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■■rely the pass-ward ready of warriors, permission of kin«gspn. Yet ne '«■ nave I Been
earl aton earth more great than is one of yon.
or warrior in Itbe 'tis no mere retainer
Ii'jvjt+4 ia arms. ur.les» his face belies him,
Lii aspect distinguished. Now Tout orign
must I know, ere ye farther, 232
is faise spies, into the Danes' land
heiwe proceed. Now ye dwellers
afar, seafarers, give ye beed to
■y simple thought: best is it quickly
to make known whence your coming is."
V. The Mission Of The Geats
Him the chief of them answered then, the band's war-leaoer his word-hoard unlocked: "We are of race of the Geats' nation. IS" and bearth-enjoyers of Hygelae. Wfl] known to nations was my father, a noble chieftain, Ecgtbeow named; abode many winters ere he departed old from his courts; nigh every sage thro' the wide earth remembers him welL We in kindness of feeling have come to seek thy lord, the son of Healfdene, the folk-defender. Be a kind informant. We have a great errand to the illustrious 270 lord of the Danes. Naught shall be secret whereof my thought U. Thou knowest whether it be in sooth as we have heard say, that with the Scyldings 1 know not what wretch,
a secret ill-doer, in the dark nights
displays thro' terror unheard-of malice,
havoc and slaughter. For this may I teach,
thro' my large mind, counsel to Hrothgar,
how he, wise and good, shall o 'ercome the foe,
if ever a change is to befal, 2S0
if relief from evil should ever come
and that care-welling calmer grow.
Else he ever after oppression will suffer,
a time of trouble, while standeth there
in its high place the noblest of houses."
Then (pake the warder, astride of his horso. the officer fearless: "Between these two should a sharp shield-warrior who thinketh well the difference know—'tween words and works.' This band. I hear, is a friendly one 290 to the Scyldings' lord. Pass ye on with weapons and weeds, I will direct you. Likewise will I give to my fellowliegemen orders in honor to keep,
'gainst every foe, your new-tarred ship,
your bark on the sand, till back o'er the watt
the vessel with twisted neck shall bear
to the Weder-march the man beloved.
To such a warrior shall it sorely be given
the rush of war to escape from whole. 3*
Then they set forth; the vessel still bode firm in ber berth, the wide-bosomed ship, at anchor fast. A boar's likeness sheen "bove their cheeks they bore, adorned witi gold;
stained and fire-hardened, it held life in ward.* In warlike mood the men hastened on, descended together, until the well-timbered hall they might see. adorned all with gold. Unto earth's dwellers that was the grandest of bouses 'neath beav'n, where the ruler abode; 310 the light of it shone over many lands. To them then the warrior pointed out clearly the proud one's court, that they might thither take their way; then <lid the warrior turn his steed and speak these words:
"Tis time for me to go on my way. May the all-ruling Father with honor bold you safe in your fortunes. I will back to the sea. w ard to keep against hostile bands.''
VI. The Arrival At H Do Rot
The street was stone-paved, the path gave
guidance 320 to the men in a body; the war-byrnie shone, hard, hand-locked; the ringed iron bright sang in their gear, as they to the hall in their arms terrific came striding on. Their ample shields, their tlint-hard bucklers, the sea »eary set 'gainst the mansion's wall, then stooped to the benches; their byrnies rang, the war gear of men. In a sheaf together the javelins stood, the seamen's arms, 329 ash-wood, grey-tipped. These ironclad men were weaponed well.
Then a proud chief asked these sons of conflict concerning their lineage: "Whence do ye bear your plated shields and grey sarks hither, your visor-helms and heap of war-shaftsf I am Hrothgar's servant and messenger. Never saw I strangers so many and proud. I ween that ye out of pride, of greatness of soul, ami not for exile, have sought Hrothgar."
