Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 27

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XXVII

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CAME now to ocean,     the ever-courageous,

hardy henchmen,     their harness bearing,

woven war-sarks.     The warden marked,

trusty as ever,     the earl’s return.

From the height of the hill,     no hostile words,

reached the guests,     as he rode to greet them;

but “Welcome” he called,     to that Weder clan,

as the sheen-mailed spoilers,     to ship marched on.

Then on the strand,     with steeds and treasure,

and armor their roomy,     and ring-dight ship,

was heavily laden:      high its mast,

rose over Hrothgar’s,     hoarded gems.

A sword to the boat-guard,     Beowulf gave,

mounted with gold;     on the mead-bench since,

he was better esteemed,     that blade possessing,

heirloom old.     Their ocean-keel boarding,

they drove through the deep,     and Daneland left.

A sea-cloth was set,     a sail with ropes,

firm to the mast;     the flood-timbers moaned;[1]

nor did wind over billows,     that wave-swimmer blow,

across from her course.     The craft sped on,

foam-necked it floated forth,     o’er the waves,

keel firm-bound,     over briny currents,

till they got them sight,     of the Geatish cliffs,

home-known headlands.     High the boat,

stirred by winds,     on the strand updrove.

Helpful at haven,     the harbor-guard stood,

who long already,     for loved companions,

by the water had waited,     and watched afar.

He bound to the beach,     the broad-bosomed ship,

with anchor-bands,     lest ocean-billows,

that trusty timber,     should tear away.

Then Beowulf bade them,     bear the treasure,

gold and jewels;     no journey far,

was it thence to go,     to the giver of rings,

Hygelac Hrethling:      at home he dwelt,

by the sea-wall close,     himself and clan.

Haughty that house,     a hero the king,

high the hall,     and Hygd[2] right young,

wise and wary,     though winters few,

in those fortress walls,     she had found a home,

Haereth’s daughter,     Nor humble her ways,

nor grudged she gifts,     to the Geatish men,

of precious treasure.     Not Thryth’s pride showed she,

folk-queen famed,     or that fell deceit.

Was none so daring,     that durst make bold,

(save her lord alone),     of the liegemen dear,

that lady full,     in the face to look,

but forged fetters,     he found his lot,

bonds of death!     And brief the respite;

soon as they seized him,     his sword-doom was spoken,

and the burnished blade,     an evil murder,

proclaimed and closed.     No queenly way,

for woman to practice,     though peerless she,

that the weaver-of-peace,[3]     from warrior dear,

by wrath and lying,     his life should reave!

But Hemming’s kinsman,     hindered this.

For over their ale,     men also told,

that of these folk-horrors,     fewer she wrought,

onslaughts of evil,     after she went,

gold-decked bride,     to the brave young prince,

atheling haughty,     and Offa’s hall,

o’er the fallow flood,     at her father’s bidding,

safely sought,     where since she prospered,

royal throned,     rich in goods,

fain of the fair life,     fate had sent her,

and loyal in love,     to the lord of warriors.

He of all heroes,     I heard of ever,

from sea to sea,     of the sons of earth,

most excellent seemed.     Hence Offa was praised,

for his fighting and feeing,     by far-off men,

the spear-bold warrior;     wisely he ruled,

over his empire.     Eomer woke to him,

help of heroes,     Hemming’s kinsman,

Grandson of Garmund,     grim in war.

[1] With the speed of the boat.

[2] Queen to Hygelac. She is praised by contrast with the antitype, Thryth, just as Beowulf was praised by contrast with Heremod.

[3] Kenning for “wife.”

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