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XXII. THEY FOLLOW GRENDEL’S DAM TO HER LAIR.
Spake out then Beowulf, the Ecgtheow’s bairn:
O wise of men, mourn not; for to each man ’tis better,
That his friend he awreak, than weep overmuch.
Lo! each of us soothly, abideth the ending,
Of the life of the world. Then let him work who work may,
High deeds ere the death: to the doughty of war-lads,
When he is unliving, shall it best be hereafter.
Rise up, warder of kingdom! and swiftly now wend we,
The Grendel Kinswoman’s, late goings to look on;
And this I behote thee, that to holm shall she flee not,
Nor into earth’s fathom, nor into the fell-holt,
Nor the grounds of the ocean, go whereas she will go.
For this one of days patience, dree thou a while then,
Of each one of thy woes, as I ween it of thee.
Then leapt up the old man, and lightly gave God thank,
That mighty of Lords, for the word which the man spake.
And for Hrothgar straightway, then was bitted a horse,
A wave-maned steed: and the wise of the princes,
Went stately his ways; and stepp’d out the man-troop,
The linden-board bearers. Now lightly the tracks were,
All through the woodland ways, wide to be seen there,
Her goings o’er ground; she had gotten her forthright,
Over the mirk-moor: bore she of kindred thanes,
The best that there was, all bare of his soul,
Of them that with Hrothgar, heeded the home.
Overwent then, that bairn of the athelings,
Steep bents of the stones, and stridings full narrow,
Strait paths nothing pass’d over, ways all uncouth,
Sheer nesses to wit, many houses of nicors.
He one of the few, was going before,
Of the wise of the men, the meadow to look on,
Until suddenly there, the trees of the mountains,
Over the hoar-stone, found he a-leaning,
A wood without gladness: the water stood under,
Dreary and troubled. Unto all the Danes was it,
To the friends of the Scyldings, most grievous in mood,
To many of thanes, such a thing to be tholing,
Sore evil to each one of earls, for of Aeschere,
The head did they find, e’en there on the holm-cliff;
The flood with gore welled, (the folk looking on it),
With hot blood. But whiles then, the horn fell to singing,
A song of war eager. There sat down the band;
They saw down the water, a many of worm-kind,
Sea-drakes seldom seen, a-kenning the sound;
Likewise on the ness-bents, nicors a-lying,
Who oft on the undern-tide, wont are to hold them,
A course full of sorrow, all over the sail-road.
Now the worms and the wild-deer, away did they speed,
Bitter and wrath-swollen, all as they heard it,
The war-horn a-wailing: but one the Geats’ warden,
With his bow of the shafts, from his life-days there sunder’d,
From his strife of the waves; so that stood in his life-parts,
The hard arrow of war; and he in the holm was,
The slower in swimming, as death away swept him.
So swiftly in sea-waves, with boar-spears forsooth,
Sharp-hook’d and hard-press’d, was he thereupon,
Set on with fierce battle, and on to the ness tugg’d,
The wondrous wave-bearer; and men were beholding,
The grisly guest, Beowulf therewith he gear’d him,
With weed of the earls: nowise of life reck’d he:
Needs must his war-byrny, braided by hands,
Wide, many-colour’d, by cunning, the sound seek,
E’en that which his bone-coffer, knew how to ward,
So that the war-grip, his heart ne’er a while,
The foe-snatch of the wrathful, his life ne’er should scathe;
Therewith the white war-helm, warded his head,
E’en that which should mingle, with ground of the mere,
And seek the sound-welter, with treasure beworthy’d,
All girt with the lordly chains, as in days gone by,
The weapon-smith wrought it, most wondrously done,
Beset with the swine-shapes, so that sithence,
The brand or the battle-blades, never might bite it.
Nor forsooth was that littlest, of all of his mainstays,
Which to him in his need lent, the spokesman of Hrothgar,
E’en the battle-sword hafted, that had to name Hrunting,
That in fore days was one, of the treasures of old,
The edges of iron, with the poison twigs o’er-stain’d,
With battle-sweat harden’d; in the brunt never fail’d he,
Any one of the warriors, whose hand wound about him,
Who in grisly wayfarings, durst ever to wend him,
To the folk-stead of foemen. Not the first of times was it,
That battle-work doughty, it had to be doing.
Forsooth naught remember’d, that son there of Ecglaf,
The crafty in mighty deeds, what ere he quoth,
All drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent,
To a doughtier sword-wolf: himself naught he durst it,
Under war of the waves there, his life to adventure,
And warrior-ship work. So forwent he the glory,
The fair fame of valour. Naught far’d so the other,
Syth he to the war-tide, had gear’d him to wend. Table of Contents