Beowulf: Morris and Wyatt Chapter 07

 

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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,

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Chosen heap of the thanes,     but there some abided,

The war-gear to hold,     as the wight one was bidding.

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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,

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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,

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Blood-stain’d from the foe,     whenas five had I bounden,

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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,

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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,

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With the foe shall I grapple,     and grope for the life,

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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,

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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.

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