Author unknown; written in Anglo-Saxon English around the year 800-1000? AD.

Translated by Ken Eckert 

Old English text from McMaster University’s Beowulf website, Canada

October 1998 - May 1999

Learn about Old English first here
For a student resource on Beowulf, see Dating Beowulf as a Foundational Epic (external link)

Beowulf is the first great poem of the English language. 3,182 lines in length (The Canterbury Tales is about 17,000), the story describes a young prince, Beowulf, and his battle on behalf of the Danish king Hrothgar to kill the evil monster Grendel, who has been attacking his beer hall and eating his men. Beowulf then must battle Grendel’s mother, who is angry about her son’s death, as well as a fire-breathing dragon. The sources seem to go back to Germanic legends.

Experts don't agree on when the poem was written. There are only two fixed limits. It could not have been written earlier than 594, when Gregory of Tours describes the death of the historical King Hygelac at the hands of Frisians. It cannot have been made later than about 1000, as the manuscript can be physically dated to this period. Most academics believe that the two scribes who wrote the manuscript were copying from an older copy, and dates between 680 and 1035 for the original have been posited. Scholars argue that a nation under attack by Danish vikings, as England was in the 800s-900s, would hardly want to glorify a Danish hero, although the sense of nationhood was not nearly so strong then as in modern times, and many people would have seen themselves as Germanic rather than English. Thus a date between 800 and 900 is probably likely.

The poem seems to have been forgotten about for some five hundred years after the Norman invasion, as there are no references to it in Middle English writing. The first known owner of the only existing manuscript was a collector named Laurence Nowell, who obtained it in 1563, probably rescuing it from Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. It later was owned by Sir Robert Cotton, whose collection was given to government trustees who later founded the British Museum. In 1731, a fire swept through the neglected collection, charring the edges of the manuscript. Old English poetry is surprisingly sophisticated; most lines have a standard pattern of alliteration. Because of this, scholars have been fairly successful in filling in missing words which had crumbled away, although some scholars have built careers arguing over what a particular missing word was.

Little attention was paid to Beowulf until the late 1700s, and the first English translation did not appear until 1831. Early critics studied it for linguistic purposes and not for its story, and it has only been in the last century, with the help of such scholars as J.R.R. Tolkien that the poem has been seriously read as literature. It is now often called the first English epic. Until recently, there weren't any major movie adaptations of Beowulf, although the past decade seems to have made up for it. The film The Thirteenth Warrior has some parts borrowed from the story, and Beowulf & Grendel depicts Grendel in more sympathetic terms. In 2007 Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf came out. It’s only my opinion, but I wish he had stopped with Back to the Future rather than ruining the poem with a terrible 3-D animated cheesefest. See it if you will, but do not expect to learn deeply about the poem by seeing one of the movies based on it.

The focus of my research was the point of view of the poet in Beowulf. Most critics see the poet as lionizing a past age, but I argued that the poem describes a society in transition from primitive to feudal and from heroic to chivalric. I see Beowulf as much more of a courtly Christian knight than a barbarian warrior. Thus my thesis revolved around the viewpoint of time in the poem. Many critics assume that the audience viewed the events in Beowulf as happening in a lost past; as I read the poem numerous times, it seemed apparent to me that the activities of the Geats were much more contemporary to the poets than thought before. When people read the Canterbury Tales, they enter a world of knights, maidens, and castles and forget that Chaucer only had to look out his window to see these things.

Naturally, there will be experts who disagree with me. Scholars know more than ever about this period of time, and archeologists continue to add to that knowledge. But we still don't know when or why Beowulf was written, or who wrote it. We only know that it’s a good story. Read my translation, or Seamus Heaney’s poetic one, and see if you can begin to appreciate its cold, clear beauty.

An example of Old English text (lines 1-5)

My attempt to speak lines 1-12


Hwæt! We Gardena         in geardagum,
þeodcyninga,         þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas         ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing         sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum,         meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas.         Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden,         he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum,         weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc         þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade         hyran scolde,
gomban gyldan.         þæt wæs god cyning!
Ðæm eafera wæs         æfter cenned,
geong in geardum,         þone god sende
folce to frofre;         fyrenðearfe ongeat
þe hie ær drugon         aldorlease
lange hwile.         Him þæs liffrea,
wuldres wealdend,         woroldare forgeaf;
Beowulf wæs breme         (blæd wide sprang),
Scyldes eafera         Scedelandum in.
Swa sceal geong guma         gode gewyrcean,
fromum feohgiftum         on fæder bearme,
þæt hine on ylde         eft gewunigen
wilgesiþas,         þonne wig cume,
leode gelæsten;         lofdædum sceal
in mægþa gehwære         man geþeon.
Him ða Scyld gewat         to gescæphwile
felahror feran         on frean wære.
Hi hyne þa ætbæron         to brimes faroðe,
swæse gesiþas,         swa he selfa bæd,
þenden wordum weold         wine Scyldinga;
leof landfruma         lange ahte.
þær æt hyðe stod         hringedstefna,
isig ond utfus,         æþelinges fær.
Aledon þa         leofne þeoden,
beaga bryttan,         on bearm scipes,
mærne be mæste.         þær wæs madma fela
of feorwegum,         frætwa, gelæded;
ne hyrde ic cymlicor         ceol gegyrwan
hildewæpnum         ond heaðowædum,
billum ond byrnum;         him on bearme læg
madma mænigo,         þa him mid scoldon
on flodes æht         feor gewitan.
Nalæs hi hine læssan         lacum teodan,
þeodgestreonum,         þon þa dydon
þe hine æt frumsceafte         forð onsendon
ænne ofer yðe         umborwesende.
þa gyt hie him asetton         segen geldenne
heah ofer heafod,         leton holm beran,
geafon on garsecg;         him wæs geomor sefa,
murnende mod.         Men ne cunnon
secgan to soðe,         selerædende,
hæleð under heofenum,         hwa þæm hlæste onfeng.


1. Listen! We have heard of the glory of the kings of the Spear-Danes in days of yore, and how the princes performed courageous deeds. 

4. Often Scyld Scefing deprived many an enemy band of their mead benches, terrifying warriors, long after the time when he was at first found destitute. He was waited for as their salvation, and prospered under the skies, growing in honor until each one of the neighboring people over the whale-road had to obey him and pay tribute. That was a good king! 

12. Afterwards a son was given to him, a youth in his court, whom God sent to comfort His people. He saw the great distress which they had suffered for a long while without a lord. 

16. Because of this, the Lord of life, ruler of glory, gave him honor. Beow was renowned; the glory of Scyld’s son spread wide in the Daneland. 

20. So should a young man bring about good works through splendid rich gifts in his father’s protection, so that in old age afterwards he may remain with his dear companions; so that, when war comes, his people will support him. Through praiseworthy deeds a man shall prosper in every nation! 

26. Then Scyld departed to God at the destined time on a brave journey to the Lord’s protection. His dear companions bore him on the sea’s current, as he had commanded himself while he– the friend of the Danes, the dear lord who had long possessed the land– had rule of his words. 

32. There at the harbor stood a ship with a curved prow, icy and ready to set out, a prince’s vessel; there they laid down the dear king, bestower of rings, the most renowned, in the ship’s bosom. 

36. There were many treasures from distant lands, and precious things brought. I have not heard of a ship more beautifully adorned with war-weapons and battle-attire, swords and mail-coats; on his breast lay a multitude of treasures, which would go far with him on the water’s power. 

43. No more did they spare in providing him with gifts, the treasure of a people, than those who at the beginning sent him forth alone over the waves as a child. 

47. Furthermore, they set for him a golden standard high overhead; they allowed the sea to bear him, given to the ocean. They were sad in spirit, mourning in mood. 

51. Men were not able to say truthfully- hall-counselors, warriors under heaven - how that cargo was received.   


Ða wæs on burgum         Beowulf Scyldinga,
leof leodcyning,         longe þrage
folcum gefræge         (fæder ellor hwearf,
aldor of earde),         oþþæt him eft onwoc
heah Healfdene;         heold þenden lifde,
gamol ond guðreouw,         glæde Scyldingas.
ðæm feower bearn         forð gerimed
in worold wocun,         weoroda ræswan,
Heorogar ond Hroðgar         ond Halga til;
hyrde ic þæt         wæs Onelan cwen,
Heaðoscilfingas         healsgebedda.
þa wæs Hroðgare         heresped gyfen,
wiges weorðmynd,         þæt him his winemagas
georne hyrdon,         oðð þæt seo geogoð geweox,
magodriht micel.         Him on mod bearn
þæt healreced         hatan wolde,
medoærn micel,         men gewyrcean
þonne yldo bearn         æfre gefrunon,
ond þær on innan         eall gedælan
geongum ond ealdum,         swylc him god sealde,
buton folcscare         ond feorum gumena.
ða ic wide gefrægn         weorc gebannan
manigre mægþe         geond þisne middangeard,
folcstede frætwan.         Him on fyrste gelomp,
ædre mid yldum,         þæt hit wearð ealgearo,
healærna mæst;         scop him Heort naman
se þe his wordes geweald         wide hæfde.
He beot ne aleh,         beagas dælde,
sinc æt symle.         Sele hlifade,
heah ond horngeap,         heaðowylma bad,
laðan liges;         ne wæs hit lenge þa gen
þæt se ecghete         aþumsweorum
æfter wælniðe         wæcnan scolde.
ða se ellengæst         earfoðlice
þrage geþolode,         se þe in þystrum bad,
þæt he dogora gehwam         dream gehyrde
hludne in healle;         þær wæs hearpan sweg,
swutol sang scopes.         Sægde se þe cuþe
frumsceaft fira         feorran reccan,
cwæð þæt se ælmihtiga         eorðan worhte,
wlitebeorhtne wang,         swa wæter bebugeð,
gesette sigehreþig         sunnan ond monan
leoman to leohte         landbuendum
ond gefrætwade         foldan sceatas
leomum ond leafum,         lif eac gesceop
cynna gehwylcum         þara ðe cwice hwyrfaþ.
Swa ða drihtguman         dreamum lifdon
eadiglice,         oððæt an ongan
fyrene fremman         feond on helle.
Wæs se grimma gæst         Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa,         se þe moras heold,
fen ond fæsten;         fifelcynnes eard
wonsæli wer         weardode hwile,
siþðan him scyppend         forscrifen hæfde
in Caines cynne.         þone cwealm gewræc
ece drihten,         þæs þe he Abel slog;
ne gefeah he þære fæhðe,         ac he hine feor forwræc,
metod for þy mane,         mancynne fram.
þanon untydras         ealle onwocon,
eotenas ond ylfe         ond orcneas,
swylce gigantas,         þa wið gode wunnon
lange þrage;         he him ðæs lean forgeald.

Fitt 1   

52. Then Beow the Scylding remained in the stronghold, beloved king of the people for a long time, renowned by the folk– the father went to another place, lord of the land– until tall Healfdene was born to him; he ruled the Scyldings graciously while he lived, old and fierce in battle. 

59. To him four children were born in succession into the world, leaders of armies– Heoragar and Hrothgar, and Halga the good– I heard that the fourth became Onela’s queen, consort to the Swedes. 

64. Then Hrothgar was given success in war, glory in war, so that his friends and kinsmen willingly obeyed him, until they grew to become young warriors, a mighty band of young retainers. 

67. It came to his mind that he would command men to build a hall, a great mead-hall, that men’s children should forever hear of; and there inside he would share with all, young and old, whatever God gave him, except for the common land and the lives of men. 

74. I have widely heard that work orders were then given to many nations throughout this world, to adorn the people’s place. It happened for him in due time, swiftly to men, that it became fully ready, the greatest hall. He shaped Heorot as its name, he whose word had wide power. 

80. He did not leave his vow unfulfilled, and shared out rings, the treasures at the feast. The hall’s tower was high and wide-gabled. But a hostile surge waited, a loathful fire; nor was it long yet before the violent hatred of son-in-law and father-in-law, after deadly enmity, should rise. 

86. Then the fierce creature suffered in torment through time, the one which had dwelt in darkness, that he each day should hear loud joy in the hall; there was the sound of the harp, the clear song of the poets. 

90. Say he in reckoning who knew the creation of men from long ago, say how the Almighty made the earth, the beautiful plain, so surrounded by water, set the son and moon’s light triumphantly for illumination for the land-dweller, and adorned the earth’s regions with branches and leaves. He also shaped life into each peoples that moved about. 

99. So the retainers lived joyfully in gladness, until the hellish fiend began to perform wicked deeds. The grim creature was called Grendel, famed wanderer of the borderland, he who occupied the mere, his fen and stronghold. 

104. The unblessed creature resided for a while with the race of monsters, since the Creator had proscribed him as Cain’s kin, the eternal Lord being avenged for that killing, because he slaughtered Abel. Nor did he gain any joy for the hostile act, for God the Creator banished him far for that crime from mankind. 

111. From him all evil progeny arose, giants and elves and evil spirits, also giants, who rebelled against God for a long time; he repaid them for that reward.   


Gewat ða neosian,         syþðan niht becom,
hean huses,         hu hit Hringdene
æfter beorþege         gebun hæfdon.
Fand þa ðær inne         æþelinga gedriht
swefan æfter symble;         sorge ne cuðon,
wonsceaft wera.         Wiht unhælo,
grim ond grædig,         gearo sona wæs,
reoc ond reþe,         ond on ræste genam
þritig þegna,         þanon eft gewat
huðe hremig         to ham faran,
mid þære wælfylle         wica neosan.
ða wæs on uhtan         mid ærdæge
Grendles guðcræft         gumum undyrne;
þa wæs æfter wiste         wop up ahafen,
micel morgensweg.         Mære þeoden,
æþeling ærgod,         unbliðe sæt,
þolode ðryðswyð,         þegnsorge dreah,
syðþan hie þæs laðan         last sceawedon,
wergan gastes;         wæs þæt gewin to strang,
lað ond longsum.         Næs hit lengra fyrst,
ac ymb ane niht         eft gefremede
morðbeala mare         ond no mearn fore,
fæhðe ond fyrene;         wæs to fæst on þam.
þa wæs eaðfynde         þe him elles hwær
gerumlicor         ræste sohte,
bed æfter burum,         ða him gebeacnod wæs,
gesægd soðlice         sweotolan tacne
healðegnes hete;         heold hyne syðþan
fyr ond fæstor         se þæm feonde ætwand.
Swa rixode         ond wið rihte wan,
ana wið eallum,         oðþæt idel stod
husa selest.         Wæs seo hwil micel;
XII wintra tid         torn geþolode
wine Scyldinga,         weana gehwelcne,
sidra sorga.         Forðam secgum wearð,
ylda bearnum,         undyrne cuð,
gyddum geomore,         þætte Grendel wan
hwile wið Hroþgar,         heteniðas wæg,
fyrene ond fæhðe         fela missera,
singale sæce,         sibbe ne wolde
wið manna hwone         mægenes Deniga,
feorhbealo feorran,         fea þingian,
ne þær nænig witena         wenan þorfte
beorhtre bote         to banan folmum,
ac se æglæca         ehtende wæs,
deorc deaþscua,         duguþe ond geogoþe,
seomade ond syrede,         sinnihte heold
mistige moras;         men ne cunnon
hwyder helrunan         hwyrftum scriþað.
Swa fela fyrena         feond mancynnes,
atol angengea,         oft gefremede,
heardra hynða.         Heorot eardode,
sincfage sel         sweartum nihtum;
no he þone gifstol         gretan moste,
maþðum for metode,         ne his myne wisse.
þæt wæs wræc micel         wine Scyldinga,
modes brecða.         Monig oft gesæt
rice to rune;         ræd eahtedon
hwæt swiðferhðum         selest wære
wið færgryrum         to gefremmanne.
Hwilum hie geheton         æt hærgtrafum
wigweorþunga,         wordum bædon
þæt him gastbona         geoce gefremede
wið þeodþreaum.         Swylc wæs þeaw hyra,
hæþenra hyht;         helle gemundon
in modsefan,         metod hie ne cuþon,
dæda demend,         ne wiston hie drihten god,
ne hie huru heofena helm         herian ne cuþon,
wuldres waldend.         Wa bið þæm ðe sceal
þurh sliðne nið         sawle bescufan
in fyres fæþm,         frofre ne wenan,
wihte gewendan;         wel bið þæm þe mot
æfter deaðdæge         drihten secean
ond to fæder fæþmum         freoðo wilnian.

Fitt 2   

115. Then Grendel went to seek out, after it had become night, the high house, where the Ring-Danes had settled in after beer-drinking. Then he found inside a company of noblemen, asleep after the feast; grief not known to them, men’s misery. 

120. The unholy creature, grim and greedy, soon was ready, savage and fierce, and in the resting-place seized thirty retainers; from there again it left, exulting in its booty, going to its home with the feast of slaughter there, to seek out its dwelling-place. 

125. Then just before daybreak, with the first light of day, Grendel’s strength in war was revealed to men; then after the feasting lamentation was raised up, a great mourning cry. 

129. The renowned prince, the nobleman of proven excellence, sat joylessly, suffering mightily in grief for his thanes, after they had examined the hateful tracks of the accursed creature; the strife was too strong, grievous and prolonged. 

134. It took no longer a time, but after one night, he performed more slaughter and felt no remorse for it – he was too fixed on hostile acts and wicked deeds. Then it was easy to find someone who sought rest elsewhere, further away– a bed among the outbuildings. 

140. Then to him was shown, said truly to him, a clear sign of the hate of the hall-thanes, since he who had escaped the fiend kept himself further off and more securely. 

144. So Grendel ruled and with the right contended one with all, until the best house stood empty. It was a great while– a twelve years period– the friend of the Scyldings endured affliction, every misery and great grief. 

149. It came forth to be known to men’s children in the sad song, that Grendel had contended for a while with Hrothgar, bore fierce hatred, wicked deeds and hostile acts for many half-years of conflict, and would not have peace with anyone of the host of Danish men– and would not remove his deadly evil or settle for money. 

157. There were no counselors who expected or required splendid compensation from the killer’s hand, but the fierce assailant continued to persecute, dark shadow of death, lying in wait to ambush tried warriors and young warriors. He ruled endless nights and the misty meres. 

