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X - Beowulf Silences Unferth - Glee Is High


          "So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me
          Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance,

{My dear sword always served me faithfully.}

          With my dear-lovèd sword, as in sooth it was fitting;
          They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly,
        5 Ill-doers evil, of eating my body,
          Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean;
          But wounded with edges early at morning
          They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean,

{I put a stop to the outrages of the sea-monsters.}

          Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers
       10 No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing
          The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east,
          God's beautiful beacon; the billows subsided,
          That well I could see the nesses projecting,

{Fortune helps the brave earl.}

          The blustering crags. Weird often saveth
       15 The undoomed hero if doughty his valor!
          But me did it fortune[1] to fell with my weapon
          Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder
          'Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely,
          Nor of wight more woful in the waves of the ocean;
       20 Yet I 'scaped with my life the grip of the monsters,

{After that escape I drifted to Finland.}

          Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me
          To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current,

{I have never heard of your doing any such bold deeds.}

          The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me
          Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth,
       25 And of sword-terror none; never hath Breca
          At the play of the battle, nor either of you two,
          Feat so fearless performèd with weapons
          Glinting and gleaming . . . . . . . . . . . .
[22]      . . . . . . . . . . . . I utter no boasting;

{You are a slayer of brothers, and will suffer damnation, wise as you may

       30 Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers,
          Thy nearest of kin; thou needs must in hell get
          Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom.
          I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf,
          Never had Grendel such numberless horrors,
       35 The direful demon, done to thy liegelord,
          Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy,

{Had your acts been as brave as your words, Grendel had not ravaged your
land so long.}

          Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them.
          He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred,
          The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred,
       40 Of the Victory-Scyldings, need little dismay him:
          Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares

{The monster is not afraid of the Danes,}

          Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure,
          Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth

{but he will soon learn to dread the Geats.}

          From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor
       45 Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture
          To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able
          Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning

{On the second day, any warrior may go unmolested to the mead-banquet.}

          Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes,
          O'er children of men shines from the southward!"
       50 Then the gray-haired, war-famed giver of treasure

{Hrothgar's spirits are revived.}

          Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright-Danish ruler
          Expected assistance; the people's protector

{The old king trusts Beowulf. The heroes are joyful.}

          Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution.
          There was laughter of heroes; loud was the clatter,
       55 The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then,

{Queen Wealhtheow plays the hostess.}

          Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful,
          Gold-decked saluted the men in the building,
          And the freeborn woman the beaker presented

{She offers the cup to her husband first.}

          To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes,
       60 Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing,
          Lief to his liegemen; he lustily tasted
          Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler.
          The Helmingish lady then graciously circled
          'Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater:


{She gives presents to the heroes.}

       65 Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded
          That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen

{Then she offers the cup to Beowulf, thanking God that aid has come.}

          Might bear to Beowulf the bumper o'errunning;
          She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank,
          Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished,
       70 That in any of earlmen she ever should look for
          Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker,
          Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow's giving,

{Beowulf states to the queen the object of his visit.}

          Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures,
          Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow:
       75 "I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean,

{I determined to do or die.}

          When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen,
          I would work to the fullest the will of your people
          Or in foe's-clutches fastened fall in the battle.
          Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess,
       80 Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall."
          These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing,
          The boast of the Geatman; with gold trappings broidered
          Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by.

{Glee is high.}

          Then again as of yore was heard in the building
       85 Courtly discussion, conquerors' shouting,
          Heroes were happy, till Healfdene's son would
          Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing;
          For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he
          A fight was determined,[2] since the light of the sun they
       90 No longer could see, and lowering darkness
          O'er all had descended, and dark under heaven
          Shadowy shapes came shying around them.

{Hrothgar retires, leaving Beowulf in charge of the hall.}

          The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other,
          Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures,
       95 Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving
          To his care and keeping, quoth he departing:
[24]      "Not to any one else have I ever entrusted,
          But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen,
          Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler.
      100 Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses;
          Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess,
          Watch 'gainst the foeman! Thou shalt want no enjoyments,
          Survive thou safely adventure so glorious!"

    [1] The repetition of 'hwæðere' (574 and 578) is regarded by some
    scholars as a defect. B. suggests 'swá Þær' for the first: _So there
    it befell me, etc._ Another suggestion is to change the second
    'hwæðere' into 'swá Þær': _So there I escaped with my life, etc._

    [2] Kl. suggests a period after 'determined.' This would give the
    passage as follows: _Since they no longer could see the light of the
    sun, and lowering darkness was down over all, dire under the heavens
    shadowy beings came going around them.

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