Beowulf: Hall Chapter 06

 

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VI. BEOWULF INTRODUCES HIMSELF AT THE PALACE.

The highway glistened,       with many-hued pebble, — 320.
A by-path led the,       liegemen together.
[1.]Firm and hand-locked,       the war-burnie glistened,
The ring-sword radiant,       rang ‘mid the armor,
As the party was approaching,       the palace together, — 5.

{They set their arms and armor against the wall.}

In warlike equipments.       ‘Gainst the wall of the building,
Their wide-fashioned war-shields,       they weary did set then,
Battle-shields sturdy;       benchward they turned then;
Their battle-sarks rattled,       the gear of the heroes;
The lances stood up then,       all in a cluster, — 10.
The arms of the seamen,       ashen-shafts mounted, — 330.
With edges of iron:       the armor-clad troopers,

{A Danish hero asks them whence and why they are come.}

Were decked with weapons.       Then a proud-mooded hero,
Asked of the champions,       questions of lineage:
“From what borders bear ye,       your battle-shields plated, — 15.
Gilded and gleaming,       your gray-colored burnies,
Helmets with visors,       and heap of war-lances?–
To Hrothgar the king,       I am servant and liegeman.
‘Mong folk from far-lands,       found I have never,

{He expresses no little admiration for the strangers.}

Men so many of mien,       more courageous. — 20.
I ween that from valor,       nowise as outlaws, — 340.
But from greatness of soul,       ye sought for King Hrothgar.”

{Beowulf replies.}

Then the strength-famous,       earlman answer rendered,
The proud-mooded Wederchief,       replied to his question,

{We are Higelac’s table-companions, and bear an important commission to your prince.}

Hardy ‘neath helmet:       “Higelac’s mates are we; — 25.
Beowulf hight I.       To the bairn of Healfdene,
The famous folk-leader,       I freely will tell,
To thy prince my commission,       if pleasantly hearing,
He’ll grant we may greet him,       so gracious to all men.”
Wulfgar replied then,       (he was prince of the Wendels, — 30.
His boldness of spirit,       was known unto many, — 350.
His prowess and prudence):       “The prince of the Scyldings,

{Wulfgar, the thane, says that he will go and ask Hrothgar whether he will see the strangers.}

The friend-lord of Danemen,       I will ask of thy journey,
The giver of rings,       as thou urgest me do it,
The folk-chief famous,       and inform thee early, — 35.
What answer the good one,       mindeth to render me.”
He turned then hurriedly,       where Hrothgar was sitting,
[2.]Old and hoary,       his earlmen attending him;
The strength-famous went,       till he stood at the shoulder,
Of the lord of the Danemen,       of courteous thanemen, — 40.
The custom he minded.       Wulfgar addressed then, — 360.
His friendly liegelord:       “Folk of the Geatmen,

{He thereupon urges his liegelord to receive the visitors courteously.}

O’er the way of the waters,       are wafted hither,
Faring from far-lands:       the foremost in rank,
The battle-champions,       Beowulf title. — 45.
They make this petition:       with thee, O my chieftain,
To be granted a conference;       O gracious King Hrothgar,
Friendly answer,       refuse not to give them!

{Hrothgar, too, is struck with Beowulf’s appearance.}

In war-trappings,       weeded worthy they seem,
Of earls to be honored;       sure the atheling is doughty, — 50.
Who headed the heroes,       hitherward coming.” — 370.

— NOTES —

[1.] Instead of the punctuation given by H.-So, S. proposed to insert a comma after ‘scír’ (322), and to take ‘hring-íren’ as meaning ‘ring-mail’ and as parallel with ‘gúð-byrne.’ The passage would then read: The firm and hand-locked war-burnie shone, bright ring-mail, rang ‘mid the armor, etc.
[2.] Gr. and others translate ‘unhár’ by ‘bald’; old and bald.

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