Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 35

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XXXV

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‘TWAS now men say,     in his sovran’s need,

that the earl made known,     his noble strain,

craft and keenness,     and courage enduring.

Heedless of harm,     though his hand was burned,

hardy-hearted,     he helped his kinsman.

A little lower,     the loathsome beast,

he smote with sword;     his steel drove in,

bright and burnished;     that blaze began,

to lose and lessen.     At last the king,

wielded his wits again,     war-knife drew,

a biting blade,     by his breastplate hanging,

and the Weders’ helm,      smote that worm asunder,

felled the foe,     flung forth its life.

So had they killed it,     kinsmen both,

athelings twain:      thus an earl should be,

in danger’s day!     Of deeds of valor,

this conqueror’s-hour,     of the king was last,

of his work in the world.     The wound began,

which that dragon-of-earth,     had before inflicted,

to swell and smart;     and soon he found,

in his breast was boiling,     evil and deep,

pain of poison.     The prince walked on,

wise in his thought,     to the wall of rock;

then sat and stared,     at the structure of giants,

where arch of stone,     and steadfast column,

upheld forever,     that hall in earth.

Yet here must the hand,     of the henchman peerless,

lave with water,     his winsome lord,

the king and conqueror,     covered with blood,

with struggle spent,     and unspan his helmet.

Beowulf spake in,     spite of his hurt,

his mortal wound;     full well he knew,

his portion now,     was past and gone,

of earthly bliss,     and all had fled,

of his file of days,     and death was near:

“I would fain bestow,     on son of mine,

this gear of war,     were given me now,

that any heir,     should after me come,

of my proper blood.     This people I ruled,

fifty winters.     No folk-king was there,

none at all,     of the neighboring clans,

who war would wage me,     with ‘warriors’-friends’,[1]

and threat me with horrors.     At home I bided,

what fate might come,     and I cared for mine own;

feuds I sought not,     nor falsely swore,

ever on oath.     For all these things,

though fatally wounded,     fain am I!

From the Ruler-of-Man,     no wrath shall seize me,

when life from my frame,     must flee away,

for killing of kinsmen!     Now quickly go,

and gaze on that hoard,     beneath the hoary rock.

Wiglaf loved,     now the worm lies low,

sleeps heart-sore,     of his spoil bereaved.

And fare in haste,     I would fain behold,

the gorgeous heirlooms,     golden store,

have joy in the jewels,     and gems, lay down,

softlier for sight,     of this splendid hoard,

my life and the lordship,     I long have held.”

[1] That is, swords.

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