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WENT he forth to find at fall of night
that haughty house, and heed wherever
the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.
Found within it the atheling band
asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,
of human hardship. Unhallowed wight,
grim and greedy, he grasped betimes,
wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,
thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed
fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,
laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.
Then at the dawning, as day was breaking,
the might of Grendel to men was known;
then after wassail was wail uplifted,
loud moan in the morn. The mighty chief,
atheling excellent, unblithe sat,
labored in woe for the loss of his thanes,
when once had been traced the trail of the fiend,
spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow,
too long, too loathsome. Not late the respite;
with night returning, anew began
ruthless murder; he recked no whit,
firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime.
They were easy to find who elsewhere sought
in room remote their rest at night,
bed in the bowers, when that bale was shown,
was seen in sooth, with surest token,—
the hall-thane’s hate. Such held themselves
far and fast who the fiend outran!
Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill
one against all; until empty stood
that lordly building, and long it bode so.
Twelve years’ tide the trouble he bore,
sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,
boundless cares. There came unhidden
tidings true to the tribes of men,
in sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel
harassed Hrothgar, what hate he bore him,
what murder and massacre, many a year,
feud unfading,—refused consent
to deal with any of Daneland’s earls,
make pact of peace, or compound for gold:
still less did the wise men ween to get
great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.
But the evil one ambushed old and young
death-shadow dark, and dogged them still,
lured, or lurked in the livelong night
of misty moorlands: men may say not
where the haunts of these Hell-Runes be.
Such heaping of horrors the hater of men,
lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,
harassings heavy. O’er Heorot he lorded,
gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;
and ne’er could the prince approach his throne,
—’twas judgment of God,—or have joy in his hall.
Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings’-friend,
heart-rending misery. Many nobles
sat assembled, and searched out counsel
how it were best for bold-hearted men
against harassing terror to try their hand.
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes
altar-offerings, asked with words
that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them
for the pain of their people. Their practice this,
their heathen hope; ’twas Hell they thought of
in mood of their mind. Almighty they knew not,
Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,
nor Heaven’s-Helmet heeded they ever,
Wielder-of-Wonder.—Woe for that man
who in harm and hatred hales his soul
to fiery embraces;—nor favor nor change
awaits he ever. But well for him
that after death-day may draw to his Lord,
and friendship find in the Father’s arms!
So in the nighttime Grendel went to the hall to watch the men, who had been drinking. He came upon them asleep, completely oblivious to the sorrow and pain that awaited them. Full of wrath, Grendel grabbed thirty of the men and took them back to his lair. When dawn broke, the men saw what Grendel had done. They were beside themselves with grief. Even their fearless leader sat paralyzed, completely overwhelmed by the destruction Grendel had caused. But they couldn’t grieve for long, as Grendel returned the next night to claim more victims. Men could be seen fleeing the hall for safety, running to escape Grendel’s hatred. The great hall soon stood empty. For twelve years Hrothgar suffered as a result of Grendel’s attacks. The whole world heard of Grendel’s rage and the murders he carried out on Hrothgar’s people. Grendel refused to stop, even for huge sums of gold, and no man would dare try to negotiate with the foul monster. Old and young alike were terrified, as Grendel hunted them at night in the misty swamps, never stopping his lonely war. Once night fell, he was the ruler of Heorot. Hrothgar was heartbroken. His advisors all offered ideas of how best to deal with Grendel. They even made offerings to pagan gods and asked devils to come to their aid. That was how little hope they had left. They were heathens and they did not know that they could turn to Almighty God, Lord of the Heavens. Pity the man who turns to hell for help. May he be blessed to turn to the Lord after death.

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