Beowulf on Everything
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IT was heavy hap for that hero young
on his lord beloved to look and find him
lying on earth
with life at end,
sight. But the slayer too,
lay felled in fight, nor, fain of its treasure,
could the writhing monster
rule it more.
had ended its days,
hard and battle-sharp, hammers
' leaving; (1)
and that flier-afar had fallen to ground
by its hurt, its hoard
no longer lusty aloft to whirl
its merriment seen,
proud of its prizes: prone it sank
by the handiwork of the hero
Forsooth among folk but few achieve,
-- though sturdy and strong, as stories tell me,
and never so daring in deed of valor, --
the perilous breath
of a poison-foe
to brave, and to rush on the ring-board hall,
whenever his watch the warden keeps
bold in the barrow. Beowulf
the price of death for that precious hoard
and each of the foes had found the end
of this fleeting life.
that the laggards
in war the wood had left,
, ten together,
fearing before to flourish a spear
in the sore distress of their sovran
Now in their shame their shields they carried,
armor of fight, where the old man lay;
and they gazed on Wiglaf
. Wearied he sat
at his sovran's shoulder, shieldsman
to wake him with water. (2) Nowise it availed.
Though well he wished it, in world no more
could he barrier life for that leader
nor baffle the will of all-wielding God.
Doom of the Lord was law o'er the deeds
of every man, as it is to-day.
Grim was the answer, easy to get,
from the youth for those that had yielded to fear!
spake, the son of Weohstan
mournful he looked on those men unloved: --
"Who sooth will speak, can say indeed
that the ruler who gave you golden rings
and the harness of war in which ye stand
-- for he at ale-bench often-times
on hall-folk helm and breastplate,
lord to liegemen
, the likeliest
which near of far he could find to give, --
threw away and wasted these weeds of battle,
on men who failed when the foemen came!
Not at all could the king of his comrades
venture to vaunt, though the Victory
God, gave him grace that he got revenge
sole with his sword in stress and need.
his life, 'twas little that I
could serve him in struggle; yet shift I made
(hopeless it seemed) to help my kinsman.
ever waned, when with weapon
that fatal foe, and the fire less strongly
flowed from its head. -- Too few the heroes
in throe of contest that thronged
to our king!
Now gift of treasure
and girding of sword,
joy of the house and home-delight
shall fail your folk; his freehold-land
every clansman within your kin
shall lose and leave, when lords highborn
hear afar of that flight of yours,
deed. Yea, death is better
all than a life of shame!"
(1) What had been left or made by the hammer
(2) Trying to revive him.