Beowulf eBook

Gareth Hinds
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 112 pages of information about Beowulf.

          Weird they knew not, destiny cruel,
          As to many an earlman early it happened,
          When evening had come and Hrothgar had parted
       45 Off to his manor, the mighty to slumber. 
          Warriors unnumbered warded the building
          As erst they did often:  the ale-settle bared they,
          ’Twas covered all over with beds and pillows.

{A doomed thane is there with them.}

          Doomed unto death, down to his slumber
       50 Bowed then a beer-thane.  Their battle-shields placed they,
          Bright-shining targets, up by their heads then;
          O’er the atheling on ale-bench ’twas easy to see there
          Battle-high helmet, burnie of ring-mail,

{They were always ready for battle.}

          And mighty war-spear.  ’Twas the wont of that people
       55 To constantly keep them equipped for the battle,[4]
          At home or marching—­in either condition—­
          At seasons just such as necessity ordered
          As best for their ruler; that people was worthy.

    [1] C. suggests a semicolon after ‘city,’ with ‘he’ as supplied
    subject of ‘fled’ and ‘chose.’

[2] For ‘feorh’ S. suggests ‘feoh’:  ‘corpse’ in the translation would then be changed to ‘possessions,’ ‘belongings.’  This is a better reading than one joining, in such intimate syntactical relations, things so unlike as ‘corpse’ and ‘jewels.’

    [3] S. suggests ‘wine-joyous heroes,’ ‘warriors elated with wine.’

[4] I believe this translation brings out the meaning of the poet, without departing seriously from the H.-So. text.  ‘Oft’ frequently means ‘constantly,’ ‘continually,’ not always ’often.’—­Why ’an (on) wig gearwe’ should be written ‘anwig-gearwe’ (= ready for single combat), I cannot see.  ‘Gearwe’ occurs quite frequently with ‘on’; cf.  B. 1110 (ready for the pyre), El. 222 (ready for the glad journey).  Moreover, what has the idea of single combat to do with B. 1247 ff.?  The poet is giving an inventory of the arms and armor which they lay aside on retiring, and he closes his narration by saying that they were always prepared for battle both at home and on the march.

[44]

XX.

THE MOTHER OF GRENDEL.

          They sank then to slumber.  With sorrow one paid for
          His evening repose, as often betid them
          While Grendel was holding[1] the gold-bedecked palace,
          Ill-deeds performing, till his end overtook him,
        5 Death for his sins.  ’Twas seen very clearly,

{Grendel’s mother is known to be thirsting for revenge.}

          Known unto earth-folk, that still an avenger
          Outlived the loathed one, long since the sorrow
          Caused by the struggle; the mother of Grendel,
          Devil-shaped woman, her woe ever minded,
       10 Who was held to inhabit the horrible waters,

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Beowulf from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.