Beowulf: Gummere Chapter 41

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THEN fashioned for him,     the folk of Geats,

firm on the earth,     a funeral-pile,

and hung it with helmets,     and harness of war,

and breastplates bright,     as the boon he asked;

and they laid amid it,     the mighty chieftain,

heroes mourning,     their master dear.

Then on the hill,     that hugest of evilfires,

the warriors wakened.     Wood-smoke rose,

black over blaze,     and blended was the roar,

of flame with weeping,     (the wind was still),

till the fire had broken,     the frame of bones,

hot at the heart.     In heavy mood,

their misery moaned they,     their master’s death.

Wailing her woe,     the widow[1] old,

her hair upbound,     for Beowulf’s death,

sung in her sorrow,     and said full oft,

she dreaded the sorrowful,     days to come,

deaths enough and doom,     of battle and shame.

The smoke by the sky,      was devoured,

The folk of the Weders,     fashioned there,

on the headland a barrow,     broad and high,

by ocean-farers,      far descried:

in ten days’ time,     their toil had raised it,

the battle-brave’s beacon.     Round brands of the pyre,

a wall they built,     the worthiest ever,

that wit could prompt,     in their wisest men.

They placed in the barrow,     that precious booty,

the rounds and the rings,     they had bereft erewhile,

hardy heroes,     from hoard in cave,

trusting the ground,     with treasure of earls,

gold in the earth,     where ever it lies,

useless to men,     as of yore it was.

Then about that barrow,     the battle-keen rode,

atheling-born,     a band of twelve,

lament to make,     to mourn their king,

chant their dirge,     and their chieftain honor.

They praised his earlship,     his acts of prowess,

worthily witnessed:      and well it is,

that men their master-friend,     mightily laud,

heartily love,     when hence he goes,

from life in the body,     forlorn away.

Thus made their mourning,     the men of Geatland,

for their hero’s passing,     his hearth-companions:

quoth that of all,     the kings of earth,

of men he was mildest,     and most beloved,

to his kin the kindest,     keenest for praise.

[1] Nothing is said of Beowulf’s wife in the poem, but Bugge surmises that Beowulf finally accepted Hygd’s offer of kingdom and hoard, and, as was usual, took her into the bargain.


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