University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Literature Collection

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

Previous Previous section

Next section Next



 

XXXI

Listen to this section

His customs were kingly,
his court noble,
and I found no lack
of fitting rewards:
the highborn son
of Healfdene gave me
ornaments as rich
as any I could hope for.
And here, now, my lord,
Hygelac my king,
I give them all to you,
since every benefit
I have ever received
I owe to you,
my closest and kindest
kinsman on earth."
He bade men bring in
the boar-head standard,
the great helmet,
the grey mailcoat,
the splendid sword
and spoke as follows:
"Hrothgar, the wise
ruler of Denmark,
gave me this war-gear
to give to you,
but told me I should first
tell its history.
These weapons, he said,
had once belonged
to the high war-king
Heorogar the Dane,
who grudged the gift
of the gear to his son,
to lord Heoroweard,
loyal though he was.
Use it with joy,
my young master!"
It is said that four
swift-footed horses,
matched bays,
marvelous steeds,
brought up the rear;
Beowulf gave them
to the king, which is how
a kinsman should behave,
not weaving
nets of malice
for a kinsman,
cruelly scheming
to harm a comrade.
Hygelac's nephew
was loyal and true
and loved him dearly,
and each thought only
of the other's good.
I heard that the hero
gave Hygd the great
glorious gold necklace
he got from Wealhtheow,
and three horses,
thick-maned and graceful,
with bright saddles;
her breast was adorned
long afterward
by that lustrous gift.
And so, with unceasing
sapience and strength,
the son of Ecgtheow
sought after fame
and pursued glory.
His soul was untroubled;
he hewed down none
of his hearth companions,
but guarded the gifts
God bestowed on him
with skill and greater
discretion than any
warrior on earth.
Once, in his boyhood,
the thanes of his people
had thought him useless
and King Hrethel
had declined to give him
approval or praise
through presents at mead;
they all looked on him
as an idle youth,
a lazy princeling.
He lived to see
this judgment reversed
and enjoy respect.
And now Hygelac
the munificent king
ordered men to fetch
an heirloom of Hrethel's,
radiant with gold;
in the the realm of the Geats
there was no sword
more renowned than it.
Beowulf was brought
this blade and confirmed
in his ancestral estates,
seven thousand
hides of land
and a high gift-throne.
Both of them, the king
and Beowulf, had land
in that country,
the king much more,
the whole kingdom,
since he was higher in rank.
It would come to pass
in the cruel wars
of the harsh future,
when Hygelac was dead
and his son Heardred
had been slain in combat,
bravely thrusting
his battered shield
against savage hordes
of Swedish foes
who had invaded his land
and vanquished his troops,
hacking the nephew
of Hereric to death---
it would come to pass
that the crown of the Geats
became Beowulf's.
He was king of that realm
for fifty years,
befriending its people
and serving their interests,
until a usurper came
to rule in the night,
a raging dragon
who guarded a gold-hoard
in a great barrow
on the rim of the heath,
reached by a path
secret and obscure.
But someone had found it,
had approached the mound
and prowled round the treasure,
hurriedly grabbing
a huge goblet
and then dashing away.
When the dragon found
it had been robbed
by some rascally thief
while sound asleep,
it soon let the whole
neighborhood know
how annoyed it was.

Previous Previous section

Next section Next




Go up to Top of Page