Him then answered the famed for valor; 340 the Weders' proud lord, bold 'neath his helmet, spake words afterward: '' We are Hygelac's table-enjoyers—my name, Beowulf. I my errand will relate
• Boar Imapes surmounted the helmets.
to the great lord, son of Healfdene,
Wulfgar spake (he was lord of the Wendels;
He then went quickly where Hrothgar sat, old and gray, among his earls; the brave chief stood before the shoulders of the Danes' lord—he knew court-usage. Wulfgar spake to his friendly lord: 360 "- "Hither are borne, come from afar o 'er ocean's course, people of the Geats. Beowulf these sons of conflict name their chief. They make petition that they may hold with thee, my lord, words of converse. Decree not, Hrothgar, denial of the boon of answer. Worthy seem they, in their war-gear, of earls' esteem—at least the chieftain who has led the warriors hither.'' 370
VII. Hrothgar's Welcome
Hrothgar spake, the Scyldings' shield: "Lo, I knew him when he was a boy. His old father was named Ecgtheow, to whom in his home gave Hrcthel the Oeat his only daughter. Now his offspring bold comes hither, has sought a kind friend. For sea-farcrs—they who bore gift-treasures unto the Qeats gratuitously— were wont to say of him, the war-famed, that he the might of thirty men 380 has in his hand-grip. Holy God hath in his mercies sent him to us, to the West Danes, as I hope, 'gainst Grendel's horror. For his daring, to the good chief gifts I '11 offer. Be thou speedy, bid these kinsmen, assembled together, come in to see me. Say moreover they are welcome guests to the Danes. [Then to the hall-door Wulfgar went.] He announced the words: 390 '' My victor-lord, O prince of the East Danes, bids me tell you he knows your nobleness; that, boldly striving over the sea-billows, ye come to him hither welcome guests. Now ye may go in your war-accoutrements, 'neath martial helm, Hrothgar to see. Let your battle-boards, spears, and shafts, here await the council of words.''
Arose then the chief, his many men around him,
a brave band of thanes. Some remained there, 400
held the war-weeds, as the bold one bade them.
They hastened together where the warrior directed,
under Heorot's roof; the valiant one went, bold 'neath his helmet, till he stood on the dais. Beowulf spake; his byrnie shone on him, his war-net sewed by the smith's devices:
"Hail to thee, Hrothgar; I am Hygelac's kinsman and war-fellow; many great deeds in my youth have I ventured. To me on my native turf
Grendel's doings became clearly known. 410 Sea-farers say that this most excellent house doth stand, for every warrior, useless and void when the evening light under heaven's serenity is concealed. Then, prince Hrothgar, did my people, the most excellent men, sagacious, counsel me that I should seek thee, because they knew the might of my craft. Themselves beheld—when I came from their snares,
blood-stained from the foes—where five I bound, <20 the jotun-race ravaged, and slew on the billows nickers by night; distress I suffered, avenged the Weders (they had had misery), crushed the fell foe. And now against Grendel, that miserable being, will I hold council, alone with the giant.
"Of thee now, therefore, lord of the bright Danes, Scyldings' protector, will I make this one petition: now that I come so far, deny not,
0 patron of warriors, friend of people, 430 that I alone with my band of earls,
with this bold company, may purge Heorot.
1 have learned this, that the demon-like being in his heedlessness Tecketh not of weapons.
I then will disdain (so may Hygelac,
my liege lord, be to me gracious of mood)
to bear a sword or round yellow shield
into the battle; but shall with the enemy
grip and grapple, and for life contend,
foe against foe. And he whom death taketh
there shall trust in the doom of the Lord. 441
'' I ween that he, if he may prevail, will fearlessly eat, in the martial hall, the Geat's people, as oft he has done the Hrethmen'si forces. Thou wilt not need to shroud my head, for he will have me, stained with gore, if death shall take me;
l the Danes
will bear oft my bloody corse to feast on it; lonely, will eat it without compunction; will mark out my moor-mound. Thou wilt not need 450 care to take for my body's disposal. If the conflict take me, send to Hygelac this best of battle-coats shielding my breast, of vests most excellent; 'tis Hradla's legacy, WelandV work. Fate goes aye as it must."
