Kirtlan Chapter 35

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XXXV

‘Then he goeth to the sleeping-place and chanteth a sorrow-song,

the one for the other.

And all too spacious seemed to him the fields and the dwelling-house.

So the Prince of the Geats bore welling heart-sorrow after Herebald’s death,

nor a whit could he requite the feud on the murderer,

nor visit his hate on that warrior with loathly deeds,

though by no means was he dear to him.

He then forsook the joys of life because of that sorrow-wound which befell him,

and chose the light of God,

and left to his sons land and towns when he departed this life as a rich man doth.

Then was there strife and struggle between the Swedes and the Geats,

and over the wide seas there was warfare between them,

a hardy battle-striving when Hrethel met with his death.

And the

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children of Ongentheow were brave and battle-fierce,

and would not keep the peace on the high seas,

but round about Hreosnaborg they often worked terrible and dire distress.

And my kinsmen wrought vengeance for that feud and crime as all men know,

though the other bought his life with a hard bargain.

And war was threatening H?cyn the lord of the Geats.

Then I heard tell that on the morrow one brother the other avenged on the slayer with the edge of the sword,

whereas Ongentheow67 seeketh out Eofor.

The war-helmet was shattered,

and the Ancient of the Swedes fell prone,

all sword-pale.

And well enough the hand kept in mind the feud and withheld not the deadly blow.

And I yielded him back in the warfare the treasures he gave me with the flashing sword,

as was granted to me.

And he gave me land and a dwelling and a pleasant country.

And he had no need to seek among the Gifthas or the Spear-Danes or in Sweden a worse war-wolf,

or to buy one that was worthy.

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‘And I would always be before him in the troop,

alone in the front of the battle,

and so for ever will I be striving,

whilst this sword endureth,

that earlier and later has often stood me in good stead,

since the days when for doughtiness I was a hand-slayer to Day Raven the champion of the Hugs.

Nor was he fated to bring ornaments or breast-trappings to the Frisian King,

but he the guardian of the standard,

he the Atheling,

fell on the battle-field,

all too quickly.

Nor was the sword-edge his bane,

but the battle-grip broke the whelmings of his heart and the bones of his body.

Now shall my sword-edge,

my hand and hard weapon,

be fighting for the hoard.

’

Beowulf moreover now for the last time spake these boastful words:

‘In many a war I risked my life in the days of my youth,

yet still will I seek a feud,

I the old guardian of the people will work a glorious deed if the wicked scather cometh out from his earth-palace to seek me.

’

Then he saluted for the last time each of the warriors,

the brave wearers

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of helmets,

the dear companions.

‘I would not carry a sword or weapon against the dragon if I knew how else I might maintain my boast against the monster,

as I formerly did against Grendel.

But in this conflict I expect the hot battle-fire,

both breath and poison.

Therefore I have both shield and byrny.

I will not flee from the warder of the barrow a foot’s-space,

but it shall be with me at the wall of the barrow as Weird shall direct,

who created all men.

I am strong in soul so that I will refrain from boasting against the war-flier.

Await ye on the barrow guarded by byrnies,

O ye warriors in armour,

and see which of us two will better survive his wounds after the battle-rush.

This is no journey for you nor fitting for any man save only for me,

that he should share a conflict with the monster and do deeds worthy of an earl.

I will gain possession of the gold by my courage,

or battle and deadly evil shall take away your lord.

’

Then the strong warrior,

hard under

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helm,

arose beside his shield and carried his shirt of mail under the rocky cliffs and trusted in the strength of himself alone.

Nor was that a coward’s journey.

Then Beowulf,

possessed of manly virtues,

who had escaped in many a conflict and crashing of battle when men encountered on foot,

saw standing by the wall of the barrow an arch of rock,

and a stream broke out thence from the barrow,

and the whelming of that river was hot with battle-fires.

Nor could he survive any while near to the hoard unburnt because of the flame of the dragon.

Then in a fury the Prince of the Weder-Geats let a torrent of words escape from his breast and the stout-hearted one stormed.

And his war-clear voice resounded under the hoar cliffs.

And hatred was stirred,

for the guardian of the hoard recognized well the voice of Beowulf.

And that was no time to be seeking friendship.

And the breath of the monster,

the hot battle-sweat,

came forth from the rock at the first and the earth resounded.

The warrior,

the Lord

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of the Geats,

raised his shield under the barrow against the terrible sprite.

Now the heart of the dragon was stirred up to seek the conflict.

The good war-king had formerly drawn his sword,

the ancient heirloom,

not slow of edge.

And each of them who intended evil was a terror the one to the other.

And the stern-minded one,

he the Prince of friendly rulers,

stood by his steep shield,

and he and the dragon fell quickly together.

Beowulf waited warily all in his war-gear.

Then the flaming monster bent as he charged,

hastening to his doom.

The shield well protected life and body of the famous warrior for a lesser while than he had willed it if he was to be wielding victory in that contest on the first day;

but Weird had not so fated it.

And the Lord of the Geats uplifted his hand,

and struck at the horribly bright one heavy with heirlooms,

so that the edge stained with blood gave way on the bone and bit in less strongly than its master had need of when pressed by the business.

hen after the battle-swing the guardian

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of the barrow was rough-minded and cast forth slaughter-fire.

Battle-flames flashed far and wide.

And the son of the Geats could not boast of victory in the conflict.

The sword had failed him,

naked in the battle,

as was unfitting for so well tempered a steel.

And it was not easy for the famous son of Ecgtheow to give up possession of the bottom of the sea,

and that he should against his will dwell in some place far otherwhere,

as must each man let go these fleeting days sooner or later.

And not long after this Beowulf and the monster met together again.

The guardian of the hoard took good heart,

and smoke was fuming in his breast.

And fierce were his sufferings as the flames embraced him,

he who before had ruled over the folk.

Nor at all in a troop did his hand-comrades stand round him,

that warrior of Athelings,

showing courage in the battle,

but they fled into a wood their lives to be saving.

And the mind of one of them was surging with sorrows,

for to him whose thoughts are pure,

friendship cannot ever change.

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