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Beowulf, anonymous (translated by Gummere), VI

VI

HROTHGAR answered, helmet of Scyldings: --

“I knew him of yore in his youthful days;

his aged father was Ecgtheow named,

to whom, at home, gave Hrethel the Geat

his only daughter. Their offspring bold

fares hither to seek the steadfast friend.

And seamen, too, have said me this, --

who carried my gifts to the Geatish court,

thither for thanks, -- he has thirty men's heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand,

the bold-in-battle. Blessed God

out of his mercy this man hath sent

to Danes of the West, as I ween indeed,

against horror of Grendel. I hope to give

the good youth gold for his gallant thought.

Be thou in haste, and bid them hither,

clan of kinsmen, to come before me;

and add this word, -- they are welcome guests

to folk of the Danes.”

[To the door of the hall

Wulfgar went] and the word declared: --

“To you this message my master sends,

East-Danes' king, that your kin he knows, hardy heroes, and hails you all

welcome hither o'er waves of the sea! Ye may wend your way in war-attire,

and under helmets Hrothgar greet;

but let here the battle-shields bide your parley,

and wooden war-shafts wait its end.”

Uprose the mighty one, ringed with his men,

brave band of thanes: some bode without,

battle-gear guarding, as bade the chief.

Then hied that troop where the herald led them,

under Heorot's roof: [the hero strode,] hardy 'neath helm, till the hearth he neared. Beowulf spake, -- his breastplate gleamed,

war-net woven by wit of the smith: --

“Thou Hrothgar, hail! Hygelac's I, kinsman and follower. Fame a plenty

have I gained in youth! These Grendel-deeds

I heard in my home-land heralded clear.

Seafarers say how stands this hall,

of buildings best, for your band of thanes

empty and idle, when evening sun

in the harbor of heaven is hidden away.

So my vassals advised me well, --

brave and wise, the best of men, --

O sovran Hrothgar, to seek thee here,

for my nerve and my might they knew full well.

Themselves had seen me from slaughter come

blood-flecked from foes, where five I bound,

and that wild brood worsted. I' the waves I slew nicors by night, in need and peril

avenging the Weders, whose woe they sought, --

crushing the grim ones. Grendel now,

monster cruel, be mine to quell

in single battle! So, from thee,

thou sovran of the Shining-Danes,

Scyldings'-bulwark, a boon I seek, -- and, Friend-of-the-folk, refuse it not,

O Warriors'-shield, now I've wandered far, -- that I alone with my liegemen here,

this hardy band, may Heorot purge!

More I hear, that the monster dire,

in his wanton mood, of weapons recks not;

hence shall I scorn -- so Hygelac stay,

king of my kindred, kind to me! --

brand or buckler to bear in the fight,

gold-colored targe: but with gripe alone

must I front the fiend and fight for life,

foe against foe. Then faith be his

in the doom of the Lord whom death shall take.

Fain, I ween, if the fight he win,

in this hall of gold my Geatish band

will he fearless eat, -- as oft before, --

my noblest thanes. Nor need'st thou then to hide my head; for his shall I be,

dyed in gore, if death must take me;

and my blood-covered body he'll bear as prey, ruthless devour it, the roamer-lonely,

with my life-blood redden his lair in the fen:

no further for me need'st food prepare! To Hygelac send, if Hild should take me,

best of war-weeds, warding my breast,

armor excellent, heirloom of Hrethel

and work of Wayland. Fares Wyrd as she must.”


VI

HROTHGAR answered, helmet of Scyldings: --

“I knew him of yore in his youthful days;

his aged father was Ecgtheow named,

to whom, at home, gave Hrethel the Geat

his only daughter. Their offspring bold

fares hither to seek the steadfast friend.

And seamen, too, have said me this, --

who carried my gifts to the Geatish court,

thither for thanks, -- he has thirty men's heft of grasp in the gripe of his hand,

the bold-in-battle. Blessed God

out of his mercy this man hath sent

to Danes of the West, as I ween indeed,

against horror of Grendel. I hope to give

the good youth gold for his gallant thought.

Be thou in haste, and bid them hither,

clan of kinsmen, to come before me;

and add this word, -- they are welcome guests

to folk of the Danes.”

[To the door of the hall

Wulfgar went] and the word declared: --

“To you this message my master sends,

East-Danes' king, that your kin he knows, hardy heroes, and hails you all

welcome hither o'er waves of the sea! Ye may wend your way in war-attire,

and under helmets Hrothgar greet;

but let here the battle-shields bide your parley,

and wooden war-shafts wait its end.”

Uprose the mighty one, ringed with his men,

brave band of thanes: some bode without,

battle-gear guarding, as bade the chief.

Then hied that troop where the herald led them,

under Heorot's roof: [the hero strode,] hardy 'neath helm, till the hearth he neared. Beowulf spake, -- his breastplate gleamed,

war-net woven by wit of the smith: --

“Thou Hrothgar, hail! Hygelac's I, kinsman and follower. Fame a plenty

have I gained in youth! These Grendel-deeds

I heard in my home-land heralded clear.

Seafarers say how stands this hall,

of buildings best, for your band of thanes

empty and idle, when evening sun

in the harbor of heaven is hidden away.

So my vassals advised me well, --

brave and wise, the best of men, --

O sovran Hrothgar, to seek thee here,

for my nerve and my might they knew full well.

Themselves had seen me from slaughter come

blood-flecked from foes, where five I bound,

and that wild brood worsted. I' the waves I slew nicors by night, in need and peril

avenging the Weders, whose woe they sought, --

crushing the grim ones. Grendel now,

monster cruel, be mine to quell

in single battle! So, from thee,

thou sovran of the Shining-Danes,

Scyldings'-bulwark, a boon I seek, -- and, Friend-of-the-folk, refuse it not,

O Warriors'-shield, now I've wandered far, -- that I alone with my liegemen here,

this hardy band, may Heorot purge!

More I hear, that the monster dire,

in his wanton mood, of weapons recks not;

hence shall I scorn -- so Hygelac stay,

king of my kindred, kind to me! --

brand or buckler to bear in the fight,

gold-colored targe: but with gripe alone

must I front the fiend and fight for life,

foe against foe. Then faith be his

in the doom of the Lord whom death shall take.

Fain, I ween, if the fight he win,

in this hall of gold my Geatish band

will he fearless eat, -- as oft before, --

my noblest thanes. Nor need'st thou then to hide my head; for his shall I be,

dyed in gore, if death must take me;

and my blood-covered body he'll bear as prey, ruthless devour it, the roamer-lonely,

with my life-blood redden his lair in the fen:

no further for me need'st food prepare! To Hygelac send, if Hild should take me,

best of war-weeds, warding my breast,

armor excellent, heirloom of Hrethel

and work of Wayland. Fares Wyrd as she must.”