VIII. Hbothqab's Lament
Hrothgar Bpake, the Scyldings' shield: "For battles thou, my friend Beowulf, and for honor, us hast sought. Thy father fought in the greatest feud: he was of Heatholaf the slayer, 460 with the Wylfings, when the Weder-Geats for fear of war-feud might not harbor him. Thence he sought, o'er the rolling waves, the South Danes' folk, the noble Scyldings, when first I ruled the Danish people and in my youth held spacious realms, the hoard-burg of heroes. Dead was Heregar, my elder brother, son of Healfdene,— passed from the living; he was better than I. Later, that quarrel I settled with money; 470 over the water's back old treasures
1 sent to the Wylfings: he swore to mo oaths. "Sorry am I in my mind to say
to any man what Grendel has wrought me in Heorot with his hostile designs, what swift mischiefs done. My courtiers are mini shed,
my martial band; them fate has off-swept to the horrors of Grendel. Yet God may easily turn from his deeds the frenzied spoiler. Oft have promised the sons of conflict, 480 with beer drunken, over the ale-cup, that they in the beer-hall would await with sharp sword-edges Grendel's warfare. Then at morning, when the day dawned, this princely mead-hall was stained with gore, all the bench-floor with blood besteamed, the hall with sword-blood: I owned the fewer of dear, faithful nobles, whom death destroyed. Sit now to the feast, and joyfully think of victory for men, as thy mind may incite.'' 490 For the sons of the Geats then, all together, in the beer-hall a bench was cleared. There the strong-souled went to sit, proudly rejoicing; a thane did duty, who bare in his hand the ale-cup bedecked, poured the bright liquor. Clear rose the gleeman's
song in Heorot. There was joy of warriors, a noble band of Danes and Weders.
2 The divine smith, or Vulcan, of northern legend.
IX. Hunferth's Taunt. The Eeply
Hunferth spake, the son of Ecglaf, 499 who sat at the feet of the Scyldings' lord, unloosed his malice. To him was the voyage of the bold sailor, Beowulf, a great displeasure, because he grudged that another man should ever 'neath heaven more glories hold of this middle-earth, than he himself.
"Art thou the Beowulf who strove with Breca
on the wide sea, in a swimming-strife, where ye from pride tempted the floods, and, for foolish vaunt, in the deep water ventured your livest Nor might any man, either friend or foe, restrain you from 611 the perilous voyage, when seaward ye swam with arms outspread o'er the ocean-stream, measured the sea-ways, smote with your hands, o 'er the main glided. With winter's fury the ocean-waves boiled; for a sennight ye toiled on the water's domain. He conquered thee swimming;
he had more strength. At morningtide then the sea bore him up to the Heathoremas, whence he sought, beloved of his people, 620 his country dear, the Brondings' land, his fair, peaceful burgh, where a people he owned,
a burgh and treasures. All his boast to thee the son of Beanstan truly fulfilled. Worse of thee, therefore, now I expect— though everywhere thou hast excelled in grim war,
in martial exploits—if thou to Grendel darest near abide for a night-long space."
Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow's son: "Well, my friend Hunferth, drunken with
beer, 630 a deal hast thou spoken here about Breca, about his adventure. The sooth I tell, that I possessed greater endurance at sea, strength on the waves, than any other. We two agreed when we were striplings, and made our boast (we were both as yet in youthful life), that we on the ocean would venture our lives; and thus we did. A naked sword we held in hand when we swam on the deep, as we meant to
defend us 640 against the whales. Far on the flood-waves away from me he could not float, in the sea more swiftly, and from him I would
Then we together were in the sea a five night's space, till it drove us asunder. Weltering waves, coldest of tempests, cloudy night, and the fierce north wind
grimly assaulted us; rough were tlie billows. The rage of the sea-fishes was aroused. Then ray body-sark, hard and hand-locked, afforded me help against my foes; 561 my braided war-shirt lay on my breast, with gold adorned. A speckled monster drew me to bottom, a grim one held me fast in his grasp. Yet was it granted that with the point I reached the creature, with my war-falchion. A deadly blow, dealt by my hand, destroyed the sea-beast.
