Beowulf: Hall Chapter 26

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XXVI. HROTHGAR MORALIZES.–REST AFTER LABOR.

{A wounded spirit.}

“Then bruised in his bosom he,       with bitter-toothed missile,
Is hurt ‘neath his helmet:       from harmful pollution,
He is powerless to shield him,       by the wonderful mandates,
Of the loath-cursèd spirit;       what too long he hath holden,
Him seemeth too small,       savage he hoardeth, — 5.
Nor boastfully giveth,       gold-plated rings,[1.]
The fate of the future,       flouts and forgetteth,
Since God had erst given him,       greatness no little, — 1810.
Wielder of Glory.       His end-day anear,
It afterward happens,       that the bodily-dwelling, — 10.
Fleetingly fadeth,       falls into ruins;
Another lays hold,       who doleth the ornaments,
The nobleman’s jewels,       nothing lamenting,
Heedeth no terror.       Oh, Beowulf dear,
Best of the heroes,       from bale-strife defend thee, — 15.
And choose thee the better,       counsels eternal;

{Be not over proud: life is fleeting, and its strength soon wasteth away.}

Beware of arrogance,       world-famous champion!
But a little-while lasts,       thy life-vigor’s fulness; — 1820.
‘Twill after hap early,       that illness or sword-edge,
Shall part thee from strength,       or the grasp of the fire, — 20.
Or the wave of the current,       or clutch of the edges,
Or flight of the war-spear,       or age with its horrors,
Or thine eyes’ bright flashing,       shall fade into darkness:
‘Twill happen full early,       excellent hero,

{Hrothgar gives an account of his reign.}

That death shall subdue thee.       So the Danes a half-century, — 25.
I held under heaven,       helped them in struggles,
‘Gainst many a race,       in middle-earth’s regions,
With ash-wood and edges,       that enemies none, — 1830.
On earth molested me.       Lo! offsetting change, now,

{Sorrow after joy.}

Came to my manor,       grief after joyance, — 30.
When Grendel became,       my constant visitor,
Inveterate hater:       I from that malice,
Continually travailed,       with trouble no little.
Thanks be to God,       that I gained in my lifetime,
To the Lord everlasting,       to look on the gory, — 35.
Head with mine eyes,       after long-lasting sorrow!
Go to the bench now,       battle-adornèd,
Joy in the feasting:       of jewels in common, — 1840.
We’ll meet with many,       when morning appeareth.”
The Geatman was gladsome,       ganged he immediately, — 40.
To go to the bench,       as the clever one bade him.
Then again as before,       were the famous-for-prowess,
Hall-inhabiters,       handsomely banqueted,
Feasted anew.       The night-veil fell then,
Dark o’er the warriors.       The courtiers rose then; — 45.
The gray-haired was anxious,       to go to his slumbers,
The hoary old Scylding.       Hankered the Geatman,

{Beowulf is fagged, and seeks rest.}

The champion doughty,       greatly, to rest him: — 1850.
An earlman early,       outward did lead him,
Fagged from his faring,       from far-country springing, — 50.
Who for etiquette’s sake,       all of a liegeman’s,
Needs regarded,       such as seamen at that time,
Were bounden to feel.       The big-hearted rested;
The building uptowered,       spacious and gilded,
The guest within slumbered,       till the sable-clad raven, — 55.
Blithely foreboded,       the beacon of heaven.
Then the bright-shining sun,       o’er the bottoms came going;[2.]
The warriors hastened,       the heads of the peoples, — 1860.
Were ready to go,       again to their peoples,

{The Geats prepare to leave Dane-land.}

The high-mooded farer,       would faraway thenceward, — 60.
Look for his vessel.       The valiant one bade then,[3.]

{Unferth asks Beowulf to accept his sword as a gift. Beowulf thanks him.}

Offspring of Ecglaf,       off to bear Hrunting,
To take his weapon,       his well-beloved iron;
He him thanked for the gift,       saying good he accounted,
The war-friend and mighty,       nor chid he with words then, — 65.
The blade of the brand:       ’twas a brave-mooded hero.
When the warriors were ready,       arrayed in their trappings,
The atheling dear,       to the Danemen advanced then, — 1870.
On to the dais,       where the other was sitting,
Grim-mooded hero,       greeted King Hrothgar. — 70.

— NOTES —

[1.] K. says ‘proudly giveth.’–Gr. says, ‘And gives no gold-plated rings, in order to incite the recipient to boastfulness.’–B. suggests ‘gyld’ for ‘gylp,’ and renders: And gives no beaten rings for reward.
[2.] If S.’s emendation be accepted, v. 57 will read: Then came the light, going bright after darkness: the warriors, etc.
[3.] As the passage stands in H.-So., Unferth presents Beowulf with the sword Hrunting, and B. thanks him for the gift. If, however, the suggestions of Grdtvg. and M. be accepted, the passage will read: Then the brave one (i.e. Beowulf) commanded that Hrunting be borne to the son of Ecglaf (Unferth), bade him take his sword, his dear weapon; he (B.) thanked him (U.) for the loan, etc.

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