Kirtlan Chapter 1

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I

Moreover the Danish Beowulf,

1

the dear King of his people,

was a long time renowned amongst the folk in the cities (his father,

the Prince,

had gone a-faring elsewhere from this world).

Then was there born to him a son,

the high Healfdene;

and while he lived he was ruling the happy Danish people,

and war-fierce and ancient was he.

Four children were

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born to him:

Heorogar the leader of troops,

and Hrothgar,

and Halga the good.

And I heard say that Queen Elan (wife of Ongentheow) was his daughter,

and she became the beloved comrade of the Swede.

Then to Hrothgar was granted good speed in warfare and honour in fighting,

so that his loyal subjects eagerly obeyed him,

until the youths grew doughty,

a very great band of warriors.

Then it burned in his mind that he would bid men be building a palace,

a greater mead-hall than the children of men ever had heard of,

and that he would therein distribute to young and to old,

as God gave him power,

all the wealth that he had save the share of the folk and the lives of men.

Then I heard far and wide how he gave commandment to many a people throughout all the world,

this work to be doing,

and to deck out the folkstead.

In due time it happened that soon among men,

this greatest of halls was now all ready.

And Hart he called it,

whose word had great wielding.

He broke

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not his promise,

but gave to them rings and treasures at the banquet.

The hall towered on high,

and the gables were wide between the horns,

2

and awaited the surging of the loathsome flames.

Not long time should pass ere hatred was awakened after the battle-slaughter,

twixt father-in-law and son-in-law.

3

Then it was that the powerful sprite who abode in darkness,

scarce could brook for a while that daily he heard loud joy in the hall.

There was sound of harping,

and the clear song of the bard.

He who knew it was telling of the beginning of mankind,

and he said that the Almighty created the world,

and the bright fields surrounded by water.

And,

exulting,

He set the sun and the moon as lamps to shine upon the earth-dwellers,

and adorned the world with branches and leaves.

And life He was giving to every kind of living creature.

So noble men lived in joy,

and were all blessed till one began to do evil,

a devil

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from hell;

and this grim spirit was called Grendel.

And he was a march-stepper,

who ruled on the moorlands,

the fens,

and the stronghold.

For a while he kept guard,

this unhappy creature,

over the land of the race of monsters,

since the Creator had proscribed him.

On the race of Cain the Eternal Lord brought death as vengeance,

when he slew Abel.

Nor did he find joy in the feud,

but God for the crime drove him far thence.

Thus it was that evil things came to their birth,

giants and elves and monsters of the deep,

likewise those giants who for a long while were striving with God Himself.

And well He requited them.

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