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Beowulf, anonymous (translated by Gummere), XII-XIV

XII-XIV

XII

NOT in any wise would the earls'-defence

suffer that slaughterous stranger to live,

useless deeming his days and years

to men on earth. Now many an earl

of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral,

fain the life of their lord to shield,

their praised prince, if power were theirs;

never they knew, -- as they neared the foe,

hardy-hearted heroes of war,

aiming their swords on every side

the accursed to kill, -- no keenest blade,

no farest of falchions fashioned on earth,

could harm or hurt that hideous fiend!

He was safe, by his spells, from sword of battle,

from edge of iron. Yet his end and parting

on that same day of this our life

woful should be, and his wandering soul

far off flit to the fiends' domain.

Soon he found, who in former days,

harmful in heart and hated of God,

on many a man such murder wrought,

that the frame of his body failed him now.

For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac

held in hand; hateful alive

was each to other. The outlaw dire

took mortal hurt; a mighty wound

showed on his shoulder, and sinews cracked,

and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now

the glory was given, and Grendel thence

death-sick his den in the dark moor sought,

noisome abode: he knew too well

that here was the last of life, an end

of his days on earth. -- To all the Danes

by that bloody battle the boon had come.

From ravage had rescued the roving stranger

Hrothgar's hall; the hardy and wise one

had purged it anew. His night-work pleased him,

his deed and its honor. To Eastern Danes

had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good,

all their sorrow and ills assuaged,

their bale of battle borne so long,

and all the dole they erst endured

pain a-plenty. -- 'Twas proof of this,

when the hardy-in-fight a hand laid down,

arm and shoulder, -- all, indeed,

of Grendel's gripe, -- 'neath the gabled roof.

XIII

MANY at morning, as men have told me,

warriors gathered the gift-hall round,

folk-leaders faring from far and near,

o'er wide-stretched ways, the wonder to view,

trace of the traitor. Not troublous seemed

the enemy's end to any man

who saw by the gait of the graceless foe

how the weary-hearted, away from thence,

baffled in battle and banned, his steps

death-marked dragged to the devils' mere.

Bloody the billows were boiling there,

turbid the tide of tumbling waves

horribly seething, with sword-blood hot,

by that doomed one dyed, who in den of the moor

laid forlorn his life adown,

his heathen soul, and hell received it.

Home then rode the hoary clansmen

from that merry journey, and many a youth,

on horses white, the hardy warriors,

back from the mere. Then Beowulf's glory

eager they echoed, and all averred

that from sea to sea, or south or north,

there was no other in earth's domain,

under vault of heaven, more valiant found,

of warriors none more worthy to rule!

(On their lord beloved they laid no slight,

gracious Hrothgar: a good king he!)

From time to time, the tried-in-battle

their gray steeds set to gallop amain,

and ran a race when the road seemed fair.

From time to time, a thane of the king,

who had made many vaunts, and was mindful of verses,

stored with sagas and songs of old,

bound word to word in well-knit rime,

welded his lay; this warrior soon

of Beowulf's quest right cleverly sang,

and artfully added an excellent tale,

in well-ranged words, of the warlike deeds

he had heard in saga of Sigemund.

Strange the story: he said it all, --

the Waelsing's wanderings wide, his struggles,

which never were told to tribes of men,

the feuds and the frauds, save to Fitela only,

when of these doings he deigned to speak,

uncle to nephew; as ever the twain

stood side by side in stress of war,

and multitude of the monster kind

they had felled with their swords. Of Sigemund grew,

when he passed from life, no little praise;

for the doughty-in-combat a dragon killed

that herded the hoard: under hoary rock

the atheling dared the deed alone

fearful quest, nor was Fitela there.

Yet so it befell, his falchion pierced

that wondrous worm, -- on the wall it struck,

best blade; the dragon died in its blood.

Thus had the dread-one by daring achieved

over the ring-hoard to rule at will,

himself to pleasure; a sea-boat he loaded,

and bore on its bosom the beaming gold,

son of Waels; the worm was consumed.

He had of all heroes the highest renown

among races of men, this refuge-of-warriors,

for deeds of daring that decked his name

since the hand and heart of Heremod

grew slack in battle. He, swiftly banished

to mingle with monsters at mercy of foes,

to death was betrayed; for torrents of sorrow

had lamed him too long; a load of care

to earls and athelings all he proved.

Oft indeed, in earlier days,

for the warrior's wayfaring wise men mourned,

who had hoped of him help from harm and bale,

and had thought their sovran's son would thrive,

follow his father, his folk protect,

the hoard and the stronghold, heroes' land,

home of Scyldings. -- But here, thanes said,

the kinsman of Hygelac kinder seemed

to all: the other was urged to crime!

And afresh to the race, the fallow roads

by swift steeds measured! The morning sun

was climbing higher. Clansmen hastened

to the high-built hall, those hardy-minded,

the wonder to witness. Warden of treasure,

crowned with glory, the king himself,

with stately band from the bride-bower strode;

and with him the queen and her crowd of maidens

measured the path to the mead-house fair.

