Beowulf: Morris and Wyatt Chapter 24

Table of Contents

Download Listen as you read along.

XXIV. BEOWULF SLAYETH GRENDEL’S DAM, SMITETH OFF GRENDEL?S HEAD, AND COMETH BACK WITH HIS THANES TO HART.

Midst the war-gear he saw then,     a bill victory-wealthy,

An old sword of eotens,     full doughty of edges,

The worship of warriors.     That was choice of all weapons,

1560
Save that more was it made,     than any man other,

In the battle-play ever,     might bear it afield,

So goodly, all glorious,     the work of the giants.

91
Then the girdled hilt seiz’d he,     the Wolf of the Scyldings,

The rough and the sword-grim,     and drew forth the ring-sword,

Naught weening of life,     and wrathful he smote then,

So that there on her halse,     the hard edge begripped,

And brake through the bone-rings:     the bill all through-waded,

Her flesh-sheathing fey;     cring’d she down on the floor;

The sword was war-sweaty,     the man in his work joy’d.

1570
The bright beam shone forth,     the light stood withinward,

E’en as down from the heavens’,     clear high aloft shineth,

The sky’s candle. He,     all along the house scanned;

Then turn’d by the wall along,     heav’d up his weapon,

Hard by the hilts,     the Hygelac’s thane there,

Ireful one-reded;     naught worthless the edge was,

Unto the warrior;     but rathely now would he,

To Grendel make payment,     of many war-onsets,

Of them that he wrought on,     the folk of the West Danes,

Oftener by mickle,     than one time alone,

92 1580
Whenas he the hearthfellows,     of Hrothgar the King,

Slew in their slumber,     and fretted them sleeping,

Men fifteen to wit of,     the folk of the Danes,

And e’en such another,     deal ferry’d off outward,

Loathly prey. Now he paid,     him his guerdon therefor,

The fierce champion; so well,     that abed there he saw,

Where Grendel war-weary,     was lying adown,

Forlorn of his life,     as him ere had scathed,

The battle at Hart;     sprang wide the body,

Sithence after death,     he suffer’d the stroke,

1590
The hard swing of sword.     Then he smote the head off him.

Now soon were they seeing,     those sage of the carles,

E’en they who with Hrothgar,     gaz’d down on the holm,

That the surge of the billows,     was blended about,

The sea stain’d with blood.     Therewith the hoar-blended,

The old men, of the good one,     gat talking together,

That they of the Atheling,     ween’d never eft-soon,

That he, glad in his war-gain,     should wend him a-seeking,

The mighty king, since,     unto many it seemed,

93
That him the mere-she-wolf,     had sunder’d and broken.

1600
Came then nones of the day,     and the ness there they gave up,

The Scyldings the brisk;     and then busk’d him home thence-ward,

The gold-friend of men.     But the guests, there they sat,

All sick of their mood,     and star’d on the mere;

They wist not, they ween’d not,     if him their own friend-lord,

Himself they should see.

Now that sword began,

Because of the war-sweat,     into icicles war-made,

The war-bill, wane:     that was one of the wonders,

That it melted away,     most like unto ice,

When the bond of the frost,     the Father lets loosen,

1610
Unwindeth the wave-ropes,     e’en he that hath wielding,

Of times and of seasons,     who is the sooth Shaper.

In those wicks there he took not,     the Weder-Geats’ champion,

Of treasure-wealth more,     though he saw there a many,

Than the off-smitten head,     and the sword-hilts together,

94
With treasure made shifting;     for the sword-blade was molten,

The sword broider’d was burn’d up,     so hot was that blood,

So poisonous the alien ghost,     there that had died.

Now soon was a-swimming he who,     erst in the strife bode,

The war-onset of wrath ones;     he div’d up through the water;

1620
And now were the wave-welters,     cleansed full well,

Yea the dwellings full wide,     where the ghost of elsewhither,

Let go of his life-days,     and the waning of living.

Came then unto land,     the helm of the ship-lads,

Swimming stout-hearted,     glad of his sea-spoil,

The burden so mighty of,     that which he bore there.

Yode then against him,     and gave thanks to God,

That fair heap of thanes,     and were fain of their lord,

For that hale and sound now,     they might see him with eyen;

Then was from the bold one,     the helm and the byrny,

1630
All speedily loosen’d.     The lake now was laid,

The water ‘neath welkin,     with war-gore bestained.

Forth then they far’d them,     alongst of the foot-tracks,

95
Men fain of heart all,     as they meted the earth-way,

The street the well known;     then those king-bold of men,

Away from the holm-cliff,     the head there they bore,

Uneasily ever,     to each one that bore it,

The full stout-heart of men:     it was four of them needs must,

On the stake of the slaughter,     with strong toil there ferry,

Unto the gold-hall,     the head of that Grendel;

1640
Until forthright in haste,     came into that hall,

Fierce, keen in the hosting,     a fourteen of men,

Of the Geat-folk a-ganging;     and with them their lord,

The moody amidst of the throng,     trod the mead-plains;

Came then in a-wending,     the foreman of thanes,

The man keen of his deeds,     all beworshipp’d of doom,

The hero, the battle-deer,     Hrothgar to greet.

Then was by the fell borne,     in onto the floor,

Grendel’s head, whereas men were,     a-drinking in hall,

Aweful before the earls,     yea and the woman.

1650
The sight wondrous to see,     the warriors there look’d on.

Table of Contents