Kirtlan Chapter 4

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IV

Then the eldest gave answer,

and unlocked his treasure of words,

the wise one of the troop:

‘We are of the race of the Geats and hearth-comrades of Hygelac.

My father was well known to the folk,

a noble prince was he called Ecgtheow.

And he bided many winters,

ere as an old man he set out on his journeys away from the dwelling places.

And wellnigh every councillor throughout all the world remembered

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him well.

We through bold thinking have come to seek thy lord,

the son of Healfdene,

the protector of the people.

Vouchsafe to us good guidance.

We have a great business with the lord of the Danes,

who is far famed.

Nor of this shall aught be secret as I am hoping.

Well thou knowest if ’tis true as we heard say,

that among the Danes some secret evil-doer,

I know not what scather,

by terror doth work unheard-of hostility,

humiliation,

and death.

I may give counsel through greatness of mind to Hrothgar as to how he,

the wise and good,

may overcome the fiend,

if ever should cease for him the baleful business and bettering come after and his troubles wax cooler,

or for ever he shall suffer time of stress and miserable throes,

while the best of all houses shall remain on the high stead.

’

Then the watchman,

the fearless warrior,

as he sat on his horse,

quickly made answer:

‘The shield-warrior who is wide awake,

shall know how to tell the difference between words and works,

if he well bethink him.

I can see that this

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band of warriors will be very welcome to the Lord of the Danes.

Go ye forth,

therefore,

bear weapons and armour,

as I will direct you.

And I will command my thanes to hold against every foe,

your ship in honour,

new tarred as it is,

and dry on the sands,

until it shall carry the dearly loved man,

that ship with the twisted prow,

to the land of the Geats.

To each of the well-doers shall it be given to escape scot-free out of the battle rush.

Then they went forth carrying their weapons.

And there the ship rested,

fastened by a rope,

the wide-bosomed vessel secured by its anchor.

The Boar held life ward,

bright and battle-hard and adorned with gold,

over the neck-guard of the handsome Beowulf.

There was snorting of the war-like-minded,

whilst men were hastening,

as they marched on together till they caught sight of the splendid place decked out in gold.

And it was the most famous of palaces,

under the heavens,

of the

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earth-dwellers,

where the ruler was biding.

Its glory shone over many lands.

Then the dear one in battle showed them the bright house where were the brave ones,

that they might straightway make their way towards it.

Then one of the warriors turned his horse round,

and spake this word:

‘Time it is for me to go.

May the Almighty Father hold you in favour,

and keep you in safety in all your journeyings.

I will go to the sea-coast to keep my watch against the fierce troops.

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