trans. Peter H. Cole (from Anglo-Saxon)
Stræt wæs stanfah, stig wisode
gumum ætgædere. Guðbyrnescan
heard hondlocen, hringiren scir
song in searwum, þa hie to sele furðum
in hyra gryregeatwum gangan cwomon.
Setton sæme þe side scyldas,
rondas regnhearde wið þæs recedes weal;
bugon þa to bence,- byrnan hringdon,
guðsearo gumena; garas stodon,
sæmanna searo, samod ætgædere,
æscholt ufan græg; wæs se irenþreat
wæpnum gewurþad.
řa ðær wlonc hæleð
oretmecgas æfter æþelum frægn:
`Hwanon ferigeað ge fætte scyldas,
græge syrcan ond grimhelmas,
heresceafta heap? Ic eom Hroðgares
ar ond ombiht. Ne seah ic elþeodige
þus manige men modiglicran.
Wen' ic þæt ge for wlenco, nalles for wræcsiðum,
ac for higeþrymmum Hroðgar sohton.'
Himþa ellenrof andswarode,
wlanc Wedera leod, word æfter spræc
heard under helme: `We synt Higelaces
beodgeneatas; Beowulf is min nama.
Wille ic asecgan sunu Healfdenes,
mærum þeodne, min ærende,
aldre þinum, gif he us geunnan wile,
þæt we hine swa godne gretan moton.'
Wulfgar maþelode - þæt wæs Wendla leod,
wæs his modsefa manegumgecyðed,
wig ond wisdom-: `Ic þæs wineDeniga,
frean Scildinga frinan wille,
beaga bryttan, swa þu bena eart,
þeoden mærne, ymb þinne sið,
ond þe þa andsware ædre gecyðan,
ðe me se goda agifan þenceð.'
Hwearf þa hrædlice þær Hroðgar sæt
eald ond anhar mid his eorla gedriht;
eode ellenrof, þæt he for eaxlum gestod
Deniga frean; cuþe he duguðe þeaw.
Wulfgar maðelode to his winedrihtne:
`Her syndon geferede, feorran cumene
ofer geofenes begang Geata leode;
þone yldestan oretmecgas
Beowulf nemnað. Hy benan synt,
þæt hie, þeoden min,wið þe moton
wordum wrixlan; no ðu him wearne geteoh
ðinra gegncwida, glædman Hroðgar!
Hy on wiggetawum wyrðe þinceað
eorla geæhtlan; huru se aldor deah,
se þæm heaðorincum hider wisade.'

With bright stone flags the street was shining
that led them to the noble court,
with rings hand-linked their corslets glinting,
they sang as marched with arms well-wrought.

Beside the burg-wall in that place,
they, ocean-weary, laid their shields
and sat on benches, clashed their mail-plates -
weapons stacked that they might wield.

The sea-men's spears stood all united,
as if an ash grove tipped with grey -
for with such weaponry so mighty
was that valliant troop arrayed.

Then came a warrior to deal
who asked them of their kith and kin
"Whence carry you these golden shields,
masked helms and mail and spears herein?

I, herald and ambassador
of Hrothgar am, yet never yet
have met such strangers here before,
such mighty men in honour-set.

I plainly see that you are come
to Hrothgar's court for deeds of daring,
not lost or banished as are some,
arrayed so proud and brave of bearing."

To him the strongest then replied,
proud Geatish earl his answer made -
"In Hygelac's fair hall we bide
as board-kin, Beowulf is my name.

I wish to speak about my quest,
with Healfdene's son, your mighty lord,
if he will grant now this request
in grace and favour at his board."

the Scylding's captain, Wulfgar, spoke
whose strength of mind to all was clear,
"Of such courageous, noble folk,
the Scylding's king would surely hear.

So as you ask, I'll tell at once
the ring-dispenser of your suit,
and swift return with such response
my lord, renowned, may care to moot.

He turned then quickly, strode away
to Hrothgar's seat, his noble lord
grey-haired and old midst seated thanes -
stood at his shoulder, brought him word:

"My lord, I bring you tidings from
across the ocean - men of Geatland,
a company of heroes come,
the noblest of his valiant band

is Beowulf by name who seeks
this simple favour, gracious lord,
that with thee presently may speak -
I counsel that their plea be heard.

In raiment fitting they are clad,
in battle mail most worthily -
their leader is a mighty man
who brings his thanes so eagerly."

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © Peter H. Cole 2001

translator's next