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Beowulf, anonymous (translated by Gummere), IX-XI

IX-XI

IX

ME thus often the evil monsters

thronging threatened. With thrust of my sword,

the darling, I dealt them due return!

Nowise had they bliss from their booty then

to devour their victim, vengeful creatures,

seated to banquet at bottom of sea;

but at break of day, by my brand sore hurt,

on the edge of ocean up they lay,

put to sleep by the sword. And since, by them

on the fathomless sea-ways sailor-folk

are never molested. -- Light from east,

came bright God's beacon; the billows sank,

so that I saw the sea-cliffs high,

windy walls. For Wyrd oft saveth

earl undoomed if he doughty be!

And so it came that I killed with my sword

nine of the nicors. Of night-fought battles

ne'er heard I a harder 'neath heaven's dome,

nor adrift on the deep a more desolate man!

Yet I came unharmed from that hostile clutch,

though spent with swimming. The sea upbore me,

flood of the tide, on Finnish land,

the welling waters. No wise of thee

have I heard men tell such terror of falchions,

bitter battle. Breca ne'er yet,

not one of you pair, in the play of war

such daring deed has done at all

with bloody brand, -- I boast not of it! --

though thou wast the bane of thy brethren dear,

thy closest kin, whence curse of hell

awaits thee, well as thy wit may serve!

For I say in sooth, thou son of Ecglaf,

never had Grendel these grim deeds wrought,

monster dire, on thy master dear,

in Heorot such havoc, if heart of thine

were as battle-bold as thy boast is loud!

But he has found no feud will happen;

from sword-clash dread of your Danish clan

he vaunts him safe, from the Victor-Scyldings.

He forces pledges, favors none

of the land of Danes, but lustily murders,

fights and feasts, nor feud he dreads

from Spear-Dane men. But speedily now

shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats,

shall bid him battle. Blithe to mead

go he that listeth, when light of dawn

this morrow morning o'er men of earth,

ether-robed sun from the south shall beam!”

Joyous then was the Jewel-giver,

hoar-haired, war-brave; help awaited

the Bright-Danes' prince, from Beowulf hearing,

folk's good shepherd, such firm resolve.

Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding

with winsome words. Came Wealhtheow forth,

queen of Hrothgar, heedful of courtesy,

gold-decked, greeting the guests in hall;

and the high-born lady handed the cup

first to the East-Danes' heir and warden,

bade him be blithe at the beer-carouse,

the land's beloved one. Lustily took he

banquet and beaker, battle-famed king. Through the hall then went the Helmings' Lady, to younger and older everywhere

carried the cup, till come the moment

when the ring-graced queen, the royal-hearted,

to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead.

She greeted the Geats' lord, God she thanked,

in wisdom's words, that her will was granted,

that at last on a hero her hope could lean

for comfort in terrors. The cup he took,

hardy-in-war, from Wealhtheow's hand,

and answer uttered the eager-for-combat.

Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --

“This was my thought, when my thanes and I

bent to the ocean and entered our boat,

that I would work the will of your people

fully, or fighting fall in death,

in fiend's gripe fast. I am firm to do

an earl's brave deed, or end the days

of this life of mine in the mead-hall here.”

Well these words to the woman seemed,

Beowulf's battle-boast. -- Bright with gold

the stately dame by her spouse sat down.

Again, as erst, began in hall

warriors' wassail and words of power,

the proud-band's revel, till presently

the son of Healfdene hastened to seek

rest for the night; he knew there waited

fight for the fiend in that festal hall,

when the sheen of the sun they saw no more,

and dusk of night sank darkling nigh,

and shadowy shapes came striding on,

wan under welkin. The warriors rose.

Man to man, he made harangue,

Hrothgar to Beowulf, bade him hail,

let him wield the wine hall: a word he added: --

“Never to any man erst I trusted,

since I could heave up hand and shield,

this noble Dane-Hall, till now to thee.

Have now and hold this house unpeered;

remember thy glory; thy might declare;

watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee

if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life.”

X THEN Hrothgar went with his hero-train, defence-of-Scyldings, forth from hall;

fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek,

couch of his queen. The King-of-Glory

against this Grendel a guard had set,

so heroes heard, a hall-defender,

who warded the monarch and watched for the monster.

In truth, the Geats' prince gladly trusted

his mettle, his might, the mercy of God!

