Beowulf: Hall Chapter 22

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XXII. BEOWULF SEEKS GRENDEL’S MOTHER.

Beowulf answered,       Ecgtheow’s son:

{Beowulf exhorts the old king to arouse himself for action.}

“Grieve not, O wise one!       for each it is better,
His friend to avenge than,       with vehemence wail him;
Each of us must,       the end-day abide of,
His earthly existence;       who is able accomplish, — 5.
Glory ere death!       To battle-thane noble,
Lifeless lying,       ’tis at last most fitting.
Arise, O king,       quick let us hasten
To look at the footprint,       of the kinsman of Grendel!
I promise thee this now:       to his place he’ll escape not, — 10. — 1470.
To embrace of the earth,       nor to mountainous forest,
Nor to depths of the ocean,       wherever he wanders.
Practice thou now,       patient endurance,
Of each of thy sorrows,       as I hope for thee soothly!”

{Hrothgar rouses himself. His horse is brought.}

Then up sprang the old one,       the All-Wielder thanked he, — 15.
Ruler Almighty,       that the man had outspoken.
Then for Hrothgar a war-horse,       was decked with a bridle,
Curly-maned courser.       The clever folk-leader,

{They start on the track of the female monster.}

Stately proceeded:       stepped then an earl-troop,
Of linden-wood bearers.       Her footprints were seen then, — 20. — 1480.
Widely in wood-paths,       her way o’er the bottoms,
Where she faraway fared,       o’er fen-country murky,
Bore away breathless,       the best of retainers,
Who pondered with Hrothgar,       the welfare of country.
The son of the athelings then,       went o’er the stony, — 25.
Declivitous cliffs,       the close-covered passes,
Narrow passages,       paths unfrequented,
Nesses abrupt,       nicker-haunts many;
One of a few,       of wise-mooded heroes,
He onward advanced,       to view the surroundings, — 30. — 1490.
Till he found unawares,       woods of the mountain,
O’er hoar-stones hanging,       holt-wood unjoyful;
The water stood under,       welling and gory.
‘Twas irksome in spirit,       to all of the Danemen,
Friends of the Scyldings,       to many a liegeman, — 35.

{The sight of Æschere’s head causes them great sorrow.}

Sad to be suffered,       a sorrow unlittle,
To each of the earlmen,       when to Æschere’s head they,
Came on the cliff.       The current was seething,
With blood and with gore,       (the troopers gazed on it).
The horn anon sang,       the battle-song ready. — 40. — 1500.
The troop were all seated;       they saw ‘long the water then,

{The water is filled with serpents and sea-dragons.}

Many a serpent,       mere-dragons wondrous,
Trying the waters,       nickers a-lying,
On the cliffs of the nesses,       which at noonday full often,
Go on the sea-deeps,       their sorrowful journey, — 45.
Wild-beasts and wormkind;       away then they hastened,

{One of them is killed by Beowulf.}

Hot-mooded, hateful,       they heard the great clamor,
The war-trumpet winding.       One did the Geat-prince,
Sunder from earth-joys,       with arrow from bowstring,
From his sea-struggle tore him,       that the trusty war-missile, — 50. — 1510.

{The dead beast is a poor swimmer.}

Pierced to his vitals;       he proved in the currents,
Less doughty at swimming,       whom death had offcarried.
Soon in the waters,       the wonderful swimmer,
Was straitened most sorely,       with sword-pointed boar-spears,
Pressed in the battle,       and pulled to the cliff-edge; — 55.
The liegemen then looked on,       the loath-fashioned stranger.

{Beowulf prepares for a struggle with the monster.}

Beowulf donned then,       his battle-equipments,
Cared little for life;       inlaid and most ample,
The hand-woven corslet,       which could cover his body,
Must the wave-deeps explore,       that war might be powerless, — 60. — 1520.
To harm the great hero,       and the hating one’s grasp might,
Not peril his safety;       his head was protected,
By the light-flashing helmet,       that should mix with the bottoms,
Trying the eddies,       treasure-emblazoned,
Encircled with jewels,       as in seasons long past, — 65.
The weapon-smith worked it,       wondrously made it,
With swine-bodies fashioned it,       that thenceforward no longer,
Brand might bite it,       and battle-sword hurt it.
And that was not least,       of helpers in prowess,

{He has Unferth’s sword in his hand.}

That Hrothgar’s spokesman,       had lent him when straitened; — 70. — 1530.
And the hilted hand-sword,       was Hrunting entitled,
Old and most excellent,       ‘mong all of the treasures;
Its blade was of iron,       blotted with poison,
Hardened with gore;       it failed not in battle,
Any hero under heaven,       in hand who it brandished, — 75.
Who ventured to take,       the terrible journeys,
The battle-field sought;       not the earliest occasion,
That deeds of daring,       ’twas destined to ‘complish.

{Unferth has little use for swords.}

Ecglaf’s kinsman,       minded not soothly,
Exulting in strength,       what erst he had spoken, — 80. — 1540.
Drunken with wine,       when the weapon he lent to,
A sword-hero bolder;       himself did not venture,
‘Neath the strife of the currents,       his life to endanger,
To fame-deeds perform;       there he forfeited glory,
Repute for his strength.       Not so with the other, — 85.
When he clad in his corslet,       had equipped him, for battle.

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