Beowulf: Hall Chapter 30

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XXX. BEOWULF NARRATES HIS ADVENTURES TO HIGELAC.

“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.

— NOTES —

[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.

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