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XXXIII. THE WORM BURNS BEOWULF’S HOUSE, AND BEOWULF GETS READY TO GO AGAINST HIM. BEOWULF?S EARLY DEEDS IN BATTLE WITH THE HETWARE TOLD OF.
Began then the guest; to spew forth of gleeds,
The bright dwellings to burn; stood the beam of the burning,
For a mischief to menfolk; now nothing that quick was,
The loathly lift-flier; would leave there forsooth;
The war of the Worm; was wide to be seen there,
The narrowing foe’s hatred; anigh and afar,
How he,& the fight-scather, the folk of the Geats,
Hated and harm’d; shot he back to the hoard,
His dark lordly hall, ere yet was the day’s while;
The land-dwellers had he; in the light low encompass’d,
With bale and with brand; in his burg yet he trusted,
His war-might and his wall: but his weening bewray’d him.
Then Beowulf was done; to wit of the terror,
Full swiftly forsooth, that the house of himself,
Best of buildings, was molten in wellings of fire,
The gift-stool of the Geats. To the good one was that,
A grief unto heart; of mind-sorrows the greatest.
Weened the wise one, that Him, e’en the Wielder,
The Lord everlasting, against the old rights,
He had bitterly anger’d; the breast boil’d within him,
With dark thoughts, that to him were naught duly wonted.
Now had the fire-drake; the own fastness of folk,
The water-land outward, that ward of the earth,
With gleeds to ground wasted; so therefore the war-king,
The lord of the Weder-folk, learned him vengeance.
Then he bade be work’d for him, that fence of the warriors,
And that all of iron, the lord of the earls,
A war-board all glorious, for wissed he yarely,
That the holt-wood hereto might; help him no whit,
The linden ‘gainst fire-flame. Of fleeting days now,
The Atheling exceeding good, end should abide,
The end of the world’s life, and the Worm with him also,
Though long he had holden, the weal of the hoard.
Forsooth scorned then, the lord of the rings,
That he that wide-flier with, war-band should seek,
With a wide host; he fear’d not that war for himself,
Nor for himself the Worm’s war, accounted one whit,
His might and his valour, for that he erst a many,
Strait-daring of battles, had bided, and liv’d,
Clashings huge of the battle, sithence he of Hrothgar,
He, the man victory-happy, had cleansed the hall,
And in war-tide had gripped, the kindred of Grendel,
The loathly of kindreds; nor was that the least,
Of hand-meetings, wherein, erst was Hygelac slain,
Sithence the Geats’ king, in the onrush of battle,
The lord-friend of the folks, down away in the Frieslands,
The offspring of Hrethel, died, drunken of sword-drinks,
All beaten of bill. Thence Beowulf came forth,
By his own craft forsooth, dreed the work of the swimming;
He had on his arm, he all alone, thirty,
Of war-gears, when he, to the holm went adown.
Then nowise the Hetware, needed to joy them,
Over the foot-war, wherein forth against him,
They bore the war-linden: few went back again,
From that wolf of the battle, to wend to their homes.
O’erswam then the waters’, round Ecgtheow’s son,
Came all wretched and byrd-alone, back to his people,
Whereas offer’d him Hygd, then the kingdom and hoard,
The rings and the king-stool: trowed naught in the child,
That he ‘gainst folks outland, the fatherland-seats,
Might can how to hold, now was Hygelac dead:
Yet no sooner therefor, might the poor folk prevail,
To gain from the Atheling, in any of ways,
That he unto Heardred, would be for a lord,
Or eke that that kingdom, henceforward should choose;
Yet him midst of the folk, with friend-lore he held,
All kindly with honour, till older he waxed,
And wielded the Weder-Geats. To him men-waifs thereafter,
Sought from over the sea, the sons they of Ohthere,
For they erst had withstood, the helm of the Scylfings,
E’en him that was best, of the kings of the sea,
Of them that in Swede-realm, dealt out the treasure,
The mighty of princes. Unto him ’twas a life-mark;
To him without food, there was fated the life-wound,
That Hygelac’s son, by the swinging of swords;
And him back departed, Ongentheow’s bairn,
To go seek to his house, sithence Heardred lay dead,
And let Beowulf hold, the high seat of the king,
And wield there the Geats. Yea, good was that king.