162. Men do not know to what place the demons wandered. The fiend of mankind, the terrible one who went alone, perpetrated so many wicked deeds and humiliations; he inhabited Heorot, richly decorated hall in black nights; but he was not was permitted to approach the throne, treasure of the Creator. He did not feel his love. 

170. That was a great misery to the friend of the Scyldings, his mind’s grief. Many often sat, of high rank in council, to consider what was advisable, what was best for the strong-minded to do against the terror of sudden attack. 

175. Sometimes they vowed at heathen temples to honor idols, prayed words that the destroyer of souls might bring help against this calamity of a nation. Such was the heathen custom, the hope of heathens; they thought of hell in mind; they did not know the Creator, the deeds of the Judge. 

181. They did not know the Lord God; they did not know how to praise, indeed, heaven’s protector, the Ruler of glory. Woe shall be with him that shall through terrible hostility thrust his soul in fire’s embrace, comfort not hoped for, change in any way. 

186. Well shall it be for him who is permitted after his death’s day to go to the Lord and to ask for protection in the embrace of the Father.   


Swa ða mælceare         maga Healfdenes
singala seað,         ne mihte snotor hæleð
wean onwendan;         wæs þæt gewin to swyð,
laþ ond longsum,         þe on ða leode becom,
nydwracu niþgrim,         nihtbealwa mæst.
þæt fram ham gefrægn         Higelaces þegn,
god mid Geatum,         Grendles dæda;
se wæs moncynnes         mægenes strengest
on þæm dæge         þysses lifes,
æþele ond eacen.         Het him yðlidan
godne gegyrwan,         cwæð, he guðcyning
ofer swanrade         secean wolde,
mærne þeoden,         þa him wæs manna þearf.
ðone siðfæt him         snotere ceorlas
lythwon logon,         þeah he him leof wære;
hwetton higerofne,         hæl sceawedon.
Hæfde se goda         Geata leoda
cempan gecorone         þara þe he cenoste
findan mihte;         XVna sum
sundwudu sohte;         secg wisade,
lagucræftig mon,         landgemyrcu.
Fyrst forð gewat.         Flota wæs on yðum,
bat under beorge.         Beornas gearwe
on stefn stigon;         streamas wundon,
sund wið sande;         secgas bæron
on bearm nacan         beorhte frætwe,
guðsearo geatolic;         guman ut scufon,
weras on wilsið,         wudu bundenne.
Gewat þa ofer wægholm,         winde gefysed,
flota famiheals         fugle gelicost,
oðþæt ymb antid         oþres dogores
wundenstefna         gewaden hæfde
þæt ða liðende         land gesawon,
brimclifu blican,         beorgas steape,
side sænæssas;         þa wæs sund liden,
eoletes æt ende.         þanon up hraðe
Wedera leode         on wang stigon,
sæwudu sældon         (syrcan hrysedon,
guðgewædo),         gode þancedon
þæs þe him yþlade         eaðe wurdon.
þa of wealle geseah         weard Scildinga,
se þe holmclifu         healdan scolde,
beran ofer bolcan         beorhte randas,
fyrdsearu fuslicu;         hine fyrwyt bræc
modgehygdum,         hwæt þa men wæron.
Gewat him þa to waroðe         wicge ridan
þegn Hroðgares,         þrymmum cwehte
mægenwudu mundum,         meþelwordum frægn:
“Hwæt syndon ge         searohæbbendra,
byrnum werede,         þe þus brontne ceol
ofer lagustræte         lædan cwomon,
hider ofer holmas?         ...le wæs
endesæta,         ægwearde heold,
þe on land Dena         laðra nænig
mid scipherge         sceðþan ne meahte.
No her cuðlicor         cuman ongunnon
lindhæbbende;         ne ge leafnesword
guðfremmendra         gearwe ne wisson,
maga gemedu.         Næfre ic maran geseah
eorla ofer eorþan         ðonne is eower sum,
secg on searwum;         nis þæt seldguma,
wæpnum geweorðad,         næfne him his wlite leoge,
ænlic ansyn.         Nu ic eower sceal
frumcyn witan,         ær ge fyr heonan,
leassceaweras,         on land Dena
furþur feran.         Nu ge feorbuend,
mereliðende,         minne gehyrað
anfealdne geþoht:         Ofost is selest
to gecyðanne         hwanan eowre cyme syndon.”

Fitt 3   

189. Such then was the sorrow of the time which Healfdene’s son constantly brooded on. Nor might the wise warrior turn aside the misery; the strife was too strong, grievous and prolonged, which had come on the people, cruel and dire distress, greatest night-evils. 

194. From his home, Hygelac’s thane, a good man among the Geats, learned of Grendel’s deeds; of mankind he was the strongest of the day of this life, noble and mighty. He ordered himself a good sea-vessel to be made ready, saying that he would seek the war-king over the swan’s road, since he was in need of men. 

202. Wise men found no fault with the expedition, though he was dear to them; they examined omens and encouraged high actions. He had chosen warriors from the Geatish people, the keenest that he might find; the fifteen of them sought out their sea-wood- a man skilled in seacraft guided them to the coast. 

210. The time came; the ship was on the wave, the boat under the cliff. The eager warriors climbed on to the prow; the streams eddied, the sea against the sand. Men bore into the vessel’s hold gleaming trappings, splendid war-gear. Men pushed out the well-braced ship, warriors on the desired journey. 

217. Then the foamy-necked ship went over the sea, driven on by the wind like a bird, until after due time on the second day the ship with the curved prow had come to where the voyagers saw land, gleaming sea-cliffs, broad headland. 

223. Then the sea was crossed, the water-streaming at an end. Then the Geatish men quickly stood up on level ground and tied up the sea-vessel; mail-coats rang out, garments for war. God was thanked for the fact that the sea-path had been easy for them. 

229. There from the wall, the watchman of the Scyldings who should guard the sea-cliffs saw bright shields over the gangway, carried by ready arms; curiosity pressed his thoughts as to who the men were. 

234. He went there to the shore; the thane of Hrothgar rode on a horse, forcefully brandished a mighty spear in his hand, and asked in a formal speech: 

237. “Who are you warriors, protected by mail-coats, that you thus have a tall ship, over the sea-road, brought here over the waves? For a long while I have been a coast guard, and have kept the sea-watch, so that on land no hostile naval force might inflict harm on the land of the Danes.” 

244. “Never more openly have shield bearers come here; you war-makers fully did not have permission, the consent of kinsmen. Never have I seen a greater warrior on earth than a certain one of you, man in arms. That’s no mere hall-retainer made worthy by weapons– unless his face belies him, his matchless appearance!" 

251. “Now I should know of your origin, before you go further from here to spy on Danish land. Now you foreigners, seafarers, hear my plain thought: haste is best to reveal from where you are coming.”   

  Him se yldesta         ondswarode,
werodes wisa,         wordhord onleac:
“We synt gumcynnes         Geata leode
ond Higelaces         heorðgeneatas.
Wæs min fæder         folcum gecyþed,
æþele ordfruma,         Ecgþeow haten.
Gebad wintra worn,         ær he on weg hwurfe,
gamol of geardum;         hine gearwe geman
witena welhwylc         wide geond eorþan.
We þurh holdne hige         hlaford þinne,
sunu Healfdenes,         secean cwomon,
leodgebyrgean;         wes þu us larena god.
Habbað we to þæm mæran         micel ærende,
Deniga frean,         ne sceal þær dyrne sum
wesan, þæs ic wene.         þu wast (gif hit is
swa we soþlice         secgan hyrdon)
þæt mid Scyldingum         sceaðona ic nat hwylc,
deogol dædhata,         deorcum nihtum
eaweð þurh egsan         uncuðne nið,
hynðu ond hrafyl.         Ic þæs Hroðgar mæg
þurh rumne sefan         ræd gelæran,
hu he frod ond god         feond oferswyðeþ,
gyf him edwendan         æfre scolde
bealuwa bisigu,         bot eft cuman,
ond þa cearwylmas         colran wurðaþ;
oððe a syþðan         earfoðþrage,
þreanyd þolað,         þenden þær wunað
on heahstede         husa selest.”
Weard maþelode,         ðær on wicge sæt,
ombeht unforht:         “æghwæþres sceal
scearp scyldwiga         gescad witan,
worda ond worca,         se þe wel þenceð.
Ic þæt gehyre,         þæt þis is hold weorod
frean Scyldinga.         Gewitaþ forð beran
wæpen ond gewædu;         ic eow wisige.
Swylce ic maguþegnas         mine hate
wið feonda gehwone         flotan eowerne,
niwtyrwydne         nacan on sande
arum healdan,         oþðæt eft byreð
ofer lagustreamas         leofne mannan
wudu wundenhals         to Wedermearce,
godfremmendra         swylcum gifeþe bið
þæt þone hilderæs         hal gedigeð.”
Gewiton him þa feran.         Flota stille bad,
seomode on sale         sidfæþmed scip,
on ancre fæst.         Eoforlic scionon
ofer hleorberan         gehroden golde,
fah ond fyrheard;         ferhwearde heold
guþmod grimmon.         Guman onetton,
sigon ætsomne,         oþþæt hy sæl timbred,
geatolic ond goldfah,         ongyton mihton;
þæt wæs foremærost         foldbuendum
receda under roderum,         on þæm se rica bad;
lixte se leoma         ofer landa fela.
Him þa hildedeor         hof modigra
torht getæhte,         þæt hie him to mihton
gegnum gangan;         guðbeorna sum
wicg gewende,         word æfter cwæð:
“Mæl is me to feran;         fæder alwalda
mid arstafum         eowic gehealde
siða gesunde.         Ic to sæ wille
wið wrað werod         wearde healdan.”

Fitt 4   

258. He was answered by the chief, the company’s leader, who unleashed his word-hoard; “We are the race of the Geatish people, and Hygelac’s hearth-companions. My father was well-known by people, the nobles' leader at the battle-front, called Ecgtheow; he lived to see many a winter before going on his way, old in his dwelling.” 

265. “Every wise man far and wide throughout the earth readily remembers him. We through well-disposed heart have come to seek the protector of your people, Healfdane’s son; be a good advisor to us. We have for that renowned Danish lord a great errand, nor shall there be anything concealed, that I can think of.” 

272. “You know, if it is such as we truly heard it said, that among the Scyldings a ravager, I do not know what kind of, a mysterious persecutor- shows in dark nights through terror and unknown hostility, humiliation and slaughter.” 

278. “I may through generous heart advise Hrothgar with good counsel in this, how he, wise and good, can overcome this enemy– if for him a change, relief from his distress of afflictions, should ever again come – and that his surging of grief become less oppressive.” 

283. “Or else always he will suffer in dire distress, times of tribulation, as long as there remains in high stead the best house.” 

286. The watchman made a speech, sitting there on his horse, fearless officer: “A sharp warrior must know the meaning both of words and works, who thinks rightly. I hear that this is a company loyal to the lord of the Scyldings. Go forth bearing weapons and armor; I will guide you.” 

293. “Moreover, I will command my young retainers to guard your ship honorably against every enemy, newly-tarred on the sand, until it again bears over sea-currents dear men, ship with curved prow, to Wederish land. To such a one who acts nobly, be it granted by fate to survive the storm of battle whole.” 

301. Then they departed; the ship remained still- resting on rope, wide-bottomed ship, fixed at anchor. A boar-figure shone over cheek-guards adorned with gold, gleaming and fire-hardened; it kept guard over life, grimly with warlike spirit. 

306. Men hastened, and advanced together so they might see the timbered hall, splendid and adorned with gold. That building under the sky was the foremost among earth-dwellers; in that the mighty king dwelt; its light shone over many lands. 

312. He who was brave in battle pointed out the resplendent dwelling of the courageous, so that they might directly go to it; as one of the warriors he turned his horse, after speaking a word: “It is time for me to go; may the omnipotent Father keep you in favor, your venture sound! I will go back to the sea, to keep watch for hostile bands of men.”   

Stræt wæs stanfah,         stig wisode
gumum ætgædere.         Guðbyrne scan
heard hondlocen,         hringiren scir
song in searwum,         þa hie to sele furðum
in hyra gryregeatwum         gangan cwomon.
Setton sæmeþe         side scyldas,
rondas regnhearde,         wið þæs recedes weal,
bugon þa to bence.         Byrnan hringdon,
guðsearo gumena;         garas stodon,
sæmanna searo,         samod ætgædere,
æscholt ufan græg;         wæs se irenþreat
wæpnum gewurþad.         þa ðær wlonc hæleð
oretmecgas         æfter æþelum frægn:
“Hwanon ferigeað ge         fætte scyldas,
græge syrcan         ond grimhelmas,
heresceafta heap?         Ic eom Hroðgares
ar ond ombiht.         Ne seah ic elþeodige
þus manige men         modiglicran.
Wen ic þæt ge for wlenco,         nalles for wræcsiðum,
ac for higeþrymmum         Hroðgar sohton.”
Him þa ellenrof         andswarode,
wlanc Wedera leod,         word æfter spræc,
heard under helme:         “We synt Higelaces
beodgeneatas;         Beowulf is min nama.
Wille ic asecgan         sunu Healfdenes,
mærum þeodne,         min ærende,
aldre þinum,         gif he us geunnan wile
þæt we hine swa godne         gretan moton.”
Wulfgar maþelode         (þæt wæs Wendla leod;
wæs his modsefa         manegum gecyðed,
wig ond wisdom):         “Ic þæs wine Deniga,
frean Scildinga,         frinan wille,
beaga bryttan,         swa þu bena eart,
þeoden mærne,         ymb þinne sið,
ond þe þa ondsware         ædre gecyðan
ðe me se goda         agifan þenceð.”
Hwearf þa hrædlice         þær Hroðgar sæt
eald ond anhar         mid his eorla gedriht;
eode ellenrof,         þæt he for eaxlum gestod
Deniga frean;         cuþe he duguðe þeaw.
Wulfgar maðelode         to his winedrihtne:
“Her syndon geferede,         feorran cumene
ofer geofenes begang         Geata leode;
þone yldestan         oretmecgas
Beowulf nemnað.         Hy benan synt
þæt hie, þeoden min,         wið þe moton
wordum wrixlan.         No ðu him wearne geteoh
ðinra gegncwida,         glædman Hroðgar.
Hy on wiggetawum         wyrðe þinceað
eorla geæhtlan;         huru se aldor deah,
se þæm heaðorincum         hider wisade.”

Fitt 5   

320. The way was paved, the path led the men together. War-corsets shone, hard and linked by hand; bright chain-mail rang out in armor when they first came in the hall in their fearsome equipment. 

325. The sea-weary men set the broad shields, wondrously strong shield-bosses, against the building’s wall. They then sat on the bench- mail-coats rang, the war-shirts of men. 

328. Spears stood, seamen’s arms all together; an ash-wood grey from above; the armed troop was made noble by their weapons. Then a proud hero asked about the warriors' lineage: “From where have you brought gold-plated shields, grey mail-shirts and helmets with masks, heaps of spears? I am Hrothgar’s herald and officer.” 

336. “Never have I seen so many foreign men braver in appearance. I think that you for daring, not in any way out of exile, but for greatness of heart, have sought Hrothgar.” 

340. He who was famed for courage answered, proud man of the Weders, hard under helmet, spoke a word: “We are Hygelac’s table-companions; Beowulf is my name. I would like to declare to the son of Healfdene’s - renowned prince - my errand, your lord, if he will grant us that we may be permitted to address the good man.” 

348. Wulfgar made a speech– he was a man of the Vendels; his character was known to many, his prowess in war and wisdom – “I will ask the friend of the Danes, lord of the Scyldings, bestower of rings, renowned prince, as you petition concerning your venture, and then swiftly make known the answer as he thinks fit to give me.” 

356. He then turned quickly to where Hrothgar sat, old and very grey, among his warriors' retinue; he, famed for courage, went and stood at the shoulder of the lord of the Danes; he knew the custom of the noble retainers. 

360. Wulfgar made a speech to his friend and lord: “Geatish people have come from far off over the expanse of the sea Geatish people; they call their chief warrior Beowulf. They are petitioning that they, my prince, be permitted a conversation with you.” 

366. “Let not refusal be your answer to them, gracious Hrothgar. They appear worthy from their war-equipment, the esteem of warriors; indeed the leader is mighty- their leader has led them here.”   


