Beowulf: Hall Chapter 08

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VIII. HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF.–Continued.

{Hrothgar responds.}

Hrothgar discoursed,       helm of the Scyldings:
“To defend our folk,       and to furnish assistance,[1.]
Thou soughtest us hither,       good friend Beowulf.

{Reminiscences of Beowulf’s father, Ecgtheow.}

The fiercest of feuds,       thy father engaged in,
Heatholaf killed he,       in hand-to-hand conflict, — 5.
‘Mid Wilfingish warriors;       then the Wederish people,
For fear of a feud,       were forced to disown him. — 460.
Thence flying he fled,       to the folk of the South-Danes,
The race of the Scyldings,       o’er the roll of the waters;
I had lately begun then,       to govern the Danemen, — 10.
The hoard-seat of heroes,       held in my youth,
Rich in its jewels:       dead was Heregar,
My kinsman and elder,       had earth-joys forsaken,
Healfdene his bairn.       He was better than I am!
That feud thereafter,       for a fee I compounded; — 15.
O’er the weltering waters,       to the Wilfings I sent,
Ornaments old;       oaths did he swear me. — 470.

{Hrothgar recounts to Beowulf the horrors of Grendel’s persecutions.}

It pains me in spirit,       to any to tell it,
What grief in Heorot,       Grendel hath caused me,
What horror unlooked-for,       by hatred unceasing. — 20.
Waned is my war-band,       wasted my hall-troop;
Weird hath offcast them,       to the clutches of Grendel.
God can easily,       hinder the scather,
From deeds so direful.       Oft drunken with beer,

{My thanes have made many boasts, but have not executed them.}

O’er the ale-vessel promised,       warriors in armor, — 25.
They would willingly wait,       on the wassailing-benches,
A grapple with Grendel,       with grimmest of edges. — 480.
Then this mead-hall at morning,       with murder was reeking,
The building was bloody,       at breaking of daylight,
The bench-deals all flooded,       dripping and bloodied, — 30.
The folk-hall was gory:       I had fewer retainers,
Dear-beloved warriors,       whom death had laid hold of.

{Sit down to the feast, and give us comfort.}

Sit at the feast now,       thy intents unto heroes,[2.]
Thy victor-fame show,       as thy spirit doth urge thee!”

{A bench is made ready for Beowulf and his party.}

For the men of the Geats,       then together assembled, — 35.
In the beer-hall blithesome,       a bench was made ready;
There warlike in spirit,       they went to be seated, — 490.
Proud and exultant.       A liegeman did service,
Who a beaker embellished,       bore with decorum,

{The gleeman sings.}

And gleaming-drink poured.       The gleeman sang whilom — 40.

{The heroes all rejoice together.}

Hearty in Heorot;       there was heroes’ rejoicing,
A numerous war-band,       of Weders and Danemen.

— NOTES —

[1.] B. and S. reject the reading given in H.-So., and suggested by Grtvg. B. suggests for 457-458: wáere-ryhtum Þú, wine mín Béowulf, and for ár-stafum úsic sóhtest. This means: From the obligations of clientage, my friend Beowulf, and for assistance thou hast sought us.–This gives coherence to Hrothgar’s opening remarks in VIII., and also introduces a new motive for Beowulf’s coming to Hrothgar’s aid.
[2.] Sit now at the feast, and disclose thy purposes to the victorious heroes, as thy spirit urges.–Kl. reaches the above translation by erasing the comma after ‘meoto’ and reading ‘sige-hrèðsecgum.’–There are other and bolder emendations and suggestions. Of these the boldest is to regard ‘meoto’ as a verb (imperative), and read ‘on sæl’: Think upon gayety, etc.–All the renderings are unsatisfactory, the one given in our translation involving a zeugma.

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