Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 26

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XXVI

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BEOWULF spake,     bairn of Ecgtheow:

“Lo, we seafarers,     say our will,

far-come men,     that we fain would seek,

Hygelac now.     We here have found,

hosts to our heart:      thou hast harbored us well.

If ever on earth,     I am able to win me,

more of thy love,     O lord of men,

aught anew,     than I now have done,

for work of war,     I am willing still!

If it come to me,     ever across the seas,

that neighbor foemen,     annoy and fright thee,

as they that hate thee,     erewhile have used,

thousands then,     of thanes I shall bring,

heroes to help thee.     Of Hygelac I know,

ward of his folk that,     though few his years,

the lord of the Geats,     will give me aid,

by word and by work,     that well I may serve thee,

wielding the war-wood,     to win thy triumph,

and lending thee might,     when thou lackest men.

If thy Hrethric should come,     to court of Geats,

a sovran’s son,     he will surely there,

find his friends.     A far-off land,

each man should visit,     who vaunts him brave,”

Him then answering,     Hrothgar spake:

“These words of thine,     the wisest God,

sent to thy soul!     No sager counsel,

from so young in years ever,     yet have I heard.

Thou art strong of main,     and in mind art wary,

art wise in words!     I expect indeed,

if ever it happens,     that Hrethel’s heir,

by spear be seized,     by sword-grim battle,

by illness or iron,     thine elder and lord,

people’s leader,     and life be thine,

no seemlier man,     will the Sea-Geats find,

at all to choose,     for their chief and king,

for hoard-guard of heroes,     if hold thou wilt,

thy kinsman’s kingdom!     Thy keen mind pleases me,

the longer the better,     Beowulf loved!

Thou hast brought it about,     that both our peoples,

sons of the Geat,     and Spear-Dane folk,

shall have mutual peace,     and from murderous strife,

such as once they waged,     from war refrain.

Long as I rule,     this realm so wide,

let our hoards be common,     let heroes with gold,

each other greet,     o’er the gannet’s-bath,

and the ringed-prow bear,     o’er rolling waves,

tokens of love.     I believe my landfolk,

towards friend and foe,     are firmly joined,

and honor they keep,     in the olden way.”

To him in the hall,     then Healfdene’s son,

gave treasures twelve,     and the trust-of-earls,

bade him fare with the gifts,     to his folk beloved,

hale to his home,     and in haste return.

Then kissed the king,     of kin renowned,

Scyldings’ chieftain,     that choicest thane,

and fell on his neck.      Fast flowed the tears,

of the hoary-headed.     Heavy with winters,

he had chances twain,     but he clung to this,[1]

that each should look,     on the other again,

and hear him in hall.     Was this hero so dear to him,

his breast’s wild billows,     he banned in vain;

safe in his soul,     a secret longing,

locked in his mind,     for that loved man,

burned in his blood.     Then Beowulf strode,

glad of his gold-gifts,     the grass-plot o’er,

warrior blithe.     The wave-roamer bode,

riding at anchor,     its owner awaiting.

As they hastened onward,     Hrothgar’s gift,

they lauded at length,     it was a lord unpeered,

every way blameless,     till age had broken,

it spareth no mortal,     his splendid might.

[1] That is, he might or might not see Beowulf again. Old as he was, the latter chance was likely, but he clung to the former, hoping to see his young friend again “and exchange brave words in the hall.”

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