Beowulf: Morris and Wyatt Chapter 39

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XXXIX. WIGLAF CASTETH SHAME ON THOSE FLEERS.

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But gone was it then,     with the unaged man,

Full hard that there,     he beheld on the earth,

The liefest of friends,     at the ending of life,

Of bearing most piteous.     And likewise lay his bane,

The Earth-drake, the loathly fear,     reft of his life,

By bale laid undone:     the ring-hoards no longer,

The Worm, the crook-bowed,     ever might wield;

For soothly the edges,     of the irons him bare off,

The hard battle-sharded,     leavings of hammers,

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So that the wide-flier,     stilled with wounding,

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Fell onto earth,     anigh to his hoard-hall,

Nor along the lift ever more,     playing he turned,

At middle-nights, proud,     of the owning of treasure,

Show’d the face of him forth,     but to earth there he fell,

Because of the host-leader’s,     work of the hand.

This forsooth on the land,     hath thriven to few,

Of men might and main bearing,     by hearsay of mine,

Though in each of all deeds,     full daring he were,

That against venom-scather’s,     fell breathing he set on,

Or the hall of his rings,     with hand be a-stirring,

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If so be that he waking,     the warder had found,

Abiding in burg.     By Beowulf was,

His deal of the king-treasure,     paid for by death;

There either had they,     fared on to the end,

Of this loaned life.     Long it was not until,

Those laggards of battle,     the holt were a-leaving,

Unwarlike troth-liars,     the ten there together,

Who durst not e’en now,     with darts to be playing,

E’en in their man-lord’s,     most mickle need.

But shamefully now,     their shields were they bearing,

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Their weed of the battle,     there where lay the aged;

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They gazed on Wiglaf,     where weary’d he sat,

The foot-champion, hard by,     his very lord’s shoulder,

And wak’d him with water:     but no whit it sped him;

Never might he on earth,     howsoe’er well he will’d it,

In that leader of spears hold,     the life any more,

Nor the will of the Wielder,     change ever a whit;

But still should God’s doom,     of deeds rule the rede,

For each man of men,     as yet ever it doth.

Then from out of the youngling,     an answer full grim,

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Easy got was for him,     who had lost heart erewhile,

And word gave out Wiglaf,     Weohstan’s son,

The sorrowful-soul’d man:     on those unlief he saw:

Lo that may he say,     who sooth would be saying,

That the man-lord who dealt you,     the gift of those dear things,

The gear of the war-host,     wherein there ye stand,

Whereas he on the ale-bench,     full oft was a-giving,

Unto the hall-sitters,     war-helm and byrny,

The king to his thanes,     e’en such as he choicest,

Anywhere, far or near,     ever might find:

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That he utterly wrongsome,     those weeds of the war,

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Had cast away, then,     when the war overtook him.

Surely never the folk-king,     of his fellows in battle,

Had need to be boastful;     howsoever God gave him,

The Victory-wielder,     that he himself wreaked him,

Alone with the edge,     when to him need of might was.

Unto him of life-warding,     but little might I,

Give there in the war-tide;     and yet I began,

Above measure of my might,     my kinsman to help;

Ever worse was the Worm,     then when I with sword,

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Smote the life-foe,and ever,     the fire less strongly,

Welled out from his wit.     Of warders o’er little,

Throng’d about the king,     when him the battle befell.

Now shall taking of treasures,     and giving of swords,

And all joy of your country-home,     fail from your kindred,

All hope wane away;     of the land-right moreover,

May each of the men,     of that kinsman’s burg ever,

Roam lacking; sithence,     that the athelings eft-soons,

From afar shall have heard,     of your faring in flight,

Your gloryless deed.     Yea, death shall be better,

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For each of the earls,     than a life ever ill-fam’d.

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