Hroðgar maþelode,         helm Scyldinga:
“Ic hine cuðe         cnihtwesende.
Wæs his ealdfæder         Ecgþeo haten,
ðæm to ham forgeaf         Hreþel Geata
angan dohtor;         is his eafora nu
heard her cumen,         sohte holdne wine.
ðonne sægdon þæt         sæliþende,
þa ðe gifsceattas         Geata fyredon
þyder to þance,         þæt he XXXtiges
manna mægencræft         on his mundgripe
heaþorof hæbbe.         Hine halig god
for arstafum         us onsende,
to Westdenum,         þæs ic wen hæbbe,
wið Grendles gryre.         Ic þæm godan sceal
for his modþræce         madmas beodan.
Beo ðu on ofeste,         hat in gan
seon sibbegedriht         samod ætgædere;
gesaga him eac wordum         þæt hie sint wilcuman
Deniga leodum.”        
        word inne abead:
“Eow het secgan         sigedrihten min,
aldor Eastdena,         þæt he eower æþelu can,
ond ge him syndon         ofer sæwylmas
heardhicgende         hider wilcuman.
Nu ge moton gangan         in eowrum guðgewædum
under heregriman         Hroðgar geseon;
lætað hildebord         her onbidan,
wudu, wælsceaftas,         worda geþinges.”
Aras þa se rica,         ymb hine rinc manig,
þryðlic þegna heap;         sume þær bidon,
heaðoreaf heoldon,         swa him se hearda bebead.
Snyredon ætsomne,         þa secg wisode,
under Heorotes hrof        
heard under helme,         þæt he on heoðe gestod.
Beowulf maðelode         (on him byrne scan,
searonet seowed         smiþes orþancum):
“Wæs þu, Hroðgar, hal!         Ic eom Higelaces
mæg ond magoðegn;         hæbbe ic mærða fela
ongunnen on geogoþe.         Me wearð Grendles þing
on minre eþeltyrf         undyrne cuð;
secgað sæliðend         þæt þæs sele stande,
reced selesta,         rinca gehwylcum
idel ond unnyt,         siððan æfenleoht
under heofenes hador         beholen weorþeð.
þa me þæt gelærdon         leode mine
þa selestan,         snotere ceorlas,
þeoden Hroðgar,         þæt ic þe sohte,
forþan hie mægenes cræft         minne cuþon,
selfe ofersawon,         ða ic of searwum cwom,
fah from feondum,         þær ic fife geband,
yðde eotena cyn         ond on yðum slog
niceras nihtes,         nearoþearfe dreah,
wræc Wedera nið         (wean ahsodon),
forgrand gramum,         ond nu wið Grendel sceal,
wið þam aglæcan,         ana gehegan
ðing wið þyrse.         Ic þe nu ða,
brego Beorhtdena,         biddan wille,
eodor Scyldinga,         anre bene,
þæt ðu me ne forwyrne,         wigendra hleo,
freowine folca,         nu ic þus feorran com,
þæt ic mote ana         ond minra eorla gedryht,
þes hearda heap,         Heorot fælsian.
Hæbbe ic eac geahsod         þæt se æglæca
for his wonhydum         wæpna ne recceð.
Ic þæt þonne forhicge         (swa me Higelac sie,
min mondrihten,         modes bliðe),
þæt ic sweord bere         oþðe sidne scyld,
geolorand to guþe,         ac ic mid grape sceal
fon wið feonde         ond ymb feorh sacan,
lað wið laþum;         ðær gelyfan sceal
dryhtnes dome         se þe hine deað nimeð.
Wen ic þæt he wille,         gif he wealdan mot,
in þæm guðsele         Geotena leode
etan unforhte,         swa he oft dyde,
mægen Hreðmanna.         Na þu minne þearft
hafalan hydan,         ac he me habban wile
dreore fahne,         gif mec deað nimeð.
Byreð blodig wæl,         byrgean þenceð,
eteð angenga         unmurnlice,
mearcað morhopu;         no ðu ymb mines ne þearft
lices feorme         leng sorgian.
Onsend Higelace,         gif mec hild nime,
beaduscruda betst,         þæt mine breost wereð,
hrægla selest;         þæt is Hrædlan laf,
Welandes geweorc.         Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel.”

Fitt 6   

371. Hrothgar made a speech, the protector of the Scyldings: “I knew him as a boy! His late father was called Ecgtheow; Hrethel of the Geats' only daughter was given to him. His son has now come here as a strong man and has sought a well-disposed friend.” 

377. “Moreover, the seafarers have said that the gift for the Geats was carried to that place in thanks, that he has thirty men’s strength in his battle-famed handgrip. Holy God in his grace has sent him to us, to the West-Danes– of this I have hope– against Grendel’s terror.” 

384. “I shall offer treasures for his daring and goodness. Be in haste, call in the band of kinsmen all together; tell him also words that they are welcome to the Danish people.” 

390. He bid them with words to come in: “I am ordered to say by my victorious lord, chief of the East-Danes, that he knows of your noble descent, and you, brave-minded men over the surging of the sea, are here welcome to him here.” 

395. “Now you may go in your war-equipment and helmets to see Hrothgar; leave your battle-shields here to await you, deadly shafts and wood, for the outcome of his words.” 

399. Then the mighty one arose with many warriors around him, mighty band of thanes, some waiting there to guard the war-equipment as he ordered. Then, hastening them together, he guided them under Heorot’s roof, hard under helmet, so that he stood there on the hearth. 

405. Beowulf made a speech- on him his corselet shone, a mail-coat linked by smith’s skill– “May you be well, Hrothgar! I am Hygelac’s kinsman and young retainer; I have undertaken many a glorious deed in youth.” 

409. “The matter of Grendel has become revealed and known to me on my native soil; seafarers say that this hall, best of buildings, stands with every warrior empty and useless after evening-light under heaven’s vault becomes hidden.” 

415. “Then my people advised me that I should seek prince Hrothgar, the best, the wisest of men, for they know of my strength and craft; they themselves saw that I came blood-stained from battle with the enemy, where I bound and destroyed five of the giant’s kin, and in the waves slew the night’s water-monsters, and suffered dire distress.” 

423. “I avenged the Weders' persecution and sought out trouble; I crushed the hostile; and now against Grendel I shall- against the fierce assailant- hold one meeting against the giant. Now, lord of the Bright-Danes, I will request of you, protector of the Scyldings, one favor, that you not refuse me- now that I have come so far- that I may be permitted alone with my warriors band, this hard troop of men, to cleanse Heorot.” 

433. “I have also learned that the fierce assailant in his recklessness does not care for weapons. I scorn them– as Hygelac is my liege lord, joyful in my mind– that I will bear sword or broad shield, yellow shield, to battle, but with my grasp I shall grapple with the enemy and with my life contend with the hostile foe.” 

440. “He whom death takes will trust in the Lord’s judgment there! I expect that he will, if he is allowed to prevail, fearlessly eat Geatish people in the battle-hall, as he often did, the flower of men.” 

445. “My head need not at all be hidden, but he will have me blood stained, if death takes me; he will bear off my bloody corpse, my taste I think fit for one who goes alone unmourningly, to its stained moor-retreat. No need for you to worry any longer about the care of my body!" 

452. “Send to Hygelac, if battle takes me, my best battle-apparel that defended my breast, best garment; that is Hrethel’s heirloom and Weland’s work. Fate must always go as it shall!"   

Hroðgar maþelode,         helm Scyldinga:
“For gewyrhtum þu,         wine min Beowulf,
ond for arstafum         usic sohtest.
Gesloh þin fæder         fæhðe mæste;
wearþ he Heaþolafe         to handbonan
mid Wilfingum;         ða hine Wedera cyn
for herebrogan         habban ne mihte.
þanon he gesohte         Suðdena folc
ofer yða gewealc,         Arscyldinga.
ða ic furþum weold         folce Deniga
ond on geogoðe heold         ginne rice,
hordburh hæleþa;         ða wæs Heregar dead,
min yldra mæg         unlifigende,
bearn Healfdenes;         se wæs betera ðonne ic.
Siððan þa fæhðe         feo þingode;
sende ic Wylfingum         ofer wæteres hrycg
ealde madmas;         he me aþas swor.
Sorh is me to secganne         on sefan minum
gumena ængum         hwæt me Grendel hafað
hynðo on Heorote         mid his heteþancum,
færniða gefremed.         Is min fletwerod,
wigheap gewanod;         hie wyrd forsweop
on Grendles gryre.         God eaþe mæg
þone dolsceaðan         dæda getwæfan.
Ful oft gebeotedon         beore druncne
ofer ealowæge         oretmecgas
þæt hie in beorsele         bidan woldon
Grendles guþe         mid gryrum ecga.
ðonne wæs þeos medoheal         on morgentid,
drihtsele dreorfah,         þonne dæg lixte,
eal bencþelu         blode bestymed,
heall heorudreore;         ahte ic holdra þy læs,
deorre duguðe,         þe þa deað fornam.
Site nu to symle         ond onsæl meoto,
sigehreð secgum,         swa þin sefa hwette.”
þa wæs Geatmæcgum         geador ætsomne
on beorsele         benc gerymed;
þær swiðferhþe         sittan eodon,
þryðum dealle.         þegn nytte beheold,
se þe on handa bær         hroden ealowæge,
scencte scir wered.         Scop hwilum sang
hador on Heorote.         þær wæs hæleða dream,
duguð unlytel         Dena ond Wedera.

Fitt 7   

456. Hrothgar, protector of the Scyldings, made a speech: “For your deeds done in the past, my friend Beowulf, and for kindness you have sought us. Your father’s feud was mostly caused by fighting; he came to slay Heatholaf with his own hand among the Wylfings; then he did not have the might to keep his Wederish kin from war-terror.” 

463. “From there he sought the South-Danish folk over the rolling waves, Honor-Scyldings. Then I first ruled the Danish folk and in youth held a spacious kingdom, a warrior’s rich stronghold; then Heregar was dead, my elder kinsman lifeless, Healfdane’s son; he was better than me.” 

470. “Then afterwards I settled the feud with money; I sent the Wylfings old treasures over the water’s crest; he swore me oaths. It grieves me in my heart to tell any man what humiliations Grendel has brought about to me with his thoughts of hate and sudden attacks on Heorot.” 

476. “My hall-troop, band of warriors, has waned; fate has swept them off in Grendel’s horror. God may easily hinder the wild ravager. Warriors very often boasted over ale-cups, drunk with beer, that they would await Grendel’s onslaught in the banquet-hall with the terror of the sword.” 

484. “Then here was this mead-hall in the morning– the noble hall blood-stained as the day shone forth- all bench-planks drenched with blood, the blood of battle in the hall; I had all the fewer dear tried loyal warriors, who were carried off by death.” 

489. “Sit now at the feast, and in due time think of man’s glory in victory, so that your heart may be urged on.” 

491. Then benches were cleared for the Geatish men together; there the stout-hearted went to sit, proud in their strength. A thane attended to duties, who bore in hand the adorned ale-cups and poured the bright, sweet drink; a poet sang clearly for a while about Heorot. There was the warriors' joy, no small body of Danish and Wederish retainers.   

  Unferð maþelode,         Ecglafes bearn,
þe æt fotum sæt         frean Scyldinga,
onband beadurune         (wæs him Beowulfes sið,
modges merefaran,         micel æfþunca,
forþon þe he ne uþe         þæt ænig oðer man
æfre mærða þon ma         middangeardes
gehedde under heofenum         þonne he sylfa):
“Eart þu se Beowulf,         se þe wið Brecan wunne,
on sidne sæ         ymb sund flite,
ðær git for wlence         wada cunnedon
ond for dolgilpe         on deop wæter
aldrum neþdon.         Ne inc ænig mon,
ne leof ne lað,         belean mihte
sorhfullne sið,         þa git on sund reon.
þær git eagorstream         earmum þehton,
mæton merestræta,         mundum brugdon,
glidon ofer garsecg;         geofon yþum weol,
wintrys wylmum.         Git on wæteres æht
seofon niht swuncon;         he þe æt sunde oferflat,
hæfde mare mægen.         þa hine on morgentid
on Heaþoræmas         holm up ætbær;
ðonon he gesohte         swæsne,
leof his leodum,         lond Brondinga,
freoðoburh fægere,         þær he folc ahte,
burh ond beagas.         Beot eal wið þe
sunu Beanstanes         soðe gelæste.
ðonne wene ic to þe         wyrsan geþingea,
ðeah þu heaðoræsa         gehwær dohte,
grimre guðe,         gif þu Grendles dearst
nihtlongne fyrst         nean bidan.”
Beowulf maþelode,         bearn Ecgþeowes:
“Hwæt! þu worn fela,         wine min Unferð,
beore druncen         ymb Brecan spræce,
sægdest from his siðe.         Soð ic talige,
þæt ic merestrengo         maran ahte,
earfeþo on yþum,         ðonne ænig oþer man.
Wit þæt gecwædon         cnihtwesende
ond gebeotedon         (wæron begen þa git
on geogoðfeore)         þæt wit on garsecg ut
aldrum neðdon,         ond þæt geæfndon swa.
Hæfdon swurd nacod,         þa wit on sund reon,
heard on handa;         wit unc wið hronfixas
werian þohton.         No he wiht fram me
flodyþum feor         fleotan meahte,
hraþor on holme;         no ic fram him wolde.
ða wit ætsomne         on sæ wæron
fif nihta fyrst,         oþþæt unc flod todraf,
wado weallende,         wedera cealdost,
nipende niht,         ond norþanwind
heaðogrim ondhwearf;         hreo wæron yþa.
Wæs merefixa         mod onhrered;
þær me wið laðum         licsyrce min,
heard, hondlocen,         helpe gefremede,
beadohrægl broden         on breostum læg
golde gegyrwed.         Me to grunde teah
fah feondscaða,         fæste hæfde
grim on grape;         hwæþre me gyfeþe wearð
þæt ic aglæcan         orde geræhte,
hildebille;         heaþoræs fornam
mihtig meredeor         þurh mine hand.

Fitt 8   

499. Unferth, Ecglaf’s son, who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, made a speech exposing his secret hostility– Beowulf, the courageous seafarer, was for him the cause of much displeasure, because he would not allow that any other man on earth ever cared more about glorious deeds than himself under the heavens. 

504. “So you are the Beowulf who contended with Breca, competing with him across the broad sea! There you two tackled the waters for pride, and for foolish boasts ventured your lives in the deep waters; no man might for love or hostility dissuade either of you from the perilous venture when you two entered on the sea.” 

513. “There you two covered the sea-current with your arms, traversing the sea-way, moving your hands quickly, gliding over the ocean. The sea waves welled, the winter’s surge; you two toiled in the water’s possession for seven nights. He who overcame the sea would have more might.” 

518. “Then in the morning the sea carried him up to the Heatho-Raems; from there he sought his beloved homeland and his dear people, the land of the Brondings, the beautiful stronghold whose folk he possessed with stronghold and rings. 

523. “All of the boast of Beanstan’s son was truthfully fulfilled. I expect from you all the worse an outcome, even though you have prevailed everywhere in the storm of battle- a grim war, if you dare bide nearby a nightlong space of time for Grendel.” 

529. Beowulf, Ecgtheow’s son, made a speech: “What, my friend Unferth, you speak a great deal about Breca when drunk with beer, telling about his venture! I say the truth, that I possessed more strength in the sea, hardships in the waves, than any other man.” 

535. “We two agreed as youths and vowed– when we were both still in youth– that we two would venture life out on the ocean, and so we carried that out. With naked sword there we entered on the sea, hard in hand; we intended to protect ourselves against whales.” 

541. “He did not float far at all from me on the sea-waves, more quickly on the sea; I had no intent of going away from him. Then we two were together on the sea for five nights' space of time until the waters drove us apart, the sea’s surging, coldest weather, darkening night, and I turned battle-fiercely against the northwind.” 

548. “The waves were fierce. The anger of the sea-fishes was aroused; there my mail-shirt of mine, hard linked by hand, furnished help against hostility, the interlocked battle-garment laying on my breast, adorned with gold. The hostile and fiendish attacker dragged me to the ground of the sea, having a firm and grim grip.” 

555. “However, it was granted to me by fate that I hit the fierce assailant with the point of my battle-sword; through my hand I destroyed the mighty sea-beast in the storm of battle.”   

  Swa mec gelome         laðgeteonan
þreatedon þearle.         Ic him þenode
deoran sweorde,         swa hit gedefe wæs.
Næs hie ðære fylle         gefean hæfdon,
manfordædlan,         þæt hie me þegon,
symbel ymbsæton         sægrunde neah;
ac on mergenne         mecum wunde
be yðlafe         uppe lægon,
sweordum aswefede,         þæt syðþan na
ymb brontne ford         brimliðende
lade ne letton.         Leoht eastan com,
beorht beacen godes;         brimu swaþredon,
þæt ic sænæssas         geseon mihte,
windige weallas.         Wyrd oft nereð
unfægne eorl,         þonne his ellen deah.
Hwæþere me gesælde         þæt ic mid sweorde ofsloh
niceras nigene.         No ic on niht gefrægn
under heofones hwealf         heardran feohtan,
ne on egstreamum         earmran mannon;
hwaþere ic fara feng         feore gedigde,
siþes werig.         ða mec sæ oþbær,
flod æfter faroðe         on Finna land,
wadu weallendu.         No ic wiht fram þe
swylcra searoniða         secgan hyrde,
billa brogan.         Breca næfre git
æt heaðolace,         ne gehwæþer incer,
swa deorlice         dæd gefremede
fagum sweordum         (no ic þæs fela gylpe),
þeah ðu þinum broðrum         to banan wurde,
heafodmægum;         þæs þu in helle scealt
werhðo dreogan,         þeah þin wit duge.
Secge ic þe to soðe,         sunu Ecglafes,
þæt næfre Grendel swa fela         gryra gefremede,
atol æglæca,         ealdre þinum,
hynðo on Heorote,         gif þin hige wære,
sefa swa searogrim,         swa þu self talast.
Ac he hafað onfunden         þæt he þa fæhðe ne þearf,
atole ecgþræce         eower leode
swiðe onsittan,         Sigescyldinga;
nymeð nydbade,         nænegum arað
leode Deniga,         ac he lust wigeð,
swefeð ond sendeþ,         secce ne weneþ
to Gardenum.         Ac ic him Geata sceal
eafoð ond ellen         ungeara nu,
guþe gebeodan.         Gæþ eft se þe mot
to medo modig,         siþþan morgenleoht
ofer ylda bearn         oþres dogores,
sunne sweglwered         suþan scineð.”
þa wæs on salum         sinces brytta,
gamolfeax ond guðrof;         geoce gelyfde
brego Beorhtdena,         gehyrde on Beowulfe
folces hyrde         fæstrædne geþoht.
ðær wæs hæleþa hleahtor,         hlyn swynsode,
word wæron wynsume.         Eode Wealhþeow forð,
cwen Hroðgares,         cynna gemyndig,
grette goldhroden         guman on healle,
ond þa freolic wif         ful gesealde
ærest Eastdena         eþelwearde,
bæd hine bliðne         æt þære beorþege,
leodum leofne.         He on lust geþeah
symbel ond seleful,         sigerof kyning.
Ymbeode þa         ides Helminga
duguþe ond geogoþe         dæl æghwylcne,
sincfato sealde,         oþþæt sæl alamp
þæt hio Beowulfe,         beaghroden cwen
mode geþungen,         medoful ætbær;
grette Geata leod,         gode þancode
wisfæst wordum         þæs ðe hire se willa gelamp
þæt heo on ænigne         eorl gelyfde
fyrena frofre.         He þæt ful geþeah,
wælreow wiga,         æt Wealhþeon,
ond þa gyddode         guþe gefysed;
Beowulf maþelode,         bearn Ecgþeowes:
“Ic þæt hogode,         þa ic on holm gestah,
sæbat gesæt         mid minra secga gedriht,
þæt ic anunga         eowra leoda
willan geworhte         oþðe on wæl crunge,
feondgrapum fæst.         Ic gefremman sceal
eorlic ellen,         oþðe endedæg
on þisse meoduhealle         minne gebidan.”
ðam wife þa word         wel licodon,
gilpcwide Geates;         eode goldhroden
freolicu folccwen         to hire frean sittan.
þa wæs eft swa ær         inne on healle
þryðword sprecen,         ðeod on sælum,
sigefolca sweg,         oþþæt semninga
sunu Healfdenes         secean wolde
æfenræste;         wiste þæm ahlæcan
to þæm heahsele         hilde geþinged,
siððan hie sunnan leoht         geseon ne meahton,
oþðe nipende         niht ofer ealle,
scaduhelma gesceapu         scriðan cwoman,
wan under wolcnum.         Werod eall aras.
Gegrette þa         guma oþerne,
Hroðgar Beowulf,         ond him hæl abead,
winærnes geweald,         ond þæt word acwæð:
“Næfre ic ænegum men         ær alyfde,
siþðan ic hond ond rond         hebban mihte,
ðryþærn Dena         buton þe nu ða.
Hafa nu ond geheald         husa selest,
gemyne mærþo,         mægenellen cyð,
waca wið wraþum.         Ne bið þe wilna gad,
gif þu þæt ellenweorc         aldre gedigest.”

