Kirtlan Chapter 41

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‘And the blood-track of both Swedes and Geats,

the slaughter-rush of warriors,

was widely seen how the folk stirred up the feud amongst them.

The good man,

wise and very sad,

went away with his comrades to seek out a stronghold.

Earl

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Ongentheow turned away to higher ground,

for he the war-crafty one had heard of the prowess of Hygelac the proud.

He had no trust in his power to resist,

or that he would be able to refuse the demands of the seamen,

the ocean-farers,

or defend the treasure he had taken,

the children and the bride.

81 Thence afterwards,

being old,

he sought refuge under the earth-wall.

Then was chase given to the people of the Swedes and the banner of Hygelac borne aloft;

and they swept o’er the field of peace when the sons of Hrethel thronged to the entrenchment.

And there too,

was Ongentheow,

he the grey-haired King of the People driven to bay at the edge of the sword,

and forced to submit to the sole doom of Eofor.

And angrily did Wulf,

son of Wanred,

smite him with weapon,

so that from that swinging blow blood-sweat gushed forth in streams under the hair of his head.

Yet the old Swede was not terrified thereby,

but quickly gave back a terrible blow by a worse exchange when the

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King of the people turned thither.

Nor could Wulf the bold son of Wanred give back a blow to the old churl,

for Ongentheow had formerly cut his helmet in two,

so that he,

stained with blood,

fell prone perforce to the ground.

But not yet was he doomed,

but he raised himself up,

though the wound touched him close.

And the hardy thane of Hygelac (Eofor) when his brother lay prostrate,

caused the broad sword,

the old giant’s sword,

to crash through the wall of shields upon the gigantic helmet.

Then stooped the King,

the shepherd of the people,

mortally wounded.

And there were many who bound up his kinsman and quickly upraised him when room had been made so that they might possess the battle-field,

while one warrior was plundering another.

One took the iron shield of Ongentheow,

and his hard-hilted sword,

and his helmet,

and carried the trappings of the old man to Hygelac.

And he received the treasures,

and fairly he promised reward for the people,

and he did as he promised.

The lord of the Geats (Hygelac)

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son of Hrethel,

rewarded with very costly gifts the battle onset of Eofor and Wulf when he got back to his palace,

and bestowed upon each of them a hundred thousand,

of land and locked rings.

Nor could any man in the world reproach him for that reward,

since they had gained glory by fighting;

and he gave to Eofor his only daughter,

she who graced his homestead,

to wed as a favour.

And this is the feud and the enmity and hostile strife of men,

which I expect the Swedish people will seek to awaken against us when they shall hear we have lost our Prince,

he who in days of yore held treasure and kingdom against our foes after the fall of heroes,

and held in check the fierce Swede,

and did what was good for the people and deeds worthy of an earl.

Now is it best for us to hasten to look upon our King and bring him who gave to us rings to the funeral pyre.

Nor shall a part only of the treasure be melted with the proud man,

but there is a hoard of wealth,

an immense mass of gold,

bought at a grim cost,

for now at

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the very end of his life he bought for us rings.

And the brands shall devour all the treasures and the flames of the funeral fire,

they shall enfold them,

nor shall an earl carry away any treasure as a memorial,

nor shall any maid all beauteous wear on her neck ring adornments,

but shall go sad of soul and bereft of gold,

and often not once only tread an alien land now that the battle-wise man (Beowulf) has laid aside laughter,

the games and the joys of song.

And many a morning cold shall the spear in the hand-grip be heaved up on high,

nor shall there be the sound of harping to awaken the warriors,

but the war-raven,

eager over the doomed ones,

shall say many things to the eagle how it fared with him in eating the carrion while he,

with the wolf,

plundered the slaughtered.

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Thus then was the brave warrior reciting loathly spells.

And he lied not at all in weird or word.

Then the troop rose up together,

and all unblithely went under Eagles’ Ness,

to look on the wonder,

and tears were welling.

Then

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they found him on the sand in his last resting-place,

and bereft of soul,

who had given them rings in days gone by,

and then had the last day drawn to its close,

for the good man Beowulf,

the warrior King,

the Lord of the Weder-Goths,

had died a wondrous death.

But before this they had seen a more marvellous sight,

the dragon on the sea-plain,

the loathsome one lying right opposite.

And there was the fire-dragon grimly terrible,

and scorched with fire.

And he was fifty feet in length as he lay there stretched out.

He had had joy in the air awhile by night,

but afterwards he went down to visit his den.

But now he was the prisoner of death,

and had enjoyed his last of earth-cares.

And by him stood drinking-cups and flagons,

and dishes were lying there and a costly sword,

all rusty and eaten through as though they had rested a thousand winters in the bosom of the earth.

And those heirlooms were fashioned so strongly,

the gold of former races of men,

and all wound round with spells,

so that no man could come near

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that Ring-hall,

unless God only,

Himself the true King of victories,

gave power to open up the hoard to whom He would (for He is the Protector of men) even to that man as it seemed good to Him.

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