by Anonymous

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XL - The Messenger of Death

{Wiglaf sends the news of Beowulf's death to liegemen near by.}

          Then he charged that the battle be announced at the hedge
          Up o'er the cliff-edge, where the earl-troopers bided
          The whole of the morning, mood-wretched sat them,
          Bearers of battle-shields, both things expecting,
        5 The end of his lifetime and the coming again of
          The liegelord belovèd. Little reserved he
          Of news that was known, who the ness-cliff did travel,
          But he truly discoursed to all that could hear him:


{The messenger speaks.}

          "Now the free-giving friend-lord of the folk of the Weders,
       10 The folk-prince of Geatmen, is fast in his death-bed,
          By the deeds of the dragon in death-bed abideth;
          Along with him lieth his life-taking foeman
          Slain with knife-wounds: he was wholly unable
          To injure at all the ill-planning monster

{Wiglaf sits by our dead lord.}

       15 With bite of his sword-edge. Wiglaf is sitting,
          Offspring of Wihstan, up over Beowulf,
          Earl o'er another whose end-day hath reached him,
          Head-watch holdeth o'er heroes unliving,[1]

{Our lord's death will lead to attacks from our old foes.}

          For friend and for foeman. The folk now expecteth
       20 A season of strife when the death of the folk-king
          To Frankmen and Frisians in far-lands is published.
          The war-hatred waxed warm 'gainst the Hugmen,

{Higelac's death recalled.}

          When Higelac came with an army of vessels
          Faring to Friesland, where the Frankmen in battle
       25 Humbled him and bravely with overmight 'complished
          That the mail-clad warrior must sink in the battle,
          Fell 'mid his folk-troop: no fret-gems presented
          The atheling to earlmen; aye was denied us
          Merewing's mercy. The men of the Swedelands
       30 For truce or for truth trust I but little;
          But widely 'twas known that near Ravenswood Ongentheow

{Hæthcyn's fall referred to.}

          Sundered Hæthcyn the Hrethling from life-joys,
          When for pride overweening the War-Scylfings first did
          Seek the Geatmen with savage intentions.
       35 Early did Ohthere's age-laden father,
          Old and terrible, give blow in requital,
          Killing the sea-king, the queen-mother rescued,
          The old one his consort deprived of her gold,
          Onela's mother and Ohthere's also,
[99]   40 And then followed the feud-nursing foemen till hardly,
          Reaved of their ruler, they Ravenswood entered.
          Then with vast-numbered forces he assaulted the remnant,
          Weary with wounds, woe often promised
          The livelong night to the sad-hearted war-troop:
       45 Said he at morning would kill them with edges of weapons,
          Some on the gallows for glee to the fowls.
          Aid came after to the anxious-in-spirit
          At dawn of the day, after Higelac's bugle
          And trumpet-sound heard they, when the good one proceeded
       50 And faring followed the flower of the troopers.

    [1] 'Hige-méðum' (2910) is glossed by H. as dat. plu. (= for the
    dead). S. proposes 'hige-méðe,' nom. sing. limiting Wigláf; i.e. _W.,
    mood-weary, holds head-watch o'er friend and foe_.--B. suggests taking
    the word as dat. inst. plu. of an abstract noun in -'u.' The
    translation would be substantially the same as S.'s.

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