Kirtlan Chapter 23

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XXIII

Then among the weapons he caught sight of a sword,

rich in victories,

an old weapon of the giants,

and doughty of edge,

the glory of warriors.

It was the choicest of weapons,

and it was greater than any other man could carry to the battle-playing,

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and all glorious and good,

a work of the giants.

And he seized it by the belted hilt,

he the warrior of the Danes,

rough and battle-grim,

and he brandished the ring-sword;

and despairing of life,

he angrily struck so that hardly he grasped at her neck and broke the bone-rings.

And the point pierced through the doomed flesh-covering.

And she fell on the floor.

The sword was all bloody,

and the man rejoiced in his work.

Shone forth the bright flame and a light stood within,

even as shineth the candle38 from the bright heavens.

And then he looked on the hall,

and turned to the wall.

And the thane of Hygelac,

angry and resolute,

heaved hard the weapon,

taking it by the hilt.

And the edge was not worthless to the battle-warrior,

for he would be quickly requiting Grendel many a war-rush which he had done upon the West Danes,

many times oftener than once when in sleeping he smote the hearth-comrade of Hrothgar,

and fed on them sleeping,

of the Danish folk,

some fifteen

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men,

and bore forth yet another one,

that loathly prey.

And well he requited him,

this furious champion,

when he saw the war-weary Grendel lying in death,

all void of his life as formerly in Hart the battle had scathed him.

His body sprang apart when after his death he suffered a stroke,

a hard battle-swing;

and then he struck off his head.

Right soon the proud warriors,

they who with Hrothgar,

looked forth on the sea,

could easily see,

that the surging water was all stained with blood and the grey-haired ancients spoke together about the good man,

that they deemed not the Atheling would ever again come seeking the famous Prince Hrothgar glorying in victory,

for it seemed unto many that the sea-wolf had destroyed him.

Then came noonday.

The valiant Danes left the headland,

and the gold-friend of men39 went homeward thence.

And the strangers of the Geats,

sick in mind,

sat and stared at the water.

They knew and expected not that they would

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see again their liege-lord himself.

Then the sword began to grow less,

after the battle-sweat,

into icicles of steel.

And a wonder it was that it all began to melt likest to ice,

when Our Father doth loosen the band of frost and unwinds the icicles,

He who hath power over the seasons,

He is the true God.

Nor in these dwellings did the Lord of the Geats take any other treasure,

though much he saw there,

except the head and the hilt,

decked out with jewels.

The sword had melted,

and the decorated weapon was burnt up.

The blood was too hot,

and so poisonous the alien sprite who died in that conflict.

Soon Beowulf was swimming,

he who formerly awaited the onset of the hostile ones in the striving,

and he dived upwards through the water.

And the weltering surge and the spacious lands were all cleansed when the alien sprite gave up his life and this fleeting existence.

He the stout-hearted came swimming to shore,

he the Prince of the sea-men enjoying the sea-spoils,

the great burden of that which he had with him.

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They advanced towards him and gave thanks to God,

that glorious crowd of thanes,

and rejoiced in their lord that they could see him once more.

Then was loosed quickly from that valiant man both helmet and shield.

The sea became turbid,

the water under welkin,

all stained with blood.

And rejoicing in spirit the brave men went forth with foot-tracks and passed over the earth,

the well-known pathways.

And a hard task it was for each one of those proud men to bear that head away from the sea-cliff.

Four of them with difficulty on a pole were bearing the head of Grendel to the gold-hall,

until suddenly,

valiant and battle-brave,

they came to the palace,

fourteen of the Geats marching along with their liege-lord who trod the field where the mead-hall stood.

Then this Prince of the thanes,

this man so bold of deed and honoured by Fate,

this battle-dear warrior went into the hall to greet King Hrothgar.

Then over the floor where warriors were drinking they bore Grendel’s head,

a terror to the earls and also to the Queen.

And men

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were looking at the splendid sight of the treasures.

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