X. The Queen's Greeting. Glee In Heobot
"Thus frequently me my hated foes fiercely threatened; but I served them 560 with my dear sword as it was fitting. Not of that gluttony had they joy, foul destroyers, to sit round the feast near the sea-bottom and eat my body; but in the morning, with falchions wounded, up they lay among the shore-drift, put to sleep by the sword; so that ne'er after stopt they the way for ocean-sailers over the surge. Light came from the east, God's bright beacon, the seas grew calm, 570 so that the sea-nesses I might see, windy walls. Fate often saves an undoometl man when his valor avails.
'' Yes, 'twas my lot with sword to slay nickers nine. I have heard of no harder struggle by night 'neath heaven's vault, nor of man more harried in ocean-streams. Yet with life 1 escaped from the grasp of dangers,
aweary of toil. Then the sea bore me,
"Now never of thee 581 have I heard tell such feats of daring, such falchion-terrors. Ne'er yet Breca at game of war, nor either of you, so valiantly performed a deed with shining swords (thereof I boast not), tho' thou of thy brothers wast murderer, of thy chief kinsmen, wherefore in hell shalt thou suffer damnation, keen tho' thy wit be.
In sooth I say to thee, son of Ecglaf, 590 that never had Grendel, the fiendish wretch, such horrors committed against thy prince, such harm in Heorot, were thy spirit, thy mind, as war-fierce as thou supposest. But he has found that he need not greatly care for the hatred of your people, the fell sword-strength of the victor-Seyldings.*
• The epithet appears to be Ironical. It is noteworthy that Hrothgar takes It all In good part.
He takes a forced pledge, has mercy on none of the Danish people, but wars at pleasure, slays and shonds you, nor strife expects 600 from the Spear-Danes. But now of the Geats the strength and valor shall I unexpectedly show him in battle. Thereafter may all go elate to the mead, after the light of the ether-robed sun on the second day shines from the south o 'er the children of men. "t
Then was rejoiced the treasure-distributor; hoary-locked, war-famed, the bright Danes' lord trusted in succor; the people's shepherd from Beowulf beard his steadfast resolve. 610 There was laughter of men, the din resounded, words were winsome. Wealhtheow came forth, Hrothgar's queen; mindful of courtesy, the gold-adorned greeted the men in the hall. First then the woman, high-born, handed the cup to the East-Danes' country's guardian, bade him be blithe at the beer-drinking, dear to his people. He gladly partook of the feast, and the hall-cup, battle-famed king.
Round then went the dame of the Helmingsi 620 on every side, among old :ind young, costly cups proffered, till came occasion that she, the high-minded, ring-adorned queen the mead-cup bore unto Beowulf. She greeted the lord of the Geats, thanked God,
sagacious in words, that her wish had befallen, that she in any warrior might trust for comfort 'gainst crimes. He took the cup, the warrior fierce, from Wealhtheow's hand, rind then made speech, eager for battle,— Beowulf spake, the son of Ecgtheow: 631
"I resolved, when 1 went on the main with my warrior-band and sat in the seaboat, that I would wholly accomplish the will of your people in this, or bow in death, fast in the foe's grasp. I shall perform deeds of valor, or look to find here in this mead-hall my last day."
