Beowulf: Hall Chapter 12

Contents

Download Listen as you read along.

XII. GRENDEL AND BEOWULF.

{Grendel comes from the fens.}

‘Neath the cloudy cliffs,       came from the moor then,
Grendel going,       God’s anger bare he.
The monster intended,       some one of earthmen, — 710.
In the hall-building grand,       to entrap and make way with:

{He goes towards the joyous building.}

He went under welkin,       where well he knew of, — 5.
The wine-joyous building,       brilliant with plating,
Gold-hall of earthmen.       Not the earliest occasion,

{This was not his first visit there.}

He the home and manor,       of Hrothgar had sought:
Ne’er found he in life-days,       later nor earlier,
Hardier hero,       hall-thanes[1.] more sturdy! — 10.
Then came to the building,       the warrior marching,

{His horrid fingers tear the door open.}

Bereft of his joyance.       The door quickly opened,
On fire-hinges fastened,       when his fingers had touched it; — 720.
The fell one had flung then,       –his fury so bitter,–
Open the entrance.       Early thereafter, — 15.
The foeman trod,       the shining hall-pavement,

{He strides furiously into the hall.}

Strode he angrily;       from the eyes of him glimmered,
A lustre unlovely,       likest to fire.
He beheld in the hall,       the heroes in numbers,
A circle of kinsmen,       sleeping together, — 20

{He exults over his supposed prey.}

A throng of thanemen:       then his thoughts were exultant,
He minded to sunder,       from each of the thanemen,
The life from his body,       horrible demon, — 730.
Ere morning came,       since fate had allowed him,

{Fate has decreed that he shall devour no more heroes. Beowulf suffers from suspense.}

The prospect of plenty.       Providence willed not — 25
To permit him any more,       of men under heaven,
To eat in the night-time.       Higelac’s kinsman,
Great sorrow endured how,       the dire-mooded creature,
In unlooked-for assaults,       were likely to bear him.
No thought had the monster,       of deferring the matter, — 30.

{Grendel immediately seizes a sleeping warrior, and devours him.}

But on earliest occasion,       he quickly laid hold of,
A soldier asleep,       suddenly tore him,
Bit his bone-prison,       the blood drank in currents, — 740.
Swallowed in mouthfuls:       he soon had the dead man’s,
Feet and hands, too,       eaten entirely. — 35.
Nearer he strode then,       the stout-hearted warrior,

{Beowulf and Grendel grapple.}

Snatched as he slumbered,       seizing with hand-grip,
Forward the foeman,       foined with his hand;
Caught he quickly,       the cunning deviser,
On his elbow he rested.       This early discovered, —40
The master of malice,       that in middle-earth’s regions,
‘Neath the whole of the heavens,       no hand-grapple greater,

{The monster is amazed at Beowulf’s strength.}

In any man else,       had he ever encountered: — 750.
Fearful in spirit,       faint-mooded waxed he,
Not off could betake him;       death he was pondering, — 45.

{He is anxious to flee.}

Would fly to his covert,       seek the devils’ assembly:
His calling no more,       was the same he had followed,
Long in his lifetime.       The liege-kinsman worthy,

{Beowulf recalls his boast of the evening, and determines to fulfil it.}

Of Higelac minded,       his speech of the evening,
Stood he up straight,       and stoutly did seize him. — 50.
His fingers crackled;       the giant was outward,
The earl stepped farther.       The famous one minded,
To flee away farther,       if he found an occasion, — 760.
And off and away,       avoiding delay,
To fly to the fen-moors;       he fully was ware of, — 55.
The strength of his grapple,       in the grip of the foeman.

{‘Twas a luckless day for Grendel.}

‘Twas an ill-taken journey,       that the injury-bringing,
Harrying harmer,       to Heorot wandered:

{The hall groans.}

The palace re-echoed;       to all of the Danemen,
Dwellers in castles,       to each of the bold ones, — 60.
Earlmen, was terror.       Angry they both were,
Archwarders raging.[2.]       Rattled the building;
‘Twas a marvellous wonder,       that the wine-hall withstood then, — 770.
The bold-in-battle,       bent not to earthward,
Excellent earth-hall;       but within and without it, — 65.
Was fastened so firmly,       in fetters of iron,
By the art of the armorer.       Off from the sill there,
Bent mead-benches many,       as men have informed me,
Adorned with gold-work,       where the grim ones did struggle.
The Scylding wise men,       weened ne’er before, — 70.
That by might and main-strength,       a man under heaven,
Might break it in pieces,       bone-decked, resplendent,
Crush it by cunning,       unless clutch of the fire, — 780.
In smoke should consume it.       The sound mounted upward,

{Grendel’s cries terrify the Danes.}

Novel enough;       on the North Danes fastened, — 75.
A terror of anguish,       on all of the men there,
Who heard from the wall,       the weeping and plaining,
The song of defeat,       from the foeman of heaven,
Heard him hymns of horror howl,       and his sorrow,
Hell-bound bewailing.       He held him too firmly, — 80.
Who was strongest of main-strength,       of men of that era.

— NOTES —

[1.] B. and t.B. emend so as to make lines 9 and 10 read: Never in his life, earlier or later, had he, the hell-thane, found a braver hero.–They argue that Beowulf’s companions had done nothing to merit such encomiums as the usual readings allow them.
[2.] For ‘réðe rén-weardas’ (771), t.B. suggests ‘réðe, rénhearde.’ Translate: They were both angry, raging and mighty.

Contents