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We saw the swallows gathering in the sky And in the osier-isle we heard them noise. We had not to look back on summer joys, Or forward to a summer of bright dye: But in the largeness of the evening earth 5 Our spirits grew as we went side by side. The hour became her husband and my bride. Love that had robbed us so, thus blessed our dearth!

The pilgrims of the year waxed very loud In multitudinous chatterings, as the flood 19 Full brown came from the West, and like pale blood

Expanded to the upper crimson cloud. Love that had robbed us of immortal things,

This little moment mercifully gave, Where I have the twilight


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Thus piteously Love closed what he begat;
The union of this ever-diverse pair!
These two were rapid falcons in a snare,
Condemned to do the flitting of the bat.
Lovers beneath the singing sky of May,
They wandered once; clear as the dew on


But they fed not on the advancing hours: Their hearts held cravings for the buried day.

Then each applied to each that fatal knife, Deep questioning, which probes to endless dole.

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Ah! what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!
In tragic hints here see what evermore
Moves dark as yonder midnight ocean's

Thundering like ramping hosts of warrior horse,


To throw that faint thin line upon the shore.


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It is supposed that Beowulf, the hero of this poem, was a real person. Although Beowulf himself does not appear in sober history, his uncle, Hygelac of the poem, is identified with a historical Scandinavian hero who invaded the land of enemies on the Lower Rhine about 512 A. D. (See Section XL of the text below.) Even though the uncle was disastrously defeated in this foray, the nephew Beowulf seems to have distinguished himself for bravery and for astounding feats of endurance. We infer that, as a result of his prowess, Beowulf was celebrated in song and story, and that one generation of narrators after another enhanced his achievements, the enhancement consisting largely, no doubt, in the attachment to our hero of exploits originally associated with other personages, heroes or gods. Such a natural process of story growth seems to account for the presence in our poem of some four separate stories: (1) a fight with Grendel, (2) a fight with Grendel's mother, (3) the victorious return of the hero to his home, and (4) a fight with a dragon. These four stories, originally, no doubt, told or sung separately, were probably combined into a form approaching that of the present poem, in the course of the seventh century. The events of the poem take place in Denmark and southern Sweden, and since England is nowhere mentioned, it seems likely that the main elements of the story had been gathered together before the last migration of the Angles to the island. The present form of the poem, however, with its unfortunate admixture of Christian elements, is due to a final recension in England.

The chief merit of Beowulf will hardly escape him who reads the poem as a vigorous narrative of stirring adventure, heroic endeavor, and elevated sentiments. Imagination and descriptive power are not lacking, and the charm of picturesque phrasing pervades the poem.






What ho! we have heard tell of the grandeur of the imperial kings of the 10 spear-bearing Danes in former days, how those ethelings promoted bravery. Often did Scyld of the Sheaf wrest from harrying bands, from many tribes, their convivial seats; the dread of him fell upon 15 warriors, whereas he had at the first been a lonely foundling; - of all that (humiliation) he lived to experience solace; he waxed great under the welkin, he flourished with trophies, till that every one 20 of the neighboring peoples over the sea were constrained to obey him, and pay trewage: that was a good king!

To him was born a son to come after him, a young (prince) in the palace, whom God sent for the people's comfort. He (God) knew the hard calamity, 5 what they had erst endured when they were without a king for a long while; and in consideration thereof the Lord of Life, the Ruler of Glory accorded to them a time of prosperity.

Beowulf was renowned, his fame sprang wide; heir of Scyld in the Scedelands. So ought a young chief to work with his wealth, with gracious largesses, while in his father's nurture; that in his riper age willing comrades may in return stand by him at the coming of war, and that men may do his bidding. Eminence must, in every nation, be attained by deeds (worthy) of praise.

As for Scyld, he departed, at the destined hour, full of exploit, to go into the Master's keeping. They then carried him forth to the shore of the sea,

his faithful comrades, as he himself had requested, while he with his words held sway as lord of the Scyldings; dear chief of the land, he had long tenure of power.

There at hithe stood the ship with ringed prow, glistening fresh, and outward bound; convoy for a prince. Down laid they there the loved chief, dispenser of jewels, on the lap of the


of men had ever heard tell of; and that therewithin he would freely deal out to young and old what God should give him, save people's land and lives of men.

