Beowulf on Everything
back - forward
THE fall of his lord he was fain
in after days; and to Eadgils
friend to the friendless, and forces sent
over the sea to the son of Ohtere,
: well repaid he
those care-paths cold when the king he slew. (1)
Thus safe through struggles the son of Ecgtheow
had passed a plenty, through perils dire,
with daring deeds, till this day was come
that doomed him now with the dragon
With comrades eleven the lord of Geats
swollen in rage went seeking the dragon
He had heard whence all the harm arose
and the killing
; that cup of price
on the lap of the lord had been laid by the finder.
In the throng was this one thirteenth
starter of all the strife and ill,
; cringing thence
forced and reluctant, he led them on
till he came in ken of that cavern-hall,
the barrow delved near billowy surges,
flood of ocean. Within 'twas full
of wire-gold and jewels; a jealous warden,
, the treasures held,
in his lair. Not light the task
of entrance for any of earth-born men!
Sat on the headland the hero king,
spake words of hail to his hearth-companions,
of Geats. All gloomy his soul,
wavering, death-bound. Wyrd full nigh
stood ready to greet the gray-haired man,
to seize his soul-hoard, sunder apart
life and body. Not long would be
the warrior's spirit enwound
spake, the bairn of Ecgtheow: --
"Through store of struggles I strove in youth,
mighty feuds; I mind them all.
I was seven years old when the sovran of rings,
friend-of-his-folk, from my father took me,
had me, and held me, Hrethel the king,
and fee, faithful in kinship.
Ne'er, while I lived there, he loathlier
bairn in the burg, than his birthright sons,
and Hygelac mine.
For the eldest of these, by unmeet chance,
by kinsman's deed, was the death-bed strewn
when Haethcyn killed him with horny bow,
his own dear liege laid low with an arrow,
missed the mark and his mate shot down,
one brother the other, with blood
A feeless fight, (2) and a fearful sin,
horror to Hrethel
; yet, hard as it was,
must the atheling die!
Too awful it is for an aged man
to bide and bear, that his bairn so young
rides on the gallows. A rime
sorrow-song for his son there hanging
as rapture of ravens; no rescue now
can come from the old, disabled
Still is he minded, as morning breaks,
of the heir gone elsewhere; (3) another he hopes not
he will bide to see his burg within
as ward for his wealth, now the one has found
doom of death that the deed incurred.
Forlorn he looks on the lodge of his son,
wine-hall waste and wind-swept chambers
reft of revel. The rider sleepeth,
the hero, far-hidden; (4) no harp resounds,
in the courts no wassail, as once was heard.
(1) That is, Beowulf
, who is slain by Eadgils
in revenge for the "care-paths" of exile into which Onela forced him.
(2) That is, the king could claim no wergild
, or man
, from one son for the killing of the other.
(3) Usual euphemism
(4) Sc. in the grave.