Kirtlan Chapter 21

.

Table of Contents

Download  : MP3 of the text. Listen while you read.

XXI

Beowulf spake,

the son of Ecgtheow:

‘Sorrow not,

O wise man.

It is better for each one to avenge his friend,

when he is much mourning.

Each one of us must wait for the end of his world-life.

Let him work who may,

ere the doom of death come;

that is afterwards best for the noble dead.

Arise,

O ward of the kingdom.

Let us go forth quickly to trace out the going of Grendel’s kinswoman.

I bid thee do it.

For neither in the bosom of the earth,

nor in forests of the mountains,

nor by the

[93]

ways of the sea,

go where she will,

shall she escape into safety.

Do thou this day be patient in every kind of trouble as I also hope to be.

’ The old man leapt up and gave thanks to God,

the mighty Lord,

for the words of Beowulf.

Then was bridled a horse for Hrothgar,

a steed with twisted hair,

and as a wise prince he went forth in splendid array.

The troop of shield-warriors marched along.

And the traces were widely seen in the forest-ways,

the goings of Grendel’s mother over the ground.

Forwards she had gone over the mirky moorlands,

and had borne in her grasp,

bereft of his soul,

the best of the thanes who were wont to keep watch over Hrothgar’s homestead.

Then Beowulf,

the Atheling’s child,

stepped o’er the steep and stony slopes and the narrow pathways,

and the straitened single tracks,

an unknown way,

by the steep nesses,

and by many a sea-monster’s cavern.

And one of the wise men went on before to seek out the path,

until all at once he found some mountain trees,

overhanging the grey stones,

a

[94]

forest all joyless.

And underneath was a water all bloodstained and troubled.

And a grievous thing it was for all the Danes to endure,

for the friends of the Scyldings,

34 and for many a thane,

and distressful to all the earls,

when they came upon the head of Aeschere on the cliffs above the sea.

The flood boiled with blood and with hot gore (the folk looked upon it).

And at times the horn sounded a battle-song ready prepared.

All the troop sat down.

And many kinds of serpents they saw in the water,

and wonderful dragons searching the sea,

and on the cliff-slopes,

monsters of the ocean were lying at full length,

who at the morning tide often make a woful journey on the sail-path;

and snakes and wild beasts they could see also.

And these living things fell down on the path all bitter and angry when they perceived the noise,

and the blast of the war-horn.

And the Prince of the Geats killed one of them with his bow and arrows and ended his wave-strife,

and he was in the sea,

slower at swimming

[95]

as death swept him away.

And on the waves by fierce battle hard pressed,

and with boar-spears savagely barbed,

the wondrous sea-monster was assailed in the struggle and drawn up on the headland.

And men were looking at the awful stranger.

And Beowulf put on him his armour,

that was fitting for an earl,

and by no means did he lament over his life,

for the hand-woven coat of mail,

which was ample and of many colours,

was destined to explore the deeps,

and knew well how to defend his body,

so that neither battle-grip nor the hostile grasp of the treacherous one might scathe breast or life;

and the white helmet thereof warded his head,

that which was destined to search out the bottom of the sea and the welter of waters,

and which was adorned with treasures and encircled with noble chains,

wondrously decked and set round with boar-images,

as in days of yore a weapon-smith had made it for him,

so that no brand nor battle-sword could bite him.

And by no means was that the least of aids in

[96]

battle that the Spokesman of Hrothgar35 lent him at need,

even the hilted sword which was called Hrunting.

And it was one of the ancient treasures.

Its edge was of iron,

and poison-tipped,

and hardened in battle-sweat.

And never did it fail in the fight any man who brandished it in his hands,

or who dared to go on fearful journeys,

to the field of battle.

And that was not the first time that it was to do deeds of courage.

And Unferth did not think,

he the kinsman of Ecglaf,

crafty of strength,

of what he formerly had said36 when drunken with wine,

he had lent that weapon to a braver sword-warrior.

He himself durst not risk his life in the stress of the waters and do a glorious deed.

And thereby he lost his doom of famous deeds.

But thus was it not with that other,

for he had got himself ready for the battle.

[97]

.

Table of Contents