by Anonymous

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IV - Beowulf Goes to Hrothgar's Assistance

{Hrothgar sees no way of escape from the persecutions of Grendel.}

          So Healfdene's kinsman constantly mused on
          His long-lasting sorrow; the battle-thane clever
          Was not anywise able evils to 'scape from:
          Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people,
        5 Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture,

{Beowulf, the Geat, hero of the poem, hears of Hrothgar's sorrow, and
resolves to go to his assistance.}

          Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac's liegeman,
          Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel's achievements
          Heard in his home:[1] of heroes then living
          He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble.
       10 He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty;
          He said he the war-king would seek o'er the ocean,
          The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers.
          For the perilous project prudent companions
          Chided him little, though loving him dearly;
       15 They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.

{With fourteen carefully chosen companions, he sets out for Dane-land.}

          The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen
          Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them
          Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions
          The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them,
       20 A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country.
          Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water,
          The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then
          Well-equipped warriors: the wave-currents twisted
          The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried
       25 On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels,
          Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then,
          Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.


{The vessel sails like a bird}

          The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze,
          Likest a bird, glided the waters,

{In twenty four hours they reach the shores of Hrothgar's dominions}

       30 Till twenty and four hours thereafter
          The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance
          That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments,
          The sea cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains,
          Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits
       35 At the end of the ocean.[2] Up thence quickly
          The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland,
          Fastened their vessel (battle weeds rattled,
          War burnies clattered), the Wielder they thanked
          That the ways o'er the waters had waxen so gentle.

{They are hailed by the Danish coast guard}

       40 Then well from the cliff edge the guard of the Scyldings
          Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o'er the gangway
          Brave ones bearing beauteous targets,
          Armor all ready, anxiously thought he,
          Musing and wondering what men were approaching.
       45 High on his horse then Hrothgar's retainer
          Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished
          His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness.

{His challenge}

          "Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors
          Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving
       50 A high riding ship o'er the shoals of the waters,
          [3]And hither 'neath helmets have hied o'er the ocean?
[10]      I have been strand-guard, standing as warden,
          Lest enemies ever anywise ravage
          Danish dominions with army of war-ships.
       55 More boldly never have warriors ventured
          Hither to come; of kinsmen's approval,
          Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely

{He is struck by Beowulf's appearance.}

          Nothing have known. Never a greater one
          Of earls o'er the earth have _I_ had a sight of
       60 Than is one of your number, a hero in armor;
          No low-ranking fellow[4] adorned with his weapons,
          But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving,
          And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey
          As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings
       65 And farther fare, I fully must know now
          What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers,
          Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion
          Hear ye and hearken: haste is most fitting
          Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from."

    [1] 'From hám' (194) is much disputed. One rendering is: _Beowulf,
    being away from home, heard of Hrothgar's troubles, etc_. Another,
    that adopted by S. and endorsed in the H.-So. notes, is: _B. heard
    from his neighborhood (neighbors),_ i.e. _in his home, etc_. A third
    is: _B., being at home, heard this as occurring away from home_. The
    H.-So. glossary and notes conflict.

    [2] 'Eoletes' (224) is marked with a (?) by H.-So.; our rendering
    simply follows his conjecture.--Other conjectures as to 'eolet' are:
    (1) _voyage_, (2) _toil_, _labor_, (3) _hasty journey_.

    [3] The lacuna of the MS at this point has been supplied by various
    conjectures. The reading adopted by H.-So. has been rendered in the
    above translation. W., like H.-So., makes 'ic' the beginning of a new
    sentence, but, for 'helmas bæron,' he reads 'hringed stefnan.' This
    has the advantage of giving a parallel to 'brontne ceol' instead of a
    kenning for 'go.'--B puts the (?) after 'holmas', and begins a new
    sentence at the middle of the line. Translate: _What warriors are ye,
    clad in armor, who have thus come bringing the foaming vessel over the
    water way, hither over the seas? For some time on the wall I have been
    coast guard, etc_. S. endorses most of what B. says, but leaves out
    'on the wall' in the last sentence. If W.'s 'hringed stefnan' be
    accepted, change line 51 above to, _A ring-stemmed vessel hither

    [4] 'Seld-guma' (249) is variously rendered: (1) _housecarle_; (2)
    _home-stayer_; (3) _common man_. Dr. H. Wood suggests _a man-at-arms
    in another's house_.

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