by Anonymous

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XI - All Sleep Save One

{Hrothgar retires.}

          Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him,
          Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building;
          The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for,
          The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel

{God has provided a watch for the hall.}

        5 The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch,
          As men heard recounted: for the king of the Danemen
          He did special service, gave the giant a watcher:
          And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted

{Beowulf is self-confident}

          His warlike strength and the Wielder's protection.

{He prepares for rest.}

       10 His armor of iron off him he did then,
          His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed
          His chased-handled chain-sword, choicest of weapons,
          And bade him bide with his battle-equipments.
          The good one then uttered words of defiance,
       15 Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted:

{Beowulf boasts of his ability to cope with Grendel.}

          "I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess,
          In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself;
          Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber,
          Of life to bereave him, though well I am able.

{We will fight with nature's weapons only.}

       20 No battle-skill[1] has he, that blows he should strike me,
          To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty
[25]      In strife and destruction; but struggling by night we
          Shall do without edges, dare he to look for
          Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father
       25 The glory apportion, God ever-holy,

{God may decide who shall conquer}

          On which hand soever to him seemeth proper."
          Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber,
          The pillow received the cheek of the noble;

{The Geatish warriors lie down.}

          And many a martial mere-thane attending
       30 Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely

{They thought it very unlikely that they should ever see their homes

          That ever thereafter any should hope to
          Be happy at home, hero-friends visit
          Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood;
          They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall,
       35 Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings

{But God raised up a deliverer.}

          Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted
          The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes
          Aid and comfort, that every opponent
          By one man's war-might they worsted and vanquished,

{God rules the world.}

       40 By the might of himself; the truth is established
          That God Almighty hath governed for ages
          Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid

{Grendel comes to Heorot.}

          The trav'ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding.
          The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building,

{Only one warrior is awake.}

       45 One only excepted. 'Mid earthmen 'twas 'stablished,
          Th' implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them
          To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling;
          But serving as warder, in terror to foemen,
          He angrily bided the issue of battle.[2]

    [1] Gr. understood 'gódra' as meaning 'advantages in battle.' This
    rendering H.-So. rejects. The latter takes the passage as meaning that
    Grendel, though mighty and formidable, has no skill in the art of war.

    [2] B. in his masterly articles on Beowulf (P. and B. XII.) rejects
    the division usually made at this point, 'Þá.' (711), usually rendered
    'then,' he translates 'when,' and connects its clause with the
    foregoing sentence. These changes he makes to reduce the number of
    'cóm's' as principal verbs. (Cf. 703, 711, 721.) With all deference to
    this acute scholar, I must say that it seems to me that the poet is
    exhausting his resources to bring out clearly the supreme event on
    which the whole subsequent action turns. First, he (Grendel) came _in
    the wan night_; second, he came _from the moor_; third, he came _to
    the hall_. Time, place from which, place to which, are all given.

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