Beowulf: Morris and Wyatt Chapter 41

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XLI. MORE WORDS OF THE MESSENGER. HOW HE FEARS THE SWEDES WHEN THEY WOT OF BEOWULF DEAD.

Was the track of the war-sweat,     of Swedes and of Geats,

The men’s slaughter-race,     right wide to be seen,

How those folks amongst them,     were waking the feud.

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Departed that good one,     and went with his fellows,

Old and exceeding sad,     fastness to seek;

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The earl Ongentheow,     upward returned;

Of Hygelac’s battle-might,     oft had he heard,

The war-craft of the proud one;     in withstanding he trow’d not,

That he to the sea-folk,     in fight might debate,

Or against the sea-farers,     defend him his hoard,

His bairns and his bride.     He bow’d him aback thence,

The old under the earth-wall.     Then was the chase bidden,

To the Swede-folk, and Hygelac’s,     sign was upreared,

And the plain of the peace forth,     on o’er-pass’d they,

After the Hrethlings,     onto the hedge throng’d.

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There then was Ongentheow,     by the swords’ edges,

The blent-hair’d, the hoary one,     driven to biding,

So that the folk-king,     fain must he take,

Sole doom of Eofor.     Him in his wrath then,

Wulf the Wonreding,     reach’d with his weapon,

So that from the stroke sprang,     the war-sweat in streams,

Forth from under his hair;     yet naught fearsome was he,

The aged, the Scylfing,     but paid aback rathely,

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With chaffer that worse was that,     war-crash of slaughter,

Sithence the folk-king,     turned him thither;

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And nowise might the brisk one,     that son was of Wonred,

Unto the old carle,     give back the hand-slaying,

For that he on Wulf’s head,     the helm erst had sheared,

So that all with the blood,     stained needs must he bow,

And fell on the field;     but not yet was he fey,

But he warp’d himself up,     though the wound had touch’d nigh.

But thereon the hard,     Hygelac’s thane there,

Whenas down lay his brother,     let the broad blade,

The old sword of eotens,     that helm giant-fashion’d,

Break over the board-wall,     and down the king bowed,

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The herd of the folk,     unto fair life was smitten.

There were many about there,     who bound up his kinsman,

Upraised him swiftly,     when room there was made them,

That the slaughter-stead there,     at the stour they might wield,

That while when was reaving,     one warrior the other:

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From Ongentheow took he,     the iron-wrought byrny,

The hard-hilted sword,     with his helm all together:

The hoary one’s harness,     to Hygelac bare he;

The fret war-gear then took he,     and fairly behight him,

Before the folk due gifts,     and even so did it;

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Gild he gave for that war-race,     the lord of the Geats,

The own son of Hrethel,     when home was he come,

To Eofor and Wulf,     gave he over-much treasure,

To them either he gave,     an hundred of thousands,

Land and lock’d rings.     Of the gift none needed to wyte him,

Of mid earth, since the glory,     they gained by battle.

Then to Eofor he gave,     his one only daughter,

An home-worship soothly,     for pledge of his good will.

That is the feud,     and the foeship full soothly,

The dead-hate of men,     e’en as I have a weening,

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Wherefor the Swede people,     against us shall seek,

Sithence they have learned,     that lieth our lord,

All lifeless; e’en he,     that erewhile hath held,

Against all the haters,     the hoard and the realm;

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Who after the heroes’ fall,     held the fierce Scylfings,

Framed the folk-rede,     and further thereto,

Did earlship-deeds.     Now is haste best of all,

That we now the folk-king,     should fare to be seeing,

And then that we bring him,     who gave us the rings,

On his way to the bale:     nor shall somewhat alone,

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With the moody be molten;     but manifold hoard is,

Gold untold of by tale,     that grimly is cheapened,

And now at the last,     by this one’s own life,

Are rings bought, and all these,     the brand now shall fret,

The flame thatch them over:     no earl shall bear off,

One gem in remembrance;     nor any fair maiden,

Shall have on her halse,     a ring-honour thereof,

But in grief of mood henceforth,     bereaved of gold,

Shall oft, and not once alone,     alien earth tread,

Now that the host-learn’d,     hath laid aside laughter,

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The game and the glee-joy.     Therefore shall the spear,

Full many a morn-cold,     of hands be bewounden,

Uphoven in hand;     and no swough of the harp,

Shall waken the warriors;     but the wan raven rather,

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Fain over the fey,     many tales shall tell forth,

And say to the erne,     how it sped him at eating,

While he with the wolf was,     a-spoiling the slain.

So was the keen-whetted,     a-saying this while,

Spells of speech loathly;     he lied not much,

Of weirds or of words.     Then uprose all the war-band,

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And unblithe they wended,     under the Ernes-ness,

All welling of tears,     the wonder to look on.

Found they then on the sand,     now lacking of soul,

Holding his bed,     him that gave them the rings,

In time erewhile gone by.     But then was the end-day,

Gone for the good one;     since the king of the battle,

The lord of the Weders,     in wonder-death died.

But erst there they saw,     a more seldom-seen sight,

The Worm on the lea-land,     over against him,

Down lying there loathly;     there was the fire-drake,

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The grim of the terrors,     with gleeds all beswealed.

He was of fifty,     feet of his measure,

Long of his lying.     Lift-joyance held he,

In the whiles of the night,     but down again wended,

To visit his den. Now,     fast was he in death,

He had of the earth-dens,     the last end enjoyed.

There by him now stood,     the beakers and bowls,

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There lay the dishes,     and dearly-wrought swords,

Rusty, through-eaten they,     as in earth’s bosom,

A thousand of winters,     there they had wonned.

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For that heritage there was,     all craftily eked,

Gold of the yore men,     in wizardry wounden;

So that that ring-hall,     might none reach thereto,

Not any of mankind,     but if God his own self,

Sooth king of victories,     gave unto whom he would,

(He is holder of men),     to open that hoard,

E’en to whichso of mankind,     should seem to him meet.

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