Fitt 9   

559. Thus the loathsome persecutor often severely harassed me. I served him excellently with my sword, as it was fitting. By no means did those evil-doers have a joyful feast there, that they consumed me sitting round a feast on the sea-bed; but in the morning, sword-wounded, it lay above along the shore, killed by my sword.” 

567. “After then it hindered no passage to seafarers across the high sea at all. Light came from the east, the bright beacon of God’s; the water grew calm, that I might see the headlands and windy walls. Fate often saves a man not marked to die when his courage is good!" 

574. “Yet it happened to me that I should slay nine water-monsters with my sword. I have not heard of more wretched a man under heaven’s vault who fought hard on the sea-stream in the night. Nevertheless, I grasped foes, surviving in life, weary in my venture.” 

579. “Then I was borne off over the sea, on the flood’s current, the surging of waters, to Finnish land. I have not heard anything said here about such skilful contests, the sword’s terror. Breca has never yet accomplished such bold deeds in sport of battle, nor you two either, with shining swords.” 

586. “I do not boast this much, though you would expose your brother to slaying, close kinsmen. For that you shall suffer damnation in Hell, however good your wit might be!" 

590. “I tell you truly, son of Ecglaf’s, that Grendel could never accomplish so many horrors- terrible and fierce assailant of your lord- such humiliations in Heorot, if you had heart, such spirit so fierce in battle that you would maintain yourself.” 

595. “But he has found out that he need not find hostility, greatly fear a terrible storm of sword from your people– victorious Scyldings! He takes his enforced toll and shows no mercy to Danish people, but takes pleasure in killing and dispatching with no conflict expected from Spear-Danes!" 

601. “But I soon now shall show him Geatish strength and courage in battle. You may go after to mead high-spirited, as in morning-light over men’s children in other days, the sun clothed in radiance, shining from the south!" 

607. Then the bestower of treasure was in happiness, grey-haired and famed in battle; the prince of the Bright-Danes counted on help, having heard from Beowulf’s people of his resolute purpose. There was the warriors' laughter, the resound of noise. Words were joyful. 

612. Wealtheow went forth– Hrothgar’s queen, mindful of courtesy – to greet the gold-adorned man in the hall, and there the noble wife gave a goblet first to the East-Dane, guardian of the native land, and bid him, the people’s love, to be joyful in beer-drinking. 

618. The king, famed for victory, shared in pleasure in the feast and the hall-cup. Then the lady of the Helmings went round to the tried and young warriors, to each section, and offered costly vessels, until the time came that the ring-adorned queen, excellent in mind, bore the mead-cup to Beowulf. 

625. She greeted the Geatish man, and thanked God with wise words for the fact that her wish would be fulfilled, that she in one warrior could trust for relief from the wicked deeds. He, a warrior fierce in battle, received the cup from Wealtheow, and spoke of his eagerness for battle. 

631. Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow’s, made a speech: “I resolved when I set out on the sea, sat on the sea-vessel, with my company of men, that I would fulfill your people’s wish completely, or fall slain, held fast in the enemy’s grasp. I shall accomplish the heroic deed of courage, or experience my ending day in this mead-hall!" 

639. At this word the lady was well pleased with the vaunting speech of the Geat’s; the noble queen of the folk, adorned with gold, went to sit with her lord. There were after, as before, brave words spoken in the hall and happiness in the people, the sound of victorious people, until soon the son of Healfdane’s wished to seek his night’s rest. 

646. He knew that the fierce assailant planned battle to the lofty hall, since they had seen the sun’s light until it grew dark, the night over all. A shape concealed in shadows had come stalking, dark under clouds. 

651. The company all rose. The men then greeted each other, and Hrothgar Beowulf, and he bid him success and control of the banquet-hall, and uttered a word: “Never have I before entrusted any men, since I might raise hand and shield, with the Danes' mighty hall, except until now.” 

657. “Now keep and hold this best house; think of fame; show mighty courage; be watchful against wrath! You will not lack anything you wish if you preserve your life in this courageous work.”   


Ða him Hroþgar gewat         mid his hæleþa gedryht,
eodur Scyldinga,         ut of healle;
wolde wigfruma         Wealhþeo secan,
cwen to gebeddan.         Hæfde kyningwuldor
Grendle togeanes,         swa guman gefrungon,
seleweard aseted;         sundornytte beheold
ymb aldor Dena,         eotonweard abead.
Huru Geata leod         georne truwode
modgan mægnes,         metodes hyldo.
ða he him of dyde         isernbyrnan,
helm of hafelan,         sealde his hyrsted sweord,
irena cyst,         ombihtþegne,
ond gehealdan het         hildegeatwe.
Gespræc þa se goda         gylpworda sum,
Beowulf Geata,         ær he on bed stige:
“No ic me an herewæsmun         hnagran talige,
guþgeweorca,         þonne Grendel hine;
forþan ic hine sweorde         swebban nelle,
aldre beneotan,         þeah ic eal mæge.
Nat he þara goda         þæt he me ongean slea,
rand geheawe,         þeah ðe he rof sie
niþgeweorca;         ac wit on niht sculon
secge ofersittan,         gif he gesecean dear
wig ofer wæpen,         ond siþðan witig god
on swa hwæþere hond,         halig dryhten,
mærðo deme,         swa him gemet þince.”
Hylde hine þa heaþodeor,         hleorbolster onfeng
eorles andwlitan,         ond hine ymb monig
snellic særinc         selereste gebeah.
Nænig heora þohte         þæt he þanon scolde
eft eardlufan         æfre gesecean,
folc oþðe freoburh,         þær he afeded wæs;
ac hie hæfdon gefrunen         þæt hie ær to fela micles
in þæm winsele         wældeað fornam,
Denigea leode.         Ac him dryhten forgeaf
wigspeda gewiofu,         Wedera leodum,
frofor ond fultum,         þæt hie feond heora
ðurh anes cræft         ealle ofercomon,
selfes mihtum.         Soð is gecyþed
þæt mihtig god         manna cynnes
weold wideferhð.         Com on wanre niht
scriðan sceadugenga.         Sceotend swæfon,
þa þæt hornreced         healdan scoldon,
ealle buton anum.         þæt wæs yldum cuþ
þæt hie ne moste,         þa metod nolde,
se scynscaþa         under sceadu bregdan;
ac he wæccende         wraþum on andan
bad bolgenmod         beadwa geþinges.

Fitt 10   

662. Then Hrothgar, protector of the Scyldings, went with his band of warriors out of the hall; the war-leader went to seek Wealtheow and take his queen to bed. 

666. The King of Glory, so men had learned, had set a hall-guard against Grendel. A special service was held for the Lord of the Danes, the guard against a giant. Indeed the Geatish people firmly trusted in the favor of the Creator for their brave strength. 

671. Then Beowulf took his iron mail-coat off himself, helmet off head, and gave his decorated sword, best iron, to his attendant thane, and ordered him to guard his war-equipment. He then spoke, for their good, some vaunting words before he mounted the bed. 

677. “I do not consider myself poorer in warlike vigor, in warlike deeds, than Grendel himself; for I do not wish to slay him with a sword, depriving him of life, although I entirely may. He does not know of my skills, though he may strike against me, hewing through my shield, however much famed he is for malicious works.” 

683. “But we two in the night shall forgo swords, if he dares seek war without weapons, and afterward wise God, the holy Lord, will deem glory in whichever hand it seems fitting to Him.” He then lay himself down, brave in battle, and the warrior’s face received a pillow; around him many brave seamen lay down on their beds in the hall. 

691. None of them thought that he would ever reach his beloved homeland again, the folk, or the noble stronghold where he was brought up. For they had learned that before them far too many of the Danish people in the banquet-hall had been carried off in deadly slaughter. 

696. But the Lord Himself had granted success and fortune in war, and comfort and aid to the Wederish people, that they, through one’s craft and his own might, would entirely overcome their deadly fiend. The truth is well-known that mighty God rules over mankind for ever. 

702. In the darkening night the walker in shadows came stalking. The warriors who should have been guarding that gabled hall slept– all but one. It was known to men that they were not permitted, for God did not wish it, to be dragged under shadows by the demonic ravager. 

708. But he watched, in anger and hostility, awaiting in rage the battle’s outcome.   

Ða com of more         under misthleoþum
Grendel gongan,         godes yrre bær;
mynte se manscaða         manna cynnes
sumne besyrwan         in sele þam hean.
Wod under wolcnum         to þæs þe he winreced,
goldsele gumena,         gearwost wisse,
fættum fahne.         Ne wæs þæt forma sið
þæt he Hroþgares         ham gesohte;
næfre he on aldordagum         ær ne siþðan
heardran hæle,         healðegnas fand.
Com þa to recede         rinc siðian,
dreamum bedæled.         Duru sona onarn,
fyrbendum fæst,         syþðan he hire folmum æthran;
onbræd þa bealohydig,         ða he gebolgen wæs,
recedes muþan.         Raþe æfter þon
on fagne flor         feond treddode,
eode yrremod;         him of eagum stod
ligge gelicost         leoht unfæger.
Geseah he in recede         rinca manige,
swefan sibbegedriht         samod ætgædere,
magorinca heap.         þa his mod ahlog;
mynte þæt he gedælde,         ærþon dæg cwome,
atol aglæca,         anra gehwylces
lif wið lice,         þa him alumpen wæs
wistfylle wen.         Ne wæs þæt wyrd þa gen
þæt he ma moste         manna cynnes
ðicgean ofer þa niht.         þryðswyð beheold
mæg Higelaces,         hu se manscaða
under færgripum         gefaran wolde.
Ne þæt se aglæca         yldan þohte,
ac he gefeng hraðe         forman siðe
slæpendne rinc,         slat unwearnum,
bat banlocan,         blod edrum dranc,
synsnædum swealh;         sona hæfde
unlyfigendes         eal gefeormod,
fet ond folma.         Forð near ætstop,
nam þa mid handa         higeþihtigne
rinc on ræste,         ræhte ongean
feond mid folme;         he onfeng hraþe
inwitþancum         ond wið earm gesæt.
Sona þæt onfunde         fyrena hyrde
þæt he ne mette         middangeardes,
eorþan sceata,         on elran men
mundgripe maran.         He on mode wearð
forht on ferhðe;         no þy ær fram meahte.
Hyge wæs him hinfus,         wolde on heolster fleon,
secan deofla gedræg;         ne wæs his drohtoð þær
swylce he on ealderdagum         ær gemette.
Gemunde þa se goda,         mæg Higelaces,
æfenspræce,         uplang astod
ond him fæste wiðfeng;         fingras burston.
Eoten wæs utweard;         eorl furþur stop.
Mynte se mæra,         þær he meahte swa,
widre gewindan         ond on weg þanon
fleon on fenhopu;         wiste his fingra geweald
on grames grapum.         þæt wæs geocor sið
þæt se hearmscaþa         to Heorute ateah.
Dryhtsele dynede;         Denum eallum wearð,
ceasterbuendum,         cenra gehwylcum,
eorlum ealuscerwen.         Yrre wæron begen,
reþe renweardas.         Reced hlynsode.
þa wæs wundor micel         þæt se winsele
wiðhæfde heaþodeorum,         þæt he on hrusan ne feol,
fæger foldbold;         ac he þæs fæste wæs
innan ond utan         irenbendum
searoþoncum besmiþod.         þær fram sylle abeag
medubenc monig,         mine gefræge,
golde geregnad,         þær þa graman wunnon.
þæs ne wendon ær         witan Scyldinga
þæt hit a mid gemete         manna ænig,
betlic ond banfag,         tobrecan meahte,
listum tolucan,         nymþe liges fæþm
swulge on swaþule.         Sweg up astag
niwe geneahhe;         Norðdenum stod
atelic egesa,         anra gehwylcum
þara þe of wealle         wop gehyrdon,
gryreleoð galan         godes ondsacan,
sigeleasne sang,         sar wanigean
helle hæfton.         Heold hine fæste
se þe manna wæs         mægene strengest
on þæm dæge         þysses lifes.

Fitt 11   

710. Then Grendel came advancing from the mere under misty slopes, bearing God’s ire; the wicked ravager meant to ensnare one of man’s kind in that high hall. 

714. He advanced under clouds to the banquet-hall; he clearly discerned the gold-hall of men, its gleaming gold plating. It was not the first time he had sought Hrothgar’s home; he never in the days of his life, neither before nor after, found such hard fortune with the hall-thanes. 

720. The creature, deprived of joy, made his way to the hall. The door soon sprang open, the firm forged bars, after he touched them with his hand. Then he pulled open the hall’s door, intending destruction, as he was enraged. 

724. Quickly after that the fiend tread on the decorated floor, angry at heart; his eyes gleamed like the flame of an ugly light. He saw in the hall many warriors, a band of kinsmen all together and asleep, a troop of young warriors. 

730. Then his heart exulted; the terrible and fierce assailant meant to sever each one’s life from body before day had come; to him came the expectation of a lavish feast. It was no longer fated that he would be permitted to take more of man’s kind after that night. 

736. Hygelac’s mighty kinsman watched how the wicked ravager would proceed with his sudden attack. The fierce assailant did not think of delay, but at the first opportunity he quickly seized a sleeping warrior and tore unrestrainedly, bit muscles, drank blood from the veins, and swallowed the sinful morsels. 

743. He soon had the lifeless man entirely consumed, feet and hands. He stepped closer forward, and grasped the strong-hearted warrior from his rest with his hand, and reached out towards his prey with his hand. 

748. Beowulf quickly seized him with hostile purpose and sat up, leaning on his arm. Soon the master of wicked deeds found out that he had not met in the world, earth’s region, another man with a stronger hand-grip; in his heart he became fearful in spirit; he could none the sooner get away. 

755. He was eager in mind to get away, and would flee into the darkness, seeking the devils' company; his experience there was not such as he had encountered before in the days of his life. 

758. Then, remembering his kinsman Hygelac’s brave evening speech, he stood upright and grasped him firmly; fingers cracked. The giant was striving to escape; the warrior stepped further. He meant all the more, if he might do so, to escape further off and on the way from there flee to the fen-retreat. He knew the power of Beowulf’s fingers in the grim grasp. 

765. That was a bitter journey to Heorot which the grievous ravager undertook! The noble hall dinned; the Danish warriors all became terrified at the fortress-dwellers, each keen. Both were furious, fierce guardians of the hall; the banquet-hall resounded. 

771. There was much wonder that the banquet-hall withstood, brave in battle; that the beautiful building did not fall to the ground. But inside and out it was so firmly and skillfully forged with iron bands. 

775. As I have heard, there were many mead-benches, arrayed with gold, wrenched from the floor in the hostile fight. It was not thought before by wise Scylding men, that any man might shatter it, excellent and adorned with bone; could ever destroy it with cunning, unless the fire’s embrace should swallow it in flames. 

782. New sounds often rose up; the North-Danes came upon horrible fear, each one who heard wailing from the walls, a chant of terror uttered from God’s adversary, who sang a song of defeat, the captive of hell bewailing his wounds. The man who had the strongest might in the days of this life held him fast.   

  Nolde eorla hleo         ænige þinga
þone cwealmcuman         cwicne forlætan,
ne his lifdagas         leoda ænigum
nytte tealde.         þær genehost brægd
eorl Beowulfes         ealde lafe,
wolde freadrihtnes         feorh ealgian,
mæres þeodnes,         ðær hie meahton swa.
Hie þæt ne wiston,         þa hie gewin drugon,
heardhicgende         hildemecgas,
ond on healfa gehwone         heawan þohton,
sawle secan,         þone synscaðan
ænig ofer eorþan         irenna cyst,
guðbilla nan,         gretan nolde,
ac he sigewæpnum         forsworen hæfde,
ecga gehwylcre.         Scolde his aldorgedal
on ðæm dæge         þysses lifes
earmlic wurðan,         ond se ellorgast
on feonda geweald         feor siðian.
ða þæt onfunde         se þe fela æror
modes myrðe         manna cynne,
fyrene gefremede         (he wæs fag wið god),
þæt him se lichoma         læstan nolde,
ac hine se modega         mæg Hygelaces
hæfde be honda;         wæs gehwæþer oðrum
lifigende lað.         Licsar gebad
atol æglæca;         him on eaxle wearð
syndolh sweotol,         seonowe onsprungon,
burston banlocan.         Beowulfe wearð
guðhreð gyfeþe;         scolde Grendel þonan
feorhseoc fleon         under fenhleoðu,
secean wynleas wic;         wiste þe geornor
þæt his aldres wæs         ende gegongen,
dogera dægrim.         Denum eallum wearð
æfter þam wælræse         willa gelumpen.
Hæfde þa gefælsod         se þe ær feorran com,
snotor ond swyðferhð,         sele Hroðgares,
genered wið niðe;         nihtweorce gefeh,
ellenmærþum.         Hæfde Eastdenum
Geatmecga leod         gilp gelæsted,
swylce oncyþðe         ealle gebette,
inwidsorge,         þe hie ær drugon
ond for þreanydum         þolian scoldon,
torn unlytel.         þæt wæs tacen sweotol,
syþðan hildedeor         hond alegde,
earm ond eaxle         (þær wæs eal geador
Grendles grape)         under geapne hrof.

