Skip over navigation

Original Text

Modern Text

THEN Hrothgar went with his hero-train,
defence-of-Scyldings, forth from hall;
fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek,
couch of his queen. The King-of-Glory
against this Grendel a guard had set,
so heroes heard, a hall-defender,
who warded the monarch and watched for the monster.
In truth, the Geats’ prince gladly trusted
his mettle, his might, the mercy of God!
Cast off then his corselet of iron,
helmet from head; to his henchman gave,—
choicest of weapons,—the well-chased sword,
bidding him guard the gear of battle.
Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man,
Beowulf Geat, ere the bed be sought:—
“Of force in fight no feebler I count me,
in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.
Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death
his life will I give, though it lie in my power.
No skill is his to strike against me,
my shield to hew though he hardy be,
bold in battle; we both, this night,
shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,
unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,
sacred Lord, on which side soever
doom decree as he deemeth right.”
Reclined then the chieftain, and cheek-pillows held
the head of the earl, while all about him
seamen hardy on hall-beds sank.
None of them thought that thence their steps
to the folk and fastness that fostered them,
to the land they loved, would lead them back!
Full well they wist that on warriors many
battle-death seized, in the banquet-hall,
of Danish clan. But comfort and help,
war-weal weaving, to Weder folk
the Master gave, that, by might of one,
over their enemy all prevailed,
by single strength. In sooth ’tis told
that highest God o’er human kind
hath wielded ever!—Thro’ wan night striding,
came the walker-in-shadow. Warriors slept
whose hest was to guard the gabled hall,—
all save one. ’Twas widely known
that against God’s will the ghostly ravager
him could not hurl to haunts of darkness;
wakeful, ready, with warrior’s wrath,
bold he bided the battle’s issue.
Hrothgar left with his royal guard. He knew his hall was safe because God, the King of Glory, had put Beowulf there to protect it from Grendel. And Beowulf put his faith in God and his own strength. So he removed his helmet and armor and handed his best sword to his servant with orders to take care of it. Before he went to sleep, Beowulf spoke to his men. “I consider myself as fierce as fighter as Grendel. So I will fight him by hand, not with a sword, and I will still win. Grendel does not use a sword or shield. He relies only on his strength. And so will I. If he comes for me, we will battle, and God will decide the victor.” They all went to bed. There wasn’t a man among them who was sure that he would see his home again. They knew how many Danish warriors had already died in this hall. But God was preparing a victory for the Geats. They would win because all of their strength would be found in one man. God will always rules over men.

More Help

Previous Next