XXX

BEOWULF NARRATES HIS ADVENTURES TO HIGELAC

          "It well may discomfit the prince of the Heathobards
          And each of the thanemen of earls that attend him,
          When he goes to the building escorting the woman,
          That a noble-born Daneman the knights should be feasting:
5       There gleam on his person the leavings of elders
          Hard and ring-bright, Heathobards' treasure,
          While they wielded their arms, till they misled to the battle
          Their own dear lives and belovèd companions.
          He saith at the banquet who the collar beholdeth,
10      An ancient ash-warrior who earlmen's destruction
          Clearly recalleth (cruel his spirit),
          Sadly beginneth sounding the youthful
          Thane-champion's spirit through the thoughts of his bosom,
          War-grief to waken, and this word-answer speaketh:
15      'Art thou able, my friend, to know when thou seest it
          The brand which thy father bare to the conflict
          In his latest adventure, 'neath visor of helmet,
          The dearly-loved iron, where Danemen did slay him,
          And brave-mooded Scyldings, on the fall of the heroes,
20      (When vengeance was sleeping) the slaughter-place wielded?
          E'en now some man of the murderer's progeny
          Exulting in ornaments enters the building,
          Boasts of his blood-shedding, offbeareth the jewel
          Which thou shouldst wholly hold in possession!'
25      So he urgeth and mindeth on every occasion
          With woe-bringing words, till waxeth the season
          When the woman's thane for the works of his father,
          The bill having bitten, blood-gory sleepeth,
          Fated to perish; the other one thenceward
30      'Scapeth alive, the land knoweth thoroughly.
          Then the oaths of the earlmen on each side are broken,
          When rancors unresting are raging in Ingeld
          And his wife-love waxeth less warm after sorrow.
          So the Heathobards' favor not faithful I reckon,
35      Their part in the treaty not true to the Danemen,
          Their friendship not fast. I further shall tell thee
          More about Grendel, that thou fully mayst hear,
          Ornament-giver, what afterward came from
          The hand-rush of heroes. When heaven's bright jewel
40      O'er earthfields had glided, the stranger came raging,
          The horrible night-fiend, us for to visit,
          Where wholly unharmed the hall we were guarding.
          To Hondscio happened a hopeless contention,
          Death to the doomed one, dead he fell foremost,
45      Girded war-champion; to him Grendel became then,
          To the vassal distinguished, a tooth-weaponed murderer,
          The well-beloved henchman's body all swallowed.
          Not the earlier off empty of hand did
          The bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of evils,
50      Wish to escape from the gold-giver's palace,
          But sturdy of strength he strove to outdo me,
          Hand-ready grappled. A glove was suspended
          Spacious and wondrous, in art-fetters fastened,
          Which was fashioned entirely by touch of the craftman
55      From the dragon's skin by the devil's devices:
          He down in its depths would do me unsadly
          One among many, deed-doer raging,
          Though sinless he saw me; not so could it happen
          When I in my anger upright did stand.
60      'Tis too long to recount how requital I furnished
          For every evil to the earlmen's destroyer;
          'Twas there, my prince, that I proudly distinguished
          Thy land with my labors. He left and retreated,
          He lived his life a little while longer:
65      Yet his right-hand guarded his footstep in Heorot,
          And sad-mooded thence to the sea-bottom fell he,
          Mournful in mind. For the might-rush of battle
          The friend of the Scyldings, with gold that was plated,
          With ornaments many, much requited me,
70      When daylight had dawned, and down to the banquet
          We had sat us together. There was chanting and joyance:
          The age-stricken Scylding asked many questions
          And of old-times related; oft light-ringing harp-strings,
          Joy-telling wood, were touched by the brave one;
75      Now he uttered measures, mourning and truthful,
          Then the large-hearted land-king a legend of wonder
          Truthfully told us. Now troubled with years
          The age-hoary warrior afterward began to
          Mourn for the might that marked him in youth-days;
80      His breast within boiled, when burdened with winters
          Much he remembered. From morning till night then
          We joyed us therein as etiquette suffered,
          Till the second night season came unto earth-folk.
          Then early thereafter, the mother of Grendel
85      Was ready for vengeance, wretched she journeyed;
          Her son had death ravished, the wrath of the Geatmen.
          The horrible woman avengèd her offspring,
          And with mighty mainstrength murdered a hero.
          There the spirit of Æschere, agèd adviser,
90      Was ready to vanish; nor when morn had lightened
          Were they anywise suffered to consume him with fire,
          Folk of the Danemen, the death-weakened hero,
          Nor the belovèd liegeman to lay on the pyre;
          She the corpse had offcarried in the clutch of the foeman
95      'Neath mountain-brook's flood. To Hrothgar 'twas saddest
          Of pains that ever had preyed on the chieftain;
          By the life of thee the land-prince then me
          Besought very sadly, in sea-currents' eddies
          To display my prowess, to peril my safety,
100     Might-deeds accomplish; much did he promise.
          I found then the famous flood-current's cruel,
          Horrible depth-warder. A while unto us two
          Hand was in common; the currents were seething
          With gore that was clotted, and Grendel's fierce mother's
105     Head I offhacked in the hall at the bottom
          With huge-reaching sword-edge, hardly I wrested
          My life from her clutches; not doomed was I then,
          But the warden of earlmen afterward gave me
          Jewels in quantity, kinsman of Healfdene.