Kirtlan Chapter 9

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IX

‘So then evil-doers did often oppress me.

And I served them with my dear sword as was most fitting.

Not at all of the feasting had they any joy.

Evil destroyers sat round the banquet at the bottom of the sea,

that they might seize me.

But in the morning,

wounded by my sword,

they lay up on the foreshore,

put to sleep by my weapon so that they hindered no more the faring of the sea-goers.

Light came from the eastward,

the bright beacon of God.

The waves grew less that I could catch sight of the sea-nesses,

the windy walls.

Weird often saveth the earl that is undoomed when his courage is doughty.

Nevertheless it happened that I slew with my sword nine of the sea-monsters.

Nor have I heard under vault of heaven of a harder night-struggle,

nor of a more

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wretched man on the sea-streams.

Still I escaped from the grasp of the foes,

with my life,

and weary of the journey.

When the sea bore me up,

on the flood tide,

on the welling of waves,

to the land of the Finns.

Nor have I heard concerning thee of any such striving or terror of swords.

Breca never yet,

nor either of you two,

did such a deed with shining sword in any battle-gaming (not that I will boast of this too much),

yet wast thou the slayer of thy brother,

thy chief kinsman.

And for this in hell shalt thou suffer a curse,

though thy wit be doughty.

And soothly I tell thee,

O son of Eglaf,

that Grendel that hateful monster never had done such terrors to thy life and humiliation in Hart if thy mind and thy soul were as battle-fierce as thou thyself dost say.

But he has found that he needed not to fear the feud the terrible sword-thrust of your people the Danes.

He taketh forced toll,

and spareth none of the Danish people,

but joyfully wageth war,

putteth them to sleep and feedeth on them,

and expecteth no fight

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from the Danes.

But I shall ere long offer him in war the strength and the courage of the Geats.

Let him go who can to the mead all proudly when morning light shall shine from the south,

another day over the children of men.

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Then in the hall the giver of rings was grey-haired and battle-brave.

The Prince of the Danes was hopeful of help.

The guardian of the folk fixed on Beowulf his firm-purposed thought.

There was laughter ’mong heroes,

din resounded,

and words were winsome.

Wealtheow went forth,

the Queen of Hrothgar,

mindful of kinship and decked out in gold,

she greeted Beowulf in the hall.

And then the lovely wife first proffered the goblet to the Lord of the East Danes,

and bade him be blithe at the beer-drinking,

he who was dear to all his people.

And gladly he took the banquet and hall-cup,

he the victorious King.

The lady of the Helmings14 went round about every one of the

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youthful warriors,

and proffered the costly cup,

until the time came that the ring-adorned Queen,

most excellent in spirit,

bore the mead-cup then to Beowulf.

She,

the wise in words,

greeted the Geats and gave thanks to God that she had her desire that she might trust in any earl for help against such crimes.

He gladly received it,

he the battle-fierce warrior,

from the hand of Wealtheow,

and then began singing,

inspired by a warlike spirit.

Beowulf spake,

the son of Ecgtheow:

‘I had intended at once to work out the will of this your people when I set forth over the sea and sat in my sea-boat with the troop of my people,

or that I would fall in the slaughter fast in the fiend’s grip.

I shall yet acquit myself as befitteth an earl,

or in the mead-hall await my last day.

’ And well the lady liked the words,

the boasting of the Geat.

And that lovely queen went all decked out in gold to sit by her lord.

Then mighty words were spoken in the hall as before,

by the people in joyance and the noise of the victors,

until the

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son of Healfdene15 straightway would be seeking his evening rest.

And he knew that a battle was doomed in the high hall to the monster when no longer they could see the light of the sun,

or darkening night came stalking over all the shapes of shadows.

The troop of warriors rose up,

the Lord greeted the other,

Hrothgar greeted Beowulf,

and wished him good health and the warding of that wine-hall,

and he spake the word:

‘Since the time that I could lift my hand or my shield,

never have I given the mighty hall of the Danes into the care of any,

except now to thee.

Have now and hold thou this best of houses,

be thou mindful of honour,

and show thyself courageous,

and wakeful ‘gainst foes.

Nor shalt thou lack joy if thou escapest from that brave work with life.

’

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