from "BEOWULF" - lines 867-915
trans. Peter H. Cole (from Anglo-Saxon)
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.....................Hwilum cyninges þegn,
guma gilphlæden,.... gidda gemyndig,
se ðe ealfela ....ealdgesegena
worn gemunde, ....word oþer fand
soðe gebunden; ....secg eft ongan
sið Beowulfes.... snyttrum styrian,
ond on sped wrecan ....spel gerade,
wordum wrixlan; ....welhwylc gecwæð,
þæt he fram Sigemundes ....secgan hyrde
ellendædum, ....uncuþes fela,
Wælsinges gewin, ....wide siðas,
þara þe gumena bearn ....gearwe ne wiston,
fæhðe ond fyrena, ....buton Fitela mid hine,
þonne he swulces ....hwæt secgan wolde,
eam his nefan, ....swa hie a wæron
æt niða gehwam ....nydgesteallan;
hæfdon ealfela ....eotena cynnes
At times a thane in vaunting song,
and mindful of the tales of old,
would weave new words in saga long,
well-crafted - oft to be retold,

most skilfully of his bold quest.
And added an account of deeds
as he had heard of Sigmund, best
but strange the story was indeed:

For deeds of valour in strange lands
the Waelsing long had wandered far -
of feuds resolved by his own hand
he never told, save to Fitela,

as uncle and his nephew fought
and slew a host of fearsome giants
side by side in clash of war
they bravely felled with swords of iron.
sweordum gesæged. ....Sigemunde gesprong
æfter deaðdæge.... dom unlytel,
syþðan wiges heard.... wyrm acwealde,
hordes hyrde; ....he under harne stan,
æþelinges bearn ....ana geneðde
frecne dæde, ....ne wæs him Fitela mid;
hwæþre him gesælde, ....ðæt þæt swurd þurhwod
wrætlicne wyrm,.... þæt hit on wealle ætstod,
dryhtlic iren; ....draca morðre swealt.
Hæfde aglæca ....elne gegongen,
þæt he beahhordes ....brucan moste
selfes dome; ....sæbat gehleod,
bær on bearm ....scipes beorhte frætwa,
Wælses eafera; ....wyrm hat gemealt.
Se wæs wreccena....wide mærost
ofer werþeode, ....wigendra hleo,
ellendædum.... --- he þæs ær onðah--- ,
siððan Heremodes ....hild sweðrode,

Of Sigmund grew no little praise
when he had died. For, brave in war,
he slew a dragon in his days
of youth and gained its golden hoard.

In cave far under hoary stone
the prince's son the deed there dared,
not with Fitela - he alone
defeated Fafnir in his lair.

His wondrous sword impaled the worm
and pinned him to the rocky wall,
the noble iron forged so firm
spilt Fafnir's blood within his hall.

Thus he achieved by courage bold
command of all the shining hoard
to rule at will, the store of gold
he heaped and loaded swift aboard

a ship to bear it home again,
for now the dragon's fire was cold.
He was in all the lands of men
by far most famous hero bold
eafoð ond ellen..... He mid Eotenum wearð,
on feonda geweald ....forð forlacen,
snude forsended..... Hine sorhwylmas
lemede to lange; ....he his leodum wearð,
eallum æþellingum ....to aldorceare;
swylce oft bemearn ....ærran mælum
swiðferhþes sið ....snotor ceorl monig,
se þe him bealwa ....to bote gelyfde,
þæt þæt ðeodnes bearn.... geþeon scolde,
fæder æþelum onfon,.... folc gehealdan,
hord ond hleoburh, ....hæleþa rice,
eþel Scyldinga..... He þær eallum wearð,
mæg Higelaces ....manna cynne,
freondum gefægra; ....hine fyren onwod.

since Heremod grew frail in age.
His strength of old and courage failed,
he fell in fierce battle-rage -
despatched to death, so say old tales,

by giant foes, for surging sorrow
long had lamed him. Mortal grief
he was to all the folk who followed
him - his thanes and loyal reeves.

Oft indeed, in younger days
his bold prowess and might was mourned
by all wise men who'd wished his aid
as king succeeding from the lord,

his father, to protect his folk,
his hoard and realm and royal hall -
the Scylding's house. And now men spoke
of how this Geat more dear to all

than Heremod the tyrant was
who, great protector in the past,
through vain conceit and honour lost
to wickedness succumbed at last.
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Transl. copyright © Peter H. Cole 2001


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