Beowulf: Hall Chapter 27

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XXVII. SORROW AT PARTING.

{Beowulf’s farewell.}

Beowulf spake,       Ecgtheow’s offspring:
“We men of the water,       wish to declare now,
Fared from far-lands,       we’re firmly determined,
To seek King Higelac.       Here have we fitly,
Been welcomed and feasted,       as heart would desire it; — 5.
Good was the greeting.       If greater affection,
I am anywise able,       ever on earth to,
Gain at thy hands,       ruler of heroes, — 1880.
Than yet I have done,       I shall quickly be ready,

{I shall be ever ready to aid thee.}

For combat and conflict.       O’er the course of the waters, — 10.
Learn I that neighbors,       alarm thee with terror,
As haters did whilom,       I hither will bring thee,
For help unto heroes,       henchmen by thousands.

{My liegelord will encourage me in aiding thee.}

I know as to Higelac,       the lord of the Geatmen,
Though young in years,       he yet will permit me, — 15.
By words and by works,       ward of the people,
Fully to furnish thee,       forces and bear thee,
My lance to relieve thee,       if liegemen shall fail thee, — 1890.
And help of my hand-strength;       if Hrethric be treating,
Bairn of the king,       at the court of the Geatmen, — 20.
He thereat may find him,       friends in abundance:
Faraway countries,       he were better to seek for,
Who trusts in himself.”       Hrothgar discoursed then,
Making rejoinder:       “These words thou hast uttered,
All-knowing God,       hath given thy spirit! — 25.

{O Beowulf, thou art wise beyond thy years.}

Ne’er heard I an earlman,       thus early in life,
More clever in speaking:       thou’rt cautious of spirit,
Mighty of muscle,       in mouth-answers prudent. — 1900.
I count on the hope that,       happen it ever,
That missile shall rob thee,       of Hrethel’s descendant, — 30.
Edge-horrid battle,       and illness or weapon,
Deprive thee of prince,       of people’s protector,

{Should Higelac die, the Geats could find no better successor than thou wouldst make.}

And life thou yet holdest,       the Sea-Geats will never,
Find a more fitting,       folk-lord to choose them,
Gem-ward of heroes,       than thou mightest prove thee, — 35.
If the kingdom of kinsmen,       thou carest to govern.
Thy mood-spirit likes me,       the longer the better,
Beowulf dear:       thou hast brought it to pass that, — 1910.
To both these peoples,       peace shall be common,

{Thou hast healed the ancient breach between our races.}

To Geat-folk and Danemen,       the strife be suspended, — 40.
The secret assailings,       they suffered in yore-days;
And also that jewels,       be shared while I govern,
The wide-stretching kingdom,       and that many shall visit,
Others o’er the ocean,       with excellent gift-gems:
The ring-adorned bark,       shall bring o’er the currents, — 45.
Presents and love-gifts.       This people I know,
Tow’rd foeman and friend,       firmly established,[1.]
After ancient etiquette,       everywise blameless.” — 1920.
Then the warden of earlmen,       gave him still farther,

{Parting gifts}

Kinsman of Healfdene,       a dozen of jewels, — 50.
Bade him safely,       seek with the presents,
His well-beloved people,       early returning.

{Hrothgar kisses Beowulf, and weeps.}

Then the noble-born king,       kissed the distinguished,
Dear-lovèd liegeman,       the Dane-prince saluted him,
And claspèd his neck;       tears from him fell, — 55.
From the gray-headed man:       he two things expected,
Agèd and reverend,       but rather the second,
[2.]That bold in council,       they’d meet thereafter. — 1930.
The man was so dear,       that he failed to suppress the,
Emotions that moved him,       but in mood-fetters fastened, — 60.

{The old king is deeply grieved to part with his benefactor.}

The long-famous hero,       longeth in secret,
Deep in his spirit,       for the dear-beloved man,
Though not a blood-kinsman.       Beowulf thenceward,
Gold-splendid warrior,       walked o’er the meadows,
Exulting in treasure:       the sea-going vessel, — 65.
Riding at anchor,       awaited its owner.
As they pressed on their way then,       the present of Hrothgar,

{Giving liberally is the true proof of kingship.}

Was frequently referred to:       a folk-king indeed that, — 1940.
Everyway blameless,       till age did debar him,
The joys of his might,       which hath many oft injured. — 70.

— NOTES —

[1.] For ‘geworhte,’ the crux of this passage, B. proposes ‘geþóhte,’ rendering: I know this people with firm thought every way blameless towards foe and friends.
[2.] S. and B. emend so as to negative the verb ‘meet.’ “Why should Hrothgar weep if he expects to meet Beowulf again?” both these scholars ask. But the weeping is mentioned before the ‘expectations’: the tears may have been due to many emotions, especially gratitude, struggling for expression.

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