Kirtlan Chapter 6

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VI

Then spake Hrothgar the protector of the Danes:

‘Well I knew him when he was a child,

and his old father was called Ecgtheow.

And to him did Hrethel of the Geats give his only daughter,

and his son is bravely come here and hath sought out a gracious friend.

’ Then said the sea-farers who had brought the goodly gifts of the Geats there for thanks,

that he the battle-brave had in his hand-grip the main craft of thirty

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men.

‘And the holy God hath sent him for favour to us West Danes,

and of this I have hope,

’gainst the terror of Grendel.

I shall offer the goodman gifts for his daring.

Now make thou haste and command the band of warrior kinsmen into the presence.

Bid them welcome to the people of the Danes.

’ Then went Wulfgar even to the hall-door,

and spake these words:

‘My liege lord,

the Prince of the East Danes,

commands me to say that he knows your lineage.

And ye who are bold of purpose are welcome hither over the sea-waves.

Now may ye go in your war-weeds,

under your visored helmets to see Hrothgar.

Let your swords stay behind here,

the wood and the slaughter-shafts and the issue of words.

’ Then the Prince rose up,

and about him was many a warrior,

a glorious band of thanes.

And some bided there and held the battle-garments as the brave man commanded.

And they hastened together under the roof of Hrothgar as the man directed them.

The stout-hearted man went forward,

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hard under helmet till he stood by the dais.

Then Beowulf spake (and the byrny shone on him,

the coat of mail,

sewn by the cunning of the smith):

‘O Hrothgar,

all hail!

I am the kinsman and comrade of Hygelac.

11 Many marvels I have set on foot in the days of my youth.

The affair of Grendel was made known to me in my native land.

Sea-farers told how this best of all palaces stood idle and useless to warriors,

after evening light came down under the brightness of heaven.

Then my people persuaded me,

the best and the proudest of all my earls,

O my lord Hrothgar,

that I should seek thee,

for they well knew my main strength.

For they themselves saw how I came forth bloodstained from the power of the fiend,

when I bound the five,

and destroyed the giant’s kin,

and slew ’mongst the waves,

sea-monsters by night,

and suffered such dire distress,

and wreaked vengeance for the strife

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of the Geats (for woe they were suffering),

and I destroyed the fierce one.

And now all alone I shall settle the affair of Grendel the deadly monster,

the cruel giant.

And one boon will I be asking,

O Prince of the Bright Danes,

thou lord of the Scyldings,

Protector of warriors and friend of the folk,

that thou wilt not refuse,

since so far I am come,

that I and my troop of earls,

this crowd of brave men,

may alone cleanse out Hart.

I have heard say also that the monster because of his rashness recks not of weapons.

And,

if Hygelac the blithe-minded will be my liege lord,

I will forgo to carry to the battle a sword,

or broad shield all yellow;

but I will engage by my hand-grip with the enemy,

and strive for life,

foe with foe.

And he whom Death taketh shall believe in the doom of the Lord.

And I doubt not he will fearlessly consume the people of the Geats,

if he may prevail in the war-hall as he has often done with the strong men of the Danes.

And thou shalt not need to hide my head if Death take

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me,

for he will seize me all bloodstained,

and will bury the slaughter all bloody,

and will think to taste and devour me alone and without any sorrow,

and will stain the glens in the moorland.

And thou needest not to sorrow longer over the food of my body.

And if battle take me,

send to Hygelac this best of coats of mail,

the noblest of garments.

It is the heirloom of Hrethel the work of Weland12;

and let Weird go as it will.

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