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

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XXVIII

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Beowulf strode
with his band of comrades
along the sand-hills
lining the seashore.
The sun shone brightly
in the southern sky,
candle of the world.
Quickening their pace,
they hastened onward
to the high stronghold,
where they learned that the young
lord of the Geats,
the excellent king,
Ongentheow's slayer,
was holding court.
Hygelac was brought
the news of his noble
nephew's return,
was told that the youthful
protector of his men,
his brave followers,
had come back alive,
hurrying home
unharmed by war.
He quickly gave orders
to clear the benches
and make all ready
for the oncoming guests.
Valiant Beowulf,
survivor of battles,
saluted his lord
with loyal words,
then seated himself
beside the king,
kinsman by kinsman.
The queen of the Geats,
Hygd, the daughter
of Hæreth, showed
her sincere love
by serving mead
to the heroes in hall,
while Hygelac the king
asked courteous questions
of his comrade in arms,
curious to know
the course of their adventures,
what fates had befallen them
in their far travels:
"What deeds did you do,
my dear Beowulf,
when you suddenly
decided to cross
the salt ocean
in search of battle,
slaughter at Heorot?
Did you successfully
find a cure
for the famous ills
of royal Hrothgar?
I was racked with fears,
alarmed and anxious;
I lacked confidence
in your ability;
I begged you constantly
not to encounter
that pernicious fiend,
but to leave the Danes
alone to settle
their grudge against Grendel.
Now God be thanked
that I see you safe,
sitting next to me."
The son of Ecgtheow
said in reply:
"Noble Hygelac!
It is no secret
that there was a meeting
between me and Grendel,
nor that his wickedness
met its well-deserved end
in the very place
where he had vexed the Danes
through so many years
of misery and grief.
I avenged them all,
those vicious attacks,
and none of Grendel's
obnoxious kin
will have cause to boast
of our clash by night,
no, not the oldest
of the nasty brood,
filthy with sin!
When I first entered
that great gift-hall
I greeted Hrothgar.
Healfdene's son
heard in my speech
both worth and wisdom,
the weight of my mind,
and asked me to sit
between his own two sons.
What numbers of thanes!
I have never seen,
anywhere on earth,
such ample delight
of assembled men!
Sometimes the queen,
the people's pledge
of peace, poured mead,
inspiring the young
inexperienced men
with exotic gifts
before resuming her seat;
sometimes Hrothgar's
slender daughter
would serve the older,
more seasoned retainers
in the high hall;
I heard them call her
bonny Freawaru
when she brought them their drink
in goblets of gold.
This girl is pledged
to Ingeld, the son
and heir of Froda,
the Heathobard king
so unhappily slain
in a clash with the Danes,
and canny Hrothgar
means for that marriage
to mark the end
of old enmities.
But even when a bride
is beautiful and young,
the bloody spear
is rarely idle
once a ruler is killed,
and when Ingeld walks
through that ancient hall
with his happy bride,
he and every
Heathobard there
will hate and resent
her attendants: Danes,
entertained like friends,
but wearing familiar
weapons and jewels,
well-known heirlooms
that had once belonged,
while hands could still hold them,
to the Heathobards' sires,

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