Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 03

Table of Contents


Download Listen as you read along.

THUS seethed unceasing,     the son of Healfdene,

with the woe of these days;      not wisest men,

assuaged his sorrow;      too sore the anguish,

loathly and long,     that lay on his folk,

most baneful of burdens,     and evils of the night.

This heard in his home,     Hygelac’s thane,

great among Geats,     of Grendel’s doings.

He was the mightiest,     man of valor,

in that same day,     of this our life,

stalwart and stately.     A stout wave-walker,

he bade make ready.     Yon battle-king said he,

far o’er the swan-road,     he fain would seek,

the noble monarch,     who needed men!

The prince’s journey,     by prudent folk,

was little blamed,     though they loved him dear;

they whetted the hero,     and hailed good omens.

And now the bold one,     from bands of Geats,

comrades chose,     the keenest of warriors,

e’er he could find;      with fourteen men,

the sea-wood[1] he sought,     and, sailor proved,

led them on,     to the land’s confines.

Time had now flown;[2]     afloat was the ship,

boat under bluff.     On board they climbed,

warriors ready;      waves were churning,

sea with sand;      the sailors bore,

on the breast of the bark,     their bright array,

their mail and weapons:      the men pushed off,

on its willing way,     the well-braced craft.

Then moved o’er the waters,     by might of the wind,

that bark like a bird,     with breast of foam,

till in season due,     on the second day,

the curved prow,     such course had run,

that sailors now,     could see the land,

sea-cliffs shining,     steep high hills,

headlands broad.     Their haven was found,

their journey ended.     Up then quickly,

the Weders'[3] clansmen,     climbed ashore,

anchored their sea-wood,     with armor clashing,

and gear of battle:      God they thanked,

for passing in peace,     o’er the paths of the sea.

Now saw from the cliff,     a Scylding clansman,

a warden that watched,     the water-side,

how they bore o’er the gangway,     glittering shields,

war-gear in readiness;      wonder seized him,

to know what manner,     of men they were.

Straight to the strand,     his steed he rode,

Hrothgar’s henchman;      with hand of might,

he shook his spear,     and spake in parley,

“Who are ye then,     ye armed men,

mailed folk that yon,     mighty vessel,

have urged thus over,     the ocean ways,

here o’er the waters?     A warden I,

sentinel set o’er,     the sea-march here,

lest any foe,     to the folk of Danes,

with harrying fleet,     should harm the land.

No aliens ever at,     ease thus bore them,

linden-wielders:[4]     yet word-of-leave,

clearly ye lack,     from clansmen here,

my folk’s agreement.     A greater Never saw I,

of warriors in world,     than is one of you,

yon hero in harness!     No henchman he,

worthied by weapons,     if witness his features,

his peerless presence!     I pray you though tell,

your folk and home,     lest hence ye fare,

suspect to wander,     your way as spies,

in Danish land.     Now dwellers afar,

ocean-travellers,     take from me,

simple advice:      the sooner the better,

I hear of the country,     whence ye came.”

[1] Ship.

[2] That is, since Beowulf selected his ship and led his men to the harbor.

[3] One of the auxiliary names of the Geats.

[4] Or, Not thus openly ever came warriors hither, yet…

Table of Contents