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

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XVIII

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She handed the hero
a huge beaker
with liberal thanks,
lovingly gave him
two armlets
of twisted gold,
a gorgeous robe,
and a great neck-ring,
one of the worthiest
ever worn on earth;
I have never known
a nobler treasure
under high heaven
since Hama carried
the torque of the Brosings,
twinkling with jewels,
to the fair stronghold,
when he fled the cunning
evils of Eormenric
for endless gain.
Noble Hygelac,
the nephew of Swerting,
lost that neck-ring
on his last campaign,
rallying round
the royal standard,
defending his plunder.
Fate had crossed him;
arrogant and rash,
he had asked for trouble
by raiding the Frisians,
recklessly taking
the ring with him
across the rolling sea.
He died there swinging
his desperate shield,
and his grey mailcoat
and that great neck-ring
fell afterward
into Frankish hands,
when warriors of less
worth plundered
the field where corpses
of defeated Geats
held lifeless sway.
There was loud applause
and Wealhtheow spoke
before the waiting court:
"Dear Beowulf,
duly enjoy
these great treasures,
this gold-trimmed robe,
this precious collar.
Prosper always,
glorying in strength,
and give these boys
your wise counsel.
Rewards will follow.
You have brought it to pass
that brave men will praise you
near and far,
now and in the future,
wherever wide headlands
and windbeaten capes
are washed by the sea.
Warrior prince,
may your days be blest!
From the depths of my heart
I give you these gifts.
Be good to my boys
and act in their interest,
triumphant hero!
Everyone here
honors his comrades
and loves his lord
with a loyal heart;
the nation is united
and its noble thanes
drink merrily
and do as I bid them."
She returned to her place.
Intrepid warriors
drank wine and boasted;
not one of them guessed
what fate had in store,
the fearful doom
that would drag them down
when darkness fell
and Hrothgar withdrew
to his royal couch
to refresh himself,
while a force of his thanes
lay down in the hall
as they had done in the past,
piling their bedclothes
and pillows on the benches.
One of that weary
warrior band
was destined and doomed
to die that night.
Lightly they hung
their lindenwood shields
next to their heads,
and near the bench
of each warrior
you could easily see
his boar-crest helmet,
his bright mailcoat,
his ashwood spear;
it was always the Danes'
rule to be fully
ready for combat,
both in peacetime at home
and on campaigns abroad,
whenever their king
needed their help.
They were a proper
and praiseworthy folk.

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