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XXIII. BEOWULF REACHETH THE MERE-BOTTOM IN A DAY’S WHILE, AND CONTENDS WITH GRENDEL’S DAM.
Out then spake Beowulf, Ecgtheow’s bairn:
Forsooth be thou mindful, O great son of Healfdene,
O praise of the princes, now way-fain am I,
O gold-friend of men, what we twain spake aforetime:
If to me for thy need, it might so befall,
That I cease from my life-days, thou shouldest be ever,
To me, forth away wended, in the stead of a father.
Do thou then bear in hand, these thanes of my kindred,
My hand-fellows, if so be battle shall have me;
Those same treasures withal, which thou gavest me erst,
O Hrothgar the lief, unto Hygelac send thou;
By that gold then shall wot, the lord of the Geat-folk,
Shall Hrethel’s son see, when he stares on the treasure,
That I in fair man-deeds, a good one have found me,
A ring-giver; while I might, joy made I thereof.
And let thou then Unferth, the ancient loom have,
The wave-sword adorned, that man kenned widely,
The blade of hard edges; for I now with Hrunting,
Will work me the glory, or else shall death get me.
So after these words, the Weder-Geats’ chieftain,
With might of heart hasten’d; nor for answer then would he,
Aught tarry; the sea-welter, straightway took hold on,
The warrior of men: wore the while of a daytide,
Or ever the ground-plain, might he set eyes on.
Soon did she find, she who the flood-ring,
Sword-ravening had held, for an hundred of seasons,
Greedy and grim, that there one man of grooms,
The abode of the alien-wights, sought from above;
Then toward him she grasp’d, and gat hold on the warrior,
With fell clutch, but no sooner, she scathed withinward,
The hale body; rings, from without-ward it warded,
That she could in no wise, the war-skin clutch through,
The fast locked limb-sark, with fingers all loathly.
So bare then that sea-wolf, when she came unto bottom,
The king of the rings, to the court-hall adown,
In such wise that he might not, though hard-moody was he,
Be wielding of weapons. But a many of wonders,
In sea-swimming swink’d him, and many a sea-deer,
With his war-tusks was breaking, his sark of the battle;
The fell wights him follow’d. ’Twas then the earl found it,
That in foe-hall there was he, I wot not of which,
Where never the water, might scathe him a whit,
Nor because of the roof-hall, might reach to him there,
The fear-grip of the flood. Now fire-light he saw,
The bleak beam forsooth, all brightly a-shining.
Then the good one, he saw, the wolf of the ground,
The mere-wife the mighty, and main onset made he,
With his battle-bill; never, his hand withheld sword-swing,
So that there on her head sang, the ring-sword forsooth,
The song of war greedy. But then found the guest,
That the beam of the battle, would bite not therewith,
Or scathe life at all, but there failed the edge,
The king in his need. It had ere thol’d a many,
Of meetings of hand; oft it sheared the helm,
The host-rail of the fey one; and then was the first time,
For that treasure dear lov’d, that its might lay a-low.
But therewithal steadfast, naught sluggish of valour,
All mindful of high deeds, was Hygelac’s kinsman.
Cast then the wounden blade, bound with the gem-stones,
The warrior all angry, that it lay on the earth there,
Stiff-wrought and steel-edged. In strength now he trusted,
The hard hand-grip of might and main; so shall a man do,
When he in the war-tide, yet looketh to winning,
The praise that is longsome, nor aught for life careth.
Then fast by the shoulder, of the feud nothing recking,
The lord of the War-Geats, clutch’d Grendel’s mother,
Cast down the battle-hard, bollen with anger,
That foe of the life, till she bow’d to the floor;
But swiftly to him gave, she back the hand-guerdon,
With hand-graspings grim, and griped against him;
Then mood-weary stumbled, the strongest of warriors,
The foot-kemp, until that, adown there he fell.
Then she sat on the hall-guest, and tugg’d out her sax,
The broad and brown-edged, to wreak her her son,
Her offspring her own. But lay yet on his shoulder,
The breast-net well braided, the berg of his life,
That ‘gainst point and ‘gainst edge, the entrance withstood.
Gone amiss then forsooth, had been Ecgtheow’s son,
Underneath the wide ground there, the kemp of the Geats,
Save to him his war-byrny, had fram’d him a help,
The hard host-net; and save that the Lord God the Holy,
Had wielded the war-gain, the Lord the All-wise;
Save that the skies’ Ruler, had rightwisely doom’d it,
All easily. Sithence, he stood up again.