Then I heard of work widely proclaimed to many a tribe throughout this world, to make a fair gathering-place of people. His plan was in good time accomplished, with a quickness surprising

greatest of hall-buildings. He gave it the name of Heorot, he who with his word had wide dominion. He belied not his announcement; rings he distributed, treasure at the banquet. The hall towered aloft, high and with pinnacles spanning the air; awaited the scathing blasts of destructive flame. No appearance was there as yet of knifehatred starting up between son-in-law and father-in-law in revenge of blood.

ship, the illustrious (dead) by the mast. 10 to men; so that it was all ready, the There was store of precious things, ornaments from remote parts, brought together; never heard I of craft comelier fitted with slaughter weapons and campaigning harness, with bills and breast- 15 mail:in his keeping lay a multitude of treasures, which were to pass with him far away into the watery realm. Not at all with less gifts, less stately opulence, did they outfit him, than those 20 had done, who at the first had sent him forth, lone over the wave, when he was an infant. Furthermore they set up by him a gold-wrought banner, high over his head; they let the holm bear him, 25 gave him over to ocean; sad was their soul, mourning their mood. Men do not know to say of a sooth, not heads of halls, men of mark under heaven, who received that burden!


Then the outcast creature, he who dwelt in darkness, with torture for a time endured that he heard joyance day by day, loud sounding in hall; there was the swough of the harp, the ringing song of the minstrel.

Said one who was skilled to narrate from remote time the primeval condition 30 of men; quoth he- The Almighty made the earth, the country radiant with beauty, all that water surroundeth, delighting in magnificence. He ordained sun and moon, luminaries for light to

BUILDING OF HEOROT AND THE HAPPY 35 the dwellers on earth, and adorned the


Then was in the towers Beowulf of the Scyldings, the dear king of his people, for a long time famous among the nations - his father was gone other- 40 where, patriarch from family seattill in succession to him was born the lofty Healfdene; he governed while he lived, old and warlike, contented Scyldings. To him four children, one after 45 another, awoke in the world: Heorogar, commander of armies, and Hrothgar, and Halga the good: I heard that Elan queen was consort of the warlike Scylding.

rustic regions with branches and leaves; life also he created for all the kinds that live and move.'

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Thus they, the warrior-band, in joyance lived and full delight; - until that one began to work atrocity, a fiend in the hall. The grim visitant was called Grendel, the dread mark-ranger, he who haunted moors, fen and fastness: the unblessed man had long time kept the abode of monsters, ever since the Creator had proscribed them. On Cain's posterity did the eternal Lord wreak that slaughter, for that he slew Abel. He profited not by that violence; but He banished him far away, the Maker for that crime banished him from mankind From that origin all strange broods awoke, eotens and elves and ogres, as

To Hrothgar was given martial spirit, 50 warlike ambition; insomuch that his cousins gladly took him for leader, until the young generation grew up, a mighty regiment of clansmen. Into his mind it came, that he would give orders for men 55 well as giants who warred against God

to construct a hall-building, a great great mead-house, (greater) than the children

long time; He repaid them due retribution.



the foul ruffian, a dark shadow of death, was pursuing the venerable and the youthful alike. He prowled about and lay in wait; at nights he continually held 5 the misty moors; men do not know in what direction hell's agents move in their rounds.


He set out then as soon as night was come, to explore the lofty house; how the mailed Danes had after carousal bestowed themselves in it. So he found therein a princely troop sleeping after feast; they knew not sorrow, desolation 10 of men. The baleful wight, grim and greedy, was ready straight, fierce and furious, and in their sleep he seized thirty of the thanes; thence hied him back, yelling over his prey, to go to his home 15 with the war-spoils, and reach his habitation. Then was in the dawning and with early day the war-craft of Grendel plain to the grooms; then was upraised after festivity the voice of weeping, a great 20 cry in the morning. The illustrious ruler, the honored prince, sat woebegone; majestic rage he tholed, he endured sorrow for his thanes: - since they had surveyed the track of the monster, of the 25 accursed goblin; · that contest was too severe, horrible, and prolonged. It was not a longer space, but the interval of one night, that he again perpetrated a huger carnage; and he recked not of it -outrage and atrocity; he was too fixed in those things. Then was it not hard to find some who sought a resting-place elsewhere more at large, a bed among the castle-bowers, when to them was 35 manifested and plainly declared by conspicuous proof the malice of the hellthane; whoever had once escaped the fiend did from thenceforward hold himself farther aloof and closer. So dom- 40 ineered and nefariously warred he single against them all, until that the best of houses stood empty. The time was long; twelve winters' space did the friend of the Scyldings suffer indignity, woes of 45 every kind, unbounded sorrows; and so in process of time it became openly known to the sons of men through ballads in lamentable wise, that Grendel warred continually against Hrothgar; he 50 waged malignant hostilities, violence and feud, many seasons, unremitting strife; he would not have peace with any man of the Danish power, or remove the lifebale, or compound for tribute; nor could 55 any of the senators expect worthy compensation at the hands of the destroyer;

Many were the atrocities which the foe of mankind, the grisly prowler, oft accomplished, hard indignities,- Heorot he occupied, the richly decorated hall, in dark nights yet was he by no means able to come nigh the throne, sacred to God, nor did he share the sentiment thereof.