Cast off then his corselet of iron,

helmet from head; to his henchman gave, --

choicest of weapons, -- the well-chased sword,

bidding him guard the gear of battle.

Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man,

Beowulf Geat, ere the bed be sought: --

“Of force in fight no feebler I count me,

in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.

Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death

his life will I give, though it lie in my power.

No skill is his to strike against me,

my shield to hew though he hardy be,

bold in battle; we both, this night,

shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,

unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,

sacred Lord, on which side soever

doom decree as he deemeth right.”

Reclined then the chieftain, and cheek-pillows held

the head of the earl, while all about him

seamen hardy on hall-beds sank.

None of them thought that thence their steps

to the folk and fastness that fostered them,

to the land they loved, would lead them back!

Full well they wist that on warriors many

battle-death seized, in the banquet-hall,

of Danish clan. But comfort and help,

war-weal weaving, to Weder folk

the Master gave, that, by might of one,

over their enemy all prevailed,

by single strength. In sooth 'tis told

that highest God o'er human kind

hath wielded ever! -- Thro' wan night striding,

came the walker-in-shadow. Warriors slept

whose hest was to guard the gabled hall, --

all save one. 'Twas widely known

that against God's will the ghostly ravager

him could not hurl to haunts of darkness;

wakeful, ready, with warrior's wrath,

bold he bided the battle's issue.

XI

THEN from the moorland, by misty crags,

with God's wrath laden, Grendel came.

The monster was minded of mankind now

sundry to seize in the stately house.

Under welkin he walked, till the wine-palace there,

gold-hall of men, he gladly discerned,

flashing with fretwork. Not first time, this,

that he the home of Hrothgar sought, --

yet ne'er in his life-day, late or early,

such hardy heroes, such hall-thanes, found!

To the house the warrior walked apace,

parted from peace; the portal opended,

though with forged bolts fast, when his fists had

struck it,

and baleful he burst in his blatant rage,

the house's mouth. All hastily, then,

o'er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on,

ireful he strode; there streamed from his eyes

fearful flashes, like flame to see.

He spied in hall the hero-band,

kin and clansmen clustered asleep,

hardy liegemen. Then laughed his heart;

for the monster was minded, ere morn should dawn,

savage, to sever the soul of each,

life from body, since lusty banquet

waited his will! But Wyrd forbade him

to seize any more of men on earth

after that evening. Eagerly watched

Hygelac's kinsman his cursed foe,

how he would fare in fell attack.

Not that the monster was minded to pause!

Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior

for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder,

the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams,

swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus

the lifeless corse was clear devoured,

e'en feet and hands. Then farther he hied;

for the hardy hero with hand he grasped,

felt for the foe with fiendish claw,

for the hero reclining, -- who clutched it boldly,

prompt to answer, propped on his arm.

Soon then saw that shepherd-of-evils

that never he met in this middle-world,

in the ways of earth, another wight

with heavier hand-gripe; at heart he feared,

sorrowed in soul, -- none the sooner escaped!

Fain would he flee, his fastness seek,

the den of devils: no doings now

such as oft he had done in days of old!

Then bethought him the hardy Hygelac-thane

of his boast at evening: up he bounded,

grasped firm his foe, whose fingers cracked.

The fiend made off, but the earl close followed.

The monster meant -- if he might at all --

to fling himself free, and far away

fly to the fens, -- knew his fingers' power

in the gripe of the grim one. Gruesome march

to Heorot this monster of harm had made!

Din filled the room; the Danes were bereft,

castle-dwellers and clansmen all,

earls, of their ale. Angry were both

those savage hall-guards: the house resounded.

Wonder it was the wine-hall firm

in the strain of their struggle stood, to earth

the fair house fell not; too fast it was

within and without by its iron bands

craftily clamped; though there crashed from sill

many a mead-bench -- men have told me --

gay with gold, where the grim foes wrestled.

So well had weened the wisest Scyldings

that not ever at all might any man

that bone-decked, brave house break asunder,

crush by craft, -- unless clasp of fire

in smoke engulfed it. -- Again uprose

din redoubled. Danes of the North

with fear and frenzy were filled, each one,

who from the wall that wailing heard,

God's foe sounding his grisly song,

cry of the conquered, clamorous pain

from captive of hell. Too closely held him

he who of men in might was strongest

in that same day of this our life.



