Kirtlan Chapter 24

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XXIV

Beowulf spake,

the son of Ecgtheow:

‘Lo,

son of Healfdene,

lord of the Danes,

we have brought thee this booty of the sea all joyfully,

this which thou seest as a token of glory.

And I hardly escaped with my life,

and hazarded an arduous task of war under water.

And nearly was the battle ended for me,

but that God shielded me.

Nor could I in that conflict do aught with Hrunting,

though the weapon was doughty.

But the Ruler of men granted me to see hanging on the wall a beauteous sword mighty and ancient (often He guides those who are bereft of their comrades),

and I drew the weapon.

And I struck in that

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striving the guardian of the house when I saw my chance.

Then that battle-sword that was all decked out,

burned up so that blood gushed forth,

the hottest of battle-sweat.

But I bore off that hilt thence from the enemy,

and wrought vengeance for the crimes,

the deaths of the Danes,

as it was fitting.

And here I bid thee to take thy rest all sorrowless in Hart,

with the troop of thy men and each of the thanes of thy people,

the youth and the doughty ones.

O Lord of the Danes,

no longer need’st thou fear for them,

because of earls’ life-bale as before thou didst.

’ Then was the golden hilt,

the work of the giants,

given into the hand of the old warrior,

the hoary battle-chief.

This work of the wonder-smiths went into the possession of the Lord of the Danes after the destruction of devils;

and when the man of the fierce heart,

the adversary of God guilty of murder,

forsook this world,

it passed to the best of world-kings by the two seas,

of these who in Sceden Isle dealt out treasures.

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Hrothgar spake and looked upon the hilt,

the old heirloom on which was written the beginning of the ancient feud since the flood,

the all-embracing ocean slew the giant race,

when they bore themselves presumptuously.

They were a folk strangers to the eternal God,

to whom the ruler gave their deserts through whelming of waters.

Thus was there truly marked on the sword guards of shining gold,

by means of rune-staves,

set down and stated by whom that sword was wrought at the first,

that choicest of weapons,

with its twisted hilt,

adorned with a dragon.

Then spake the wise man the son of Healfdene,

and all kept silence:

‘He who doeth truth and right among the folk,

and he who can recall the far-off days,

he the old protector of his country may say that this earl was well born.

Thy fair fame is spread throughout the wide ways,

among all peoples,

O my friend Beowulf.

Thou dost hold all with patience,

and might,

with the proud of mind.

I will perform the compact as we two agreed.

Thou shalt

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be a lasting aid to thy people,

a help to the heroes.

Not so was Heremod40 to the sons of Egwela,

the honour-full Danish folk.

41 For he did not become a joy to them,

but slaughter and death to the Danish people.

But in a fury he killed the table-companions his boon comrades;

until he alone,

the famous chieftain,

turned away from human joys.

And though the mighty God greatly exalted him by the joys of strength over all people and rendered him help,

yet a fierce hoard of hate grew up in his soul;

no rings did he give to the Danes,

as the custom was;

and joyless he waited,

so that he suffered troublesome striving and to his people a long time was baleful.

Do thou be learning by that example and seek out manly virtues.

I who am old in winters sing thee this song.

And a wonder is it to say how the mighty God giveth wisdom to mankind through wideness of mind,

lands,

and earlship.

He hath power over all.

Sometimes

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he letteth the thought of man of famous kith and kin be turning to love,

and giveth him earth-joys in his own country,

so that he holdeth the city of refuge among men,

and giveth him to rule over parts of the world,

and very wide kingdoms,

so that he himself foolishly never thinketh of his end.

He dwelleth in weal;

and neither disease nor old age doth deceive him a whit,

or doth hostile sorrow darken his mind,

nor anywhere do strife or sword-hate show themselves;

but all the world doth go as he willeth.

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