Kirtlan Chapter 26

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XXVI

Beowulf spake,

the son of Ecgtheow:

‘Now we the sea-farers,

that have come from afar,

desire to say that we are hastening back to Hygelac.

And here have we been nobly waited on,

and well thou hast treated us.

And if I then on earth can gain a whit further greater heart-love

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from thee,

O Lord of men,

than I have gained already,

in doing war-deeds,

thereto I’m right ready.

And if I shall hear o’er the sheet of waters that terrors are oppressing those who sit round thee,

as erewhile thine enemies were doing upon thee,

I will bring here a thousand thanes,

heroes to help thee.

And I know that Hygelac,

the Lord of the Geats,

the guardian of my folk,

though young in years,

will help me by word and works to bring to thee honour and bear spear to thine aid,

the help of strength,

if thou hast need of men.

And if Hrethric42 the Prince’s child should ever take service in the court of the Geat,

he may find there many a friend.

It is better for him who is doughty himself to be seeking far countries.

’

Hrothgar spake and gave him answer:

‘The all-knowing Lord doth send thee words into thy mind.

Never heard I a man speak more wisely,

so young in years,

thou art strong of main and proud of soul,

and of words a wise sayer.

I reckon that if it cometh to pass that

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an arrow or fierce battle should take away the children of Hrethel or disease or sword destroy thy sovereign,

the protector of the folk,

and thou art still living,

that the Sea-Geats will not have to choose any better king,

if thou wilt hold the kingdom of the kinsmen.

Thou hast brought about peace to the folk of the Geats and the Spear-Danes,

and a ceasing of the strife and of the enmity which formerly they suffered.

And whilst I am ruling the wide kingdom,

treasures shall be in common between us.

And many a man shall greet another with gifts over the sea.

43 And the ring-necked ship shall bear over the ocean both offerings and love-tokens.

I know the two peoples to be steadfast towards friend and foe,

and blameless in all things in the old wise.

’

Then in that hall the prince of the earls,

the son of Healfdene,

gave him twelve treasures,

and bade him be seeking his own people in safety and with the offerings,

and quickly to come back

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again.

Then the King,

the Prince of the Danes,

he of good lineage,

kissed the best of thanes,

and embraced his neck.

And tears were falling down the face of the old man.

And the old and wise man had hope of both things,

but most of all of the other that they might see each the other,

those thoughtful men in council.

For Beowulf was so dear to him that he could not restrain the whelming in his bosom,

but a secret longing fast in the bonds of his soul was burning in his breast against his blood.

44 So Beowulf the warrior,

proud of his golden gifts,

went forth o’er the grassy plain rejoicing in treasure.

And the sea-goer was awaiting her lord where she lay at anchor.

And as he was going he often thought on the gift of Hrothgar.

He was a king,

blameless in every way,

until old age,

that scather of many,

bereft him of the joys of strength.

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