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IX-XI

IX

ME thus often the evil monsters

thronging threatened. With thrust of my sword,

the darling, I dealt them due return!

Nowise had they bliss from their booty then

to devour their victim, vengeful creatures,

seated to banquet at bottom of sea;

but at break of day, by my brand sore hurt,

on the edge of ocean up they lay,

put to sleep by the sword. And since, by them

on the fathomless sea-ways sailor-folk

are never molested. -- Light from east,

came bright God's beacon; the billows sank,

so that I saw the sea-cliffs high,

windy walls. For Wyrd oft saveth

earl undoomed if he doughty be!

And so it came that I killed with my sword

nine of the nicors. Of night-fought battles

ne'er heard I a harder 'neath heaven's dome,

nor adrift on the deep a more desolate man!

Yet I came unharmed from that hostile clutch,

though spent with swimming. The sea upbore me,

flood of the tide, on Finnish land,

the welling waters. No wise of thee

have I heard men tell such terror of falchions,

bitter battle. Breca ne'er yet,

not one of you pair, in the play of war

such daring deed has done at all

with bloody brand, -- I boast not of it! --

though thou wast the bane of thy brethren dear,

thy closest kin, whence curse of hell

awaits thee, well as thy wit may serve!

For I say in sooth, thou son of Ecglaf,

never had Grendel these grim deeds wrought,

monster dire, on thy master dear,

in Heorot such havoc, if heart of thine

were as battle-bold as thy boast is loud!

But he has found no feud will happen;

from sword-clash dread of your Danish clan

he vaunts him safe, from the Victor-Scyldings.

He forces pledges, favors none

of the land of Danes, but lustily murders,

fights and feasts, nor feud he dreads

from Spear-Dane men. But speedily now

shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats,

shall bid him battle. Blithe to mead

go he that listeth, when light of dawn

this morrow morning o'er men of earth,

ether-robed sun from the south shall beam!”

Joyous then was the Jewel-giver,

hoar-haired, war-brave; help awaited

the Bright-Danes' prince, from Beowulf hearing,

folk's good shepherd, such firm resolve.

Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding

with winsome words. Came Wealhtheow forth,

queen of Hrothgar, heedful of courtesy,

gold-decked, greeting the guests in hall;

and the high-born lady handed the cup

first to the East-Danes' heir and warden,

bade him be blithe at the beer-carouse,

the land's beloved one. Lustily took he

banquet and beaker, battle-famed king. Through the hall then went the Helmings' Lady, to younger and older everywhere

carried the cup, till come the moment

when the ring-graced queen, the royal-hearted,

to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead.

She greeted the Geats' lord, God she thanked,

in wisdom's words, that her will was granted,

that at last on a hero her hope could lean

for comfort in terrors. The cup he took,

hardy-in-war, from Wealhtheow's hand,

and answer uttered the eager-for-combat.

Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --

“This was my thought, when my thanes and I

bent to the ocean and entered our boat,

that I would work the will of your people

fully, or fighting fall in death,

in fiend's gripe fast. I am firm to do

an earl's brave deed, or end the days

of this life of mine in the mead-hall here.”

Well these words to the woman seemed,

Beowulf's battle-boast. -- Bright with gold

the stately dame by her spouse sat down.

Again, as erst, began in hall

warriors' wassail and words of power,

the proud-band's revel, till presently

the son of Healfdene hastened to seek

rest for the night; he knew there waited

fight for the fiend in that festal hall,

when the sheen of the sun they saw no more,

and dusk of night sank darkling nigh,

and shadowy shapes came striding on,

wan under welkin. The warriors rose.

Man to man, he made harangue,

Hrothgar to Beowulf, bade him hail,

let him wield the wine hall: a word he added: --

“Never to any man erst I trusted,

since I could heave up hand and shield,

this noble Dane-Hall, till now to thee.

Have now and hold this house unpeered;

remember thy glory; thy might declare;

watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee

if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life.”

X THEN Hrothgar went with his hero-train, defence-of-Scyldings, forth from hall;

fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek,

couch of his queen. The King-of-Glory

against this Grendel a guard had set,

so heroes heard, a hall-defender,

who warded the monarch and watched for the monster.

In truth, the Geats' prince gladly trusted

his mettle, his might, the mercy of God!

Cast off then his corselet of iron,

helmet from head; to his henchman gave, --

choicest of weapons, -- the well-chased sword,

bidding him guard the gear of battle.

Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man,

Beowulf Geat, ere the bed be sought: --

“Of force in fight no feebler I count me,

in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.

Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death

his life will I give, though it lie in my power.

No skill is his to strike against me,

my shield to hew though he hardy be,

bold in battle; we both, this night,

shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,

unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,

sacred Lord, on which side soever

doom decree as he deemeth right.”

Reclined then the chieftain, and cheek-pillows held

the head of the earl, while all about him

seamen hardy on hall-beds sank.

None of them thought that thence their steps

to the folk and fastness that fostered them,

to the land they loved, would lead them back!

Full well they wist that on warriors many

battle-death seized, in the banquet-hall,

of Danish clan. But comfort and help,

war-weal weaving, to Weder folk

the Master gave, that, by might of one,

over their enemy all prevailed,

by single strength. In sooth 'tis told

that highest God o'er human kind

hath wielded ever! -- Thro' wan night striding,

came the walker-in-shadow. Warriors slept

whose hest was to guard the gabled hall, --

all save one. 'Twas widely known

that against God's will the ghostly ravager

him could not hurl to haunts of darkness;

wakeful, ready, with warrior's wrath,

bold he bided the battle's issue.

XI

THEN from the moorland, by misty crags,

with God's wrath laden, Grendel came.

The monster was minded of mankind now

sundry to seize in the stately house.

Under welkin he walked, till the wine-palace there,

gold-hall of men, he gladly discerned,

flashing with fretwork. Not first time, this,

that he the home of Hrothgar sought, --

yet ne'er in his life-day, late or early,

such hardy heroes, such hall-thanes, found!

To the house the warrior walked apace,

parted from peace; the portal opended,

though with forged bolts fast, when his fists had

struck it,

and baleful he burst in his blatant rage,

the house's mouth. All hastily, then,

o'er fair-paved floor the fiend trod on,

ireful he strode; there streamed from his eyes

fearful flashes, like flame to see.

He spied in hall the hero-band,

kin and clansmen clustered asleep,

hardy liegemen. Then laughed his heart;

for the monster was minded, ere morn should dawn,

savage, to sever the soul of each,

life from body, since lusty banquet

waited his will! But Wyrd forbade him

to seize any more of men on earth

after that evening. Eagerly watched

Hygelac's kinsman his cursed foe,

how he would fare in fell attack.

Not that the monster was minded to pause!

Straightway he seized a sleeping warrior

for the first, and tore him fiercely asunder,

the bone-frame bit, drank blood in streams,

swallowed him piecemeal: swiftly thus

the lifeless corse was clear devoured,

e'en feet and hands. Then farther he hied;

for the hardy hero with hand he grasped,

felt for the foe with fiendish claw,

for the hero reclining, -- who clutched it boldly,

prompt to answer, propped on his arm.

Soon then saw that shepherd-of-evils

that never he met in this middle-world,

in the ways of earth, another wight

with heavier hand-gripe; at heart he feared,

sorrowed in soul, -- none the sooner escaped!

Fain would he flee, his fastness seek,

the den of devils: no doings now

such as oft he had done in days of old!

Then bethought him the hardy Hygelac-thane

of his boast at evening: up he bounded,

grasped firm his foe, whose fingers cracked.

The fiend made off, but the earl close followed.

The monster meant -- if he might at all --

to fling himself free, and far away

fly to the fens, -- knew his fingers' power

in the gripe of the grim one. Gruesome march

to Heorot this monster of harm had made!

Din filled the room; the Danes were bereft,

castle-dwellers and clansmen all,

earls, of their ale. Angry were both

those savage hall-guards: the house resounded.

Wonder it was the wine-hall firm

in the strain of their struggle stood, to earth

the fair house fell not; too fast it was

within and without by its iron bands

craftily clamped; though there crashed from sill

many a mead-bench -- men have told me --

gay with gold, where the grim foes wrestled.

So well had weened the wisest Scyldings

that not ever at all might any man

that bone-decked, brave house break asunder,

crush by craft, -- unless clasp of fire

in smoke engulfed it. -- Again uprose

din redoubled. Danes of the North

with fear and frenzy were filled, each one,

who from the wall that wailing heard,

God's foe sounding his grisly song,

cry of the conquered, clamorous pain

from captive of hell. Too closely held him

he who of men in might was strongest

in that same day of this our life.

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