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

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XV

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Hundreds of hands
were helping now,
men's and women's,
making the beer-hall
ready to host
a royal banquet.
Gold tapestries
gleamed on the walls,
webs of beauty,
wonders for men
who like looking
on such lovely things.
The building had been badly
battered within,
though braced with iron
bands, and the hinges
wrenched from the door-posts;
the roof alone
stood there intact
when, stained with sin,
the defeated fiend
fled, hoping
to avoid his doom.
But evading death
is no easy task
(let anyone try it!)
since every creature
the earth brings forth
with soul and senses
necessarily comes
to the place appointed
and prepared for it,
where it sleeps soundly
in its silent bed
and the feast of life
is finished at last.
The hour was at hand
for old Hrothgar,
Healfdene's son,
to host the banquet.
I have never known
the noble Danes
clamor so loudly
in their king's presence;
jubilant thanes
enjoyed their carouse,
while right in their midst
the royal kinsmen
Hrothgar and Hrothulf
reveled together,
draining many
deep bowlfuls
in blithe fellowship.
The benches of Heorot
were filled with friends;
the faithful Danes
had not learned, yet,
to love treachery.
Soon the famous
sword of Healfdene
was brought to Beowulf,
and a banner of gold
to mark his triumph,
a mailcoat and helmet;
men looked on
as that marvelous blade
was given to the prince,
who gladly accepted
a brimming mead-cup
without blushing for shame
at rewards unworthy
of warriors' praise.
I cannot recall
a king giving
four such treasures
filigreed with gold
to other men
at the ale-drinking!
Up on the helmet
was an iron ridge
that would bear the brunt
of blows to the head,
so that hard showers
of hostile missiles
could not harm the hero
when, holding his shield,
he strode forward
to strike down foes.
On orders from Hrothgar
eight war-horses
with bridles of gold
were brought inside
the wide wine-hall;
one of them bore
a saddle, jeweled
and sumptuous,
the rich war-seat
of Hrothgar himself,
Healfdene's son,
when he headed his troops
and prepared them for war;
his prowess in battle
had been unfailing
when he fought in the van.
The lord of the Danes
lovingly bestowed
both these treasures,
battle-gear and steeds,
on Beowulf the Geat,
bade him enjoy them.
Thus did Hrothgar,
there in Heorot,
reward the warrior
with wealth and horses,
ornate treasures,
and no one wishing
to utter truth
will ever reproach him.

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