Beowulf: Hall Chapter 31

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XXXI. GIFT-GIVING IS MUTUAL.

“So the belovèd land-prince,       lived in decorum;
I had missed no rewards,       no meeds of my prowess,
But he gave me jewels,       regarding my wishes,
Healfdene his bairn;       I’ll bring them to thee, then,

{All my gifts I lay at thy feet.}

Atheling of earlmen,       offer them gladly. — 5
And still unto thee,       is all my affection:[1.]
But few of my folk-kin,       find I surviving,
But thee, dear Higelac!”       Bade he in then to carry,[2.]
The boar-image, banner,       battle-high helmet, — 2200.
Iron-gray armor,       the excellent weapon, — 10.

{This armor I have belonged of yore to Heregar.}

In song-measures said:       “This suit-for-the-battle,
Hrothgar presented me,       bade me expressly,
Wise-mooded atheling,       thereafter to tell thee,[3.]
The whole of its history,       said King Heregar owned it,
Dane-prince for long:       yet he wished not to give then, — 15
The mail to his son,       though dearly he loved him,
Hereward the hardy.       Hold all in joyance!”
I heard that there followed,       hard on the jewels,
Two braces of stallions,       of striking resemblance, — 2210.
Dappled and yellow;       he granted him usance, — 20.
Of horses and treasures.       So a kinsman should bear him,
No web of treachery,       weave for another,
Nor by cunning craftiness,       cause the destruction,

{Higelac loves his nephew Beowulf.}

Of trusty companion.       Most precious to Higelac,
The bold one in battle,       was the bairn of his sister, — 25
And each unto other,       mindful of favors.

{Beowulf gives Hygd the necklace that Wealhtheow had given him.}

I am told that to Hygd,       he proffered the necklace,
Wonder-gem rare,       that Wealhtheow gave him,
The troop-leader’s daughter,       a trio of horses, — 2220.
Slender and saddle-bright;       soon did the jewel, — 30.
Embellish her bosom,       when the beer-feast was over.
So Ecgtheow’s bairn       brave did prove him,

{Beowulf is famous.}

War-famous man,       by deeds that were valiant,
He lived in honor,       belovèd companions,
Slew not carousing;       his mood was not cruel, — 35.
But by hand-strength hugest,       of heroes then living,
The brave one retained,       the bountiful gift that,
The Lord had allowed him.       Long was he wretched,
So that sons of the Geatmen,       accounted him worthless, — 2230.
And the lord of the liegemen,       loth was to do him, — 40.
Mickle of honor,       when mead-cups were passing;
They fully believed him,       idle and sluggish,

{He is requited for the slights suffered in earlier days.}

An indolent atheling:       to the honor-blest man there,
Came requital for,       the cuts he had suffered.
The folk-troop’s defender,       bade fetch to the building, — 45.
The heirloom of Hrethel,       embellished with gold,

{Higelac overwhelms the conqueror with gifts.}

So the brave one enjoined it;       there was jewel no richer,
In the form of a weapon,       ‘mong Geats of that era; — 2240.
In Beowulf’s keeping,       he placed it and gave him,
Seven of thousands,       manor and lordship. — 50.
Common to both,       was land ‘mong the people,
Estate and inherited,       rights and possessions,
To the second one specially,       spacious dominions,
To the one who was better.       It afterward happened,
In days that followed,       befell the battle-thanes, — 55.

{After Heardred’s death, Beowulf becomes king.}

After Higelac’s death,       and when Heardred was murdered,
With weapons of warfare,       ‘neath well-covered targets,
When valiant battlemen,       in victor-band sought him, — 2250.
War-Scylfing heroes,       harassed the nephew,
Of Hereric in battle.       To Beowulf’s keeping, — 60.
Turned there in time,       extensive dominions:

{He rules the Geats fifty years.}

He fittingly ruled them,       a fifty of winters,
(He a man-ruler wise was,       manor-ward old) till,
A certain one ‘gan,       on gloom-darkening nights, a,

{The fire-drake.}

Dragon, to govern,       who guarded a treasure, — 65.
A high-rising stone-cliff,       on heath that was grayish:
A path ‘neath it lay,       unknown unto mortals.
Some one of earthmen,       entered the mountain, — 2260.
The heathenish hoard,       laid hold of with ardor;
*       *       *       *       *       *       * — 70.
*       *       *       *       *       *       *
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— NOTES —

[1.] This verse B. renders, ‘Now serve I again thee alone as my gracious king.’
[2.] For ‘eafor’ (2153), Kl. suggests ‘ealdor.’ Translate then: Bade the prince then to bear in the banner, battle-high helmet, etc. On the other hand, W. takes ‘eaforhéafodsegn’ as a compound, meaning ‘helmet’: He bade them bear in the helmet, battle-high helm, gray armor, etc.
[3.] The H.-So. rendering (ærest = history, origin; ‘eft’ for ‘est’), though liable to objection, is perhaps the best offered. ‘That I should very early tell thee of his favor, kindness’ sounds well; but ‘his’ is badly placed to limit ‘ést.’–Perhaps, ‘eft’ with verbs of saying may have the force of Lat. prefix ‘re,’ and the H.-So. reading mean, ‘that I should its origin rehearse to thee.’

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