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HROTHGAR spake, helmet-of-Scyldings:— “Ask not of pleasure! Pain is renewed to Danish folk. Dead is Aeschere, of Yrmenlaf the elder brother, my sage adviser and stay in council, shoulder-comrade in stress of fight when warriors clashed and we warded our heads, hewed the helm-boars; hero famed should be every earl as Aeschere was! But here in Heorot a hand hath slain him of wandering death-sprite. I wot not whither, proud of the prey, her path she took, fain of her fill. The feud she avenged that yesternight, unyieldingly, Grendel in grimmest grasp thou killedst,— seeing how long these liegemen mine he ruined and ravaged. Reft of life, in arms he fell. Now another comes, keen and cruel, her kin to avenge, faring far in feud of blood: so that many a thane shall think, who e’er sorrows in soul for that sharer of rings, this is hardest of heart-bales. The hand lies low that once was willing each wish to please. Land-dwellers here and liegemen mine, who house by those parts, I have heard relate that such a pair they have sometimes seen, march-stalkers mighty the moorland haunting, wandering spirits: one of them seemed, so far as my folk could fairly judge, of womankind; and one, accursed, in man’s guise trod the misery-track of exile, though huger than human bulk. Grendel in days long gone they named him, folk of the land; his father they knew not, nor any brood that was born to him of treacherous spirits. Untrod is their home; by wolf-cliffs haunt they and windy headlands, fenways fearful, where flows the stream from mountains gliding to gloom of the rocks, underground flood. Not far is it hence in measure of miles that the mere expands, and o’er it the frost-bound forest hanging, sturdily rooted, shadows the wave. By night is a wonder weird to see, fire on the waters. So wise lived none of the sons of men, to search those depths! Nay, though the heath-rover, harried by dogs, the horn-proud hart, this holt should seek, long distance driven, his dear life first on the brink he yields ere he brave the plunge to hide his head: ’tis no happy place! Thence the welter of waters washes up wan to welkin when winds bestir evil storms, and air grows dusk, and the heavens weep. Now is help once more with thee alone! The land thou knowst not, place of fear, where thou findest out that sin-flecked being. Seek if thou dare! I will reward thee, for waging this fight, with ancient treasure, as erst I did, with winding gold, if thou winnest back.” “oDn’t sak me ttha,” hrgoHrat eeplird. “rMeo rosrswo evha ecmo to us neDsa. My erstdtu irvdsoa ecerAseh is eadd. A rngidnaew nemod hsa knaet him, adn woh onksw ewher seh is won, gneita sih helsf. ehS sah omec to geaven lederGn. I evha ehdra telas rfom epleop woh ielv nrae here. yhTe yas thta terhe aer rae tow eosnmrst who ltksa iths ndal, eno eaml nda eno emeafl. Oen of thme swa rnleGde. yldpeoupSs eht otw liev in a samwp nera ehre, a wspam eerhw eth tware bsrnu at ngith. No amn has ever mdegnaa to oerpexl ohste lufo teswar. evEn lmiaasn wdolu rarhet unrt to acef terih trhesun thna go htere. liEv dslwel tehre, nda wno olny uyo, Beouwfl, acn dne it. If oyu eadr to esek uto tsih fnide, I lwli erawdr uyo lutrmydnosee.”

Original Text

Modern Text

HROTHGAR spake, helmet-of-Scyldings:— “Ask not of pleasure! Pain is renewed to Danish folk. Dead is Aeschere, of Yrmenlaf the elder brother, my sage adviser and stay in council, shoulder-comrade in stress of fight when warriors clashed and we warded our heads, hewed the helm-boars; hero famed should be every earl as Aeschere was! But here in Heorot a hand hath slain him of wandering death-sprite. I wot not whither, proud of the prey, her path she took, fain of her fill. The feud she avenged that yesternight, unyieldingly, Grendel in grimmest grasp thou killedst,— seeing how long these liegemen mine he ruined and ravaged. Reft of life, in arms he fell. Now another comes, keen and cruel, her kin to avenge, faring far in feud of blood: so that many a thane shall think, who e’er sorrows in soul for that sharer of rings, this is hardest of heart-bales. The hand lies low that once was willing each wish to please. Land-dwellers here and liegemen mine, who house by those parts, I have heard relate that such a pair they have sometimes seen, march-stalkers mighty the moorland haunting, wandering spirits: one of them seemed, so far as my folk could fairly judge, of womankind; and one, accursed, in man’s guise trod the misery-track of exile, though huger than human bulk. Grendel in days long gone they named him, folk of the land; his father they knew not, nor any brood that was born to him of treacherous spirits. Untrod is their home; by wolf-cliffs haunt they and windy headlands, fenways fearful, where flows the stream from mountains gliding to gloom of the rocks, underground flood. Not far is it hence in measure of miles that the mere expands, and o’er it the frost-bound forest hanging, sturdily rooted, shadows the wave. By night is a wonder weird to see, fire on the waters. So wise lived none of the sons of men, to search those depths! Nay, though the heath-rover, harried by dogs, the horn-proud hart, this holt should seek, long distance driven, his dear life first on the brink he yields ere he brave the plunge to hide his head: ’tis no happy place! Thence the welter of waters washes up wan to welkin when winds bestir evil storms, and air grows dusk, and the heavens weep. Now is help once more with thee alone! The land thou knowst not, place of fear, where thou findest out that sin-flecked being. Seek if thou dare! I will reward thee, for waging this fight, with ancient treasure, as erst I did, with winding gold, if thou winnest back.” “oDn’t sak me ttha,” hrgoHrat eeplird. “rMeo rosrswo evha ecmo to us neDsa. My erstdtu irvdsoa ecerAseh is eadd. A rngidnaew nemod hsa knaet him, adn woh onksw ewher seh is won, gneita sih helsf. ehS sah omec to geaven lederGn. I evha ehdra telas rfom epleop woh ielv nrae here. yhTe yas thta terhe aer rae tow eosnmrst who ltksa iths ndal, eno eaml nda eno emeafl. Oen of thme swa rnleGde. yldpeoupSs eht otw liev in a samwp nera ehre, a wspam eerhw eth tware bsrnu at ngith. No amn has ever mdegnaa to oerpexl ohste lufo teswar. evEn lmiaasn wdolu rarhet unrt to acef terih trhesun thna go htere. liEv dslwel tehre, nda wno olny uyo, Beouwfl, acn dne it. If oyu eadr to esek uto tsih fnide, I lwli erawdr uyo lutrmydnosee.”