For no cause whatever would the earlmen's defender
          Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer,
          He deemed his existence utterly useless
          To men under heaven. Many a noble
5       Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old,
          Would guard the life of his lord and protector,
          The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so;
          While waging the warfare, this wist they but little,
          Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending
10      To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit:
          That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons
          Of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills
          Was willing to injure; but weapons of victory
          Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with.
15      His death at that time must prove to be wretched,
          And the far-away spirit widely should journey
          Into enemies' power. This plainly he saw then
          Who with mirth of mood malice no little
          Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen
20      (To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him,
          But Higelac's hardy henchman and kinsman
          Held him by the hand; hateful to other
          Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered
          The direful demon, damage incurable
25      Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered,
          His body did burst. To Beowulf was given
          Glory in battle; Grendel from thenceward
          Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes,
          Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for
30      Unwinsome and woful; he wist the more fully
          The end of his earthly existence was nearing,
          His life-days' limits. At last for the Danemen,
          When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished.
          The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil,
35      Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar,
          Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work,
          In repute for prowess; the prince of the Geatmen
          For the East-Danish people his boast had accomplished,
          Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully,
40      The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered
          And were forced to endure from crushing oppression,
          Their manifold misery. 'Twas a manifest token,
          When the hero-in-battle the hand suspended,
          The arm and the shoulder (there was all of the claw
45      Of Grendel together) 'neath great-stretching hall-roof.


  1. The noun “bill” refers to a broadsword or falchion, and when combined with “war,” this kenning then means a weapon of war.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Due to evil magic, Grendel cannot be harmed by weapons. Beowulf's earlier decision to match Grendel's strength with his own arms proves crucial to achieving victory. The poet never revealed this fact earlier in the story, likely because there were no survivors to confirm this claim.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. We learn that Beowulf considers his life to be worthless should he not defeat Grendel. This line reinforces the code of honor that Beowulf lives by: His duty is to kill Grendel. If he fails, his life is not worth living.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor