Kirtlan Chapter 3

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III

So Beowulf,

son of Healfdene,

ever was brooding over this time-care,

nor could the brave hero avert woe.

That conflict was too strong,

loathsome and long,

that terrible and dire distress,

the greatest of night-bales which came to the people.

Then the thane of Hygelac,

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the good man of the Geats,

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heard from home of the deeds of Grendel.

And on the day of this life he was the strongest of main of all men in the world;

noble was he and powerful.

He bade a fair ship be made,

and said that he would be seeking the War-King,

the famous prince,

over the swan path,

and that he needed men.

And the proud churls little blamed him

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for that journey,

though dear he was to them.

They urged on the valiant man and marked the omen.

The good man of the Geats had chosen champions of those who were keenest,

and sought out the ship.

And one,

a sea-crafty man,

pointed to the land-marks.

Time passed by;

the ship was on the waves,

the boat under the cliff,

and the warriors all readily went up to the stern.

And the currents were swirling,

with sea and sand.

And men were carrying on to the naked deck bright ornaments and splendid war-armour.

Then they shove forth the ship that was well bound together;

and it set forth over the waves,

driven by the wind,

this foamy-necked ship,

likest to a bird;

until about the same time on the next day,

the ship with its twisted stern had gone so far that the sailing men could see the land,

the shining sea-cliffs,

the steep mountains,

and the wide sea-nesses.

Then they crossed the remaining portion of the sea.

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The Geats went up quickly

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on to the shore,

and anchored the ship.

War-shirts and war-weeds were rattling.

And they gave God thanks for their easy crossing of the waves.

Then the ward of the Swedes,

who kept guard over the sea-cliffs,

saw them carry down the gangways the bright shields and armour,

all ready.

And full curious thought tortured him as to who these men were.

He,

the thane of Hrothgar,

rode down to the beach on his charger,

and powerfully brandished the spear in his hand and took counsel with them.

‘Who are ye armour-bearers,

protected by byrnies,

who come here thus bringing the high vessel over the sea,

and the ringed ship over the ocean?

I am he that sits at the end of the land and keep sea-guard,

so that no one more loathsome may scathe with ship-army the land of the Danes.

Never have shield-bearers begun to come here more openly,

yet ye seem not to know the password of warriors,

the compact of kinsmen.

Nor ever have I seen a greater earl upon earth,

than one of your band,

a warrior in armour.

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except his face belie him,

he that is thus weapon-bedecked is no hall-man;

but a peerless one to see.

Now must I know your lineage before you go farther with your false spies in the land of the Danes.

Now O ye far-dwellers and sea-farers,

hear my onefold thought—haste is best in making known whence ye are come.

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