Beowulf: Hall Chapter 02

 

Contents

Download  Listen as you read along.

II. SCYLD’S SUCCESSORS.–HROTHGAR’S GREAT MEAD-HALL.

{Beowulf succeeds his father Scyld.}

In the boroughs then Beowulf,       bairn of the Scyldings,
Belovèd land-prince,       for long-lasting season,
Was famed mid the folk,       (his father departed,
The prince from his dwelling),       till afterward sprang,
Great-minded Healfdene;       the Danes in his lifetime, — 5.
He graciously governed,       grim-mooded, agèd. — 60.

{Healfdene’s birth.}

Four bairns of his body,       born in succession,
Woke in the world,       war-troopers’ leader,
Heorogar, Hrothgar,       and Halga the good;
Heard I that Elan,       was Ongentheow’s consort, — 10.

{He has three sons–one of them, Hrothgar–and a daughter named Elan. Hrothgar becomes a mighty king.}

The well-beloved bedmate,       of the War-Scylfing leader.
Then glory in battle,       to Hrothgar was given,
Waxing of war-fame,       that willingly kinsmen,
Obeyed his bidding,       till the boys grew to manhood,
A numerous band.       It burned in his spirit, — 15.
To urge his folk,       to found a great building, — 70.
A mead-hall grander,       than men of the era,

{He is eager to build a great hall in which he may feast his retainers.}

Ever had heard of,       and in it to share,
With young and old,       all of the blessings,
The Lord had allowed him,       save life and retainers. — 20.
Then the work I find,       afar was assigned,
To many races in,       middle-earth’s regions,
To adorn the great folk-hall.       In due time it happened,
Early ‘mong men,       that ’twas finished entirely,
The greatest of hall-buildings;       Heorot he named it. — 25.

{The hall is completed, and is called Heort, or Heorot.}

Who wide-reaching word-sway,       wielded ‘mong earlmen. — 80.
His promise he brake not,       rings he lavished,
Treasure at banquet.       Towered the hall up,
High and horn-crested,       huge between antlers:
It battle-waves bided,       the blasting fire-demon; — 30.
Ere long then from hottest,       hatred must sword-wrath,
Arise for a woman’s,       husband and father.
Then the mighty war-spirit,[1.]       endured for a season,

{The Monster Grendel is madly envious of the Danemen’s joy.}

Bore it bitterly,       he who bided in darkness,
That light-hearted laughter,       loud in the building, — 35.
Greeted him daily;       there was dulcet harp-music, — 90.
Clear song of the singer.       He said that was able,

{[The course of the story is interrupted by a short reference to some old account of the creation.]}

To tell from of old,       earthmen’s beginnings,
That Father Almighty,       earth had created,
The winsome wold,       that the water encircleth, — 40.
Set exultingly the sun’s,       and the moon’s beams,
To lavish their lustre,       on land-folk and races,
And earth He embellished,       in all her regions,
With limbs and leaves;       life He bestowed too,
On all the kindreds,       that live under heaven. — 45.

{The glee of the warriors is overcast by a horrible dread.}

So blessed with abundance,       brimming with joyance, — 100.
The warriors abided,       till a certain one gan to,
Dog them with deeds,       of direfullest malice,
A foe in the hall-building:       this horrible stranger,[2.]
Was Grendel entitled,       the march-stepper famous, — 50.
Who[3.] dwelt in the moor-fens,       the marsh and the fastness;
The wan-mooded being,       abode for a season,
In the land of the giants,       when the Lord and Creator,
Had banned him and branded.       For that bitter murder,
The killing of Abel,       all-ruling Father, — 55.

{Cain is referred to as a progenitor of Grendel, and of monsters in general.}

The kindred of Cain,       crushed with His vengeance; — 110.
In the feud He rejoiced not,       but far away drove him,
From kindred and kind,       that crime to atone for,
Meter of Justice.       Thence ill-favored creatures,
Elves and giants,       monsters of ocean, — 60. .
Came into being,       and the giants that longtime,
Grappled with God;       He gave them requital.

— NOTES —

[1.] R. and t. B. prefer ‘ellor-gæst’ to ‘ellen-gæst’ (86): Then the stranger from afar endured, etc.
[2.] Some authorities would translate ‘demon’ instead of ‘stranger.’
[3.] Some authorities arrange differently, and render: Who dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness, the land of the giant-race.

Contents