Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 36

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XXXVI

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I HAVE heard that swiftly,     the son of Weohstan,

at wish and word,     of his wounded king,

war-sick warrior,     woven mail-coat,

battle-sark bore,     beneath the barrow’s roof.

Then the clansman keen,     of conquest proud,

passing the seat,[1]     saw store of jewels,

and glistening gold,     the ground along;

by the wall were marvels,     and many a vessel,

in the den of the dragon,     the dawn-flier old:

unburnished bowls,     of bygone men,

bereft of richness;     rusty helms,

of the olden age;     and arm-rings many,

wondrously woven.     Such wealth of gold,

booty from barrow,     can burden with pride,

each human wight:      let him hide it who will!

His glance too fell,     on a gold-wove banner,

high o’er the hoard,     of handiwork noblest,

brilliantly broidered;     so bright its gleam,

all the earth-floor,     he easily saw,

and viewed all these vessels.     No vestige now,

was seen of the serpent:      the sword had taken him.

Then I heard the hill,     of its hoard was bereft,

old work of giants,     by one alone;

he burdened his bosom,     with beakers and plate,

at his own good will,     and the ensign took,

brightest of beacons.     The blade of his lord,

its edge was iron,     had injured deep,

one that guarded,     the golden hoard,

many a year,     and its murder-fire,

spread hot round the barrow,     in horror-billows,

at midnight hour,     till it met its doom.

Hasted the herald,     the hoard so spurred him,

his track to retrace;     he was troubled by doubt,

high-souled hero,     if haply he’d find,

alive where he left him,     the lord of Weders,

weakening fast,     by the wall of the cave.

So he carried the load.     His lord and king,

he found all bleeding,     famous chief,

at the lapse of life.     The liegeman again,

plashed him with water,     till point of word,

broke through the breast-hoard.     Beowulf spake,

sage and sad,     as he stared at the gold,

“For the gold and treasure,     to God my thanks,

to the Wielder-of-Wonders,     with words I say,

for what I behold,     to Heaven’s Lord,

for the grace that I give,     such gifts to my folk,

or ever the day,     of my death be run!

Now I’ve bartered here,     for booty of treasure,

the last of my life,     so look ye well,

to the needs of my land!     No longer I tarry.

A barrow bid ye,     the battle-fanned raise,

for my ashes. ‘Twill shine,     by the shore of the flood,

to folk of mine,     memorial fair,

on Hrones Headland,     high uplifted,

that ocean-wanderers,     oft may hail,

Beowulf’s Barrow,     as back from far,

they drive their keels,     o’er the darkling wave.”

From his neck he unclasped,     the collar of gold,

valorous king,     to his vassal gave it,

with bright-gold helmet,     breastplate, and ring,

to the youthful thane:      bade him use them in joy.

“Thou art end and remnant,     of all our race,

the Waegmunding name.     For Wyrd hath swept them,

all my line,     to the land of doom,

earls in their glory:      I after them go.”

This word was the last,     which the wise old man,

harbored in heart,     ere hot death-waves,

of evilfire he chose.     From his bosom fled,

his soul to seek,     the saints’ reward.

[1] Where Beowulf lay.

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