by Anonymous

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XXII - Beowulf Seeks Grendel's Mother

Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow's son:

{Beowulf exhorts the old king to arouse himself for action.}

          "Grieve not, O wise one! for each it is better,
          His friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him;
          Each of us must the end-day abide of
        5 His earthly existence; who is able accomplish
          Glory ere death! To battle-thane noble
          Lifeless lying, 'tis at last most fitting.
          Arise, O king, quick let us hasten
          To look at the footprint of the kinsman of Grendel!
       10 I promise thee this now: to his place he'll escape not,
          To embrace of the earth, nor to mountainous forest,
          Nor to depths of the ocean, wherever he wanders.
[49]      Practice thou now patient endurance
          Of each of thy sorrows, as I hope for thee soothly!"

{Hrothgar rouses himself. His horse is brought.}

       15 Then up sprang the old one, the All-Wielder thanked he,
          Ruler Almighty, that the man had outspoken.
          Then for Hrothgar a war-horse was decked with a bridle,
          Curly-maned courser. The clever folk-leader

{They start on the track of the female monster.}

          Stately proceeded: stepped then an earl-troop
       20 Of linden-wood bearers. Her footprints were seen then
          Widely in wood-paths, her way o'er the bottoms,
          Where she faraway fared o'er fen-country murky,
          Bore away breathless the best of retainers
          Who pondered with Hrothgar the welfare of country.
       25 The son of the athelings then went o'er the stony,
          Declivitous cliffs, the close-covered passes,
          Narrow passages, paths unfrequented,
          Nesses abrupt, nicker-haunts many;
          One of a few of wise-mooded heroes,
       30 He onward advanced to view the surroundings,
          Till he found unawares woods of the mountain
          O'er hoar-stones hanging, holt-wood unjoyful;
          The water stood under, welling and gory.
          'Twas irksome in spirit to all of the Danemen,
       35 Friends of the Scyldings, to many a liegeman

{The sight of Æschere's head causes them great sorrow.}

          Sad to be suffered, a sorrow unlittle
          To each of the earlmen, when to Æschere's head they
          Came on the cliff. The current was seething
          With blood and with gore (the troopers gazed on it).
       40 The horn anon sang the battle-song ready.
          The troop were all seated; they saw 'long the water then

{The water is filled with serpents and sea-dragons.}

          Many a serpent, mere-dragons wondrous
          Trying the waters, nickers a-lying
          On the cliffs of the nesses, which at noonday full often
       45 Go on the sea-deeps their sorrowful journey,
          Wild-beasts and wormkind; away then they hastened

{One of them is killed by Beowulf.}

          Hot-mooded, hateful, they heard the great clamor,
          The war-trumpet winding. One did the Geat-prince
[50]      Sunder from earth-joys, with arrow from bowstring,
       50 From his sea-struggle tore him, that the trusty war-missile

{The dead beast is a poor swimmer}

          Pierced to his vitals; he proved in the currents
          Less doughty at swimming whom death had offcarried.
          Soon in the waters the wonderful swimmer
          Was straitened most sorely with sword-pointed boar-spears,
       55 Pressed in the battle and pulled to the cliff-edge;
          The liegemen then looked on the loath-fashioned stranger.

{Beowulf prepares for a struggle with the monster.}

          Beowulf donned then his battle-equipments,
          Cared little for life; inlaid and most ample,
          The hand-woven corslet which could cover his body,
       60 Must the wave-deeps explore, that war might be powerless
          To harm the great hero, and the hating one's grasp might
          Not peril his safety; his head was protected
          By the light-flashing helmet that should mix with the bottoms,
          Trying the eddies, treasure-emblazoned,
       65 Encircled with jewels, as in seasons long past
          The weapon-smith worked it, wondrously made it,
          With swine-bodies fashioned it, that thenceforward no longer
          Brand might bite it, and battle-sword hurt it.
          And that was not least of helpers in prowess

{He has Unferth's sword in his hand.}

       70 That Hrothgar's spokesman had lent him when straitened;
          And the hilted hand-sword was Hrunting entitled,
          Old and most excellent 'mong all of the treasures;
          Its blade was of iron, blotted with poison,
          Hardened with gore; it failed not in battle
       75 Any hero under heaven in hand who it brandished,
          Who ventured to take the terrible journeys,
          The battle-field sought; not the earliest occasion
          That deeds of daring 'twas destined to 'complish.

{Unferth has little use for swords.}

          Ecglaf's kinsman minded not soothly,
       80 Exulting in strength, what erst he had spoken
          Drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent to
          A sword-hero bolder; himself did not venture
          'Neath the strife of the currents his life to endanger,
[51]      To fame-deeds perform; there he forfeited glory,
       85 Repute for his strength. Not so with the other
          When he clad in his corslet had equipped him for battle.

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