Download Listen as you read along.
IX. UNFERTH CONTENDETH IN WORDS WITH BEOWULF.
Spake out then Unferth, that bairn was of Ecglaf,
500 And he sat at the feet of, the lord of the Scyldings,
He unbound the battle-rune; was Beowulf’s faring,
Of him the proud mere-farer, mickle unliking,
Whereas he begrudg’d it, of any man other,
That he glories more mighty, the middle-garth over,
Should hold under heaven, than he himself held:
Art thou that Beowulf, who won strife with Breca,
On the wide sea, contending in swimming,
When ye two for pride’s sake, search’d out the floods,
And for a dolt’s cry, into deep water,
Thrust both your life-days? No man the twain of you,
Lief or loth were he, might lay wyte to stay you,
Your sorrowful journey, when on the sea row’d ye;
Then when the ocean-stream, ye with your arms deck’d,
Meted the mere-streets, there your hands brandish’d!
O’er the Spearman ye glided; the sea with waves welter’d,
The surge of the winter. Ye twain in the waves’ might,
For a seven nights swink’d. He outdid thee in swimming,
And the more was his might; but him in the morn-tide,
To the Heatho-Remes’ land, the holm bore ashore.
And thence away sought he, to his dear land and lovely,
The lief to his people sought, the land of the Brondings,
The fair burg peace-warding, where he the folk owned,
The burg and the gold rings. What to theeward he boasted,
Beanstan’s son, for thee soothly he brought it about.
Now ween I for thee things, worser than erewhile,
Though thou in the war-race, wert everywhere doughty,
In the grim war, if thou herein Grendel darest,
Night-long for a while, of time nigh to abide.
Then Beowulf spake out, the Ecgtheow’s bairn:
What! thou no few of things, O Unferth my friend,
And thou drunken with beer, about Breca hast spoken,
Saidest out of his journey; so the sooth now I tell:
To wit, that the more might ever I owned,
Hard wearing on wave, more than any man else.
We twain then, we quoth it, while yet we were younglings,
And we boasted between us, the twain of us being yet,
In our youth-days, that we out onto the Spearman,
Our lives would adventure; and e’en so we wrought It.
We had a sword naked, when on the sound row’d we,
Hard in hand, as we twain against the whale-fishes,
Had mind to be warding us. No whit from me,
In the waves of the sea-flood, afar might he float,
The hastier in holm, nor would I from him hie me.
Then we two together, we were in the sea,
For a five nights, till us twain the flood drave asunder,
The weltering of waves. Then the coldest of weathers,
In the dusking of night, and the wind from the northward,
Battle-grim turn’d against us, rough grown were the billows.
Of the mere-fishes then was, the mood all up-stirred;
There me ‘gainst the loathly, the body-sark mine,
The hard and the hand-lock’d, was framing me help,
My battle-rail braided, it lay on my breast,
Gear’d graithly with gold. But me to the ground tugg’d,
A foe and fiend-scather; fast he had me In hold,
That grim one in grip: yet to me was it given.
That the wretch there, the monster, with point might I reach,
With my bill of the battle, and the war-race off bore,
The mighty mere-beast through, the hand that was mine.