Kirtlan Chapter 20

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XX

Hrothgar spake,

he the Lord of the Danes:

‘Ask not after our luck,

for sorrow is renewed to the folk of the Danes.

Aeschere is dead,

the elder brother of Yrmenlaf;

he was my councillor and my rune-teller,

31 my shoulder-companion when we in the battle protected our heads;

when troops were clashing and helmets were crashing.

He was what an earl ought to be,

a very good Atheling.

Such a man was Aeschere.

And a wandering slaughter-guest was his hand-slayer,

in Hart.

I know not whither that dire woman exulting in carrion,

and by her feeding made famous,

went on her journeys.

She was wreaking vengeance for the feud of thy making when thou killedst Grendel but yesternight,

in a

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violent way,

with hard grips,

because all too long he was lessening and destroying my people.

He fell in the struggle,

gave his life as a forfeit;

and now comes another,

a mighty man-scather,

to avenge her son,

and the feud hath renewed as may seem a heavy heart-woe to many a thane who weeps in his mind over the treasure-giver.

Now lieth low the hand which availed you well,

for every kind of pleasure.

I heard land-dwellers,

and hall-counsellors,

and my people,

say that they saw two such monstrous March-steppers,

32 alien-sprites,

holding the moorland.

And one of them was in the likeness of a woman as far as they could tell;

the other,

shapen wretchedly,

trod the path of exiles in the form of a man,

except that he was greater than any other man,

he whom in former days the earth-dwellers called by name Grendel.

They knew not his father,

whether any secret sprite was formerly born of him.

They kept guard over the hidden land,

and the

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wolf-slopes,

the windy nesses,

the terrible fen-path where the mountain streams rush down under mists of the nesses,

the floods under the earth.

And it is not farther hence than the space of a mile where standeth the lake,

over which are hanging the frosted trees,

their wood fast by the roots,

and shadowing the water.

And there every night one may see dread wonders,

fire on the flood.

And there liveth not a wise man of the children of men who knoweth well the ground.

Nevertheless the heath-stepper,

the strong-horned hart,

when pressed by the hounds seeketh that woodland,

when put to flight from afar,

ere on the hillside,

hiding his head he gives up his life.

33

‘Nor is that a canny place.

For thence the surge of waters riseth up wan to the welkin when stirred by the winds,

the loathsome weather,

until the heaven darkens and skies weep.

Now is good counsel depending on thee alone.

Thou knowest not the land,

the terrible

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places where thou couldest find the sinful man;

seek it if thou darest.

I will reward thee for the feud with old world treasures so I did before,

with twisted gold,

if thou comest thence,

on thy way.

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