or have joy in his hall. Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings'-friend, heart-rending misery. Many nobles

sat assembled, and searched out counsel

how it were best for bold-hearted men

against harassing terror to try their hand.

Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes

altar-offerings, asked with words

that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them

for the pain of their people. Their practice this,

their heathen hope; 'twas Hell they thought of in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not,

Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,

nor Heaven's-Helmet heeded they ever, Wielder-of-Wonder. -- Woe for that man

who in harm and hatred hales his soul

to fiery embraces; -- nor favor nor change

awaits he ever. But well for him

that after death-day may draw to his Lord,

and friendship find in the Father's arms!

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