Kirtlan Chapter 2

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II

Then he went visiting the high house after nightfall,

to see how the Ring-Danes were holding it.

And he found there a band of Athelings asleep after feasting.

And they knew not sorrow or the misery of men.

The grim and greedy wight of destruction,

all fierce and furious,

was soon ready for his task,

and laid hold of thirty thanes,

all as they lay sleeping.

And away he wended,

faring homeward and exulting in the booty,

to revisit his dwellings filled full of slaughter.

At the dawn of day the war-craft of Grendel was seen by men.

Then after his feeding they set up a weeping,

great noise in the morning.

The glorious Lord,

the very good Atheling,

sat all unblithely,

and suffered

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great pain,

and endured sorrow for his thanes,

when they saw the track of the loathly one,

the cursed sprite.

That struggle was too strong,

loathsome and long.

And after but one night (no longer time was it) he did them more murder-bale,

and recked not a whit the feud and the crime.

Too quick was he therein.

Then he who had sought elsewhere more at large a resting-place,

a bed after bower,

was easily found when he was shown and told most truly,

by the token so clear,

the hate of the hell-thane.

He went away farther and faster,

he who would escape the fiend.

So he ruled and strove against right,

he alone against all of them,

until the best of houses stood quite idle.

And a great while it was—the friend of the Danes suffered distress and sorrows that were great the time of twelve winters.

Then was it made known to the children of men by a sorrowful singing that Grendel was striving this while against Hrothgar,

and waged hateful enmity of crime and feud for many a year with lasting strife,

and would hold no truce

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against any man of the main host of Danes,

nor put away the life-bale,

or settle feud with a fee,

nor did any man need to hope for brighter bettering at the hand of the banesman.

The terrible monster,

a dark death-shadow,

was pursuing the youth and the warriors,

and he fettered and ensnared them,

and ever was holding night after night the misty moorlands.

And,

men know not ever whither workers of hell-runes wander to and fro.

Thus the foe of mankind,

the terrible and lonesome traveller,

often he did them even greater despite.

And he took up his dwelling in the treasure-decked Hall of Hart in the dark night,

nor could he come near the throne the treasure of God,

nor did he know His love.

4

And great was the evil to the friend of the Danes,

and breakings of heart.

Many a strong one sat in council,

and much they discussed what was best for stout-hearted men to do against the fearful terror.

And sometimes they went vowing at their heathen shrines

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and offered sacrifices,

and with many words pleaded that the devil himself would give them his help against this menace to the nation.

For such was their custom,

the hope of the heathen.

And ever of Hell they thought in their hearts;

the Creator they knew not,

the Judge of all deeds,

nor knew they the Lord God,

nor could they worship the Protector of the heavens,

the Wielder of glory.

Woe be to that man who shall shove down a soul through hurtful malice into the bosom of the fire,

and who hopes for no help nor for any change—well shall it be with that one who after his death day shall seek the Lord and desire protection in the embrace of the Father.

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