Campus Life at 100 of the Best Colleges, Summed Up in a Single Sentence
BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:—
“Lo, we seafarers say our will,
far-come men, that we fain would seek
Hygelac now. We here have found
hosts to our heart: thou hast harbored us well.
If ever on earth I am able to win me
more of thy love, O lord of men,
aught anew, than I now have done,
for work of war I am willing still!
If it come to me ever across the seas
that neighbor foemen annoy and fright thee,—
as they that hate thee erewhile have used,—
thousands then of thanes I shall bring,
heroes to help thee. Of Hygelac I know,
ward of his folk, that, though few his years,
the lord of the Geats will give me aid
by word and by work, that well I may serve thee,
wielding the war-wood to win thy triumph
and lending thee might when thou lackest men.
If thy Hrethric should come to court of Geats,
a sovran’s son, he will surely there
find his friends. A far-off land
each man should visit who vaunts him brave.”
Him then answering, Hrothgar spake:—
“These words of thine the wisest God
sent to thy soul! No sager counsel
from so young in years e’er yet have I heard.
Thou art strong of main and in mind art wary,
art wise in words! I ween indeed
if ever it hap that Hrethel’s heir
by spear be seized, by sword-grim battle,
by illness or iron, thine elder and lord,
people’s leader,—and life be thine,—
no seemlier man will the Sea-Geats find
at all to choose for their chief and king,
for hoard-guard of heroes, if hold thou wilt
thy kinsman’s kingdom! Thy keen mind pleases me
the longer the better, Beowulf loved!
|Beowulf said to Hrothgar, “We plan to return to our homeland now. You have been wonderful hosts, and we hold you dear to our hearts. If there is ever anything else I can do for you, I am ready. If ever you are troubled with war, I will cross the sea with thousands of warriors to fight by your side. Hygelac is young, but I have faith that he will support me if ever you need our assistance. If your son Hrethric comes to Geatland, he will be among friends. Any land is happy to welcome a brave man.” Hrothgar replied, “The wisdom of your words must be a gift from God. I’ve never heard such thoughts from someone so young. You are strong in body and in mind. If ever your king should fall in battle or through sickness, the Geats will not find a better leader than you, if you would be willing to be their protector. Your mind pleases me the more I’m with you, dear Beowulf!|
Thou hast brought it about that both our peoples,
sons of the Geat and Spear-Dane folk,
shall have mutual peace, and from murderous strife,
such as once they waged, from war refrain.
Long as I rule this realm so wide,
let our hoards be common, let heroes with gold
each other greet o’er the gannet’s-bath,
and the ringed-prow bear o’er rolling waves
tokens of love. I trow my landfolk
towards friend and foe are firmly joined,
and honor they keep in the olden way.”
To him in the hall, then, Healfdene’s son
gave treasures twelve, and the trust-of-earls
bade him fare with the gifts to his folk beloved,
hale to his home, and in haste return.
Then kissed the king of kin renowned,
Scyldings’ chieftain, that choicest thane,
and fell on his neck. Fast flowed the tears
of the hoary-headed. Heavy with winters,
he had chances twain, but he clung to this,—
that each should look on the other again,
and hear him in hall. Was this hero so dear to him.
his breast’s wild billows he banned in vain;
safe in his soul a secret longing,
locked in his mind, for that loved man
burned in his blood. Then Beowulf strode,
glad of his gold-gifts, the grass-plot o’er,
warrior blithe. The wave-roamer bode
riding at anchor, its owner awaiting.
As they hastened onward, Hrothgar’s gift
they lauded at length.—’Twas a lord unpeered,
every way blameless, till age had broken
—it spareth no mortal—his splendid might.
|“You have made sure that the Geats and the Spear Danes will be close friends. As long as I am king, our treasures will be shared, our warriors will greet each other happily, and we will send signs of our love across the seas. Our people will keep to the true olden customs.” Then Hrothgar gave Beowulf twelve treasures and told him to be safe in his journey home and to return soon. In tears, Hrothgar embraced Beowulf. The old man couldn’t shake the feeling that they would never see each other again, and Beowulf was so dear to him that this fear brought the king to tears. Beowulf strode to his ship and he and his men departed. On the journey, they praised Hrothgar’s goodness repeatedly. He would be a great king until time defeated him, as it always does.|