by Anonymous

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III - Grendel the Murderer

A picture for the book Beowulf

{Grendel attacks the sleeping heroes}

          When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit
          The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used it
          For beds and benches when the banquet was over.
          Then he found there reposing many a noble
        5 Asleep after supper; sorrow the heroes,[1]
          Misery knew not. The monster of evil
          Greedy and cruel tarried but little,

{He drags off thirty of them, and devours them}

          Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers
          Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed
       10 Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to,
          With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward.
          In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking,
          Was Grendel's prowess revealed to the warriors:

{A cry of agony goes up, when Grendel's horrible deed is fully realized.}

          Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted,
       15 Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous,
          The long-worthy atheling, sat very woful,
          Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen,
[6]       When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer,
          The spirit accursèd: too crushing that sorrow,

{The monster returns the next night.}

       20 Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried,
          But one night after continued his slaughter
          Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little
          From malice and murder; they mastered him fully.
          He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for
       25 A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges,
          A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice
          Told him truly by token apparent
          The hall-thane's hatred: he held himself after
          Further and faster who the foeman did baffle.
       30 [2]So ruled he and strongly strove against justice
          Lone against all men, till empty uptowered

{King Hrothgar's agony and suspense last twelve years.}

          The choicest of houses. Long was the season:
          Twelve-winters' time torture suffered
          The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction,
       35 Endless agony; hence it after[3] became
          Certainly known to the children of men
          Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar
          Grendel struggled:--his grudges he cherished,
          Murderous malice, many a winter,
       40 Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he
          [4]Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of
          The men of the Dane-folk, for money to settle,
          No counsellor needed count for a moment
[7]       On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer;

{Grendel is unremitting in his persecutions.}

       45 The monster of evil fiercely did harass,
          The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger,
          Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then
          The mist-covered moor-fens; men do not know where
          Witches and wizards wander and ramble.
       50 So the foe of mankind many of evils
          Grievous injuries, often accomplished,
          Horrible hermit; Heort he frequented,
          Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen

{God is against the monster.}

          (Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch,[5]
       55 The light-flashing jewel, love of Him knew not).
          'Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings

{The king and his council deliberate in vain.}

          Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private
          Sat the king in his council; conference held they
          What the braves should determine 'gainst terrors unlooked for.

{They invoke the aid of their gods.}

       60 At the shrines of their idols often they promised
          Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they
          The devil from hell would help them to lighten
          Their people's oppression. Such practice they used then,
          Hope of the heathen; hell they remembered
       65 In innermost spirit, God they knew not,

{The true God they do not know.}

          Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler,
          No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven,
          The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who
          Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to
       70 The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for,
          Wax no wiser; well for the man who,
          Living his life-days, his Lord may face
          And find defence in his Father's embrace!

    [1] The translation is based on 'weras,' adopted by H.-So.--K. and Th.
    read 'wera' and, arranging differently, render 119(2)-120: _They knew
    not sorrow, the wretchedness of man, aught of misfortune_.--For
    'unhælo' (120) R. suggests 'unfælo': _The uncanny creature, greedy and
    cruel, etc_.

    [2] S. rearranges and translates: _So he ruled and struggled unjustly,
    one against all, till the noblest of buildings stood useless (it was a
    long while) twelve years' time: the friend of the Scyldings suffered
    distress, every woe, great sorrows, etc_.

    [3] For 'syððan,' B. suggests 'sárcwidum': _Hence in mournful words it
    became well known, etc_. Various other words beginning with 's' have
    been conjectured.

    [4] The H.-So. glossary is very inconsistent in referring to this
    passage.--'Sibbe' (154), which H.-So. regards as an instr., B. takes
    as accus., obj. of 'wolde.' Putting a comma after Deniga, he renders:
    _He did not desire peace with any of the Danes, nor did he wish to
    remove their life-woe, nor to settle for money_.

    [5] Of this difficult passage the following interpretations among
    others are given: (1) Though Grendel has frequented Heorot as a demon,
    he could not become ruler of the Danes, on account of his hostility to
    God. (2) Hrothgar was much grieved that Grendel had not appeared
    before his throne to receive presents. (3) He was not permitted to
    devastate the hall, on account of the Creator; _i.e._ God wished to
    make his visit fatal to him.--Ne ... wisse (169) W. renders: _Nor had
    he any desire to do so_; 'his' being obj. gen. = danach.

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