Fitt 12   

791. Nor would the protectors of the warrior let the deadly visitor go alive by any means, nor did any of his people consider his life’s days of any use. There Beowulf’s warriors often brandished ancient heirlooms, and would protect their lord’s life, the renowned prince, if they might do so. 

798. They that did not know that they were engaged in conflict, warriors resolute in mind, on each side thought to strike out, to seek out life. The evil ravager could not be touched by any sword on earth, the best war-sword; but Beowulf had renounced weapons of victory, every blade. 

805. His severing from life on that day of this life would be miserable, and the alien guest would journey far in the fiend’s power. 

809. Then it was found by him who was formerly the affliction of the hearts of mankind, who carried out wicked deeds, him at feud with God, that his body would not be of service to him, but the courageous kinsmen of Hygelac’s had him by the hand; each’s life was hateful to the other. 

815. The fierce assailant suffered terrible bodily pain; on his shoulder an incurable wound became visible, sinews sprung apart, and muscles burst. Beowulf was granted triumph in battle by fate; Grendel would flee from there, mortally wounded, to fenland slopes, seeking his joyless dwelling. 

821. He knew the more surely that his life’s end was reached, the life-span of his days. The Danes' desire after the deadly onslaught were all fulfilled. 

825. Then he who had come before from afar, wise and resolute, had cleansed Hrothgar’s hall, saved it from affliction; he rejoiced in the night’s work, his heroic deeds. The man of the Geatish people had fulfilled his pledge to the East-Danes, their grief made all good as well: the sorrow that they endured before and in dire necessity should suffer, no small affliction. 

833. A clear sign of the battle-brave hand was laid there, arm and shoulder. Grendel’s grasp was there all together under the broad roof.   

  Ða wæs on morgen         mine gefræge
ymb þa gifhealle         guðrinc monig;
ferdon folctogan         feorran ond nean
geond widwegas         wundor sceawian,
laþes lastas.         No his lifgedal
sarlic þuhte         secga ænegum
þara þe tirleases         trode sceawode,
hu he werigmod         on weg þanon,
niða ofercumen,         on nicera mere
fæge ond geflymed         feorhlastas bær.
ðær wæs on blode         brim weallende,
atol yða geswing         eal gemenged
haton heolfre,         heorodreore weol.
Deaðfæge deog,         siððan dreama leas
in fenfreoðo         feorh alegde,
hæþene sawle;         þær him hel onfeng.
þanon eft gewiton         ealdgesiðas,
swylce geong manig         of gomenwaþe
fram mere modge         mearum ridan,
beornas on blancum.         ðær wæs Beowulfes
mærðo mæned;         monig oft gecwæð
þætte suð ne norð         be sæm tweonum
ofer eormengrund         oþer nænig
under swegles begong         selra nære
rondhæbbendra,         rices wyrðra.
Ne hie huru winedrihten         wiht ne logon,
glædne Hroðgar,         ac þæt wæs god cyning.
Hwilum heaþorofe         hleapan leton,
on geflit faran         fealwe mearas
ðær him foldwegas         fægere þuhton,
cystum cuðe.         Hwilum cyninges þegn,
guma gilphlæden,         gidda gemyndig,
se ðe ealfela         ealdgesegena
worn gemunde,         word oþer fand
soðe gebunden;         secg eft ongan
sið Beowulfes         snyttrum styrian
ond on sped wrecan         spel gerade,
wordum wrixlan.         Welhwylc gecwæð
þæt he fram Sigemundes         secgan hyrde
ellendædum,         uncuþes fela,
Wælsinges gewin,         wide siðas,
þara þe gumena bearn         gearwe ne wiston,
fæhðe ond fyrena,         buton Fitela mid hine,
þonne he swulces hwæt         secgan wolde,
eam his nefan,         swa hie a wæron
æt niða gehwam         nydgesteallan;
hæfdon ealfela         eotena cynnes
sweordum gesæged.         Sigemunde gesprong
æfter deaðdæge         dom unlytel,
syþðan wiges heard         wyrm acwealde,
hordes hyrde.         He under harne stan,
æþelinges bearn,         ana geneðde
frecne dæde,         ne wæs him Fitela mid.
Hwæþre him gesælde         ðæt þæt swurd þurhwod
wrætlicne wyrm,         þæt hit on wealle ætstod,
dryhtlic iren;         draca morðre swealt.
Hæfde aglæca         elne gegongen
þæt he beahhordes         brucan moste
selfes dome;         sæbat gehleod,
bær on bearm scipes         beorhte frætwa,
Wælses eafera.         Wyrm hat gemealt.
Se wæs wreccena         wide mærost
ofer werþeode,         wigendra hleo,
ellendædum         (he þæs ær onðah),
siððan Heremodes         hild sweðrode,
eafoð ond ellen.         He mid Eotenum wearð
on feonda geweald         forð forlacen,
snude forsended.         Hine sorhwylmas
lemede to lange;         he his leodum wearð,
eallum æþellingum         to aldorceare;
swylce oft bemearn         ærran mælum
swiðferhþes sið         snotor ceorl monig,
se þe him bealwa to         bote gelyfde,
þæt þæt ðeodnes bearn         geþeon scolde,
fæderæþelum onfon,         folc gehealdan,
hord ond hleoburh,         hæleþa rice,
Scyldinga.         He þær eallum wearð,
mæg Higelaces,         manna cynne,
freondum gefægra;         hine fyren onwod.
Hwilum flitende         fealwe stræte
mearum mæton.         ða wæs morgenleoht
scofen ond scynded.         Eode scealc monig
swiðhicgende         to sele þam hean
searowundor seon;         swylce self cyning
of brydbure,         beahhorda weard,
tryddode tirfæst         getrume micle,
cystum gecyþed,         ond his cwen mid him
medostigge mæt         mægþa hose.

Fitt 13   

837. There were in the morning, as I have heard, many warriors around the gift-hall; leaders of folk from afar and near came through distant regions to look at the wonder, the foe’s track. 

838. His severing from life seemed painful to no man who looked at the inglorious foot-print there, how he, weary at heart and overcome in battle, put to flight and doomed to the water-monster’s mere, bore a trail of blood on the way there. 

847. There in the water blood surged, terrible waves swirled, all mingled with hot blood, welling battle-gore; the death-fated creature hid since he, joy-deprived, had laid down his life in the fen-refuge, heathen soul. There hell received it. 

853. The old retainers, also many young, went away from there on the joyous journey, riding high-spirited mares from the mere, warriors on horses. 

856. Beowulf’s glory was related there; many often said that neither south nor north between the seas over the spacious earth, nor under the sky’s expanse, was there a better shield-bearer or more worthy kingdoms– not that they at all, indeed, found fault with their gracious friend and lord Hrothgar, who was a good king. 

864. For a while those famed in battle went galloping, riding bright horses in contest on paths seeming fair to him, those known for excellence. For a while the king’s thane, a man filled with eloquent speech and mindful of stories, who recalled a great multitude of traditional tales, devised a new poem, correctly metered. 

871. The man then proceeded to wisely recount Beowulf’s exploits and recite the tale skillfully, varying his words. 

874. He recounted everything that he heard told of Sigemund’s brave deeds, not known by many, of the son of Waels' conflict, his wide journeys, where men’s children did not fully know of the feuds and wicked deeds- except Fitela with him- than he would say of such a matter, uncle to his nephew, as they were always with every comrade in need at battle. 

883. A great many of the giant’s kin had been laid low by sword. Sigemund spread forth no little fame after his death’s day, since in hard warfare he had killed the serpent, the hoard’s guardian; he, son of the prince, ventured alone on the daring deed under grey stone. Nor was Fitela with him. 

890. Yet it befell him that the sword went through the wondrous serpent as it stood fast on the wall, the lordly iron; the dragon died from the slaying. The warrior’s valor had brought it about that he was able to enjoy his own choice of the hoard of rings; the sea-vessel was loaded as Waels' son bore in the ship’s hold bright adornments; the hot serpent melted away. 

898. That was the exile of the warrior’s protector, most famous over wide nations for brave deeds– he prospered from that after– after Heremod’s prowess in war, strength, and valor, were diminished. Among the Jutes he became lured away in the fiend’s power and was quickly put to death. 

904. Surging sorrows oppressed him too long; to his people he became a nobleman entirely given to life’s care; in earlier times he often mourned the strong-minded way of life of many a wise man, who relied in him for relief from miseries, that the prince’s son should prosper and receive his father’s nobility, guard the folk, hoard, and stronghold, warrior kingdom, native land of the Scyldings. 

913. There he entirely became Hygelac’s kinsman, dearer to his friends and to mankind; Heremod waded into sin. 

916. For a while Beowulf competed, crossing tawny roads on horses. Then morning-light advanced and hastened. 

918. Many retainers advanced, resolute in mind, to the high hall to see the curious wonder; the king himself from his bed-chamber, guardian of the ring-hoard, renowned for virtue, also stepped toward the glorious great troop, and his queen with him crossed the path to the mead-hall with her maiden troop.   

Hroðgar maþelode         (he to healle geong,
stod on stapole,         geseah steapne hrof,
golde fahne,         ond Grendles hond):
“ðisse ansyne         alwealdan þanc
lungre gelimpe!         Fela ic laþes gebad,
grynna æt Grendle;         a mæg god wyrcan
wunder æfter wundre,         wuldres hyrde.
ðæt wæs ungeara         þæt ic ænigra me
weana ne wende         to widan feore
bote gebidan,         þonne blode fah
husa selest         heorodreorig stod,
wea widscofen         witena gehwylcum
ðara þe ne wendon         þæt hie wideferhð
leoda landgeweorc         laþum beweredon
scuccum ond scinnum.         Nu scealc hafað
þurh drihtnes miht         dæd gefremede
ðe we ealle         ær ne meahton
snyttrum besyrwan.         Hwæt, þæt secgan mæg
efne swa hwylc mægþa         swa ðone magan cende
æfter gumcynnum,         gyf heo gyt lyfað,
þæt hyre ealdmetod         este wære
bearngebyrdo.         Nu ic, Beowulf, þec,
secg betsta,         me for sunu wylle
freogan on ferhþe;         heald forð tela
niwe sibbe.         Ne bið þe nænigra gad
worolde wilna,         þe ic geweald hæbbe.
Ful oft ic for læssan         lean teohhode,
hordweorþunge         hnahran rince,
sæmran æt sæcce.         þu þe self hafast
dædum gefremed         þæt þin dom lyfað
awa to aldre.         Alwalda þec
gode forgylde,         swa he nu gyt dyde!”
Beowulf maþelode,         bearn Ecþeowes:
“We þæt ellenweorc         estum miclum,
feohtan fremedon,         frecne geneðdon
eafoð uncuþes.         Uþe ic swiþor
þæt ðu hine selfne         geseon moste,
feond on frætewum         fylwerigne.
Ic hine hrædlice         heardan clammum
on wælbedde         wriþan þohte,
þæt he for mundgripe         minum scolde
licgean lifbysig,         butan his lic swice.
Ic hine ne mihte,         þa metod nolde,
ganges getwæman,         no ic him þæs georne ætfealh,
feorhgeniðlan;         wæs to foremihtig
feond on feþe.         Hwæþere he his folme forlet
to lifwraþe         last weardian,
earm ond eaxle.         No þær ænige swa þeah
feasceaft guma         frofre gebohte;
no þy leng leofað         laðgeteona,
synnum geswenced,         ac hyne sar hafað
mid nydgripe         nearwe befongen,
balwon bendum.         ðær abidan sceal
maga mane fah         miclan domes,
hu him scir metod         scrifan wille.”
ða wæs swigra secg,         sunu Eclafes,
on gylpspræce         guðgeweorca,
siþðan æþelingas         eorles cræfte
ofer heanne hrof         hand sceawedon,
feondes fingras.         Foran æghwylc wæs,
stiðra nægla gehwylc,         style gelicost,
hæþenes handsporu         hilderinces,
egl, unheoru.         æghwylc gecwæð
þæt him heardra nan         hrinan wolde
iren ærgod,         þæt ðæs ahlæcan
blodge beadufolme         onberan wolde.

Fitt 14   

925. Hrothgar made a speech– he went to the hall, stood on the steps, and saw the steep roof gleaming with gold, and Grendel’s hand. “For this sight may thanks be given to the Ruler of All at once! I have endured many hateful afflictions from Grendel; may God always work wonder after wonder, the shepherd of glory!" 

932. “It was not long ago that I never expected to live to see any remedy for my miseries, when the best house stood blood-stained and sword-gory, the woe far-reaching for each counselor. They never expected that the people’s stronghold would ever be defended from hostile demons and evil spirits.” 

939. “Now this warrior has through the Lord’s might carried out the deed that we all could not accomplish before through skill. What, who may say, to whoever was the woman who gave birth to such a son among men, if she still lives, that her God of old was gracious to her in childbearing.” 

946. “Now, Beowulf, best of men, I will love you in my heart as a son; henceforth keep our new kinship well. You will not lack any desirable things in the world that I have power over. Full often I have assigned for reward and honored with gifts more lowly men, weaker in battle.” 

953. “You yourself have brought about deeds so that your fame will live forever and ever. May the Ruler of all reward you with goodness, such as he even now did!" 

957. Beowulf, the son of Ecgtheow, made a speech: “We have carried out the fight, the courageous work, with much good will, and have daringly risked unknown strengths. I wish very much that you could have seen him yourself, the fiend in his trappings exhausted to the point of death!" 

963. “I swiftly gripped him tight, and thought to bind him in his deathbed, so that he would lie struggling in my handgrip unless his body should escape. I would not, the Creator would not allow it, permit his going; I grasped him firmly enough, the deadly foe. It was too powerful for the enemy’s going.” 

970. “Nevertheless, he left his hand to remain behind in protection of his life, arm and shoulder; as such there was not any comfort gained by the wretched being. The hateful sin-afflicted attacker will live none the longer, but pain had him tightly seized in a unyielding grip, deadly fetter.” 

977. “There the crime-stained creature shall await great judgment, however the resplendent Creator will decree to him.” 

980. Then the son of Ecglaf’s, Unferth, was more silent in vaunting speeches of his warlike deeds after the nobleman saw the warrior-strength of the hand over the high roof, the fiend’s fingers. At each tip there was a firm nail, everywhere exactly like steel, the claw of the heathen warrior horrible and dreadful. 

987. Each said that of hardy men none could strike with a sword of proven worth, that none would injure this fierce assailant’s bloody battle-hand.   


Ða wæs haten hreþe         Heort innanweard
folmum gefrætwod.         Fela þæra wæs,
wera ond wifa,         þe þæt winreced,
gestsele gyredon.         Goldfag scinon
web æfter wagum,         wundorsiona fela
secga gehwylcum         þara þe on swylc starað.
Wæs þæt beorhte bold         tobrocen swiðe,
eal inneweard         irenbendum fæst,
heorras tohlidene.         Hrof ana genæs,
ealles ansund,         þe se aglæca,
fyrendædum fag,         on fleam gewand,
aldres orwena.         No þæt yðe byð
to befleonne,         fremme se þe wille,
ac gesecan sceal         sawlberendra,
nyde genydde,         niþða bearna,
grundbuendra         gearwe stowe,
þær his lichoma         legerbedde fæst
swefeþ æfter symle.         þa wæs sæl ond mæl
þæt to healle gang         Healfdenes sunu;
wolde self cyning         symbel þicgan.
Ne gefrægen ic þa mægþe         maran weorode
ymb hyra sincgyfan         sel gebæran.
Bugon þa to bence         blædagande,
fylle gefægon;         fægere geþægon
medoful manig         magas þara
swiðhicgende         on sele þam hean,
Hroðgar ond Hroþulf.         Heorot innan wæs
freondum afylled;         nalles facenstafas
þeodscyldingas         þenden fremedon.
Forgeaf þa Beowulfe         bearn Healfdenes
segen gyldenne         sigores to leane;
hroden hildecumbor,         helm ond byrnan,
mære maðþumsweord         manige gesawon
beforan beorn beran.         Beowulf geþah
ful on flette;         no he þære feohgyfte
for sceotendum         scamigan ðorfte.
Ne gefrægn ic freondlicor         feower madmas
golde gegyrede         gummanna fela
in ealobence         oðrum gesellan.
Ymb þæs helmes hrof         heafodbeorge
wirum bewunden         walu utan heold,
þæt him fela laf         frecne ne meahton
scurheard sceþðan,         þonne scyldfreca
ongean gramum         gangan scolde.
Heht ða eorla hleo         eahta mearas
fætedhleore         on flet teon,
in under eoderas.         þara anum stod
sadol searwum fah,         since gewurþad;
þæt wæs hildesetl         heahcyninges,
ðonne sweorda gelac         sunu Healfdenes
efnan wolde.         Næfre on ore læg
widcuþes wig,         ðonne walu feollon.
Ond ða Beowulfe         bega gehwæþres
eodor Ingwina         onweald geteah,
wicga ond wæpna,         het hine wel brucan.
Swa manlice         mære þeoden,
hordweard hæleþa,         heaþoræsas geald
mearum ond madmum,         swa hy næfre man lyhð,
se þe secgan wile         soð æfter rihte.

Fitt 15   

991. Then it was quickly ordered that Heorot within be adorned by hand; there were many, men and women of the banquet-hall, who prepared the guest-hall. Gold-adorned tapestries shone along the wall, many a wondrous sight for each man who gazed there on such. 

997. The bright dwelling was greatly damaged; within the iron bands were all fixed, hinges broken; the roof alone survived entirely sound from when the fierce assailant, stained from wicked deeds, went in flight, despairing of life. 

1002. Death is not that easy to flee from– let him try who will!– but, compelled by necessity, he shall seek out one who bears a soul, the earth-dweller’s place readied for the sons of men. There his body is held fast in its grave, the sleep after the feast. 