XIV HROTHGAR spake, -- to the hall he went,

stood by the steps, the steep roof saw,

garnished with gold, and Grendel's hand: --

“For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler

be speedy thanks! A throng of sorrows

I have borne from Grendel; but God still works

wonder on wonder, the Warden-of-Glory.

It was but now that I never more

for woes that weighed on me waited help

long as I lived, when, laved in blood,

stood sword-gore-stained this stateliest house, --

widespread woe for wise men all,

who had no hope to hinder ever

foes infernal and fiendish sprites

from havoc in hall. This hero now,

by the Wielder's might, a work has done

that not all of us erst could ever do

by wile and wisdom. Lo, well can she say

whoso of women this warrior bore

among sons of men, if still she liveth,

that the God of the ages was good to her

in the birth of her bairn. Now, Beowulf, thee,

of heroes best, I shall heartily love

as mine own, my son; preserve thou ever

this kinship new: thou shalt never lack

wealth of the world that I wield as mine!

Full oft for less have I largess showered,

my precious hoard, on a punier man,

less stout in struggle. Thyself hast now

fulfilled such deeds, that thy fame shall endure

through all the ages. As ever he did,

well may the Wielder reward thee still!”

Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --

“This work of war most willingly

we have fought, this fight, and fearlessly dared

force of the foe. Fain, too, were I

hadst thou but seen himself, what time

the fiend in his trappings tottered to fall!

Swiftly, I thought, in strongest gripe

on his bed of death to bind him down,

that he in the hent of this hand of mine

should breathe his last: but he broke away.

Him I might not -- the Maker willed not --

hinder from flight, and firm enough hold

the life-destroyer: too sturdy was he,

the ruthless, in running! For rescue, however,

he left behind him his hand in pledge,

arm and shoulder; nor aught of help

could the cursed one thus procure at all.

None the longer liveth he, loathsome fiend,

sunk in his sins, but sorrow holds him

tightly grasped in gripe of anguish,

in baleful bonds, where bide he must,

evil outlaw, such awful doom

as the Mighty Maker shall mete him out.”

More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf

in boastful speech of his battle-deeds,

since athelings all, through the earl's great prowess,

beheld that hand, on the high roof gazing,

foeman's fingers, -- the forepart of each

of the sturdy nails to steel was likest, --

heathen's “hand-spear,” hostile warrior's

claw uncanny. 'Twas clear, they said,

that him no blade of the brave could touch,

how keen soever, or cut away

that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe.


XII-XIV

XII

NOT in any wise would the earls'-defence

suffer that slaughterous stranger to live,

useless deeming his days and years

to men on earth. Now many an earl

of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral,

fain the life of their lord to shield,

their praised prince, if power were theirs;

never they knew, -- as they neared the foe,

hardy-hearted heroes of war,

aiming their swords on every side

the accursed to kill, -- no keenest blade,

no farest of falchions fashioned on earth,

could harm or hurt that hideous fiend!

He was safe, by his spells, from sword of battle,

from edge of iron. Yet his end and parting

on that same day of this our life

woful should be, and his wandering soul

far off flit to the fiends' domain.

Soon he found, who in former days,

harmful in heart and hated of God,

on many a man such murder wrought,

that the frame of his body failed him now.

For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac

held in hand; hateful alive

was each to other. The outlaw dire

took mortal hurt; a mighty wound

showed on his shoulder, and sinews cracked,

and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now

the glory was given, and Grendel thence

death-sick his den in the dark moor sought,

noisome abode: he knew too well

that here was the last of life, an end

of his days on earth. -- To all the Danes

by that bloody battle the boon had come.

From ravage had rescued the roving stranger

Hrothgar's hall; the hardy and wise one

had purged it anew. His night-work pleased him,

his deed and its honor. To Eastern Danes

had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good,

all their sorrow and ills assuaged,

their bale of battle borne so long,

and all the dole they erst endured

pain a-plenty. -- 'Twas proof of this,

when the hardy-in-fight a hand laid down,

arm and shoulder, -- all, indeed,

of Grendel's gripe, -- 'neath the gabled roof.

XIII

MANY at morning, as men have told me,

warriors gathered the gift-hall round,

folk-leaders faring from far and near,

o'er wide-stretched ways, the wonder to view,

trace of the traitor. Not troublous seemed

the enemy's end to any man

who saw by the gait of the graceless foe

how the weary-hearted, away from thence,

baffled in battle and banned, his steps

death-marked dragged to the devils' mere.

Bloody the billows were boiling there,

turbid the tide of tumbling waves

horribly seething, with sword-blood hot,

by that doomed one dyed, who in den of the moor

laid forlorn his life adown,

his heathen soul, and hell received it.

Home then rode the hoary clansmen

from that merry journey, and many a youth,

on horses white, the hardy warriors,

back from the mere. Then Beowulf's glory

eager they echoed, and all averred

that from sea to sea, or south or north,

there was no other in earth's domain,

under vault of heaven, more valiant found,

of warriors none more worthy to rule!

