Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 11

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XI

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THEN from the moorland,     by misty crags,

with God’s wrath laden,     Grendel came.

The monster was minded,     of mankind now,

sundry to seize,     in the stately house.

Under welkin he walked,     till the wine-palace there,

gold-hall of men,     he gladly discerned,

flashing with fretwork.     Not first time this,

that he the home,     of Hrothgar sought,

yet Never in his life-day,     late or early,

such hardy heroes,     such hall-thanes found!

To the house the warrior,     walked apace,

parted from peace;[1]     the portal opended,

though with forged bolts fast,     when his fists had struck it,

and evil he burst,     in his blatant rage,

the house’s mouth.      All hastily then,

o’er fair-paved floor,     the fiend trod on,

ireful he strode;      there streamed from his eyes,

fearful flashes,     like flame to see.

He spied in hall,     the hero-band,

kin and clansmen,     clustered asleep,

hardy liegemen.     Then laughed his heart;

for the monster was minded,     ere morn should dawn,

savage to sever,     the soul of each,

life from body,     since lusty banquet,

waited his will!     But Wyrd forbade him,

to seize any more,     of men on earth,

after that evening.     Eagerly watched,

Hygelac’s kinsman,     his cursed foe,

how he would fare,     in fell attack.

Not that the monster,     was minded to pause!

Straightway he seized,     a sleeping warrior,

for the first and tore him,     fiercely asunder,

the bone-frame bit,     drank blood in streams,

swallowed him piecemeal:      swiftly thus,

the lifeless corpse,     was clear devoured,

even feet and hands.     Then farther he hied;

for the hardy hero,     with hand he grasped,

felt for the foe,     with fiendish claw,

for the hero reclining,     who clutched it boldly,

prompt to answer,     propped on his arm.

Soon then saw,     that shepherd-of-evils,

that never he met,     in this middle-world,

in the ways of earth,     another wight,

with heavier hand-gripe;      at heart he feared,

sorrowed in soul,     none the sooner escaped!

Fain would he flee,     his fastness seek,

the den of devils:      no doings now,

such as oft he had done,     in days of old!

Then bethought him the hardy,     Hygelac-thane,

of his boast at evening:      up he bounded,

grasped firm his foe,     whose fingers cracked.

The fiend made off,     but the earl close followed.

The monster meant,     if he might at all,

to fling himself free,     and far away,

fly to the fens,     knew his fingers’ power,

in the grip of the grim one.     Gruesome march,

to Heorot this monster,     of harm had made!

Din filled the room;      the Danes were bereft,

castle-dwellers,     and clansmen all,

earls of their ale.     Angry were both,

those savage hall-guards:      the house resounded.

Wonder it was,     the wine-hall firm,

in the strain of their struggle,      stood. To earth,

the fair house fell not;      too fast it was,

within and without,     by its iron bands,

craftily clamped;      though there crashed from sill,

many a mead-bench,     men have told me,

gay with gold,     where the grim foes wrestled.

So well had expected,     the wisest Scyldings,

that not ever at all,     might any man,

that bone-decked brave house,     break asunder,

crush by craft,     unless clasp of fire,

in smoke engulfed it.     Again uprose,

din redoubled.     Danes of the North,

with fear and frenzy,     were filled each one,

who from the wall,     that wailing heard,

God’s foe sounding,     his grisly song,

cry of the conquered,     clamorous pain,

from captive of hell.     Too closely held him,

he who of men,     in might was strongest,

in that same day,     of this our life.

[1] That is, he was a “lost soul,” doomed to hell.

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