1008. Then it was the due and proper time for Healfdane’s son to go to the hall, who wished to take part in the feast himself. I have not heard of a greater company of people better behaved around their treasure-giver. 

1013. Those possessing glory sat down on the bench and rejoiced in the feast; their resolute kinsmen, Hrothgar and Hrothulf, courteously received many cups of mead in that high hall. Heorot was filled with friends inside; no wicked acts between the Scyldings were performed then. 

1020. Hrothgar then gave Healfdane’s sword to Beowulf, a golden standard to reward victory, a decorated battle-banner, and a helmet and mailcoat; many had seen the warrior bear the renowned and precious sword before. 

1024. Beowulf received a cup in the hall; the warrior need not have been ashamed for any costly gift there. I have not elsewhere heard of four treasures adorned in gold given by so many men on ale-benches in friendliness. 

1030. Around the helmet’s crown wires were wound round a crest for head-protection from outside, so that the sword’s filed blade might not severely injure him in hard battle if the shield-warrior should advance against him in hostility. 

1035. The warrior then ordered eight mares with gold-plated bridles to be led onto the hall-floor for the protector, in under the precincts; one stood there with a saddle decorated with artistry, adorned with rich ornaments; that was the war-saddle of a high king’s, when the son of Healfdane would engage in swordplay. 

1041. Never had the horse failed in renowned war-prowess on the front when the slain fell. And then the protector of the Ingwine, Hrothgar, conferred possession of both horse and weapons on Beowulf, and enjoined him to enjoy them well. 

1046. Such was the way the manly and renowned prince, the treasure-keeper, repaid the warrior for the storms of battle with horses and treasures, in a manner that he who wishes to speak the truth rightly will never find fault with.   


Ða gyt æghwylcum         eorla drihten
þara þe mid Beowulfe         brimlade teah
on þære medubence         maþðum gesealde,
yrfelafe,         ond þone ænne heht
golde forgyldan,         þone ðe Grendel ær
mane acwealde,         swa he hyra ma wolde,
nefne him witig god         wyrd forstode
ond ðæs mannes mod.         Metod eallum weold
gumena cynnes,         swa he nu git deð.
Forþan bið andgit         æghwær selest,
ferhðes foreþanc.         Fela sceal gebidan
leofes ond laþes         se þe longe her
on ðyssum windagum         worolde bruceð.
þær wæs sang ond sweg         samod ætgædere
fore Healfdenes         hildewisan,
gomenwudu greted,         gid oft wrecen,
ðonne healgamen         Hroþgares scop
æfter medobence         mænan scolde
be Finnes eaferum,         ða hie se fær begeat,
hæleð Healfdena,         Hnæf Scyldinga,
in Freswæle         feallan scolde.
Ne huru Hildeburh         herian þorfte
Eotena treowe;         unsynnum wearð
beloren leofum         æt þam lindplegan,
bearnum ond broðrum;         hie on gebyrd hruron,
gare wunde.         þæt wæs geomuru ides!
Nalles holinga         Hoces dohtor
meotodsceaft bemearn,         syþðan morgen com,
ða heo under swegle         geseon meahte
morþorbealo maga,         þær heo ær mæste heold
worolde wynne.         Wig ealle fornam
Finnes þegnas         nemne feaum anum,
þæt he ne mehte         on þæm meðelstede
wig Hengeste         wiht gefeohtan,
ne þa wealafe         wige forþringan
þeodnes ðegna;         ac hig him geþingo budon,
þæt hie him oðer flet         eal gerymdon,
healle ond heahsetl,         þæt hie healfre geweald
wið Eotena bearn         agan moston,
ond æt feohgyftum         Folcwaldan sunu
dogra gehwylce         Dene weorþode,
Hengestes heap         hringum wenede
efne swa swiðe         sincgestreonum
fættan goldes,         swa he Fresena cyn
on beorsele         byldan wolde.
ða hie getruwedon         on twa healfa
fæste frioðuwære.         Fin Hengeste
elne, unflitme         aðum benemde
þæt he þa wealafe         weotena dome
arum heolde,         þæt ðær ænig mon
wordum ne worcum         wære ne bræce,
ne þurh inwitsearo         æfre gemænden
ðeah hie hira beaggyfan         banan folgedon
ðeodenlease,         þa him swa geþearfod wæs;
gyf þonne Frysna hwylc         frecnan spræce
ðæs morþorhetes         myndgiend wære,
þonne hit sweordes ecg         seðan scolde.
Ad wæs geæfned         ond icge gold
ahæfen of horde.         Herescyldinga
betst beadorinca         wæs on bæl gearu.
æt þæm ade wæs         eþgesyne
swatfah syrce,         swyn ealgylden,
eofer irenheard,         æþeling manig
wundum awyrded;         sume on wæle crungon.
Het ða Hildeburh         æt Hnæfes ade
hire selfre sunu         sweoloðe befæstan,
banfatu bærnan         ond on bæl don
eame on eaxle.         Ides gnornode,
geomrode giddum.         Guðrinc astah.
Wand to wolcnum         wælfyra mæst,
hlynode for hlawe;         hafelan multon,
bengeato burston,         ðonne blod ætspranc,
laðbite lices.         Lig ealle forswealg,
gæsta gifrost,         þara ðe þær guð fornam
bega folces;         wæs hira blæd scacen.

Fitt 16   

1050. Furthermore, to each warrior there on the mead-benches who took the sea-passage with Beowulf, Hrothgar gave treasures and heirlooms, and the one man ordered gold to be paid in recompense for he whom Grendel had killed in wickedness, as he would have killed more of them if wise God had not prevented that fate for them, and this man’s courage. 

1057. The Creator ruled over all mankind, just as he now still does. For understanding is everywhere best, forethought in mind; many who inhabit the world for long here will experience dearness and hatefulness in these days of strife. 

1063. There was song and music together before Healfdane’s leader in battle, a harp plucked, tales often recited, when Hrothgar’s poet was to recite a tale about Finn’s sons for the entertainment of those along the mead-bench in the hall. 

1068. When they came upon sudden attack, the hero of the Half-Danes, Hnaef the Scylding, was to fall on the Frisian battle-field. Nor indeed did Hildeburgh have cause to praise Jutish loyalty; she was guiltlessly deprived of her dear sons and brothers at the shield-play; in fate they fell dead, wounded by spear; that was a mournful woman. 

1076. Not at all without cause did Hoc’s daughter mourn the decree of fate after morning had come, when she might see the slaughter of her kinsmen under the sky. 

1079. Where he had earlier held the greatest worldly joy, war had carried off all of Finn’s thanes except only a few, so that he was not able to pursue the battle with Hengest to the end, the prince’s thane, in the meeting-place, nor dislodge the disaster’s survivors by fighting. 

1085. But Hengest offered him terms, that they should clear for them another hall entirely, hall and high-seat, that they be should be allowed to control half, possessing it with the Jutes' sons. And in giving of treasure each day the Danes would honor the son of Folcwalda’s. 

1091. Hengest’s company would present rings and plated gold just as greatly treasured as he would embolden his Frisian kin to give in the banquet hall. 

1095. Then they pledged on both halves a firm peace-treaty. Finn declared oaths to Hengest with ill-fated courage that he would honorably hold the counselors' judgment of the survivors of the war, that no man would break it by words or deeds, nor through malicious craft ever complain. 

1102. Though they would serve the slayer of their ring-giver without a prince, as it was so imposed on him by necessity, if any of the Frisians were to bring to mind the deadly feud in audacious speeches, then it should be settled by the sword’s edge. 

1107. The oath was performed, and immense gold brought from the hoard. The best warriors of the Scyldings were readied on the pyre; at the funeral pyre the blood-stained mail-shirt was easily visible, the boar-image all golden, the boar as hard as iron. Many a nobleman was destroyed by wounds– some had fallen on the slain. 

1114. Hildeburgh then ordered at Hnaef’s funeral pyre her own son to be committed to the blaze, the body burned, and at his uncle’s shoulder in the pyre’s place. The woman mourned, lamenting in dirges; the warrior was held aloft. The great funeral-fire curled to the clouds, roaring from the burial-mound. 

1120. His head melted, and wound-gashes burst when blood sprang out, the body’s grievous wounds. The fire swallowed all, greediest of spirits, who carried off both folk there because of war; their glory had passed away.   

Gewiton him ða wigend         wica neosian,
freondum befeallen,         Frysland geseon,
hamas ond heaburh.         Hengest ða gyt
wælfagne winter         wunode mid Finne
eal unhlitme.         Eard gemunde,
þeah þe he ne meahte         on mere drifan
hringedstefnan;         holm storme weol,
won wið winde,         winter yþe beleac
isgebinde,         oþðæt oþer com
gear in geardas,         swa nu gyt deð,
þa ðe syngales         sele bewitiað,
wuldortorhtan weder.         ða wæs winter scacen,
fæger foldan bearm.         Fundode wrecca,
gist of geardum;         he to gyrnwræce
swiðor þohte         þonne to sælade,
gif he torngemot         þurhteon mihte
þæt he Eotena bearn         inne gemunde.
Swa he ne forwyrnde         woroldrædenne,
þonne him Hunlafing         hildeleoman,
billa selest,         on bearm dyde,
þæs wæron mid Eotenum         ecge cuðe.
Swylce ferhðfrecan         Fin eft begeat
sweordbealo sliðen         æt his selfes ham,
siþðan grimne gripe         Guðlaf ond Oslaf
æfter sæsiðe,         sorge, mændon,
ætwiton weana dæl;         ne meahte wæfre mod
forhabban in hreþre.         ða wæs heal roden
feonda feorum,         swilce Fin slægen,
cyning on corþre,         ond seo cwen numen.
Sceotend Scyldinga         to scypon feredon
eal ingesteald         eorðcyninges,
swylce hie æt Finnes ham         findan meahton
sigla, searogimma.         Hie on sælade
drihtlice wif         to Denum feredon,
læddon to leodum.         Leoð wæs asungen,
gleomannes gyd.         Gamen eft astah,
beorhtode bencsweg;         byrelas sealdon
win of wunderfatum.         þa cwom Wealhþeo forð
gan under gyldnum beage,         þær þa godan twegen
sæton suhtergefæderan;         þa gyt wæs hiera sib ætgædere,
æghwylc oðrum trywe.         Swylce þær Unferþ þyle
æt fotum sæt frean Scyldinga;         gehwylc hiora his ferhþe treowde,
þæt he hæfde mod micel,         þeah þe he his magum nære
arfæst æt ecga gelacum.         Spræc ða ides Scyldinga:
“Onfoh þissum fulle,         freodrihten min,
sinces brytta!         þu on sælum wes,
goldwine gumena,         ond to Geatum spræc
mildum wordum,         swa sceal man don.
Beo wið Geatas glæd,         geofena gemyndig,
nean ond feorran         þu nu hafast.
Me man sægde         þæt þu ðe for sunu wolde
hererinc habban.         Heorot is gefælsod,
beahsele beorhta;         bruc þenden þu mote
manigra medo,         ond þinum magum læf
folc ond rice,         þonne ðu forð scyle
metodsceaft seon.         Ic minne can
glædne Hroþulf,         þæt he þa geogoðe wile
arum healdan,         gyf þu ær þonne he,
wine Scildinga,         worold oflætest;
wene ic þæt he mid gode         gyldan wille
uncran eaferan,         gif he þæt eal gemon,
hwæt wit to willan         ond to worðmyndum
umborwesendum ær         arna gefremedon.”
Hwearf þa bi bence         þær hyre byre wæron,
Hreðric ond Hroðmund,         ond hæleþa bearn,
giogoð ætgædere;         þær se goda sæt,

Fitt 17   

1125. Then his warriors departed for the dwelling, deprived of friends, to see Frisian land, homes, and strongholds. Hengest still remained there the slaughter-stained winter with Finn in ill-fated courage. 

1129. The homeland was thought of, although he could not drive a ship with a curved prow on the mere. Sea storms surged, and contended with the wind; winter waves were locked into icy bonds until another year came to the dwellings, as it still does now, gloriously bright weather that always observes its proper seasons. 

1136. Then the winter was shaken off the fair earth’s bosom; the exile was eager to go, the stranger in the dwelling. He thought more of revenge for his injuries than the sea-journey, if he could bring about a hostile encounter so that he might remember the sons of the Jutes in his heart. 

1142. So he did not refuse the law of the world when Hunlafing placed the battle-light on his lap, the best sword– that was a blade known to the Jutes. 

1146. Likewise after, bold in spirit, death by the cruel sword befell Finn at his own home after the grim attack that Guthlaf and Oslaf spoke of in sorrow after the sea-journey, blaming him for their share of woes; nor might a restless spirit restrain itself in heart. 

1151. Then the hall was made red with the enemy’s lives, with Finn also slain, the king in his troop, and the queen taken. Scylding warriors ferried to the ships all of the property belonging to the house of the king of a land, whatever jewels and finely worked gems they might find at Finn’s home. They carried the noble lady to Denmark on the sea-journey, led to the people. 

1159. A lays was sung, and tales told by entertainers. Revelry rose up after, glittering noise along the benches; cup-bearers gave wine in wondrous vessels. 

1162. Then Wealtheow came forth, and went with golden circlets to where the two good men sat, uncle and nephew, Hrothgar and Hrothulf; they were then still at peace together, each true to the other. Unferth, as spokesman, also sat there at the foot of the lord of the Scyldings. Each trusted his spirit; he had much courage, though he was never merciful to his kinsmen at sword play. 

1168. The lady of the Scyldings spoke: “Take this cup, my noble lord, bestower of treasures! May you be in happiness, gold-giving friend of men, and speak mild words to the Geats, as a man should do.” 

1173. “Be glad with the Geats, and mindful of gifts that you now have from near and far. Men said to me that you would have a warrior for a son. Heorot is cleansed, gleaming ring-hall; use while you may many rewards, and to your kinsmen leave folk and kingdom when you must pass on to see the decree of fate.” 

1180. “I know myself of gracious Hrothulf, that he will treat the youths honorably if you, friend of the Scyldings, should leave the world sooner than he; I believe that he will repay our two sons liberally, if he recalls all the favors that we two, to delight and to honor, bestowed before to him as a child.” 

1188. Then she turned past the bench, where her sons, Hrethric and Hrothmund, and the sons of the warriors sat, a band of young warriors together. There the good men sat, Beowulf the Geat with the two brothers.   


Beowulf Geata,         be þæm gebroðrum twæm.
Him wæs ful boren         ond freondlaþu
wordum bewægned,         ond wunden gold
estum geeawed,         earmreade twa,
hrægl ond hringas,         healsbeaga mæst
þara þe ic on foldan         gefrægen hæbbe.
Nænigne ic under swegle         selran hyrde
hordmaððum hæleþa,         syþðan Hama ætwæg
to þære byrhtan byrig         Brosinga mene,
sigle ond sincfæt;         searoniðas fleah
Eormenrices,         geceas ecne ræd.
þone hring hæfde         Higelac Geata,
nefa Swertinges,         nyhstan siðe,
siðþan he under segne         sinc ealgode,
wælreaf werede;         hyne wyrd fornam,
syþðan he for wlenco         wean ahsode,
fæhðe to Frysum.         He þa frætwe wæg,
eorclanstanas         ofer yða ful,
rice þeoden;         he under rande gecranc.
Gehwearf þa in Francna fæþm         feorh cyninges,
breostgewædu         ond se beah somod;
wyrsan wigfrecan         wæl reafedon
æfter guðsceare,         Geata leode,
hreawic heoldon.         Heal swege onfeng.
Wealhðeo maþelode,         heo fore þæm werede spræc:
“Bruc ðisses beages,         Beowulf leofa,
hyse, mid hæle,         ond þisses hrægles neot,
þeodgestreona,         ond geþeoh tela,
cen þec mid cræfte         ond þyssum cnyhtum wes
lara liðe;         ic þe þæs lean geman.
Hafast þu gefered         þæt ðe feor ond neah
ealne wideferhþ         weras ehtigað,
efne swa side         swa sæ bebugeð,
windgeard, weallas.         Wes þenden þu lifige,
æþeling, eadig.         Ic þe an tela
sincgestreona.         Beo þu suna minum
dædum gedefe,         dreamhealdende.
Her is æghwylc eorl         oþrum getrywe,
modes milde,         mandrihtne hold;
þegnas syndon geþwære,         þeod ealgearo,
druncne dryhtguman         doð swa ic bidde.”
Eode þa to setle.         þær wæs symbla cyst;
druncon win weras.         Wyrd ne cuþon,
geosceaft grimme,         swa hit agangen wearð
eorla manegum,         syþðan æfen cwom
ond him Hroþgar gewat         to hofe sinum,
rice to ræste.         Reced weardode
unrim eorla,         swa hie oft ær dydon.
Bencþelu beredon;         hit geondbræded wearð
beddum ond bolstrum.         Beorscealca sum
fus ond fæge         fletræste gebeag.
Setton him to heafdon         hilderandas,
bordwudu beorhtan;         þær on bence wæs
ofer æþelinge         yþgesene
heaþosteapa helm,         hringed byrne,
þrecwudu þrymlic.         Wæs þeaw hyra
þæt hie oft wæron         an wig gearwe,
ge æt ham ge on herge,         ge gehwæþer þara,
efne swylce mæla         swylce hira mandryhtne
þearf gesælde;         wæs seo þeod tilu.

Fitt 18   

1192. The cup was carried to him, and words of cordial invitation were offered, and wound gold was bestowed with good will, two arm-bands, garments and rings, the greatest neck-rings that I have heard of on earth. 

1197. I have not heard of any finer treasures of the heroes under the sky, since Hama carried off to the magnificent burg the necklace of the Brosings, jewel and precious setting– who fled the cunning enmity of Eormenric and chose eternal gain. 

1202. Hygelac the Geat, Swerting’s nephew, had that ring with him on his last expedition, after he defended the treasure under the standard, and protected the spoil from the slain; fate carried him off, since he had sought trouble for pride, bringing the feud to Frisia. 

1207. To there he wore that adornment, precious stone, over the waves' cup, mighty prince; he fell dead under his shield. 

1210. The king’s body then passed into the Franks' grasp, his mail-coat and the circlet as well; less worthy warriors plundered the slain after the carnage of battle; Geatish people occupied the place of corpses. 

