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

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Royal Hrothgar,
ruler of the Danes,
strode from the meadhall
with his staunch war-band;
he wanted to find
Wealhtheow and share
his consort's couch.
The King of heaven
had given the Danes
a great-hearted hall-guard
to deal with Grendel
and to do Hrothgar
a special service
dispatching giants.
The prince of the Geats
was putting his trust
in his great strength
and in God's favor.
Off came the hero's
iron mailcoat
and hard helmet;
he handed over
his trusty sword
to an attendant thane
and asked him to safekeep
all that war-gear.
Confident, the prince
climbed into bed
and vowed solemnly
in vaunting words:
"I know that my hand
is no less ready
for grim grappling
than Grendel's is.
I disdain, therefore,
to destroy this fiend
with the edge of the sword,
though I easily could.
Adept though he is
in deeds of malice,
he is ignorant
of iron weapons
and their unique virtues;
we will not, therefore,
duel with swords
if he dares to meet me
in close combat.
When we come together,
God in his wisdom
will grant victory
to whichever of us
he chooses to."
Beowulf lay down,
burying his face
in a rich pillow,
while around him his troop
of seamen anxiously
sank to their rest.
Not a man among them
imagined he would live
to behold his hearth
or homeland again,
the dear precincts
where his days had begun,
for they knew that here
in this benighted hall
the fiend had slaughtered
far too many
of the men of the Danes.
But almighty God
would give the Geats
the glory, thanks
to one man's strength,
of worsting their foe,
so that all might share
the honor, Geats
together with Danes.
God's sovereignty
over men and their fates
has been manifest
from the beginning of time.
Now Grendel came
striding the shadows.
The staunch warriors
who defended the hall
had fallen asleep,
all but one.
It was obvious
that the prowling fiend
could not pull men down
to grim destruction
unless God willed it,
since tonight a man
who was not asleep
waited for battle,
watchful and angry.

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