Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 09

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IX

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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,

never heard I a harder,     beneath 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 Never 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,[1]     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 grip 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 before,     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,     before 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.”

[1] Murder.

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