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VII. BEOWULF SPEAKETH WITH HROTHGAR, AND TELLETH HOW HE WILL MEET GRENDEL.
Word then gave out Hrothgar, the helm of the Scyldings:
I knew him in sooth when, he was but a youngling,
And his father, the old man, was Ecgtheow hight;
Unto whom at his home, gave Hrethel the Geat-lord,
His one only daughter; and now hath his offspring,
All hardy come hither, a lief lord to seek him.
For that word they spake then, the sea-faring men,
E’en they who the gift-seat, for the Geat-folk had ferry’d,
Brought thither for thanks, that of thirty of menfolk,
The craft of might hath he, within his own handgrip,
That war-strong of men. Now him holy God,
For kind help hath sent off, here even to us,
We men of the West Danes, as now I have weening,
‘Gainst the terror of Grendel. So I to that good one,
For his mighty mood-daring, shall the dear treasure bid.
Haste now and be speedy, and bid them in straightway,
The kindred-band gather’d together, to see us,
And in words say thou eke, that they be well comen,
To the folk of the Danes. To the door of the hall then,
Went Wulfgar, and words withinward he flitted:
He bade me to say you, my lord of fair battle,
The elder of East-Danes, that he your blood knoweth,
And that unto him are ye, the sea-surges over,
Ye lads hardy-hearted, well come to land hither;
And now may ye wend you, all in war-raiment,
Under the battle-mask, Hrothgar to see.
But here let your battle-boards, yet be abiding,
With your war-weed and slaughter-shafts, issue of words.
Then rose up the rich one, much warriors around him,
Chosen heap of the thanes, but there some abided,
The war-gear to hold, as the wight one was bidding.
Swift went they together, as the warrior there led them,
Under Hart’s roof: went the stout-hearted,
The hardy neath helm, till he stood by the high-seat.
Then Beowulf spake out, on him shone the byrny,
His war-net besown by, the wiles of the smith:
Hail to thee, Hrothgar! I am of Hygelac,
Kinsman and folk-thane; fair deeds have I many,
Begun in my youth-tide, and this matter of Grendel,
On the turf of mine own land, undarkly I knew.
‘Tis the seafarers’ say, that standeth this hall,
The best house forsooth, for each one of warriors,
All idle and useless, after the even-light,
Under the heaven-loft, hidden becometh.
Then lightly they learn’d me, my people, this lore,
E’en the best that there be of, the wise of the churls,
O Hrothgar the kingly, that thee should I seek to,
Whereas of the might of, my craft were they cunning;
For they saw me when came I, from out of my wargear,
Blood-stain’d from the foe, whenas five had I bounden,
Quell’d the kin of the eotens, and in the wave slain,
The nicors by night-tide: strait need then I bore,
Wreak’d the grief of the Weders, the woe they had gotten;
I ground down the wrathful; and now against Grendel,
I here with the dread one, alone shall be dooming,
In Thing with the giant. I now then with thee,
O lord of the bright Danes, will fall to my bidding,
O berg of Scyldings, and bid thee one boon,
Which, O refuge of warriors, gainsay me not now,
Since, O free friend of folks, from afar have I come,
That I alone, I and my band of the earls,
This hard heap of men, may cleanse Hart of ill.
This eke have I heard say, that he, the fell monster,
In his wan-heed recks nothing, of weapons of war;
Forgo I this therefore, (if so be that Hygelac,
Will still be my man-lord, and he blithe of mood),
To bear the sword with me, or bear the broad shield,
Yellow-round to the battle; but with naught save the hand-grip,
With the foe shall I grapple, and grope for the life,
The loathly with loathly. There he shall believe,
In the doom of the Lord, whom death then shall take.
Now ween I that he, if he may wield matters,
E’en there in the war-hall, the folk of the Geats,
Shall eat up unafear’d, as oft he hath done it,
With the might of the Hrethmen: no need for thee therefore,
My head to be hiding; for me will he have,
With gore all bestain’d, if the death of men get me;
He will bear off my bloody corpse, minded to taste it;
Unmournfully then will, the Lone-goer eat it,
Will blood-mark the moor-ways; for the meat of my body,
Naught needest thou henceforth, in any wise grieve thee.
But send thou to Hygelac, if the war have me,
The best of all war-shrouds, that now my breast wardeth,
The goodliest of railings, the good gift of Hrethel,
The hand-work of Weland. Weird wends as she willeth.