Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 19

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XIX

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THEN sank they to sleep.     With sorrow one bought,

his rest of the evening,     as ofttime had happened,

when Grendel guarded,     that golden hall,

evil wrought,     till his end drew nigh,

slaughter for sins,     it was seen and told,

how an avenger,     survived the fiend,

as was learned afar.     The livelong time,

after that grim fight,     Grendel’s mother,

monster of women,     mourned her woe.

She was doomed to dwell,     in the dreary waters,

cold sea-courses,     since Cain cut down,

with edge of the sword,     his only brother,

his father’s offspring:      outlawed he fled,

marked with murder,     from men’s delights,

warded the wilds.     There woke from him,

such fate-sent ghosts,     as Grendel who,

war-wolf horrid,     at Heorot found,

a warrior watching,     and waiting the fray,

with whom the grisly one,     grappled amain.

But the man remembered,     his mighty power,

the glorious gift,     that God had sent him,

in his Maker’s mercy,     put his trust,

for comfort and help:      so he conquered the foe,

felled the fiend,     who fled abject,

bereft of joy,     to the realms of death,

mankind’s foe.     And his mother now,

gloomy and grim,     would go that quest,

of sorrow the death,     of her son to avenge.

To Heorot came she,     where helmeted Danes,

slept in the hall.     Too soon came back,

old ills of the earls,     when in she burst,

the mother of Grendel.     Less grim though that terror,

even as terror,     of woman in war is less,

might of maid,     than of men in arms,

when hammer-forged,     the falchion hard,

sword gore-stained,     through swine of the helm,

crested with keen blade,     carves amain.

Then was in hall,     the hard-edge drawn,

the swords on the settles,[1]     and shields a-many,

firm held in hand:      nor helmet minded,

nor harness of mail,     whom that horror seized.

Haste was hers;     she would hasten afar,

and save her life,     when the liegemen saw her.

Yet a single atheling,     up she seized,

fast and firm,     as she fled to the moor.

He was for Hrothgar,     of heroes the dearest,

of trusty vassals,     betwixt the seas,

whom she killed on his couch,     a clansman famous,

in battle brave.     Nor was Beowulf there;

another house,     had been held apart,

after giving of gold,     for the Geat renowned.

Uproar filled Heorot;     the hand all had viewed,

blood-flecked she bore with her;      evil was returned,

dole in the dwellings:      ’twas dire exchange,

where Dane and Geat,     were doomed to give,

the lives of loved ones.     Long-tried king,

the hoary hero,     at heart was sad,

when he knew his,     noble no more lived,

and dead indeed,     was his dearest thane.

To his bower was Beowulf,     brought in haste,

dauntless victor.     As daylight broke,

along with his earls,     the atheling lord,

with his clansmen came,     where the king abode,

waiting to see,     if the Wielder-of-All,

would turn this tale,     of trouble and woe.

Strode o’er floor,     the famed-in-strife,

with his hand-companions,     the hall resounded,

wishing to greet,     the wise old king,

Ingwines’ lord;     he asked if the night,

had passed in peace,     to the prince’s mind.

[1] They had laid their arms on the benches near where they slept.

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