Beowulf: Hall Chapter 05



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{Beowulf courteously replies.}

The chief of the strangers,       rendered him answer,
War-troopers’ leader,       and word-treasure opened: — 260.

{We are Geats.}

“We are sprung from the lineage,       of the people of Geatland,
And Higelac’s hearth-friends.       To heroes unnumbered,

{My father Ecgtheow was well-known in his day.}

My father was known,       a noble head-warrior — 5.
Ecgtheow titled;       many a winter,
He lived with the people,       ere he passed on his journey,
Old from his dwelling;       each of the counsellors,
Widely mid world-folk,       well remembers him.

{Our intentions towards King Hrothgar are of the kindest.}

We, kindly of spirit,       the lord of thy people, — 10.
The son of King Healfdene,       have come here to visit,
Folk-troop’s defender:       be free in thy counsels! — 270.
To the noble one bear we,       a weighty commission,
The helm of the Danemen;       we shall hide, I ween,

{Is it true that a monster is slaying Danish heroes?}

Naught of our message.       Thou know’st if it happen, — 15.
As we soothly heard say,       that some savage despoiler,
Some hidden pursuer,       on nights that are murky,
By deeds very direful,       ‘mid the Danemen exhibits,
Hatred unheard of,       horrid destruction,
And the falling of dead.       From feelings least selfish, — 20.

{I can help your king to free himself from this horrible creature.}

I am able to render,       counsel to Hrothgar,
How he, wise and worthy,       may worst the destroyer, — 280.
If the anguish of sorrow,       should ever be lessened,[1.]
Comfort come to him,       and care-waves grow cooler,
Or ever hereafter,       he agony suffer, — 25.
And troublous distress,       while towereth upward,
The handsomest of houses,       high on the summit.”

{The coast-guard reminds Beowulf that it is easier to say than to do.}

Bestriding his stallion,       the strand-watchman answered,
The doughty retainer:       “The difference surely,
‘Twixt words and works,       the warlike shield-bearer, — 30.
Who judgeth wisely,       well shall determine.
This band, I hear,       beareth no malice, — 290.

{I am satisfied of your good intentions, and shall lead you to the palace.}

To the prince of the Scyldings.       Pass ye then onward,
With weapons and armor.       I shall lead you in person;
To my war-trusty vassals,       command I shall issue, — 35.
To keep from all injury,       your excellent vessel,

{Your boat shall be well cared for during your stay here.}

Your fresh-tarred craft,       ‘gainst every opposer,
Close by the sea-shore,       till the curved-neckèd bark shall,
Waft back again,       the well-beloved hero,
O’er the way of the water,       to Weder dominions. — 40.

{He again compliments Beowulf.}

To warrior so great,       ’twill be granted sure,
In the storm of strife,       to stand secure.” — 300.
Onward they fared then,       (the vessel lay quiet,
The broad-bosomed bark,       was bound by its cable,
Firmly at anchor);       the boar-signs glistened,[2.] — 45.
Bright on the visors,       vivid with gilding,
Blaze-hardened, brilliant;       the boar acted warden.
The heroes hastened,       hurried the liegemen,

{The land is perhaps rolling.}

Descended together,       till they saw the great palace,
The well-fashioned wassail-hall,       wondrous and gleaming: — 50.

{Heorot flashes on their view.}

‘Mid world-folk and kindreds,       that was widest reputed,
Of halls under heaven,       which the hero abode in; — 310.
Its lustre enlightened,       lands without number.
Then the battle-brave hero,       showed them the glittering,
Court of the bold ones,       that they easily thither, — 55.
Might fare on their journey;       the aforementioned warrior,
Turning his courser,       quoth as he left them:

{The coast-guard, having discharged his duty, bids them God-speed.}

“‘Tis time I were faring;       Father Almighty,
Grant you His grace,       and give you to journey,
Safe on your mission!       To the sea I will get me, — 60.
‘Gainst hostile warriors,       as warden to stand.”


[1.] ‘Edwendan’ (280) B. takes to be the subs. ‘edwenden’ (cf. 1775); and ‘bisigu’ he takes as gen. sing., limiting ‘edwenden’: If reparation for sorrows is ever to come. This is supported by t.B.
[2.] Combining the emendations of B. and t.B., we may read: The boar-images glistened … brilliant, protected the life of the war-mooded man. They read ‘ferh-wearde’ (305) and ‘gúðmódgum men’ (306).