Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 10

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THEN Hrothgar went,     with his hero-train,

defence-of-Scyldings,     forth from hall;

fain would the war-lord,     Wealhtheow seek,

couch of his queen.     The King-of-Glory,

against this Grendel,     a guard had set,

so heroes heard,     a hall-defender,

who warded the monarch,     and watched for the monster.

In truth the Geats’ prince,     gladly trusted,

his mettle his might,     the mercy of God!

Cast off then,     his corselet of iron,

helmet from head;      to his henchman gave,

choicest of weapons,     the well-chased sword,

bidding him guard,     the gear of battle.

Spake then his Vaunt,     the valiant man,

Beowulf Geat,     ere the bed be sought:

“Of force in fight,     no feebler I count me,

in grim war-deeds,     than Grendel deems him.

Not with the sword then,     to sleep of death,

his life will I give,     though it lie in my power.

No skill is his,     to strike against me,

my shield to hew,     though he hardy be,

bold in battle;      we both this night,

shall spurn the sword,     if he seek me here,

unweaponed for war.     Let wisest God,

sacred Lord,     on which side soever,

doom decree,     as he deemeth right.”

Reclined then the chieftain,     and cheek-pillows held,

the head of the earl,     while all about him,

seamen hardy,     on hall-beds sank.

None of them thought,     that thence their steps,

to the folk and fastness,     that fostered them,

to the land they loved,     would lead them back!

Full well they wist,     that on warriors many,

battle-death seized,     in the banquet-hall,

of Danish clan.     But comfort and help,

war-weal weaving,     to Weder folk,

the Master gave that,     by might of one,

over their enemy,     all prevailed,

by single strength.     In sooth it is told,

that highest God,     o’er human kind,

hath wielded ever!     Thro’ wan night striding,

came the walker-in-shadow.     Warriors slept,

whose promise was to guard,     the gabled hall,

all save one,     it was widely known,

that against God’s will,     the ghostly ravager,

him[1] could not hurl,     to haunts of darkness;

wakeful ready,     with warrior’s wrath,

bold he bided,     the battle’s issue.

[1] Beowulf, — the “one.”

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