Kirtlan Chapter 33

Download.

Table of Contents

  : MP3 of the text. Listen while you read.

XXXIII

Then the Fiend began to belch forth fire,

and to burn up the glorious palace.

And the flames thereof were a horror to men.

Nor would the loathly air-flier leave aught living thereabouts.

And this warfare of the dragon was seen far and wide by men,

this striving of the foe who caused dire distress,

and how the war-scather hated and harmed the

[141]

people of the Geats.

And he hurried back to his hoard and the dark cave-hall of which he was lord,

ere it was day-dawn.

He had encircled the dwellers in that land with fire and brand.

He trusted in his cavern,

and in battle and his cliff-wall.

But his hope deceived him.

Then was the terror made known to Beowulf,

quickly and soothly,

namely that his very homestead,

that best of houses,

that throne of the Geats,

was dissolving in the whelming fire.

And full rueful was it to the good man,

and the very greatest of sorrows.

And the wise man was thinking that he had bitterly angered the Wielder of all things,

the eternal God,

in the matter of some ancient customs.

61 And within his breast gloomy brooding was welling,

as was by no means his wont.

The fiery dragon had destroyed by flame the stronghold of the people,

both the sea-board and neighbouring land.

And therefore the King of the Weder-Geats devised revenge upon him.

[142]

Now Beowulf the Prince of earls and protector of warriors commanded them to fashion him a glorious war-shield all made of iron.

For he well knew that a wooden shield would be unavailing against flames.

For he,

the age-long noble Atheling,

must await the end of days that were fleeting of this world-life,

he and the dragon together,

though long he had held sway over the hoard of treasure.

And the Prince of rings scorned to employ a troop against the wide-flying monster in the great warfare.

Nor did he dread the striving,

nor did he think much of this battle with the dragon,

of his might and courage,

for that formerly in close conflict had he escaped many a time from the crashings of battle since he,

the victorious sword-man,

cleansed the great hall in Hart,

of Hrothgar his kinsman,

and had grappled in the contest with the mother of Grendel,

of the loathly kin.

Nor was that the least hand-to-hand fight,

when Hygelac was slain there in the Frisian land when the King of the Geats,

the friendly lord of the folk,

the

[143]

son of Hrethel,

died in the battle-rush beaten down by the sword,

drunk with blood-drinking.

Then fled Beowulf by his very own craft and swam through the seas.

62 And he had on his arm alone thirty battle-trappings when he went down to the sea.

Nor did the Hetware need to be boasting,

of that battle on foot,

they who bore their linden shields against him.

And few of them ever reached their homes safe from that wolf of the battle.

But Beowulf,

son of Ecgtheow,

swam o’er the expanse of waters,

miserable and solitary,

back to his people,

where Hygd proffered him treasures and a kingdom,

rings and dominion.

She did not think that her son Heardred would know how to hold their native seats against strangers,

now that Hygelac was dead.

Nor could the wretched people prevail upon the Atheling (Beowulf) in any wise to show himself lord of Heardred or to be choosing the kingship.

Nevertheless he gave friendly

[144]

counsel to the folk with grace and honour until that he (Heardred) was older and held sway over the Weder-Geats.

Then those exiles the sons of Ohthere sought him over the seas;

they had rebelled against the Lord of the Swedes,

the best of the sea-kings,

that famous chieftain of those who bestowed rings in Sweden.

And that was life’s limit to him.

For the son of Hygelac,

famishing there,

was allotted a deadly wound by the swing of a sword.

And the son of Ongentheow went away thence to visit his homestead when Heardred lay dead,

and left Beowulf to sit on the throne and to rule the Goths.

And he was a good King.

63

[145]

.

Table of Contents