by Anonymous

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XXIX - Beowulf and Higelac

Then the brave one departed, his band along with him,

{Beowulf and his party seek Higelac.}

          Seeking the sea-shore, the sea-marches treading,
          The wide-stretching shores. The world-candle glimmered,
          The sun from the southward; they proceeded then onward,
        5 Early arriving where they heard that the troop-lord,
          Ongentheow's slayer, excellent, youthful
          Folk-prince and warrior was distributing jewels,
          Close in his castle. The coming of Beowulf
          Was announced in a message quickly to Higelac,
       10 That the folk-troop's defender forth to the palace
          The linden-companion alive was advancing,
          Secure from the combat courtward a-going.
          The building was early inward made ready
          For the foot-going guests as the good one had ordered.

{Beowulf sits by his liegelord.}

       15 He sat by the man then who had lived through the struggle,
          Kinsman by kinsman, when the king of the people
          Had in lordly language saluted the dear one,

{Queen Hygd receives the heroes.}

          In words that were formal. The daughter of Hæreth
          Coursed through the building, carrying mead-cups:[1]
[68]   20 She loved the retainers, tendered the beakers
          To the high-minded Geatmen. Higelac 'gan then

{Higelac is greatly interested in Beowulf's adventures.}

          Pleasantly plying his companion with questions
          In the high-towering palace. A curious interest
          Tormented his spirit, what meaning to see in
       25 The Sea-Geats' adventures: "Beowulf worthy,

{Give an account of thy adventures, Beowulf dear.}

          How throve your journeying, when thou thoughtest suddenly
          Far o'er the salt-streams to seek an encounter,
          A battle at Heorot? Hast bettered for Hrothgar,
          The famous folk-leader, his far-published sorrows
       30 Any at all? In agony-billows

{My suspense has been great.}

          I mused upon torture, distrusted the journey
          Of the belovèd liegeman; I long time did pray thee
          By no means to seek out the murderous spirit,
          To suffer the South-Danes themselves to decide on[2]
       35 Grappling with Grendel. To God I am thankful
          To be suffered to see thee safe from thy journey."

{Beowulf narrates his adventures.}

          Beowulf answered, bairn of old Ecgtheow:
          "'Tis hidden by no means, Higelac chieftain,
          From many of men, the meeting so famous,
       40 What mournful moments of me and of Grendel
          Were passed in the place where he pressing affliction
          On the Victory-Scyldings scathefully brought,
          Anguish forever; that all I avengèd,
          So that any under heaven of the kinsmen of Grendel

{Grendel's kindred have no cause to boast.}

       45 Needeth not boast of that cry-in-the-morning,
          Who longest liveth of the loth-going kindred,[3]
          Encompassed by moorland. I came in my journey
          To the royal ring-hall, Hrothgar to greet there:

{Hrothgar received me very cordially.}

          Soon did the famous scion of Healfdene,
       50 When he understood fully the spirit that led me,
          Assign me a seat with the son of his bosom.
[69]      The troop was in joyance; mead-glee greater
          'Neath arch of the ether not ever beheld I

{The queen also showed up no little honor.}

          'Mid hall-building holders. The highly-famed queen,
       55 Peace-tie of peoples, oft passed through the building,
          Cheered the young troopers; she oft tendered a hero
          A beautiful ring-band, ere she went to her sitting.

{Hrothgar's lovely daughter.}

          Oft the daughter of Hrothgar in view of the courtiers
          To the earls at the end the ale-vessel carried,
       60 Whom Freaware I heard then hall-sitters title,
          When nail-adorned jewels she gave to the heroes:

{She is betrothed to Ingeld, in order to unite the Danes and Heathobards.}

          Gold-bedecked, youthful, to the glad son of Froda
          Her faith has been plighted; the friend of the Scyldings,
          The guard of the kingdom, hath given his sanction,[4]
       65 And counts it a vantage, for a part of the quarrels,
          A portion of hatred, to pay with the woman.
          [5]Somewhere not rarely, when the ruler has fallen,
          The life-taking lance relaxeth its fury
          For a brief breathing-spell, though the bride be charming!

    [1] 'Meodu-scencum' (1981) some would render '_with mead-pourers_.'
    Translate then: _The daughter of Hæreth went through the building
    accompanied by mead-pourers_.

    [2] See my note to 1599, supra, and B. in P. and B. XII. 97.

    [3] For 'fenne,' supplied by Grdtvg., B. suggests 'fácne' (cf. Jul.
    350). Accepting this, translate: _Who longest lives of the hated race,
    steeped in treachery_.

    [4] See note to v. 1599 above.

    [5] This is perhaps the least understood sentence in the poem, almost
    every word being open to dispute. (1) The 'nó' of our text is an
    emendation, and is rejected by many scholars. (2) 'Seldan' is by some
    taken as an adv. (= _seldom_), and by others as a noun (= _page_,
    _companion_). (3) 'Léod-hryre,' some render '_fall of the people_';
    others, '_fall of the prince_.' (4) 'Búgeð,' most scholars regard as
    the intrans. verb meaning '_bend_,' '_rest_'; but one great scholar has
    translated it '_shall kill_.' (5) 'Hwær,' Very recently, has been
    attacked, 'wære' being suggested. (6) As a corollary to the above, the
    same critic proposes to drop 'oft' out of the text.--t.B. suggests: Oft
    seldan wære after léodhryre: lýtle hwíle bongár búgeð, þéah séo brýd
    duge = _often has a treaty been (thus) struck, after a prince had
    fallen: (but only) a short time is the spear (then) wont to rest,
    however excellent the bride may be.

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