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XXXIV. BEOWULF GOES AGAINST THE WORM. HE TELLS OF HEREBEALD AND HRHCYN.
Of that fall of the folk-king, he minded the payment,
In days that came after: unto Eadgils he was,
A friend to him wretched; with folk he upheld him,
Over the wide sea, that same son of Ohthere,
With warriors and weapons. Sithence had he wreaking,
With cold journeys of care: from the king took he life.
Now each one of hates, thus had he outlived,
And of perilous slaughters, that Ecgtheow’s son,
All works that be doughty, until that one day,
When he with the Worm, should wend him to deal.
So twelvesome he set forth, all swollen with anger,
The lord of the Geats, the drake to go look on.
Aright had he learnt then, whence risen the feud was,
The bale-hate against men-folk: to his barm then had come,
The treasure-vat famous, by the hand of the finder;
He was in that troop, of men the thirteenth,
Who the first of that battle, had set upon foot,
The thrall, the sad-minded; in shame must he thenceforth,
Wise the way to the plain; and against his will went he,
Thereunto, where the earth-hall, the one there he wist,
The howe under earth, anigh the holm’s welling,
The wave-strife: there was it, now full all within,
With gems and with wires; the monster, the warden,
The yare war-wolf, he held him therein the hoard golden,
The old under the earth: it was no easy cheaping,
To go and to gain, for any of grooms.
Sat then on the ness there, the strife-hardy king,
While farewell he bade, to his fellows of hearth,
The gold-friend of the Geats; sad was gotten his soul,
Wavering, death-minded; weird nigh beyond measure,
Which him old of years gotten, now needs must be greeting,
Must seek his soul’s hoard, and asunder must deal,
His life from his body: no long while now was,
The life of the Atheling, in flesh all bewounden.
Now spake out Beowulf, Ecgtheow’s bairn:
Many a one in my youth, of war-onsets I outliv’d,
And the whiles of the battle: all that I remember.
Seven winters had I, when the wielder of treasures,
The lord-friend of folk, from my father me took,
Held me and had me, Hrethel the king,
Gave me treasure and feast, and remember’d the friendship.
For life thence I was not, to him a whit loather,
A berne in his burgs than his bairns were, or each one,
Herebeald, or H’cyn, or Hygelac mine.
For the eldest there was, in unseemly wise,
By the mere deed of kinsman, a murder-bed strawen,
Whenas him did H’cyn, from out of his horn-bow,
His lord and his friend, with shaft lay alow:
His mark he miss’d shooting, and shot down his kinsman,
One brother another, with shaft all bebloody’d;
That was fight feeless, by fearful crime sinned,
Soul-weary to heart, yet natheless then had,
The atheling from life, all unwreak’d to be ceasing.
So sad-like it is, for a carle that is aged,
To be biding the while, that his boy shall be riding,
Yet young on the gallows; then a lay should he utter,
A sorrowful song, whenas hangeth his son,
A gain unto ravens, and naught good of avail,
May he, old and exceeding, old, anywise frame.
Ever will he be minded, on every each morning,
Of his son’s faring otherwhere; nothing he heedeth,
Of abiding another, withinward his burgs,
An heritage-warder, then whenas the one,
By the very death’s need, hath found out the ill.
Sorrow-careful he seeth, within his son’s bower,
The waste wine-hall, the resting-place now of the winds,
All bereft of the revel; the riders are sleeping,
The heroes in grave, and no voice of the harp is,
No game in the garths, such as erewhile was gotten.