Beowulf: Hall Chapter 15


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Hrothgar discoursed,       (to the hall-building went he,
He stood by the pillar,[1.]       saw the steep-rising hall-roof,
Gleaming with gold-gems,       and Grendel his hand there):

{Hrothgar gives thanks for the overthrow of the monster.}

“For the sight we behold now,       thanks to the Wielder,
Early be offered!       Much evil I bided, — 5.
Snaring from Grendel:[2.]       God can e’er ‘complish,
Wonder on wonder,       Wielder of Glory!

{I had given up all hope, when this brave liegeman came to our aid.}

But lately I reckoned,       ne’er under heaven,
Comfort to gain me,       for any of sorrows, — 1020.
While the handsomest of houses,       horrid with bloodstain, — 10.
Gory uptowered;       grief had offfrightened,[3.]
Each of the wise ones,       who weened not that ever,
The folk-troop’s defences,       ‘gainst foes they should strengthen,
‘Gainst sprites and monsters.       Through the might of the Wielder,
A doughty retainer hath,       a deed now accomplished, — 15.
Which erstwhile we all,       with our excellent wisdom,

{If his mother yet liveth, well may she thank God for this son.}

Failed to perform.       May affirm very truly,
What woman soever,       in all of the nations,
Gave birth to the child,       if yet she surviveth, — 1030.
That the long-ruling Lord,       was lavish to herward, — 20.
In the birth of the bairn.       Now, Beowulf dear,

{Hereafter, Beowulf, thou shalt be my son.}

Most excellent hero,       I’ll love thee in spirit,
As bairn of my body;       bear well henceforward,
The relationship new.       No lack shall befall thee,
Of earth-joys any,       I ever can give thee. — 25.
Full often for lesser,       service I’ve given,
Hero less hardy,       hoard-treasure precious,

{Thou hast won immortal distinction.}

To a weaker in war-strife.       By works of distinction,
Thou hast gained for thyself,       now that thy glory shall flourish, — 1040.
Forever and ever.       The All-Ruler quite thee, — 30.
With good from His hand,       as He hitherto did thee!”

{Beowulf replies: I was most happy to render thee this service.}

Beowulf answered,       Ecgtheow’s offspring:
“That labor of glory,       most gladly achieved we,
The combat accomplished,       unquailing we ventured,
The enemy’s grapple;       I would grant it much rather, — 35.
Thou wert able to look,       at the creature in person,
Faint unto falling,       the foe in his trappings!
On murder-bed quickly,       I minded to bind him,
With firm-holding fetters,       that forced by my grapple, — 1050.
Low he should lie,       in life-and-death struggle, — 40.
‘Less his body escape;       I was wholly unable,

{I could not keep the monster from escaping, as God did not will that I should.}

Since God did not will it,       to keep him from going,
Not held him that firmly,       hated opposer;
Too swift was the foeman.       Yet safety regarding,
He suffered his hand,       behind him to linger, — 45.
His arm and shoulder,       to act as watcher;

{He left his hand and arm behind.}

No shadow of solace,       the woe-begone creature,
Found him there nathless:       the hated destroyer,
Liveth no longer,       lashed for his evils, — 1060.
But sorrow hath seized him,       in snare-meshes hath him, — 50.
Close in its clutches,       keepeth him writhing,
In baleful bonds:       there banished for evil,
The man shall wait,       for the mighty tribunal,

{God will give him his deserts.}

How the God of glory,       shall give him his earnings.”
Then the soldier kept silent,       son of old Ecglaf, — 55.

{Unferth has nothing more to say, for Beowulf’s actions speak louder than words.}

From boasting and bragging,       of battle-achievements,
Since the princes beheld there,       the hand that depended,
‘Neath the lofty hall-timbers,       by the might of the nobleman,
Each one before him,       the enemy’s fingers; — 1070.
Each finger-nail strong,       steel most resembled, — 60.
The heathen one’s hand-spur,       the hero-in-battle’s,
Claw most uncanny;       quoth they agreeing,

{No sword will harm the monster.}

That not any excellent,       edges of brave ones,
Was willing to touch him,       the terrible creature’s,
Battle-hand bloody,       to bear away from him. — 65.


[1.] B. and t.B. read ‘staþole,’ and translate stood on the floor.
[2.] For ‘snaring from Grendel,’ ‘sorrows at Grendel’s hands’ has been suggested. This gives a parallel to ‘láðes.’ ‘Grynna’ may well be gen. pl. of ‘gyrn,’ by a scribal slip.
[3.] The H.-So punctuation has been followed; but B. has been followed in understanding ‘gehwylcne’ as object of ‘wíd-scofen (hæfde).’ Gr. construes ‘wéa’ as nom abs.