Beowulf: Hall Chapter 18


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{The survivors go to Friesland, the home of Finn.}

“Then the warriors departed,       to go to their dwellings,
Reaved of their friends,       Friesland to visit,
Their homes and high-city.       Hengest continued,

{Hengest remains there all winter, unable to get away.}

Biding with Finn,       the blood-tainted winter,
Wholly unsundered;[1.]       of fatherland thought he, — 5.
Though unable to drive,       the ring-stemmèd vessel, — 1210.
O’er the ways of the waters;       the wave-deeps were tossing,
Fought with the wind;       winter in ice-bonds,
Closed up the currents,       till there came to the dwelling,
A year in its course,       as yet it revolveth, — 10.
If season propitious one,       alway regardeth,
World-cheering weathers.       Then winter was gone,
Earth’s bosom was lovely;       the exile would get him,

{He devises schemes of vengeance.}

The guest from the palace;       on grewsomest vengeance,
He brooded more eager,       than on oversea journeys, — 15.
Whe’r onset-of-anger,       he were able to ‘complish, — 1220.
Nowise refused he,       the duties of liegeman,
The bairns of the Jutemen,       therein to remember.
When Hun of the Frisians,       the battle-sword Láfing,
Fairest of falchions,       friendly did give him: — 20.
Its edges were famous,       in folk-talk of Jutland.
And savage sword-fury,       seized in its clutches,
Bold-mooded Finn,       where he bode in his palace,

{Guthlaf and Oslaf revenge Hnæf’s slaughter.}

When the grewsome grapple,       Guthlaf and Oslaf,
Had mournfully mentioned,       the mere-journey over, — 25.
For sorrows half-blamed him;       the flickering spirit, — 1230.
Could not bide in his bosom.       Then the building was covered,[2.]

{Finn is slain.}

With corpses of foemen,       and Finn too was slaughtered,
The king with his comrades,       and the queen made a prisoner.

{The jewels of Finn, and his queen are carried away by the Danes.}

The troops of the Scyldings,       bore to their vessels, — 30.
All that the land-king,       had in his palace,
Such trinkets and treasures,       they took as, on searching,
At Finn’s they could find.       They ferried to Daneland,
The excellent woman,       on oversea journey,

{The lay is concluded, and the main story is resumed.}

Led her to their land-folk.”       The lay was concluded, — 35.
The gleeman’s recital.       Shouts again rose then, — 1240.
Bench-glee resounded,       bearers then offered,

{Skinkers carry round the beaker.}

Wine from wonder-vats.       Wealhtheo advanced then,
Going ‘neath gold-crown,       where the good ones were seated,

{Queen Wealhtheow greets Hrothgar, as he sits beside Hrothulf, his nephew.}

Uncle and nephew;       their peace was yet mutual, — 40.
True each to the other.       And Unferth the spokesman,
Sat at the feet,       of the lord of the Scyldings:
Each trusted his spirit,       that his mood was courageous,
Though at fight he had failed,       in faith to his kinsmen.
Said the queen of the Scyldings:       “My lord and protector, — 45.
Treasure-bestower,       take thou this beaker; — 1250.
Joyance attend thee,       gold-friend of heroes,

{Be generous to the Geats.}

And greet thou the Geatmen,       with gracious responses!
So ought one to do.       Be kind to the Geatmen,
In gifts not niggardly;       anear and afar now, — 50.
Peace thou enjoyest.       Report hath informed me,
Thou’lt have for a bairn,       the battle-brave hero.
Now is Heorot cleansèd,       ring-palace gleaming;

{Have as much joy as possible in thy hall, once more purified.}

Give while thou mayest,       many rewards,
And bequeath to thy kinsmen,       kingdom and people, — 55.
On wending thy way,       to the Wielder’s splendor. — 1260.
I know good Hrothulf,       that the noble young troopers,

{I know that Hrothulf will prove faithful if he survive thee.}

He’ll care for and honor,       lord of the Scyldings,
If earth-joys thou endest,       earlier than he doth;
I reckon that recompense,       he’ll render with kindness, — 60.
Our offspring and issue,       if that all he remember,
What favors of yore,       when he yet was an infant,
We awarded to him,       for his worship and pleasure.”
Then she turned by the bench,       where her sons were carousing,
Hrethric and Hrothmund,       and the heroes’ offspring, — 65.

{Beowulf is sitting by the two royal sons.}

The war-youth together;       there the good one was sitting, — 1270.
‘Twixt the brothers twain,       Beowulf Geatman.


[1.] For 1130 (1) R. and Gr. suggest ‘elne unflitme’ as 1098 (1) reads. The latter verse is undisputed; and, for the former, ‘elne’ would be as possible as ‘ealles,’ and ‘unflitme’ is well supported. Accepting ‘elne unflitme’ for both, I would suggest ‘very peaceably’ for both places: (1) Finn to Hengest very peaceably vowed with oaths, etc.
(2) Hengest then still the slaughter-stained winter remained there with Finn very peaceably. The two passages become thus correlatives, the second a sequel of the first. ‘Elne,’ in the sense of very (swíðe), needs no argument; and ‘unflitme’ (from ‘flítan’) can, it seems to me, be more plausibly rendered ‘peaceful,’ ‘peaceable,’ than ‘contestable,’ or ‘conquerable.’
[2.] Some scholars have proposed ‘roden’; the line would then read: Then the building was reddened, etc., instead of ‘covered.’ The ‘h’ may have been carried over from the three alliterating ‘h’s.’