by Anonymous

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VIII - Hrothgar and Beowulf continued

{Hrothgar responds.}

          Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings:
          "To defend our folk and to furnish assistance,[1]
          Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf.

{Reminiscences of Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow.}

          The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in,
        5 Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict
          'Mid Wilfingish warriors; then the Wederish people
          For fear of a feud were forced to disown him.
          Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes,
[18]      The race of the Scyldings, o'er the roll of the waters;
       10 I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen,
          The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth,
          Rich in its jewels: dead was Heregar,
          My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken,
          Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am!
       15 That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded;
          O'er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent
          Ornaments old; oaths did he swear me.

{Hrothgar recounts to Beowulf the horrors of Grendel's persecutions.}

          It pains me in spirit to any to tell it,
          What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me,
       20 What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing.
          Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop;
          Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel.
          God can easily hinder the scather
          From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer

{My thanes have made many boasts, but have not executed them.}

       25 O'er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor
          They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches
          A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges.
          Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking,
          The building was bloody at breaking of daylight,
       30 The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied,
          The folk-hall was gory: I had fewer retainers,
          Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of.

{Sit down to the feast, and give us comfort.}

          Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes,[2]
          Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee!"

{A bench is made ready for Beowulf and his party.}

       35 For the men of the Geats then together assembled,
          In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready;
          There warlike in spirit they went to be seated,
          Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service,
[19]      Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum,

{The gleeman sings}

       40 And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom

{The heroes all rejoice together.}

          Hearty in Heorot; there was heroes' rejoicing,
          A numerous war-band of Weders and Danemen.

    [1] B. and S. reject the reading given in H.-So., and suggested by
    Grtvg. B. suggests for 457-458:

               wáere-ryhtum Þú, wine mín Béowulf,
               and for ár-stafum úsic sóhtest.

    This means: _From the obligations of clientage, my friend Beowulf, and
    for assistance thou hast sought us_.--This gives coherence to
    Hrothgar's opening remarks in VIII., and also introduces a new motive
    for Beowulf's coming to Hrothgar's aid.

    [2] _Sit now at the feast, and disclose thy purposes to the victorious
    heroes, as thy spirit urges_.--Kl. reaches the above translation by
    erasing the comma after 'meoto' and reading 'sige-hrèðsecgum.'--There
    are other and bolder emendations and suggestions. Of these the boldest
    is to regard 'meoto' as a verb (imperative), and read 'on sæl': _Think
    upon gayety, etc_.--All the renderings are unsatisfactory, the one
    given in our translation involving a zeugma.

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