1214. The hall filled with sound. Wealtheow made a speech, speaking before the company: “Enjoy this circlet, beloved Beowulf, young warrior, with luck, and use this mail-coat, the people’s treasure, and prosper well.” 

1218. “Display yourself with strength, and be kind with advice to these boys. I will remember you for that reward. You have brought it about that men will praise you far and near for ever, just as widely as the sea encompasses the cliffs, the home of the wind.” 

1224. “May you be blessed while you live, prince. I wish you well with rich treasures. Be now a son of mine kind in deeds, and joyful. Here every warrior is true to each other, mild at heart, loyal to lord. The thanes are united; the people are fully prepared. The retainers, having drunk, do as I bid.” 

1232. She then went to her seat. There was the best of feasts, and men drank wine. Fate did not know the grim destiny as it would come about to many warriors after evening had come and Hrothgar went to his dwelling, the powerful to rest. 

1237. The hall was guarded by countless number of warriors, as they often did before. Bench-boards were cleared and bedding and pillows were spread over them. One beer-drinker, fated to die, laid down on a couch in the hall. 

1242. Battle-shields were set at their heads, bright shields; there on the bench over each nobleman, easily visible, was a helmet towering in battle, linked mailcoat, and mighty spear. It was their custom that they were always ready for war, both at home and in army, and in either case at whatever time need befell their lord; the people were that good.   

  Sigon þa to slæpe.         Sum sare angeald
æfenræste,         swa him ful oft gelamp,
siþðan goldsele         Grendel warode,
unriht æfnde,         oþþæt ende becwom,
swylt æfter synnum.         þæt gesyne wearþ,
widcuþ werum,         þætte wrecend þa gyt
lifde æfter laþum,         lange þrage,
æfter guðceare.         Grendles modor,
ides, aglæcwif,         yrmþe gemunde,
se þe wæteregesan         wunian scolde,
cealde streamas,         siþðan Cain wearð
to ecgbanan         angan breþer,
fæderenmæge;         he þa fag gewat,
morþre gemearcod,         mandream fleon,
westen warode.         þanon woc fela
geosceaftgasta;         wæs þæra Grendel sum,
heorowearh hetelic,         se æt Heorote fand
wæccendne wer         wiges bidan.
þær him aglæca         ætgræpe wearð;
hwæþre he gemunde         mægenes strenge,
gimfæste gife         ðe him god sealde,
ond him to anwaldan         are gelyfde,
frofre ond fultum;         ðy he þone feond ofercwom,
gehnægde helle gast.         þa he hean gewat,
dreame bedæled,         deaþwic seon,
mancynnes feond,         ond his modor þa gyt,
gifre ond galgmod,         gegan wolde
sorhfulne sið,         sunu deað wrecan.
Com þa to Heorote,         ðær Hringdene
geond þæt sæld swæfun.         þa ðær sona wearð
edhwyrft eorlum,         siþðan inne fealh
Grendles modor.         Wæs se gryre læssa
efne swa micle         swa bið mægþa cræft,
wiggryre wifes,         be wæpnedmen,
þonne heoru bunden,         hamere geþuren,
sweord swate fah         swin ofer helme
ecgum dyhttig         andweard scireð.
þa wæs on healle         heardecg togen
sweord ofer setlum,         sidrand manig
hafen handa fæst;         helm ne gemunde,
byrnan side,         þa hine se broga angeat.
Heo wæs on ofste,         wolde ut þanon,
feore beorgan,         þa heo onfunden wæs.
Hraðe heo æþelinga         anne hæfde
fæste befangen,         þa heo to fenne gang.
Se wæs Hroþgare         hæleþa leofost
on gesiðes had         be sæm tweonum,
rice randwiga,         þone ðe heo on ræste abreat,
blædfæstne beorn.         Næs Beowulf ðær,
ac wæs oþer in         ær geteohhod
æfter maþðumgife         mærum Geate.
Hream wearð in Heorote;         heo under heolfre genam
cuþe folme;         cearu wæs geniwod,
geworden in wicun.         Ne wæs þæt gewrixle til,
þæt hie on ba healfa         bicgan scoldon
freonda feorum.         þa wæs frod cyning,
har hilderinc,         on hreon mode,
syðþan he aldorþegn         unlyfigendne,
þone deorestan         deadne wisse.
Hraþe wæs to bure         Beowulf fetod,
sigoreadig secg.         Samod ærdæge
eode eorla sum,         æþele cempa
self mid gesiðum         þær se snotera bad,
hwæþer him alwalda         æfre wille
æfter weaspelle         wyrpe gefremman.
Gang ða æfter flore         fyrdwyrðe man
mid his handscale         (healwudu dynede),
þæt he þone wisan         wordum nægde
frean Ingwina,         frægn gif him wære
æfter neodlaðum         niht getæse.

Fitt 19   

1251. They then sank into sleep. One man paid grievously for his evening’s rest, as it had very often happened since Grendel occupied the gold-adorned hall, wrongs carried out until his end came, death after sins. 

1255. It became manifest, widely known to men, that an avenger still lived then after the foe a long time after the grievous strife. 

1258.Grendel’s mother, a female warrior mindful of her misery, had to inhabit the fearsome waters, cold streams, since Cain had become a slayer by the sword of his only brother, kinsman by the same father. Outlawed, he then went and occupied the wilderness; marked for murder, he fled from human joy. 

1265. Then many sent by fate were born; there was one, Grendel, hateful and savage outcast, who at Heorot found a watchful man waiting for battle. 

1269. There the fierce assailant took hold of him; however, he bore in mind strong might, ample gifts given to him by God, and he trusted in the Ruler’s favor for comfort and support. Because of that he overcame the foe, laying low the creature to Hell. 

1274. Then he left humiliated and deprived of joy, mankind’s enemy, to find his place of death; and then his mother, still ravenous and gloomy in mind, would enter on a sorrowful journey to avenge her son’s death. 

1279. She came then to Heorot, where Hring-Danes throughout the hall were sleeping. Then there soon became a reverse to the warriors after Grendel’s mother entered inside. 

1282. The terror was less by just so much as the woman’s strength was, the war-terror of the woman like an armed man, when the ornamented sword, forged with the hammer, blood-stained sword with strong edge, cuts across the boar-image over an opposing helmet. 

1288. Then in the hall hard-edged sword was drawn over seat; many raised a broad shield, firm in hand; helmet was not thought of, nor broad mail-coat, by he who was seized by the horror. When she was discovered she was in haste to get out of there to save her life; quickly she had firmly grasped one of the noblemen, and then she went to the fen. 

1296. He was Hrothgar’s dearest warrior in companion rank between the seas, a powerful shield-warrior, renowned warrior, that she had killed in his place of rest. Beowulf was not there, but had been assigned to another lodging-place earlier after treasure-giving, renowned Geat. 

1302. Heorot was in uproar; she had taken away the well-known hand in blood; sorrow was renewed and come about in the dwelling place. Nor was that exchange good, that they on both sides should pay with friends' lives. 

1306. Then the old king, grey-haired warrior, was troubled in heart when he knew that his chief thane was lifeless, his dearest one dead. Beowulf was quickly fetched to the chamber, man blessed with victory. 

1311. At day-break the one warrior went, the noble warrior himself with companions, to await the wise man, to see whether the Ruler of all would ever, after tidings of woe, bring about change for him. 

1316. Then the man distinguished in war walked across the floor with his troop of retainers– the hall-timbers resounded– to address with a wise word the lord of the Ingwine and asked him if, after his pleasure, his night was agreeable.   

  Hroðgar maþelode,         helm Scyldinga:
“Ne frin þu æfter sælum!         Sorh is geniwod
Denigea leodum.         Dead is æschere,
Yrmenlafes         yldra broþor,
min runwita         ond min rædbora,
eaxlgestealla,         ðonne we on orlege
hafelan weredon,         þonne hniton feþan,
eoferas cnysedan.         Swylc scolde eorl wesan,
æþeling ærgod,         swylc æschere wæs!
Wearð him on Heorote         to handbanan
wælgæst wæfre;         ic ne wat hwæder
atol æse wlanc         eftsiðas teah,
fylle gefægnod.         Heo þa fæhðe wræc
þe þu gystran niht         Grendel cwealdest
þurh hæstne had         heardum clammum,
forþan he to lange         leode mine
wanode ond wyrde.         He æt wige gecrang
ealdres scyldig,         ond nu oþer cwom
mihtig manscaða,         wolde hyre mæg wrecan,
ge feor hafað         fæhðe gestæled
(þæs þe þincean mæg         þegne monegum,
se þe æfter sincgyfan         on sefan greoteþ),
hreþerbealo hearde;         nu seo hand ligeð,
se þe eow welhwylcra         wilna dohte.
Ic þæt londbuend,         leode mine,
selerædende,         secgan hyrde
þæt hie gesawon         swylce twegen
micle mearcstapan         moras healdan,
ellorgæstas.         ðæra oðer wæs,
þæs þe hie gewislicost         gewitan meahton,
idese onlicnæs;         oðer earmsceapen
on weres wæstmum         wræclastas træd,
næfne he wæs mara         þonne ænig man oðer;
þone on geardagum         Grendel nemdon
foldbuende.         No hie fæder cunnon,
hwæþer him ænig wæs         ær acenned
dyrnra gasta.         Hie dygel lond
warigeað, wulfhleoþu,         windige næssas,
frecne fengelad,         ðær fyrgenstream
under næssa genipu         niþer gewiteð,
flod under foldan.         Nis þæt feor heonon
milgemearces         þæt se mere standeð;
ofer þæm hongiað         hrinde bearwas,
wudu wyrtum fæst         wæter oferhelmað.
þær mæg nihta gehwæm         niðwundor seon,
fyr on flode.         No þæs frod leofað
gumena bearna,         þæt þone grund wite;
ðeah þe hæðstapa         hundum geswenced,
heorot hornum trum,         holtwudu sece,
feorran geflymed,         ær he feorh seleð,
aldor on ofre,         ær he in wille
hafelan hydan.         Nis þæt heoru stow!
þonon yðgeblond         up astigeð
won to wolcnum,         þonne wind styreþ,
lað gewidru,         oðþæt lyft drysmaþ,
roderas reotað.         Nu is se ræd gelang
eft æt þe anum.         Eard git ne const,
frecne stowe,         ðær þu findan miht
felasinnigne secg;         sec gif þu dyrre.
Ic þe þa fæhðe         feo leanige,
ealdgestreonum,         swa ic ær dyde,
wundnum golde,         gyf þu on weg cymest.”

Fitt 20   

1321. Hrothgar made a speech, protector of the Scyldings: “Ask not about joy! Sorrow is renewed for the Danish people. Aschere is dead, Ermenlaf’s older brother, my confidant and my advisor, close comrade when we defended our heads in battle, when bands on foot clashed and boar-figures struck.” 

1328. “So should a warrior be, a nobleman of proven excellence, as was Aschere. He was taken by the hand-slayer in Heorot, the wandering, deadly creature; I do not know whether it undertook the journey back, glorying in its terrible carrion, to make a glad feast.” 

1333. “She avenged the hostile deed, in which Grendel was killed yesterday night in a violent manner with hard grip, because he for too long reduced and injured my people.” 

1337. “He fell in battle, having forfeited his life, and now the mighty and wicked ravager has come over and would avenge her kinsman, and has gone far in avenging that hostile deed, as it may seem to many thane that weeps in heart for the treasure-giver, hard distress.” 

1343. “Now the hand lies dead which would have proved good each of your desires. I have heard my people, my hall-counselors, say of the dwellers in the land, that they saw two such great prowlers in the borderland, occupying the meres, alien beings.” 

1349. “There was one- as they most certainly might discover- with a woman’s likeness; another wretched creature trod a path of exile in man’s form, except he was larger than any other man. In former times the dwellers in the land were called Grendel; they knew of no father, whether any such mysterious being was born before him.” 

1357. “They occupy secret lands, wolf-inhabited slopes, windy headlands, perilous fen-paths, where the mountain-stream goes downward under headland mists, water under the earth.” 

1358. “It is not far from here, measured in miles, that the mere stands; over it hangs groves of wood with fixed roots, covered with frost, overshadowing the water. There you may see each night a fearful wonder, fire on the water. None so wise of men’s children lives who knows the bottom.” 

1368. “There the stag, chased by hounds, the strong-horned hart, will seek the forest, pursued from far off. He would rather give up his life on the bank than conceal his head in the water. It is not a pleasant place!" 

1373. “From there surging waves rise up darkly to the clouds, when wind stirs up violent storms, until the air becomes gloomy and the sky weeps. Now help is dependant again on you alone. The region is not yet known, perilous place; there you might find the sinful creature.” 

1380. “Seek if you dare! I will reward you for the feud with wealth, twisted gold, ancient treasure, as I did before, if you go on the way.”   

  Beowulf maþelode,         bearn Ecgþeowes:
“Ne sorga, snotor guma;         selre bið æghwæm
þæt he his freond wrece,         þonne he fela murne.
Ure æghwylc sceal         ende gebidan
worolde lifes;         wyrce se þe mote
domes ær deaþe;         þæt bið drihtguman
unlifgendum         æfter selest.
Aris, rices weard,         uton raþe feran
Grendles magan         gang sceawigan.
Ic hit þe gehate,         no he on helm losaþ,
ne on foldan fæþm,         ne on fyrgenholt,
ne on gyfenes grund,         ga þær he wille.
ðys dogor þu         geþyld hafa
weana gehwylces,         swa ic þe wene to.”
Ahleop ða se gomela,         gode þancode,
mihtigan drihtne,         þæs se man gespræc.
þa wæs Hroðgare         hors gebæted,
wicg wundenfeax.         Wisa fengel
geatolic gende;         gumfeþa stop
lindhæbbendra.         Lastas wæron
æfter waldswaþum         wide gesyne,
gang ofer grundas,         þær heo gegnum for
ofer myrcan mor,         magoþegna bær
þone selestan         sawolleasne
þara þe mid Hroðgare         ham eahtode.
Ofereode þa         æþelinga bearn
steap stanhliðo,         stige nearwe,
enge anpaðas,         uncuð gelad,
neowle næssas,         nicorhusa fela.
He feara sum         beforan gengde
wisra monna         wong sceawian,
oþþæt he færinga         fyrgenbeamas
ofer harne stan         hleonian funde,
wynleasne wudu;         wæter under stod
dreorig ond gedrefed.         Denum eallum wæs,
winum Scyldinga,         weorce on mode
to geþolianne,         ðegne monegum,
oncyð eorla gehwæm,         syðþan æscheres
on þam holmclife         hafelan metton.
Flod blode weol         (folc to sægon),
hatan heolfre.         Horn stundum song
fuslic fyrdleoð.         Feþa eal gesæt.
Gesawon ða æfter wætere         wyrmcynnes fela,
sellice sædracan,         sund cunnian,
swylce on næshleoðum         nicras licgean,
ða on undernmæl         oft bewitigað
sorhfulne sið         on seglrade,
wyrmas ond wildeor;         hie on weg hruron,
bitere ond gebolgne,         bearhtm ongeaton,
guðhorn galan.         Sumne Geata leod
of flanbogan         feores getwæfde,
yðgewinnes,         þæt him on aldre stod
herestræl hearda;         he on holme wæs
sundes þe sænra,         ðe hyne swylt fornam.
Hræþe wearð on yðum         mid eoferspreotum
heorohocyhtum         hearde genearwod,
niða genæged,         ond on næs togen,
wundorlic wægbora;         weras sceawedon
gryrelicne gist.         Gyrede hine Beowulf
eorlgewædum,         nalles for ealdre mearn.
Scolde herebyrne         hondum gebroden,
sid ond searofah,         sund cunnian,
seo ðe bancofan         beorgan cuþe,
þæt him hildegrap         hreþre ne mihte,
eorres inwitfeng,         aldre gesceþðan;
ac se hwita helm         hafelan werede,
se þe meregrundas         mengan scolde,
secan sundgebland         since geweorðad,
befongen freawrasnum,         swa hine fyrndagum
worhte wæpna smið,         wundrum teode,
besette swinlicum,         þæt hine syðþan no
brond ne beadomecas         bitan ne meahton.
Næs þæt þonne mætost         mægenfultuma
þæt him on ðearfe lah         ðyle Hroðgares;
wæs þæm hæftmece         Hrunting nama.
þæt wæs an foran         ealdgestreona;
ecg wæs iren,         atertanum fah,
ahyrded heaþoswate;         næfre hit æt hilde ne swac
manna ængum         þara þe hit mid mundum bewand,
se ðe gryresiðas         gegan dorste,
folcstede fara;         næs þæt forma sið
þæt hit ellenweorc         æfnan scolde.
Huru ne gemunde         mago Ecglafes,
eafoþes cræftig,         þæt he ær gespræc
wine druncen,         þa he þæs wæpnes onlah
selran sweordfrecan.         Selfa ne dorste
under yða gewin         aldre geneþan,
drihtscype dreogan;         þær he dome forleas,
ellenmærðum.         Ne wæs þæm oðrum swa,
syðþan he hine to guðe         gegyred hæfde.

Fitt 21   

1383. Beowulf made a speech, the son of Ecgtheow: “Sorrow not, wise man! It is better for each man that he avenge his friend rather than mourning greatly. We each shall experience the end of this world’s life; let him who may achieve glory before death; that is best for man after he is lifeless.” 

1390. “Arise, guardian of the kingdom, let us quickly go out and look for the trail of Grendel’s kinswoman. I promise you, she will not escape my cover, not in the earth’s bosom, nor in mountain wood, nor in the sea’s bottom, go where she will. Have patience this day in each of your miseries, as I expect you to.”   

1397. Then the old man leapt up and thanked God, the mighty Lord, for what the man spoke. Then a horse was bridled for Hrothgar, a steed with braided mane. 

1400. The wise king rode in fine array; the band of shield-bearers stepped on foot. Footprints along the forest-track were widely seen, the track on the earth, as she went straight to the murky mere bearing the best thane, lifeless, that watched over home with Hrothgar. 

1408. The son of noblemen went across steep and rocky slopes, the narrow path in single file, the unknown way, precipitous headlands, the home of many water-monsters. 

