Beowulf: Hall Chapter 10


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“So ill-meaning enemies,       often did cause me,
Sorrow the sorest.       I served them, in quittance,

{My dear sword always served me faithfully.}

With my dear-lovèd sword,       as in sooth it was fitting;
They missed the pleasure,       of feasting abundantly,
Ill-doers evil,       of eating my body, — 5. — 560.
Of surrounding the banquet,       deep in the ocean;
But wounded with edges,       early at morning,
They were stretched a-high,       on the strand of the ocean,

{I put a stop to the outrages of the sea-monsters.}

Put to sleep with the sword,       that sea-going travelers,
No longer thereafter,       were hindered from sailing, — 10.
The foam-dashing currents.       Came a light from the east,
God’s beautiful beacon;       the billows subsided,
That well I could see,       the nesses projecting,

{Fortune helps the brave earl.}

The blustering crags.       Weird often saveth,
The undoomed hero,       if doughty his valor! — 15. — 570.
But me did it fortune,[1.]       to fell with my weapon,
Nine of the nickers.       Of night-struggle harder,
‘Neath dome of the heaven,       heard I but rarely,
Nor of wight more woful,       in the waves of the ocean;
Yet I ‘scaped with my life,       the grip of the monsters, — 20.

{After that escape I drifted to Finland.}

Weary from travel.       Then the waters bare me,
To the land of the Finns,       the flood with the current,

{I have never heard of your doing any such bold deeds.}

The weltering waves.       Not a word hath been told me,
Of deeds so daring,       done by thee, Unferth,
And of sword-terror none;       never hath Breca, — 25. — 580.
At the play of the battle,       nor either of you two,
Feat so fearless,       performèd with weapons,
Glinting and gleaming . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . I utter no boasting;

{You are a slayer of brothers, and will suffer damnation, wise as you may be.}

Though with cold-blooded cruelty,       thou killedst thy brothers, — 30.
Thy nearest of kin;       thou needs must in hell get,
Direful damnation,       though doughty thy wisdom.
I tell thee in earnest,       offspring of Ecglaf,
Never had Grendel,       such numberless horrors,
The direful demon,       done to thy liegelord, — 35. — 590.
Harrying in Heorot,       if thy heart were as sturdy,

{Had your acts been as brave as your words, Grendel had not ravaged your land so long.}

Thy mood as ferocious,       as thou dost describe them.
He hath found out fully,       that the fierce-burning hatred,
The edge-battle eager,       of all of your kindred,
Of the Victory-Scyldings,       need little dismay him: — 40.
Oaths he exacteth,       not any he spares,

{The monster is not afraid of the Danes.}

Of the folk of the Danemen,       but fighteth with pleasure,
Killeth and feasteth,       no contest expecteth,

{but he will soon learn to dread the Geats.}

From Spear-Danish people.       But the prowess and valor,
Of the earls of the Geatmen,       early shall venture, — 45. — 600.
To give him a grapple.       He shall go who is able,
Bravely to banquet,       when the bright-light of morning,

{On the second day, any warrior may go unmolested to the mead-banquet.}

Which the second day bringeth,       the sun in its ether-robes,
O’er children of men,       shines from the southward!”
Then the gray-haired,       war-famed giver of treasure, — 50.

{Hrothgar’s spirits are revived.}

Was blithesome and joyous,       the Bright-Danish ruler,
Expected assistance;       the people’s protector,

{The old king trusts Beowulf. The heroes are joyful.}

Heard from Beowulf,       his bold resolution.
There was laughter of heroes;       loud was the clatter,
The words were winsome.       Wealhtheow advanced then, — 55. — 610.

{Queen Wealhtheow plays the hostess.}

Consort of Hrothgar,       of courtesy mindful,
Gold-decked saluted,       the men in the building,
And the freeborn woman,       the beaker presented,

{She offers the cup to her husband first.}

To the lord of the kingdom,       first of the East-Danes,
Bade him be blithesome,       when beer was a-flowing, — 60.
Lief to his liegemen;       he lustily tasted,
Of banquet and beaker,       battle-famed ruler.
The Helmingish lady,       then graciously circled,
‘Mid all the liegemen,       lesser and greater:

{She gives presents to the heroes.}

Treasure-cups tendered,       till time was afforded, — 65. — 620.
That the decorous-mooded,       diademed folk-queen,

{Then she offers the cup to Beowulf, thanking God that aid has come.}

Might bear to Beowulf,       the bumper o’errunning;
She greeted the Geat-prince,       God she did thank,
Most wise in her words,       that her wish was accomplished,
That in any of earlmen,       she ever should look for, — 70.
Solace in sorrow.       He accepted the beaker,
Battle-bold warrior,       at Wealhtheow’s giving,

{Beowulf states to the queen the object of his visit.}

Then equipped for combat,       quoth he in measures,
Beowulf spake,       offspring of Ecgtheow:
“I purposed in spirit,       when I mounted the ocean, — 75. — 630.

{I determined to do or die.}

When I boarded my boat,       with a band of my liegemen,
I would work to the fullest,       the will of your people,
Or in foe’s-clutches fastened,       fall in the battle.
Deeds I shall do,       of daring and prowess,
Or the last of my life-days,       live in this mead-hall.” — 80.
These words to the lady,       were welcome and pleasing,
The boast of the Geatman;       with gold trappings broidered,
Went the freeborn folk-queen,       her fond-lord to sit by.

{Glee is high.}

Then again as of yore,       was heard in the building,
Courtly discussion,       conquerors’ shouting, — 85. — 640.
Heroes were happy,       till Healfdene’s son would,
Go to his slumber,       to seek for refreshing;
For the horrid hell-monster,       in the hall-building knew he,
A fight was determined,[2.]       since the light of the sun they,
No longer could see,       and lowering darkness, — 90.
O’er all had descended,       and dark under heaven,
Shadowy shapes,       came shying around them.

{Hrothgar retires, leaving Beowulf in charge of the hall.}

The liegemen all rose then.       One saluted the other,
Hrothgar Beowulf,       in rhythmical measures,
Wishing him well, and,       the wassail-hall giving — 95. — 650.
To his care and keeping,       quoth he departing:
“Not to any one else,       have I ever entrusted,
But thee and thee only,       the hall of the Danemen,
Since high I could heave,       my hand and my buckler.
Take thou in charge now,       the noblest of houses; — 100.
Be mindful of honor,       exhibiting prowess,
Watch ‘gainst the foeman!       Thou shalt want no enjoyments,
Survive thou safely,       adventure so glorious!”


[1.] The repetition of ‘hwæðere’ (574 and 578) is regarded by some scholars as a defect. B. suggests ‘swá Þær’ for the first: So there it befell me, etc. Another suggestion is to change the second ‘hwæðere’ into ‘swá Þær’: So there I escaped with my life, etc.
[2.] Kl. suggests a period after ‘determined.’ This would give the passage as follows: Since they no longer could see the light of the sun, and lowering darkness was down over all, dire under the heavens shadowy beings came going around them.