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ME thus often the evil monsters
thronging threatened. With thrust of my sword,
the darling, I dealt them due return!
Nowise had they bliss from their booty then
to devour their victim, vengeful creatures,
seated to banquet at bottom of sea;
but at break of day, by my brand sore hurt,
on the edge of ocean up they lay,
put to sleep by the sword. And since, by them
on the fathomless sea-ways sailor-folk
are never molested.—Light from east,
came bright God’s beacon; the billows sank,
so that I saw the sea-cliffs high,
windy walls. For Wyrd oft saveth
earl undoomed if he doughty be!
And so it came that I killed with my sword
nine of the nicors. Of night-fought battles
ne’er heard I a harder ’neath heaven’s dome,
nor adrift on the deep a more desolate man!
Yet I came unharmed from that hostile clutch,
though spent with swimming. The sea upbore me,
flood of the tide, on Finnish land,
the welling waters. No wise of thee
have I heard men tell such terror of falchions,
bitter battle. Breca ne’er yet,
not one of you pair, in the play of war
such daring deed has done at all
with bloody brand,—I boast not of it!—
though thou wast the bane of thy brethren dear,
thy closest kin, whence curse of hell
awaits thee, well as thy wit may serve!
For I say in sooth, thou son of Ecglaf,
never had Grendel these grim deeds wrought,
monster dire, on thy master dear,
in Heorot such havoc, if heart of thine
were as battle-bold as thy boast is loud!
But he has found no feud will happen;
from sword-clash dread of your Danish clan
he vaunts him safe, from the Victor-Scyldings.
He forces pledges, favors none
of the land of Danes, but lustily murders,
fights and feasts, nor feud he dreads
from Spear-Dane men. But speedily now
shall I prove him the prowess and pride of the Geats,
shall bid him battle. Blithe to mead
go he that listeth, when light of dawn
this morrow morning o’er men of earth,
ether-robed sun from the south shall beam!”
Joyous then was the Jewel-giver,
hoar-haired, war-brave; help awaited
the Bright-Danes’ prince, from Beowulf hearing,
folk’s good shepherd, such firm resolve.
Then was laughter of liegemen loud resounding
with winsome words. Came Wealhtheow forth,
queen of Hrothgar, heedful of courtesy,
gold-decked, greeting the guests in hall;
and the high-born lady handed the cup
first to the East-Danes’ heir and warden,
bade him be blithe at the beer-carouse,
the land’s beloved one. Lustily took he
banquet and beaker, battle-famed king.
“Soon it was morning and God’s light was shining from the east. I saw high cliffs nearby. Fate saves those who are brave. I had killed nine sea monsters. I’ve never heard of another man who fought such a battle. I was exhausted, but I was alive. I was swept ashore on a beach in Finland. I’ve never heard of you fighting such a battle, Unferth. It’s not bragging on my part to say that neither you nor Breca can match up to me with a sword. You are responsible for the deaths of your family and will pay for it in hell. If you were really so brave and fierce, Unferth, Grendel wouldn’t still be killing everyone in Heorot. He knows he has nothing to fear from your sword, that you aren’t brave enough to fight him. He just goes on killing and feasting. The Danes are no match for him. But I will show him the power of the Geats. And then no one will be afraid to enter the mead hall in the morning.” Hrothgar was overjoyed at this speech. He knew help had truly arrived. Everyone grew happy afterwards, and their talk and laughter filled the hall. Hrothgar’s wife, Queen Wealtheow, came into the hall to greet the guests. She was dressed in gold. She handed her husband the ale cup and told him to drink first, since he was dear to his people. He gulped it down.