Beowulf: Hall Chapter 20


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They sank then to slumber.       With sorrow one paid for, — 1330.
His evening repose,       as often betid them,
While Grendel was holding,[1.]       the gold-bedecked palace,
Ill-deeds performing,       till his end overtook him,
Death for his sins.       ‘Twas seen very clearly, — 5.

{Grendel’s mother is known to be thirsting for revenge.}

Known unto earth-folk,       that still an avenger,
Outlived the loathed one,       long since the sorrow,
Caused by the struggle;       the mother of Grendel,
Devil-shaped woman,       her woe ever minded,
Who was held to inhabit,       the horrible waters, — 10.

{[Grendel’s progenitor, Cain, is again referred to.]}

The cold-flowing currents,       after Cain had become a, — 1340.
Slayer-with-edges,       to his one only brother,
The son of his sire;       he set out then banished,
Marked as a murderer,       man-joys avoiding,
Lived in the desert.       Thence demons unnumbered, — 15.

{The poet again magnifies Beowulf’s valor.}

Fate-sent awoke;       one of them Grendel,
Sword-cursèd, hateful,       who at Heorot met with
A man that was watching,       waiting the struggle,
Where a horrid one held him,       with hand-grapple sturdy;
Nathless he minded,       the might of his body, — 20.
The glorious gift,       God had allowed him, — 1350.
And folk-ruling Father’s,       favor relied on,
His help and His comfort:       so he conquered the foeman,
The hell-spirit humbled:       he unhappy departed then,
Reaved of his joyance,       journeying to death-haunts, — 25.
Foeman of man.       His mother moreover

{Grendel’s mother comes to avenge her son.}

Eager and gloomy,       was anxious to go on,
Her mournful mission,       mindful of vengeance,
For the death of her son.       She came then to Heorot,
Where the Armor-Dane earlmen,       all through the building, — 30.
Were lying in slumber.       Soon there became then, — 1360.
Return[2.] to the nobles,       when the mother of Grendel,
Entered the folk-hall;       the fear was less grievous,
By even so much as,       the vigor of maidens,
War-strength of women,       by warrior is reckoned, — 35.
When well-carved weapon,       worked with the hammer,
Blade very bloody,       brave with its edges,
Strikes down the boar-sign,       that stands on the helmet.
Then the hard-edgèd weapon,       was heaved in the building,[3.]
The brand o’er the benches,       broad-lindens many, — 40.
Hand-fast were lifted;       for helmet he recked not, — 1370.
For armor-net broad,       whom terror laid hold of.
She went then hastily,       outward would get her,
Her life for to save,       when some one did spy her;

{She seizes a favorite liegemen of Hrothgar’s.}

Soon she had grappled,       one of the athelings, — 45.
Fast and firmly,       when fenward she hied her;
That one to Hrothgar,       was liefest of heroes,
In rank of retainer,       where waters encircle,
A mighty shield-warrior,       whom she murdered at slumber,
A broadly-famed battle-knight.       Beowulf was absent, — 50.

{Beowulf was asleep in another part of the palace.}

But another apartment,       was erstwhile devoted, — 1380.
To the glory-decked Geatman,       when gold was distributed.
There was hubbub in Heorot.       The hand that was famous,
She grasped in its gore;[4.]       grief was renewed then,
In homes and houses:       ’twas no happy arrangement, — 55.
In both of the quarters,       to barter and purchase,
With lives of their friends.       Then the well-agèd ruler,
The gray-headed war-thane,       was woful in spirit,
When his long-trusted liegeman,       lifeless he knew of,

{Beowulf is sent for.}

His dearest one gone.       Quick from a room was, — 60.
Beowulf brought,       brave and triumphant. — 1390.
As day was dawning,       in the dusk of the morning,

{He comes at Hrothgar’s summons.}

Went then that earlman,       champion noble,
Came with comrades,       where the clever one bided,
Whether God all gracious,       would grant him a respite, — 65.
After the woe he had suffered.       The war-worthy hero,
With a troop of retainers,       trod then the pavement,
(The hall-building groaned),       till he greeted the wise one,

{Beowulf inquires how Hrothgar had enjoyed his night’s rest.}

The earl of the Ingwins;[5.]       asked if the night had,
Fully refreshed him,       as fain he would have it. — 70.


[1.] Several eminent authorities either read or emend the MS. so as to make this verse read, While Grendel was wasting the gold-bedecked palace. So 2015 below: ravaged the desert.
[2.] For ‘sóna’ (1281), t.B. suggests ‘sára,’ limiting ‘edhwyrft.’ Read then: Return of sorrows to the nobles, etc. This emendation supplies the syntactical gap after ‘edhwyrft.’
[3.] Some authorities follow Grein’s lexicon in treating ‘heard ecg’ as an adj. limiting ‘sweord’: H.-So. renders it as a subst. (So v. 1491.) The sense of the translation would be the same.
[4.] B. suggests ‘under hróf genam’ (v. 1303). This emendation, as well as an emendation with (?) to v. 739, he offers, because ‘under’ baffles him in both passages. All we need is to take ‘under’ in its secondary meaning of ‘in,’ which, though not given by Grein, occurs in the literature. Cf. Chron. 876 (March’s A.-S. Gram. § 355) and Oro. Amaz. I. 10, where ‘under’ = in the midst of. Cf. modern Eng. ‘in such circumstances,’ which interchanges in good usage with ‘under such circumstances.’
[5.] For ‘néod-laðu’ (1321) C. suggests ‘néad-láðum,’ and translates: asked whether the night had been pleasant to him after crushing-hostility.