Kirtlan Chapter 8

.

Table of Contents

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

VIII

Spake then Unferth,

the son of Eglaf,

who sat at the feet of the Lord of the Danes and opened a quarrel.

(For the journey of Beowulf,

of the brave sea-farer,

was vexation to him,

for he could not brook that ever any other man than he himself should obtain greater fame in all the earth.

)

‘What!

’ said he,

‘art thou that Beowulf who didst contend with Breca,

and strovest for the mastery in swimming o’er wide seas,

when ye two for pride were searching the waves and for foolish boasting risked your lives in the deep waters?

No man could dissuade you from that sorrowful journey,

neither friend nor foe,

when ye two swam in the sea,

when ye two enfolded the waves with your arms and measured the sea-ways and brandished your arms as you glided o’er the ocean.

The sea

[48]

boiled with waves the wintry whelming.

And for seven nights long ye were toiling in the stress of seas.

But he o’erpowered thee in swimming,

for greater strength had he.

Then at the morning tide the sea bore him up to the land of the Heathoremes.

Thence he was seeking the friend of his people his own dear country,

the land of the Brondings,

the fair city of refuge,

where he had his own folk,

and a city and rings.

The son of Beanstan soothly fulfilled his boasting against thee.

So do I deem it a worse matter,

though thou art everywhere doughty in the rush of battle and grim warfare,

if thou shalt be daring to bide near Grendel a night-long space.

’

Then Beowulf spake,

the son of Ecgtheow:

‘What!

my friend Unferth,

drunken with beer,

many things thou art saying about that Breca and talkest of his journey.

But soothly I tell thee that I had the greater strength in that swimming,

and endurance in the waves.

We two agreed when we were youngsters,

and boasted (for we were both

[49]

still in the days of our youth) that we in the ocean would be risking our lives.

And so in deed we did.

We had a naked sword hard in our hands when we were swimming.

We two were thinking to guard us ’gainst whale fishes.

Nor over the sea-waves might he be floating a whit far from me,

more quickly on the waters.

Then we together were in the sea for the space of five nights until the flood,

the boiling waters drove us asunder.

And the coldest of weather,

and the darkening night,

and a wind from the north battle-grim turned against us,

and rough were the waves.

And the mind of the mere-fishes was stirred when my shirt of mail that was hand-locked gave to me help against the foe.

The decorated battle-robe lay on my breast all adorned with gold,

and the doom?and dire foe drew to the bottom,

and fast he had me grim in his grip.

Still to me was granted that I reached to the monster with the point of my sword.

And the mighty sea-deer carried off the battle-rush through my hand.

’

[50]

.

Table of Contents