from "BEOWULF" - lines 612-660
trans. Peter H. Cole (from Anglo-Saxon)
–ær wæs hæleþa hleahtor, hlyn swynsode,
word wæron wynsume. Eode Wealhþeow forð,
cwen Hroðgares, cynna gemyndig,
grette goldhroden guman on healle,
ond þa freolic wif ful gesealde
ærest East-Dena eþelwearde,
bæd hine bliðne æt þære beorþege,
leodum leofne; he on lust geþeah
symbel ond seleful, sigerof kyning.
Ymbeode þa ides Helminga
duguþe ond geogoþe dæl æghwylcne,
sincfato sealde, oþ þæt sæl alamp
þæt hio Beowulfe, beaghroden cwen
mode geþungen medoful ætbær;
grette Geata leod, Gode þancode
wisfæst wordum þæs ðe hire se willa gelamp,
þæt heo on ænigne eorl gelyfde
fyrena frofre. He þæt ful geþeah,
wælreow wiga, æt Wealhþeon,
ond þa gyddode guþe gefysed,
Beowulf maþelode, bearn Ecgþeowes:
`Ic þæt hogode, þa ic on holm gestah,
sæbat gesæt mid minra secga gedriht,
þæt ic anunga eowra leoda
willan geworhte, oþðe on wæl crunge
feondgrapum fæst. Ic gefremman sceal
eorlic ellen, oþðe endedæg
on þisse meoduhealle minne gebidan!'
–am wife þa word wel licodon,
gilpcwide Geates; eode goldhroden,
freolicu folccwen to hire frean sittan.
řa wæs eft swa ær inne on healle
þryðword sprecen, ðeod on sælum,
sigefolca sweg, oþ þæt semninga
sunu Healfdenes secean wolde
æfenræste; wiste þæm ahlæcan
to þæm heahsele hilde geþinged,
siððan hie sunnan leoht geseon meahton,
oð þe nipende niht ofer ealle,
scaduhelma gesceapu scriðan cwoman
wan under wolcnum. Werod eall aras.
Gegrette þa guma oþerne,
Hroðgar Beowulf, ond him hæl abead,
winærnes geweald, ond þæt word acwæð:
`Næfre ic ænegum men ær alyfde,
siþðan ic hond ond rond hebban mihte,
ðryþærn Dena buton þe nu ða.
Hafa nu ond geheald husa selest,
gemyne mærþo, mægenellen cyð,
waca wiþ wraþum! Ne bið þe wilna gad,
gif þu þæt ellenweorc aldre gedigest.'
She thanked then God for her delight,
wise words that she could trust redress
from this bold Geatish warrior's might
to aid her people in distress.

The fierce-in-slaughter warrior drank
the cup of mead Wealhtheow bore,
commanded her with gracious thanks
and said he was prepared for war.

"So I resolved with firmest will
when with my band of men I sailed,
that by all means your people's will
I swift should bring about or fail

in death, fall slain by hand of foe.
I shall perform these manly deeds
or this will be my final woe
in this bright hall of meat and mead."

The woman thought these words seemed pleasing -
Geatish boast in vaunting speech;
her people's queen sat by her king
with gold adorned at board to meat.

Again within the hall were there
loud words of joy and warriors' cheer,
till presently Healfdene's heir
sought sleep with fateful night so near.

He knew that battle waited there -
inside the fiend to lofty hall
would come when faded sunlight fair
and night spread darkness over all.

Soon under cover of the night
the shadow-beasts would softly creep
in clouds' dark shadow stripped of light -
-the company arose to sleep.

And Hrothgar hailed the Geatish lord
and wished him mastery of the hall
as Fate decreed, if by his sword
might foe be vanquished for them all.

"For never have I yet allowed
to any man, since shield I bore,
this mighty Danish house, til now,
to have and hold, so is my law.

Have now and hold this bright house best,
for swiftly known will be your honour -
with deeds of mighty courage wrest
your victory in strength and valour.

Beware your foe - you shall not lack
for any wish if you survive
the battle with the fiend so black -
escape with valiant hard-won life."

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. copyright © Peter H. Cole 2001

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