(On their lord beloved they laid no slight,

gracious Hrothgar: a good king he!)

From time to time, the tried-in-battle

their gray steeds set to gallop amain,

and ran a race when the road seemed fair.

From time to time, a thane of the king,

who had made many vaunts, and was mindful of verses,

stored with sagas and songs of old,

bound word to word in well-knit rime,

welded his lay; this warrior soon

of Beowulf's quest right cleverly sang,

and artfully added an excellent tale,

in well-ranged words, of the warlike deeds

he had heard in saga of Sigemund.

Strange the story: he said it all, --

the Waelsing's wanderings wide, his struggles,

which never were told to tribes of men,

the feuds and the frauds, save to Fitela only,

when of these doings he deigned to speak,

uncle to nephew; as ever the twain

stood side by side in stress of war,

and multitude of the monster kind

they had felled with their swords. Of Sigemund grew,

when he passed from life, no little praise;

for the doughty-in-combat a dragon killed

that herded the hoard: under hoary rock

the atheling dared the deed alone

fearful quest, nor was Fitela there.

Yet so it befell, his falchion pierced

that wondrous worm, -- on the wall it struck,

best blade; the dragon died in its blood.

Thus had the dread-one by daring achieved

over the ring-hoard to rule at will,

himself to pleasure; a sea-boat he loaded,

and bore on its bosom the beaming gold,

son of Waels; the worm was consumed.

He had of all heroes the highest renown

among races of men, this refuge-of-warriors,

for deeds of daring that decked his name

since the hand and heart of Heremod

grew slack in battle. He, swiftly banished

to mingle with monsters at mercy of foes,

to death was betrayed; for torrents of sorrow

had lamed him too long; a load of care

to earls and athelings all he proved.

Oft indeed, in earlier days,

for the warrior's wayfaring wise men mourned,

who had hoped of him help from harm and bale,

and had thought their sovran's son would thrive,

follow his father, his folk protect,

the hoard and the stronghold, heroes' land,

home of Scyldings. -- But here, thanes said,

the kinsman of Hygelac kinder seemed

to all: the other was urged to crime!

And afresh to the race, the fallow roads

by swift steeds measured! The morning sun

was climbing higher. Clansmen hastened

to the high-built hall, those hardy-minded,

the wonder to witness. Warden of treasure,

crowned with glory, the king himself,

with stately band from the bride-bower strode;

and with him the queen and her crowd of maidens

measured the path to the mead-house fair.

XIV HROTHGAR spake, -- to the hall he went,

stood by the steps, the steep roof saw,

garnished with gold, and Grendel's hand: --

“For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler

be speedy thanks! A throng of sorrows

I have borne from Grendel; but God still works

wonder on wonder, the Warden-of-Glory.

It was but now that I never more

for woes that weighed on me waited help

long as I lived, when, laved in blood,

stood sword-gore-stained this stateliest house, --

widespread woe for wise men all,

who had no hope to hinder ever

foes infernal and fiendish sprites

from havoc in hall. This hero now,

by the Wielder's might, a work has done

that not all of us erst could ever do

by wile and wisdom. Lo, well can she say

whoso of women this warrior bore

among sons of men, if still she liveth,

that the God of the ages was good to her

in the birth of her bairn. Now, Beowulf, thee,

of heroes best, I shall heartily love

as mine own, my son; preserve thou ever

this kinship new: thou shalt never lack

wealth of the world that I wield as mine!

Full oft for less have I largess showered,

my precious hoard, on a punier man,

less stout in struggle. Thyself hast now

fulfilled such deeds, that thy fame shall endure

through all the ages. As ever he did,

well may the Wielder reward thee still!”

Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow: --

“This work of war most willingly

we have fought, this fight, and fearlessly dared

force of the foe. Fain, too, were I

hadst thou but seen himself, what time

the fiend in his trappings tottered to fall!

Swiftly, I thought, in strongest gripe

on his bed of death to bind him down,

that he in the hent of this hand of mine

should breathe his last: but he broke away.

Him I might not -- the Maker willed not --

hinder from flight, and firm enough hold

the life-destroyer: too sturdy was he,

the ruthless, in running! For rescue, however,

he left behind him his hand in pledge,

arm and shoulder; nor aught of help

could the cursed one thus procure at all.

None the longer liveth he, loathsome fiend,

sunk in his sins, but sorrow holds him

tightly grasped in gripe of anguish,

in baleful bonds, where bide he must,

evil outlaw, such awful doom

as the Mighty Maker shall mete him out.”

More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf

in boastful speech of his battle-deeds,

since athelings all, through the earl's great prowess,

beheld that hand, on the high roof gazing,

foeman's fingers, -- the forepart of each

of the sturdy nails to steel was likest, --

heathen's “hand-spear,” hostile warrior's

claw uncanny. 'Twas clear, they said,

that him no blade of the brave could touch,

how keen soever, or cut away

that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe.