Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 08

Table of Contents

VIII

Download  Listen as you read along.

UNFERTH spake,     the son of Ecglaf,

who sat at the feet,     of the Scyldings’ lord,

unbound the battle-runes,[1]     Beowulf’s quest,

sturdy seafarer’s,     sorely galled him;

ever he envied,     that other men,

should more achieve,     in middle-earth,

of fame under heaven,     than he himself.

“Art thou that Beowulf,     Breca’s rival,

who emulous swam,     on the open sea,

when for pride the pair,     of you proved the floods,

and wantonly dared,     in waters deep,

to risk your lives?     No living man,

or lief or loath,     from your labor dire,

could you dissuade,     from swimming the main.

Ocean-tides,     with your arms ye covered,

with strenuous hands,     the sea-streets measured,

swam o’er the waters.     Winter’s storm,

rolled the rough waves.     In realm of sea,

a sennight strove ye.     In swimming he topped thee,

had more of main!     Him at morning-tide,

billows bore,     to the Battling Reamas,

whence he hied,     to his home so dear,

beloved of his liegemen,     to land of Brondings,

fastness fair,     where his folk he ruled,

town and treasure.     In triumph o’er thee,

Beanstan’s bairn,[2]     his boast achieved.

So expect I for thee,     a worse adventure,

though in buffet of battle,     thou brave hast been,

in struggle grim,     if Grendel’s approach,

thou darst await,     through the watch of night!”

Beowulf spake,     bairn of Ecgtheow:

“What a deal hast uttered,     dear my Unferth,

drunken with beer,     of Breca now,

told of his triumph!     Truth I claim it,

that I had more,     of might in the sea,

than any man else,     more ocean-endurance.

We twain had talked,     in time of youth,

and made our boast,     we were merely boys,

striplings still,     to stake our lives,

far at sea:      and so we performed it.

Naked swords,     as we swam along,

we held in hand,     with hope to guard us,

against the whales.     Not a whit from me,

could he float afar,     o’er the flood of waves,

haste o’er the billows;      nor him I abandoned.

Together we twain,     on the tides abode,

five nights full,     till the flood divided us,

churning waves,     and chillest weather,

darkling night,     and the northern wind,

ruthless rushed on us:      rough was the surge.

Now the wrath of the sea-fish,     rose apace;

yet me ‘gainst the monsters,     my mailed coat,

hard and hand-linked,     help afforded,

battle-sark braided,     my breast to ward,

garnished with gold.     There grasped me firm,

and hauled me to bottom,     the hated foe,

with grimmest grip,     it was granted me though,

to pierce the monster,     with point of sword,

with blade of battle:      huge beast of the sea,

was whelmed by the hurly,     through hand of mine.

[1] “Began the fight.”

[2] Breca.

Table of Contents