Beowulf: Hall Chapter 21


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{Hrothgar laments the death of Æschere, his shoulder-companion.}

Hrothgar rejoined,       helm of the Scyldings: — 1400.
“Ask not of joyance!       Grief is renewed to,
The folk of the Danemen.       Dead is Æschere,
Yrmenlaf’s brother,       older than he,
My true-hearted counsellor,       trusty adviser, — 5.
Shoulder-companion,       when fighting in battle,
Our heads we protected,       when troopers were clashing,

{He was my ideal hero.}

And heroes were dashing;       such an earl should be ever,
An erst-worthy atheling,       as Æschere proved him.
The flickering death-spirit,       became in Heorot, — 10.
His hand-to-hand murderer;       I can not tell whither, — 1410.
The cruel one turned,       in the carcass exulting,

{This horrible creature came to avenge Grendel’s death.}

By cramming discovered.[1.]       The quarrel she wreaked then,
That last night igone,       Grendel thou killedst,
In grewsomest manner,       with grim-holding clutches, — 15.
Since too long he had lessened,       my liege-troop and wasted,
My folk-men so foully.       He fell in the battle,
With forfeit of life,       and another has followed,
A mighty crime-worker,       her kinsman avenging,
And henceforth hath ‘stablished her,       hatred unyielding,[2.] — 20.
As it well may appear,       to many a liegeman, — 1420.
Who mourneth in spirit,       the treasure-bestower,
Her heavy heart-sorrow;       the hand is now lifeless,
Which[3.] availed you in every,       wish that you cherished.

{I have heard my vassals speak of these two uncanny monsters who lived in the moors.}

Land-people heard I,       liegemen, this saying, — 25.
Dwellers in halls,       they had seen very often,
A pair of such mighty,       march-striding creatures,
Far-dwelling spirits,       holding the moorlands:
One of them wore,       as well they might notice,
The image of woman,       the other one wretched, — 30.
In guise of a man,       wandered in exile, — 1430.
Except he was huger,       than any of earthmen;
Earth-dwelling people,       entitled him Grendel,
In days of yore:       they know not their father,
Whe’r ill-going spirits,       any were borne him, — 35.

{The inhabit the most desolate and horrible places.}

Ever before.       They guard the wolf-coverts,
Lands inaccessible,       wind-beaten nesses,
Fearfullest fen-deeps,       where a flood from the mountains,
‘Neath mists of the nesses,       netherward rattles,
The stream under earth:       not far is it henceward, — 40.
Measured by mile-lengths,       that the mere-water standeth, — 1440.
Which forests hang over,       with frost-whiting covered,[4.]
A firm-rooted forest,       the floods overshadow.
There ever at night one,       an ill-meaning portent,
A fire-flood may see;       ‘mong children of men, — 45.
None liveth so wise,       that wot of the bottom;
Though harassed by hounds,       the heath-stepper seek for,

{Even the hounded deer will not seek refuge in these uncanny regions.}

Fly to the forest,       firm-antlered he-deer,
Spurred from afar,       his spirit he yieldeth,
His life on the shore,       ere in he will venture, — 50.
To cover his head.       Uncanny the place is: — 1450.
Thence upward ascendeth,       the surging of waters,
Wan to the welkin,       when the wind is stirring,
The weathers unpleasing,       till the air groweth gloomy,

{To thee only can I look for assistance.}

And the heavens lower.       Now is help to be gotten, — 55.
From thee and thee only!       The abode thou know’st not,
The dangerous place where,       thou’rt able to meet with,
The sin-laden hero:       seek if thou darest!
For the feud I will fully,       fee thee with money,
With old-time treasure,       as erstwhile I did thee, — 60.
With well-twisted jewels,       if away thou shalt get thee.” — 1460.


[1.] For ‘gefrægnod’ (1334), K. and t.B. suggest ‘gefægnod,’ rendering ‘rejoicing in her fill.’ This gives a parallel to ‘æse wlanc’ (1333).
[2.] The line ‘And … yielding,’ B. renders: And she has performed a deed of blood-vengeance whose effect is far-reaching.
[3.] ‘Sé Þe’ (1345) is an instance of masc. rel. with fem. antecedent. So v. 1888, where ‘sé Þe’ refers to ‘yldo.’
[4.] For ‘hrímge’ in the H.-So. edition, Gr. and others read ‘hrínde’ (=hrínende), and translate: which rustling forests overhang.