1412. He went before with a few wise men to examine the place, until he suddenly found mountain trees leaning over grey stone, joyless wood; the water underneath stood blood-stained and turbid. 

1417. It was painful in heart to suffer for all the Danes, friends of the Scyldings, many a thane, grief for each warrior, when they came upon Aschere’s head on the cliff by the water-side. The waters welled with blood– the people looked– hot blood. 

1423. The horn at times sang an urgent war-song. The troops on foot all sat. Then many kinds of serpents were seen within the water, strange sea-dragons exploring the water. On the slopes of headlands water-monsters also lay, who in morning-time often undertook journeys on the sail-road, bringing sorrow, and serpents and wild beasts. 

1430. They rushed on their way fierce and enraged; sound was heard, the war-horn resounded. One Geatish man with an arrow-bow severed a life in a battle against the waves– a hard war-arrow stood in its vital organs. It was swimming in the sea all the slower as death carried it off. 

1437. It was quickly and severely assailed with savagely barbed boar-spears on the waves, fiercely attacked, and dragged onto the headland, wondrous traverser of the waves. Men looked at the terrible stranger. 

1441. Beowulf geared himself in warrior’s garb, not at all feeling anxiety for his life; should his hand-woven war-corselet, broad and skillfully decorated, explore the water, it was able to protect his bone-chamber, so that she might not have his breast in her hostile grip, the furious one’s malicious grasp harm his life. 

1448. But the shining helmet guarded his head from the one who would stir up the mere’s ground, to enter the surging water embellished with rich ornaments, encircled with lordly bands, as smiths of weapons had made in days of old, wonderfully formed, set round with a boar-figure, so that afterward no sword nor battle-blade might bite him. 

1455. It was not the least powerful help which Hrothgar’s spokesman, Unferth, lent him in need; it was the hilted sword named Hrunting. It was one in the fore rank of ancient treasure. Its edge was of iron, gleaming with twigs of venom, hardened with battle-blood. 

1460. Never had it failed any man in battle who had grasped it in his hand, he who dared enter upon a perilous expedition, a meeting-place of foes. It was not the first time that it should perform a courageous work. 

1465. Indeed, the son of Ecglaf, powerful in strength, did not bear in mind what he had spoken before while drunk with wine, when he lent the weapon to the better swordsman. He himself did not dare to venture his life under the turmoil of the waves. 

1470. He lost some glory for that, fame for courage. It was not so for the other- Beowulf- when he had geared himself for battle.  

  Beowulf maðelode,         bearn Ecgþeowes:
“Geþenc nu, se mæra         maga Healfdenes,
snottra fengel,         nu ic eom siðes fus,
goldwine gumena,         hwæt wit geo spræcon,
gif ic æt þearfe         þinre scolde
aldre linnan,         þæt ðu me a wære
forðgewitenum         on fæder stæle.
Wes þu mundbora         minum magoþegnum,
hondgesellum,         gif mec hild nime;
swylce þu ða madmas         þe þu me sealdest,
Hroðgar leofa,         Higelace onsend.
Mæg þonne on þæm golde ongitan         Geata dryhten,
geseon sunu Hrædles,         þonne he on þæt sinc starað,
þæt ic gumcystum         godne funde
beaga bryttan,         breac þonne moste.
Ond þu Unferð læt         ealde lafe,
wrætlic wægsweord,         widcuðne man
heardecg habban;         ic me mid Hruntinge
dom gewyrce,         oþðe mec deað nimeð.”
æfter þæm wordum         Wedergeata leod
efste mid elne,         nalas ondsware
bidan wolde;         brimwylm onfeng
hilderince.         ða wæs hwil dæges
ær he þone grundwong         ongytan mehte.
Sona þæt onfunde         se ðe floda begong
heorogifre beheold         hund missera,
grim ond grædig,         þæt þær gumena sum
ælwihta eard         ufan cunnode.
Grap þa togeanes,         guðrinc gefeng
atolan clommum.         No þy ær in gescod
halan lice;         hring utan ymbbearh,
þæt heo þone fyrdhom         ðurhfon ne mihte,
locene leoðosyrcan         laþan fingrum.
Bær þa seo brimwylf,         þa heo to botme com,
hringa þengel         to hofe sinum,
swa he ne mihte,         no he þæs modig wæs,
wæpna gewealdan,         ac hine wundra þæs fela
swencte on sunde,         sædeor monig
hildetuxum         heresyrcan bræc,
ehton aglæcan.         ða se eorl ongeat
þæt he in niðsele         nathwylcum wæs,
þær him nænig wæter         wihte ne sceþede,
ne him for hrofsele         hrinan ne mehte
færgripe flodes;         fyrleoht geseah,
blacne leoman,         beorhte scinan.
Ongeat þa se goda         grundwyrgenne,
merewif mihtig;         mægenræs forgeaf
hildebille,         hond sweng ne ofteah,
þæt hire on hafelan         hringmæl agol
grædig guðleoð.         ða se gist onfand
þæt se beadoleoma         bitan nolde,
aldre sceþðan,         ac seo ecg geswac
ðeodne æt þearfe;         ðolode ær fela
hondgemota,         helm oft gescær,
fæges fyrdhrægl;         ða wæs forma sið
deorum madme,         þæt his dom alæg.
Eft wæs anræd,         nalas elnes læt,
mærða gemyndig         mæg Hylaces.
Wearp ða wundenmæl         wrættum gebunden
yrre oretta,         þæt hit on eorðan læg,
stið ond stylecg;         strenge getruwode,
mundgripe mægenes.         Swa sceal man don,
þonne he æt guðe         gegan þenceð
longsumne lof,         na ymb his lif cearað.
Gefeng þa be eaxle         (nalas for fæhðe mearn)
Guðgeata leod         Grendles modor;
brægd þa beadwe heard,         þa he gebolgen wæs,
feorhgeniðlan,         þæt heo on flet gebeah.
Heo him eft hraþe         andlean forgeald
grimman grapum         ond him togeanes feng;
oferwearp þa werigmod         wigena strengest,
feþecempa,         þæt he on fylle wearð.
Ofsæt þa þone selegyst         ond hyre seax geteah,
brad ond brunecg,         wolde hire bearn wrecan,
angan eaferan.         Him on eaxle læg
breostnet broden;         þæt gebearh feore,
wið ord ond wið ecge         ingang forstod.
Hæfde ða forsiðod         sunu Ecgþeowes
under gynne grund,         Geata cempa,
nemne him heaðobyrne         helpe gefremede,
herenet hearde,         ond halig god
geweold wigsigor;         witig drihten,
rodera rædend,         hit on ryht gesced
yðelice,         syþðan he eft astod.

Fitt 22   

1473. Beowulf made a speech, son of Ecgtheow: “Think now, renowned son of Healfdane’s, wise ruler, now that I am ready for the venture, gold-giving friend, of what we two formerly spoke of: if I should lose my life from your need, that you were always in my dead father’s place to me.” 

1480. “Be the protector of my young thanes, my close comrades, if battle takes me. As for the treasures which you gave me, dear Hrothgar, send them to Hygelac. May the lord of the Geats perceive in the gold, the son of Hraedel see, when he gazes on the treasure, that I found a good ring bestower and enjoyed his benevolence while I could.” 

1488. “And you, Unferth, who lent this old heirloom, beautiful wave-patterned sword, widely known to men for having a hard edge- I will with Hrunting achieve glory, or death will take me!" 

1492. After these words the Weder-Geatish man hastened with courage– and would not at all wait for an answer. The surging water received the warrior. Then a good part of the day passed before he could discern the bottom. 

1497. It was soon discovered by Grendel’s mother, who had occupied the water’s expanse for half a hundred years, fiercely ravenous, grim and greedy, that a man from above was exploring the alien being’s dwelling. 

1501. She then grasped towards the warrior and seized him in her terrible clasp; yet his body was unharmed and not injured; ring-mail protected him around from outside, so that she could not get through the war-coat and linked mail-shirt with her hateful fingers. 

1506. Then the she-wolf of the water went to the bottom with the ring-clad thane to her dwelling, so that he might not- he was not glad about that- wield weapon, but he was pressed hard by many weird creatures in the water. Many sea-beasts with warlike tusks broke through his war-shirt, pursued by fierce assailants. 

1512. Then the warrior perceived that he was in some hostile hall, where no water at all would harm him. Nor might he reach the roofed hall for the sudden pull of the flood. He saw a fire’s light, a gleaming light shining brightly. 

1518. Then the good man saw the accursed female of the deep, the mighty mere-woman; he gave her a mighty blow with his battle-sword. His hand stroke was not held back, so that on her head the ring-patterned sword sang a greedy war-song. 

1522. Then the stranger found that the flashing sword would not bite her or harm her life, but the edge had failed the prince in his need; it had endured many hand-to-hand battles before, often cleaving the helmet, the war-garment of those fated to die. 

1527. That was the first time for the precious treasure that its glory had failed. He was resolute after, and his courage did not at all let up; the kinsman of Hygelac was intent on glorious deeds. The angry warrior then threw the sword with curved markings, inlaid with ornaments, so that it lay on the earth, hard and steel-edged; he trusted in his strength, in his mighty handgrip. 

1534. So shall a man do when, in battle, he thinks he may gain lasting fame, and does not care about his life. He then seized her by the hair – the man of the Geats not at all regretting the hostile act against Grendel’s mother. 

1539. He was then so enraged against the deadly foe that the battle-hardy man flung her so that she fell on the floor. She quickly after paid him back, moving towards him to seize him in her fierce grasp; the weary-hearted warrior stumbled, strongest foot-warrior, so that he fell down. 

1545. She then sat on the hall-guest and drew her dagger, broad and bright edged; she would avenge her son, her only offspring. On his shoulder lay his woven mail-coat; that protected his life. Against point and against edge it prevented entry. 

1550. The son of Ecgtheow would then have perished under the wide ground, the warrior of the Geats, if his war-corselet had not provided help, his hard mail-coat– and holy God, who controls victory in war. The wise Lord, Heaven’s ruler, rightly decided it easily when he stood up again.   

  Geseah ða on searwum         sigeeadig bil,
eald sweord eotenisc,         ecgum þyhtig,
wigena weorðmynd;         þæt wæs wæpna cyst,
buton hit wæs mare         ðonne ænig mon oðer
to beadulace         ætberan meahte,
god ond geatolic,         giganta geweorc.
He gefeng þa fetelhilt,         freca Scyldinga
hreoh ond heorogrim         hringmæl gebrægd,
aldres orwena,         yrringa sloh,
þæt hire wið halse         heard grapode,
banhringas bræc.         Bil eal ðurhwod
fægne flæschoman;         heo on flet gecrong.
Sweord wæs swatig,         secg weorce gefeh.
Lixte se leoma,         leoht inne stod,
efne swa of hefene         hadre scineð
rodores candel.         He æfter recede wlat;
hwearf þa be wealle,         wæpen hafenade
heard be hiltum         Higelaces ðegn,
yrre ond anræd.         Næs seo ecg fracod
hilderince,         ac he hraþe wolde
Grendle forgyldan         guðræsa fela
ðara þe he geworhte         to Westdenum
oftor micle         ðonne on ænne sið,
þonne he Hroðgares         heorðgeneatas
sloh on sweofote,         slæpende fræt
folces Denigea         fyftyne men
ond oðer swylc         ut offerede,
laðlicu lac.         He him þæs lean forgeald,
reþe cempa,         to ðæs þe he on ræste geseah
guðwerigne         Grendel licgan
aldorleasne,         swa him ær gescod
hild æt Heorote.         Hra wide sprong,
syþðan he æfter deaðe         drepe þrowade,
heorosweng heardne,         ond hine þa heafde becearf.
Sona þæt gesawon         snottre ceorlas,
þa ðe mid Hroðgare         on holm wliton,
þæt wæs yðgeblond         eal gemenged,
brim blode fah.         Blondenfeaxe,
gomele ymb godne,         ongeador spræcon
þæt hig þæs æðelinges         eft ne wendon
þæt he sigehreðig         secean come
mærne þeoden;         þa ðæs monige gewearð
þæt hine seo brimwylf         abroten hæfde.
ða com non dæges.         Næs ofgeafon
hwate Scyldingas;         gewat him ham þonon
goldwine gumena.         Gistas setan
modes seoce         ond on mere staredon,
wiston ond ne wendon         þæt hie heora winedrihten
selfne gesawon.         þa þæt sweord ongan
æfter heaþoswate         hildegicelum,
wigbil wanian.         þæt wæs wundra sum,
þæt hit eal gemealt         ise gelicost,
ðonne forstes bend         fæder onlæteð,
onwindeð wælrapas,         se geweald hafað
sæla ond mæla;         þæt is soð metod.
Ne nom he in þæm wicum,         Wedergeata leod,
maðmæhta ma,         þeh he þær monige geseah,
buton þone hafelan         ond þa hilt somod
since fage.         Sweord ær gemealt,
forbarn brodenmæl;         wæs þæt blod to þæs hat,
ættren ellorgæst         se þær inne swealt.
Sona wæs on sunde         se þe ær æt sæcce gebad
wighryre wraðra,         wæter up þurhdeaf.
Wæron yðgebland         eal gefælsod,
eacne eardas,         þa se ellorgast
oflet lifdagas         ond þas lænan gesceaft.
Com þa to lande         lidmanna helm
swiðmod swymman;         sælace gefeah,
mægenbyrþenne         þara þe he him mid hæfde.
Eodon him þa togeanes,         gode þancodon,
ðryðlic þegna heap,         þeodnes gefegon,
þæs þe hi hyne gesundne         geseon moston.
ða wæs of þæm hroran         helm ond byrne
lungre alysed.         Lagu drusade,
wæter under wolcnum,         wældreore fag.
Ferdon forð þonon         feþelastum
ferhþum fægne,         foldweg mæton,
cuþe stræte.         Cyningbalde men
from þæm holmclife         hafelan bæron
earfoðlice         heora æghwæþrum,
felamodigra;         feower scoldon
on þæm wælstenge         weorcum geferian
to þæm goldsele         Grendles heafod,
oþðæt semninga         to sele comon
frome fyrdhwate         feowertyne
Geata gongan;         gumdryhten mid
modig on gemonge         meodowongas træd.
ða com in gan         ealdor ðegna,
dædcene mon         dome gewurþad,
hæle hildedeor,         Hroðgar gretan.
þa wæs be feaxe         on flet boren
Grendles heafod,         þær guman druncon,
egeslic for eorlum         ond þære idese mid,
wliteseon wrætlic;         weras on sawon.

Fitt 23   

1557. Then he saw among the arms a sword blessed by victory, an old sword made by giants, with strong edge, the warrior’s glory; that was the best weapon, except that it was greater than any other man might carry into the play of battle, good and splendid, the work of giants. 

1563. He seized the ornamented hilt, the Scylding warrior, fierce and deadly grim, and drew the ring-patterned sword without hope of life. He angrily struck, so that it caught hard against her neck and broke the ring of bone. 

1567. The sword entirely passed through the flesh fated to die; she fell on the floor. The sword was bloody; the man rejoiced in his work. A gleam shone, and a light appeared inside, just as from heaven the sky’s candle brightly shines. 

1572. He looked around the hall and then turned by the wall. Hygelac’s thane raised his weapon hard by the hilt, angry and resolute. The edge was not useless to the warrior. 

1576. But it had quickly repaid Grendel for the many attacks that he had carried out against the West-Danes on much more than one occasion, when he had slain Hrothgar’s companions at the hearth in their sleep, devouring in their sleep fifteen men of the Danish folk, and as many others carried off outside, loathsome booty. 

1584. He repaid him his reward for that, the fierce warrior, so that he saw Grendel lying lifeless in his resting-place, worn out by battle, so injured had he been in battle at Heorot. His body had burst wide open since he had suffered death’s blow, hard sword-stroke, and he then cut off his head. 

1591. Soon it was seen by the wise men who gazed with Hrothgar on the mere that the surging waves were all stirred up, the water stained with blood. Old and grey-haired, the good men spoke together, that they did not expect the prince back, that he would come to seek the renowned king with the glory of victory. 

1598. Many concluded that the she-wolf of the water had destroyed him. Then the ninth hour of the day came. The bold Scyldings left the headland; the gold-giving friend went home from there. 

1602. The strangers sat, sick at heart, and stared at the mere; they wished but did not expect to see their friend and lord themselves. Then the sword, because of the blood shed in battle, the war-blade, began to waste away into icicles of battle. 

1607. That was some wonder, that it melted entirely away like ice when the frost’s bond is released by the Father, the fetter upon water unwound; that is the true Creator, who has power over seasons and time. 

1612. Nor did the Weder-Geatish man take any more precious objects from the dwelling-place, although he saw many there, except the head and the hilt also of the adorned treasure. The sword had melted away, the burned up ornamented sword; the blood was so hot of the poisonous alien being who died inside there. 

1618. He who had lived through the fight earlier and had fallen down in the hostile battle was soon swimming, and dove up through the water; the surging waves were all cleansed, vast regions, now that the alien being had left her life-days and this transitory created world. 

1623. Then the protector of the seamen came to land, swimming resolute in mind; he rejoiced in his sea-booty, the mighty burden of those things he had with him. 

1626. Then they went towards him and thanked God, the mighty band of thanes, and rejoiced over the prince that they were able to see him sound of body. Then the sturdy helmet and mail-coat were quickly loosened. The sea grew calm, the water under the clouds stained with the blood of the slain. 

1632. They went forth from there on the foot-track glad in heart, traversing the path of the well-known road. Men brave as a king bore the head from the cliff by the water with difficulty, each of them very brave. 

1637. Four were needed on the pole for the slain, and with difficulty they carried Grendel’s head to the gold-hall, until presently fourteen Geats came striding to the hall, bold and valiant in war. The lord of the men with them, proud in the throng, trod the ground by the mead-hall. 

1644. Then the leader of the thanes came in, the man valiant in deeds and exalted in renown, the warrior brave in battle, to greet Hrothgar. Then Grendel’s head was borne by the hair on the hall-floor, where men drank; it was fearsome for the warriors and the ladies with them, a wondrous sight. The men looked on.   



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