That was a huge affliction for the friend of the Scyldings, heart breaking. Many a time and oft did the realm sit in conclave; they meditated on a remedy, what course it were best for them, soulburdened men, to take against these awful horrors. Sometimes they vowed at idol fanes, honors of sacrifice; with words they prayed that the goblin-queller would afford them relief against huge oppressions. Such was their heathens' religion; they thought of hell in their imagination; they were aware of the Maker, the Judge of actions, they knew not God the Governor, nor did they at all understand how to glorify the Crowned Head of the heavens, the Ruler of glory.



It is woe for him who is impelled by headlong perversity to plunge his soul into the gulf of fire; not to believe in consolation nor in any way turn: - well is it for him who is permitted, after death-day, to visit the Lord, and claim Sanctuary in the Father's arms.



Thus was the son of Healfdene perpetually tossed with the trouble of that time; the sapient man was unable to avert the woe. Too heavy, horrible, and protracted was the struggle which had overtaken that people; tribulation cruel, hugest of nocturnal pests.

That in his distant home learnt a thane of Hygelac's, brave man among the Goths; he learnt the deeds of Grendel; he was of mankind strongest in might in the day of this life; he was of noble birth and of robust growth. He ordered

a wave-traveler, a good one, to be pre-
pared for him; said he would pass over
the swan-road and visit the gallant king,
the illustrious ruler, inasmuch as he was
in need of men. That adventure was
little grudged him by sagacious men,
though he was dear to them; they egged
on the dareful spirit, they observed au-
guries. The brave man had selected
champions of the leeds of the Goths, the 10
keenest whom he could find; with four-
teen in company he took to ship; — a
swain for pilot, a water-skilled man,
pointed out the landmarks.

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Time went on; the floater was on the 15 waves, the boat under the cliff. Warriors ready dight mounted on the prow; currents eddied, surf against the beach; lads bore into the ship's lap bright apparel, gallant harness of war; the men, 20 the brave men on adventure, shoved off the tight-timbered craft. So the foamynecked floater went forth over the swelling ocean urged by the wind, most like to a bird; till that in due time, on the 25 next day, the coily-stemmed cruiser had made such way that the voyagers saw land, sea-cliffs gleaming, hills towering, headlands stretching out to sea; then was the voyage accomplished, the water- 30 the passage ended. Then lightly up Weder Leeds and sprang ashore, they made fast the sea-wood, they shook out their sarks, their war-weeds, they thanked God for that their seafaring had been 35



ye know beforehand the pass-word of our warriors, the confidential token of kinsmen. I never saw, of eorls upon ground, a finer figure in harness than is 5 one of yourselves; he is no mere goodman bedizened with armor, unless his look belies him, his unique aspect. I am bound to know your nationality, be 1 fore ye on your way hence as explorers at large proceed any further into the land of the Danes. Now ye foreigners mariners of the sea, ye hear my plain meaning; haste is best to let me know whence your comings are.'



To him the chiefest gave answer; the captain of the band unlocked the treasure of words: 'We are people of Gothic race, and hearth-fellows of Hygelac My father was celebrated among the na tions, a noble commander by the name of Ecgtheow; he lived to see many years ere he departed an aged man out of his mansion; he is quickly remembered by every worshipful man all over the world We with friendly intent have come to visit thy lord, the son of Healfdene, the guardian of his people; be thou good to us with instructions! We have for the illustrious prince of the Danes a great message; there is no need to be dark about the matter, as I suppose. Thou knowest if it is so as we have heard say for a truth, that among the Scyldings some strange depredator, a mysterious author of deeds, in the darkness of night inflicts in horrible wise monstrous atrocity, indignity, and havoc. Of this I can,

Then from his rampart did the Scyldings' warden, he who had to guard the sea-cliffs, espy men bearing over bulwark bright shields, accoutrements ready 40 for action; curiosity urged him with impassioned thought (to learn) who those men were. Off he set then to the shore, riding on horseback, thane of Hrothgar; powerfully he brandished a 45 in all sincerity of heart, teach Hrothgar huge lance in his hands, and he demanded with authoritative words 'Who are ye arm-bearing men, fenced with mail-coats, who have come thus with proud ship over the watery highway, hither over the 50 and the seethings of anguish grow billows? Long time have I been in fort, stationed on the extremity of the country; I have kept the coast-guard, that on the land of the Danes no enemy with ship-harrying might be able to do hurt: 55

never have shield-bearing men more openly attempted to land here; nor do

a remedy; how he, so wise and good. shall overpower the enemy; if for him the fight of afflictions was ever destined to take a turn, better times to come again

calmer; or else for ever hereafter tholeth he a time of tribulation, sore distress, so long as the best of houses resteth there upon her eminence.'

The warden addressed them, where he sat on his horse, an officer undaunted Of every particular must a sharp es

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