Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 14

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XIV

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HROTHGAR spake,     to the hall he went,

stood by the steps,     the steep roof saw,

garnished with gold,     and Grendel’s hand:

“For the sight I see,     to the Sovran Ruler,

be speedy thanks!     A throng of sorrows,

I have borne from Grendel;     but God still works,

wonder on wonder,     the Warden-of-Glory.

It was but now,     that I never more,

for woes that weighed on me,     waited help,

long as I lived when,     laved in blood,

stood sword-gore-stained,     this stateliest house,

widespread woe,     for wise men all,

who had no hope,     to hinder ever,

foes infernal,     and fiendish sprites,

from havoc in hall.     This hero now,

by the Wielder’s might,     a work has done,

that not all of us before,     could ever do,

by wile and wisdom.     Lo, well can she say,

whoso of women,     this warrior bore,

among sons of men,     if still she liveth,

that the God of the ages,     was good to her,

in the birth of her bairn.     Now Beowulf thee,

of heroes best,     I shall heartily love,

as mine own my son;     preserve thou ever,

this kinship new:      thou shalt never lack,

wealth of the world,     that I wield as mine!

Full oft for less,     have I largess showered,

my precious hoard,     on a punier man,

less stout in struggle.     Thyself hast now,

fulfilled such deeds,     that thy fame shall endure,

through all the ages,     As ever he did,

well may the Wielder,     reward thee still!”

Beowulf spake,     bairn of Ecgtheow:

“This work of war,     most willingly,

we have fought this fight,     and fearlessly dared,

force of the foe.     Fain too were I,

hadst thou but seen,     himself what time,

the fiend in his trappings,     tottered to fall!

Swiftly I thought,     in strongest grip,

on his bed of death,     to bind him down,

that he in the hent,     of this hand of mine,

should breathe his last:      but he broke away,

Him I might not,     the Maker willed not,

hinder from flight,     and firm enough hold,

the life-destroyer:      too sturdy was he,

the ruthless in running!     For rescue however,

he left behind him,     his hand in pledge,

arm and shoulder;     nor aught of help,

could the cursed one,     thus procure at all.

None the longer liveth,     he loathsome fiend,

sunk in his sins,     but sorrow holds him,

tightly grasped,     in grip of anguish,

in evil bonds,     where bide he must,

evil outlaw,     such awful doom,

as the Mighty Maker,     shall mete him out.”

More silent seemed,     the son of Ecglaf,[1]

in boastful speech,     of his battle-deeds,

since athelings all,     through the earl’s great prowess,

beheld that hand,     on the high roof gazing,

foeman’s fingers,     the forepart of each,

of the sturdy nails,     to steel was likest,

heathen’s “hand-spear,”     hostile warrior’s,

claw uncanny,     it was clear they said,

that him no blade,     of the brave could touch,

how keen soever,     or cut away,

that battle-hand bloody,     from baneful foe.

[1] Unferth, Beowulf’s sometime opponent in the flyting.

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