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

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XXVI

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Beowulf addressed
broad-realmed Hrothgar:
"We far travelers
from a foreign land
want to inform you
that we wish to go home
to Hygelac our lord.
Here in Denmark
we found a warm welcome
and were well entertained.
If, in my lifetime,
there is any way
for me to merit
more of your love
than hitherto,
I will hasten at once
to sail to Denmark
and serve you again.
If word should reach me
over the wide ocean
that your neighbours
are annoying you,
as those dread demons
did in the past,
I will bring thousands
of brave warriors
when you need their help.
I know that Hygelac,
the lord of the Geats,
my loving uncle,
though young in years,
will yield to my entreaties
and second my wishes
so that I may sail here again
with a force of men,
a forest of spears,
or any other
aid you may need.
And if your son Hrethric
should someday resolve
to visit my country,
he can avail himself there
of a wealth of friends;
worthy travelers
win the worthiest
welcome abroad."
Hrothgar replied,
ruler of Denmark:
"God in his wisdom
gave you, my son,
these knowing words.
I have never heard
such masterful speech
from a man so young.
Your might is matchless,
your mind agile,
your talk full of wisdom.
In times to come,
if unlucky chance
or the lot of war,
sword or spear-point
or sickness should take
your youthful king,
and you should survive
the death of your uncle,
I doubt that your race
of able mariners
could ever find
a hardier hoard-keeping
hero than you
to make their leader,
if your mind is allured
by land and lordship.
The longer I know you,
Beowulf my friend,
the better I love you.
Thanks to your valor
the thanes of our two
nations, my Danes
and your noble Geats,
will live in friendship,
and the long terror
of warfare cease
that they once suffered.
While my power endures,
peace shall prevail
and gifts be exchanged
as a gage of the love
and trust uniting
our two nations,
while gift-laden ships
glide past the sea-cliffs
and plunging gannets.
Your people have always
treated friend and foe
with firmness, constancy,
and all honor
in the ancient way."
From his high gift-throne
Healfdene's son
gave twelve outstanding
treasures to his friend,
wished him safety
on the wind-tossed sea
and begged him to quickly
come back to Denmark.
The royal scion
of a race of kings
kissed Beowulf
his comrade, and then
embraced him warmly;
his beard streamed
with tears as he pondered
the alternatives:
that they might and might not
meet each other
again on this earth,
gallant chieftains;
more likely not.
The lord of the Danes
was fond of his guest,
so fond that he shed
those tears of passion,
though he tried to check them;
suppressed longing
for the peerless youth
was burning in his blood.
But Beowulf turned
from the weeping king
and walked buoyantly,
pleased with his treasures,
to the place where his ship
rode at anchor,
ready for its master.
His men spoke of Hrothgar
admiringly:
a prince who had been
the pride of warriors
until struck down
by stern old age,
that stronger warrior
who strikes down everyone.

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