Kirtlan Chapter 29

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XXIX 53

’Till the day on which they risked their own and their comrades’ lives in the battle.

Then said an old spear-warrior who remembered all that had happened,

the death of men by spears (his mind was grim),

and he began with sorrowful mind to seek out the thought of the young champion by broodings of the heart,

and to awaken the war-bales,

and this is what he said:

“Canst thou recognize,

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my friend,

the dire sword which thy father carried to the battle,

under the visored helm,

on that last journey,

when the Danes slew him and had the battle-field in their power,

when Withergyld54 lay dead after the fall of the heroes?

Now here the son of I know not which of the slayers,

all boasting of treasures,

goeth into the hall and boasteth of murder and carrieth the gift which thou shouldst rightly possess.

” Then he exhorteth and bringeth to mind each of the occasions with sorrowful words,

until the time cometh that the thane of the bride dieth all stained with blood for the deeds of his father by the piercing of the sword,

having forfeited his life.

But the other thence escapeth alive,

for he knows the land well.

Then the oath-swearing of earls is broken on both sides when deadly enmities surge up against Ingeld,

and his love for his wife grows cooler after whelming care.

And for this reason I reckon not sincere the friendliness of the Heathobards towards the Danes or

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the troop-peace between them,

the plighted troth.

‘Now I speak out again about Grendel,

for that thou knowest full well,

O giver of treasure,

how went that hand-to-hand fight of the heroes.

When the jewel of heaven glided over the world,

then the angry sprite,

the terrible and evening-fierce foe,

came to visit us where we were dwelling in the hall all safe and sound.

There was battle impending to Hondscio,

the life-bale to the doomed one.

And he first fell,

the champion begirt.

For Grendel was to the famous thane a banesman by biting,

and devoured whole the dear man.

Nor would he,

the bloody-toothed slayer,

mindful of bales,

go out empty-handed any sooner again,

forth from the gold-hall;

but he proved my strength of main,

and ready-handed he grasped at me.

An ample and wondrous glove hung fast by cunning bands.

And it was cunningly fashioned by the craft of devils,

and with skins of the dragon.

And the fierce doer of deeds was wishful to put me therein,

one among many.

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But he could not do so,

for I angrily stood upright.

And too long would it be to tell how I requited all evil to that scather of the people,

where I,

O my liege-lord,

honoured thy people by means of good deeds.

He escaped on the way,

and for a little while he enjoyed life-pleasures.

But his right hand showed his tracks in Hart,

and he sank to the bottom of the sea,

all abject and sad of heart.

And the lord of the Danes rewarded me for that battle-rush with many a piece of plated gold,

and with ample treasure,

when morning came and we had set ourselves down to the feasting.

And there was singing and rejoicing.

And the wise man of the Danes,

who had learned many things,

told us of olden days.

And the bold in battle sometimes touched the harp-strings,

the wood that was full of music,

and sometimes he gave forth a song that was true and sad—and sometimes,

large-hearted,

the King related a wondrous spell well and truly.

55 And sometimes

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the old man encumbered by years,

some ancient warrior,

lamented his lost youth and strength in battle.

His heart was tumultuous when he,

of many winters,

recalled all the number of them.

So we rejoiced the livelong day until another night came down upon men.

Then was the mother of Grendel quickly ready for vengeance,

and came on a woful journey,

for Death had carried off her son,

that war-hate of the Geats.

And the uncanny wife avenged her child.

And Aeschere,

that wise and ancient councillor,

departed this life.

Nor when morning came might the Danish people burn him with brand,

that death-weary man,

nor lay the beloved man on the funeral pyre.

For she bore away the body in her fiendish grip under the mountain-streams.

And that was to Hrothgar the bitterest of griefs which for long had befallen the Prince of the people.

Then the Prince,

sad in mood,

by thy life entreated me that I should do a deed,

worthy of an earl,

midst welter of waters,

and risk my life and achieve glory.

And he promised me

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rewards.

I then discovered the grim and terrible guardian of the whelming waters,

at the sea’s bottom,

so widely talked of.

There was a hand-to-hand engagement between us for a while,

and the sea boiled with gore;

I cut off the head of Grendel’s mother in the hall at the bottom of the sea,

with powerful sword.

And I scarce saved my life in that conflict.

But not yet was my doomsday.

And afterwards the Prince of earls gave me many gifts,

he the son of Healfdene.

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