Kirtlan Chapter 37

.

Table of Contents

Download  : MP3 of the text. Listen while you read.

XXXVII

Then I heard tell that the Earl of the King of the People showed in his time of need unfailing courage in helping him with craft and keenness,

as was fitting for him to do.

He paid no heed to the head of the dragon (but the brave man’s hand was being burnt when he helped his kinsman),

but that warrior in arms struck at the hostile sprite somewhat lower in his body so that his shining and gold-plated sword sank into his body,

and the fire proceeding therefrom began to abate.

Then the good King Beowulf got possession of his wits again,

and drew his bitter and battle-sharp short sword that he bore on his shield.

And the King of the Geats cut asunder the dragon in the midst of his body.

And the fiend fell prone;

[162]

courage had driven out his life,

and they two together had killed him,

noble comrades in arms.

And thus should a man who is a thane always be helping his lord at his need.

And that was the very last victory achieved by that Prince during his life-work.

Then the wound which the Earth-dragon had formerly dealt him began to burn and to swell.

And he soon discovered that the baleful venom was seething in his breast,

the internal poison.

Then the young noble looked on the giant’s work as he sat on a seat musing by the cliff wall,

how arches of rock,

firmly on columns held the eternal earth-house within.

Then the most noble thane refreshed his blood-stained and famous Lord,

his dear and friendly Prince with water,

with his own hands,

and loosened the helmet for the battle-sated warrior.

And Beowulf spake,

over his deathly pitiful wound,

for well he knew that he had enjoyed the day’s while of his earthly joy:

and the number of his days was all departed and death was coming very near.

[163]

‘Now,

’ said Beowulf,

‘I would have given battle-weeds to my son if any heir had been given to me of my body.

I held sway over these peoples fifty years.

And there was no folk-king of those who sat round about who dared to greet me with swords,

or oppress with terror.

At home have I bided my appointed time,

and well I held my own71,

nor did I seek out cunning feuds,

nor did I swear many unrighteous oaths.

And I,

sick of my life-wounds,

can have joy of all this.

For the Wielder of men cannot reproach me with murder of kinsmen when my life shall pass forth from my body.

Now do thou,

beloved Wiglaf,

go quickly and look on the hoard under the hoar stone,

now that the dragon lieth prone and asleep sorely wounded and bereft of his treasure.

And do thou make good speed that I may look upon the ancient gold treasures and yarely be feasting mine eyes upon the bright and cunning jewels,

so that thereby after gazing on that wealth of treasure I may the more easily give up my life and my

[164]

lordship over the people,

whom I have ruled so long.

.

Table of Contents