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

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IV

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The bold captain
of the band of comrades
quickly replied
in careful words:
"We are mariners,
men of the Geats,
hearth companions
of Hygelac our king.
My father was famous
for his fierce warfare,
a noble chieftain;
his name was Ecgtheow.
He had a long life
and at last he died,
wise and worshipful.
War-chiefs of even
modest wisdom
remember him still!
As for us, we have come
in honest friendship,
seeking your king,
the son of Healfdene.
Kindly give us counsel!
We carry important
news for your master,
for noble Hrothgar,
though only when we meet
can it all be disclosed,
not before.
You know if the tales
they have told us are true,
the terrible stories
that among the Danes,
when midnight approaches,
some awful monster
(but I have only heard
shadowy hints!)
shows his hatred,
gorging on their flesh.
I can give Hrothgar
some useful advice,
young though I am,
how the king and his comrades
can quell this monster,
if it is fate's will
that he should find relief,
consolation
for his long sorrows,
and his dread and despair
are destined to end.
Otherwise, ever
after, he is doomed
to live in anguish,
as long as his great
hall-building stands
with its high gables."
The coastguard replied
in careful language
where he sat on his horse:
"A seasoned warrior
has the wisdom to weigh
both words and actions,
to assess their worth.
I perceive clearly
that you seafarers
are sincere friends
of the king of the Danes.
Keep your weapons
and travel onward.
I will teach you the way.
And I will also
order my men
to guard your vessel
with great vigilance
from foes, where it lies
all freshly caulked
with tar on the sand,
until the time comes
when the splendid ship
with its spiral prow
bears the hero
back to his homeland.
So gallant a man,
so great in virtue,
is bound to survive
battle unharmed."
Men started moving,
marching inland;
motionless, the ship
lay moored behind them,
tethered tightly.
On top of their helmets,
above cheek-guards
of chased silver,
bronze boar-figures
bright from the forge
protected them.
The troop, advancing
at a smart pace,
soon caught a glimpse
of the hall Heorot,
high and glittering,
Hrothgar's residence,
radiant with gold,
the best, most brilliant
building on earth,
lighting the land
for leagues around it.
Pausing, the coastguard
pointed it out
to the keen warband,
so they might more quickly make
their way to its door,
then wheeled his horse
and spoke in parting
to the resplendent troop:
"I must leave you here.
May the Lord almighty,
the King and Father,
keep you from harm
in this bold venture.
I must go back to the coast
to hold sea-watch
against hostile fleets."

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