The Geat's proud speech the woman liked well;
the high-born queen of the people went, 640 adorned with gold, to sit by her lord. Within the hall then again as before were bold words spoken—the people's joy the victor folk's clamor—up to the moment
l Name of the queen's family.
t "In this speech." says Dr. J. R. C. Hall, "In less than fourscore passionate lines, we have rude and outspoken repartee, proud and unblushing boost, a rapid narrative, Munchausen episodes, flashes of nature, a pagan proverb, n bitter taunt, a reckless Insult to the Danish race, a picture of a peaceful time to come."
when Healf dene's son was fain to go to his evening rest. He knew that conflict awaited the monster in the high hall so soon as they might no longer see the sun's light, and o 'er all murk night, the shadow-helm of men, came creeping, 650 dusk under heaven. The company rose. Hrothgar then paid Beowulf reverence— one hero the other—and bade him hail, gave him command of the wine-hall and said: '' Never since hand and shield 1 could raise, have I before entrusted to any the hall of the Danes, save now to thee. Have now and hold this best of houses; be mindful of glory, show mighty valor, keep watch for the foe. No wish shall be lacking 660 if thou from this venture escape with thy life.''
XI. Beowulf's Vioil
Then Hrothgar departed, the Scyldings' protector,
out of the hall with his band of warriors; the martial leader would seek his consort, Wealhtheow the queen. The glory of kings had set against Grendel, as men have heard tell, a hall-ward; he held a special office about the Dane-prince, kept guard 'gainst the giant.
But the chief of the Oeats well trusted in 669 his own proud might and the Creator's favor. He doffed from him then his iron byrnie, the helm from his head, and gave to a henchman
his sword enchased, choicest of irons, bade him take charge of the gear of war. Some words of pride then spake the good chief,
Beowulf the Gent, ere he mounted his bed: '' I count me no feebler in martial vigor of warlike works than Grendel himself. Therefore I will not, tho' easy it were, 679 with sword destroy him or lull him to rest. 'Tis a warfare he knows not—to strike against me
and hew my shield, renowned tho' he be for hostile works; but we two to-night shall do without sword, if he dare seek war without weapon. And afterward God, the wise, the holy, shall glory doom to whichever hand it meet to him seemeth." Then lay down the brave man,—the bolster received
the warrior's cheek; and around him many a seaman keen reclined on his hall-couch. 690 Not one of them thought that he should thence seek ever again the home he loved,
the folk or free burg where he was nurtured: since erst they had heard how far too many folk of the Danes a bloody death o'crtook in that wine-hall. But to them the Lord
gave woven victory,* to the Weders' people comfort and succor, so that they all by the might of one, by his single powers, their foe overcame. Shown is it truly <0O that mighty God rulcth the race of men.
Now in the murky night came stalking the shadow-walker. All the warriors who should defend that pinnacled mansion slept, save one. To men it was known that the sinful spoiler, when God willed not, might not drag them beneath the shade. Natheless, he, watching in hate for the foe, in angry mood waited the battle-meeting.
XII. Grendel's Onslaught
Then came from the moor, under the misthills, Tio
Grendel stalking; he bare God's anger.
The wicked spoiler thought to ensnare
many a man in the lofty hall.
He strode 'ncath the clouds until the winehouse,
the gold-hail of men, he readily saw,
richly adorned. Nor was that time
the first that Hrothgar's home he had sought:
but ne'er in his life, before nor since,
found he a bolder man or hall-thanes.
So then to the mansion the man bereft 720 of joys came journeying; soon with his hands undid the door, tho' with forged bands fast; the baleful-minded, angry, burst open the mansion's mouth. Soon thereafter the fiend was trending the glittering floor, paced wroth of mood; from his eyes started a horrid light, most like to flame. He in the mansion saw warriors many, a kindred band, together sleeping, fellow-warriors. His spirit exulted. 730 The fell wretch expected that ere day came he would dissever the life from the body of each, for in him the hope had risen of a gluttonous feast. Yet 'twas not his fate that he might more of the race of men eat after that night. The mighty kinsman of Hygelac watched how the wicked spoiler would proceed with his sudden grasping.
Nor did the monster mean to delay; for he at the first stroke quickly seized 740
• This Is a characteristic Northern figure, as well as Greek; but It is not Christian. An Interest ing expansion of It may be found In Gray's poem of The Fatal Sistcm.