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The Literature Collection

Ringler, Dick / Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery (May 2005)

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[Prologue]

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3f1b We have heard tell
2c1b of the high doings
3b1a of Danish kings
2b1a in days gone by,
2c1b how the great war-chiefs
2b2- gained their renown,
2c1a how Scyld Scefing
2e1a shattered his foes,
1a*1a(i) mastered the meadhalls
10 +2a1a(i) of many peoples,
2e1a conquered their kings.
+1a1a(i) He came to Denmark
2c1b as a lone foundling,
3b*1a but later he thrived;
2b2a his name was renowned
2b1a beneath the skies
+1a1a(i) and kings and kingdoms
+1a1a(i) across the whale-road,
3b1a the surging sea,
20 1a*1a(i) swore him allegiance,
2a1a(i) paid him tribute.
3b1c He was a peerless king!
2e1a Later the Lord
2c1a of life gave him
+1a1b(i) a son who would someday
+1a*1a(i) succeed him in Denmark,
+1a1b(i) a pledge to its people:
+1a1a(i) their plight had moved him,
+1a1a(i) their time of trial
30 +3e1 and terrible grief
1a*1a(i) lacking a leader.
2b1a The Lord bestowed
+1a1a(i) success and honor
2b1b on this son of Scyld,
+3e*1 and Beowulf the Dane
2b1a could boast a name
1d1 known everywhere
d1c in Scandinavia.
+1a1b(i) In just such a manner,
40 +3e1 with generous gifts
3b1b from his father's hoard,
3b1a a future king
+1a1a(i) insures that one day
3b1a unshrinking friends
2b2a will stand by his side
2b1a if strife should come,
2b1b will support their prince:
3b2b it is praiseworthy deeds
+1d1 that win warriors'
50 1a*1a(i) willing allegiance.
3f1c At his foreshaped hour
1a1a(i) Scyld departed,
2a1a(ii) grey-haired, vigorous,
2c1b into God's keeping.
2a1a(iii) Care-stricken comrades
1a*1a(i) carried his body
2b2b to the edge of the sea,
3e*1 honoring the wish
2b1b he had made when still
60 2e1b master of his speech,
1a1b(i) he who had so long
1a1a(i) held the kingdom.
3b1a His ring-beaked ship
3b*1a was ready to sail,
1a*1a(i) ice-clad, impatient,
1a*1b eager for the voyage.
+1a1b(i) They laid their beloved
2b2- lord in its hold,
1a*2a(ii) rested their ring-giver
70 3b1b in its roomy hull
2b2b near the heel of the mast.
+1a1a(i) They heaped beside him
3e1 fabulous wealth
3b1a from far-off lands;
3b1b I have never heard
3b2c of such magnificent things,
2e1a mailcoats and swords
d1a and mask-helmets
2c1a and bright war-shields;
80 ++1a1a(i) on his breast lay many
2a1a(i) dazzling jewels
1a*1a(i) destined to travel
2c1b to the far reaches
2b1b of the flood's domain.
+1a1a(i) His men equipped him
+2a1a(i) with much more treasure
d1b than the warriors
2c1b who had once sent him
3e*1 wandering the wastes
90 2c1b of the wide ocean,
+1a1a(i) alone and friendless,
3b1a a little child.
3e*1 Finally the Danes
+1a1a(i) affixed a golden
1a*1a(i) standard above him,
2c1b let the stream have him,
+2a1a(i) the sea-surge take him.
+1a1a(i) Their souls were troubled,
1a1a(i) numb with mourning.
100 2e1a No man on earth,
+1a*1a(i) not even the wisest,
3b1a can ever know
+1a1a(i) or say for certain
++1a1a(i) who received that cargo.

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