Beowulf: Hall Chapter 30


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“It well may discomfit,       the prince of the Heathobards,
And each of the thanemen,       of earls that attend him,
When he goes to the building,       escorting the woman,
That a noble-born Daneman,       the knights should be feasting:
There gleam on his person,       the leavings of elders, — 5.
Hard and ring-bright,       Heathobards’ treasure,
While they wielded their arms,       till they misled to the battle,
Their own dear lives and,       belovèd companions. — 2090.
He saith at the banquet,       who the collar beholdeth,
An ancient ash-warrior,       who earlmen’s destruction, — 10.
Clearly recalleth,       (cruel his spirit),
Sadly beginneth,       sounding the youthful,
Thane-champion’s spirit through,       the thoughts of his bosom,
War-grief to waken,       and this word-answer speaketh:

{Ingeld is stirred up to break the truce.}

‘Art thou able, my friend,       to know when thou seest it, — 15.
The brand which thy father,       bare to the conflict,
In his latest adventure,       ‘neath visor of helmet,
The dearly-loved iron,       where Danemen did slay him, — 2100.
And brave-mooded Scyldings,       on the fall of the heroes,
(When vengeance was sleeping),       the slaughter-place wielded? — 20.
E’en now some man,       of the murderer’s progeny,
Exulting in ornaments,       enters the building,
Boasts of his blood-shedding,       offbeareth the jewel,
Which thou shouldst wholly,       hold in possession!’
So he urgeth and mindeth,       on every occasion, — 25.
With woe-bringing words,       till waxeth the season,
When the woman’s thane,       for the works of his father,
The bill having bitten,       blood-gory sleepeth, — 2110.
Fated to perish;       the other one thenceward,
‘Scapeth alive,       the land knoweth thoroughly.[1.] — 30.
Then the oaths of the earlmen,       on each side are broken,
When rancors unresting,       are raging in Ingeld,
And his wife-love waxeth less,       warm after sorrow.
So the Heathobards’ favor,       not faithful I reckon,
Their part in the treaty,       not true to the Danemen, — 35.
Their friendship not fast.       I further shall tell thee,

{Having made these preliminary statements, I will now tell thee of Grendel, the monster.}

More about Grendel,       that thou fully mayst hear,
Ornament-giver,       what afterward came from, — 2120.
The hand-rush of heroes.       When heaven’s bright jewel,
O’er earthfields had glided,       the stranger came raging, — 40.
The horrible night-fiend,       us for to visit,
Where wholly unharmed,       the hall we were guarding.

{Hondscio fell first.}

To Hondscio happened,       a hopeless contention,
Death to the doomed one,       dead he fell foremost,
Girded war-champion;       to him Grendel became then, — 45.
To the vassal distinguished,       a tooth-weaponed murderer,
The well-beloved henchman’s,       body all swallowed.
Not the earlier off,       empty of hand did, — 2130.
The bloody-toothed murderer,       mindful of evils,
Wish to escape from,       the gold-giver’s palace, — 50.
But sturdy of strength,       he strove to outdo me,
Hand-ready grappled.       A glove was suspended,
Spacious and wondrous,       in art-fetters fastened,
Which was fashioned entirely,       by touch of the craftman,
From the dragon’s skin,       by the devil’s devices: — 55.
He down in its depths,       would do me unsadly,
One among many,       deed-doer raging,
Though sinless he saw me;       not so could it happen, — 2140.
When I in my anger,       upright did stand.
‘Tis too long to recount,       how requital I furnished, — 60.
For every evil,       to the earlmen’s destroyer;

{I reflected honor upon my people.}

‘Twas there, my prince,       that I proudly distinguished,
Thy land with my labors.       He left and retreated,
He lived his life a,       little while longer:
Yet his right-hand guarded,       his footstep in Heorot, — 65.
And sad-mooded thence,       to the sea-bottom fell he,
Mournful in mind.       For the might-rush of battle,

{King Hrothgar lavished gifts upon me.}

The friend of the Scyldings,       with gold that was plated, — 2150.
With ornaments many,       much requited me,
When daylight had dawned,       and down to the banquet, — 70.
We had sat us together.       There was chanting and joyance:
The age-stricken Scylding,       asked many questions,
And of old-times related;       oft light-ringing harp-strings,
Joy-telling wood,       were touched by the brave one;
Now he uttered measures,       mourning and truthful, — 75.
Then the large-hearted land-king,       a legend of wonder,
Truthfully told us.       Now troubled with years,

{The old king is sad over the loss of his youthful vigor.}

The age-hoary warrior,       afterward began to, — 2160.
Mourn for the might,       that marked him in youth-days;
His breast within boiled,       when burdened with winters, — 80.
Much he remembered.       From morning till night then,
We joyed us therein,       as etiquette suffered,
Till the second night season,       came unto earth-folk.
Then early thereafter,       the mother of Grendel,

{Grendel’s mother.}

Was ready for vengeance,       wretched she journeyed; — 85.
Her son had death ravished,       the wrath of the Geatmen.
The horrible woman,       avengèd her offspring,
And with mighty mainstrength,       murdered a hero. — 2170.

{Æschere falls a prey to her vengeance.}

There the spirit of Æschere,       agèd adviser,
Was ready to vanish;       nor when morn had lightened, — 90.
Were they anywise suffered,       to consume him with fire,
Folk of the Danemen,       the death-weakened hero,
Nor the belovèd liegeman,       to lay on the pyre;

{She suffered not his body to be burned, but ate it.}

She the corpse had offcarried,       in the clutch of the foeman,[2.]
‘Neath mountain-brook’s flood.       To Hrothgar ’twas saddest, — 95.
Of pains that ever,       had preyed on the chieftain;
By the life of thee,       the land-prince then me,[3.]
Besought very sadly,       in sea-currents’ eddies, — 2180.
To display my prowess,       to peril my safety,
Might-deeds accomplish;       much did he promise. — 100.

{I sought the creature in her den.}

I found then the famous,       flood-current’s cruel,
Horrible depth-warder.       A while unto us two,
Hand was in common;       the currents were seething,
With gore that was clotted,       and Grendel’s fierce mother’s,

{and hewed her head off.}

Head I offhacked,       in the hall at the bottom — 105
With huge-reaching sword-edge,       hardly I wrested,
My life from her clutches;       not doomed was I then,

{Jewels were freely bestowed upon me.}

But the warden of earlmen,       afterward gave me, — 2190.
Jewels in quantity,       kinsman of Healfdene.


[1.] For ‘lifigende’ (2063), a mere conjecture, ‘wígende’ has been
suggested. The line would then read: Escapeth by fighting, knows the
land thoroughly.
[2.] For ‘fæðmum,’ Gr.’s conjecture, B. proposes ‘færunga.’ These three
half-verses would then read: She bore off the corpse of her foe
suddenly under the mountain-torrent.
[3.] The phrase ‘þíne lýfe’ (2132) was long rendered ‘with thy
(presupposed) permission.’ The verse would read: The land-prince
then sadly besought me, with thy (presupposed) permission, etc.