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From cloudless skies. He scanned the cave,
Walked by the wall, his weapon upraised;
Grim in his hand the hilt he gripped.
Well that sword had served him in battle.
Steadily onward he strode through the cave,
Ready to wreak the wrongs untold,
That the man-beast had wrought in the realm

of the Danes. He gave him his due when Grendel he

found Stretched as in sleep, and spent with the battle. But dead was the fiend, the fight at Heorot Had laid him low. The lifeless body Sprang from the blows of Beowulf's sword, As fiercely he hacked the head from the carcass. But the men who were watching the water with Hrothgar

1595 Suddenly saw a stir in the waves, The chop of the sea all churned up with blood And bubbling gore. The gray-haired chiefs For Beowulf grieved, agreeing together That hope there was none of his home-returning With victory crowned, to revisit his lord. 1601 Most of them feared he had fallen prey To the mere-wolf dread in the depths of the sea. When evening came, the Scyldings all Forsook the headland, and Hrothgar himself Turned homeward his steps. But sick at heart The strangers sat and stared at the sea, Hoped against hope to behold their comrade And leader again.

Now that goodly sword Began to melt with the gore of the monster;1610 In bloody drippings it dwindled away. 'Twas a marvellous sight: it melted like ice, When fetters of frost the Father unlocks, Unravels the ropes of the wrinkled ice, Lord and Master of months and seasons. Beheld in the hall the hero from Juteland Treasures unnumbered, but naught he took, Save Grendel's head, and the hilt of the sword, Bright and jeweled, —the blade had melted, Its metal had vanished, so venomous hot 1620 Was the blood of the demon-brute dead in the

Swimming monsters swarmed about him,
Dented his mail with dreadful tusks. 1510
Sudden the warrior was 'ware they had come
To a sea-hall strange and seeming hostile,
Where water was not nor waves oppressed,
For the caverned rock all round kept back
The swallowing sea. He saw a light, 1515
A flicker of flame that flashed and shone.
Now first he discerned the sea-hag monstrous,
The water-wife wolfish. His weapon he raised,
And struck with his sword a swinging blow.
Sang on her head the hard-forged blade
Its war-song wild. But the warrior found
That his battle-flasher refused to bite,
Or maim the foe. It failed its master
In the hour of need, though oft it had cloven
Helmets, and carved the casques of the doomed
In combats fierce. For the first time now
His treasure failed him, fallen from honor.
But Hygėlac's earl took heart of courage;
In mood defiant he fronted his foe.
The angry hero hurled to the ground, 1530
In high disdain, the hilt of the sword,
The gaudy and jewelled; rejoiced in the strength
Of his arm unaided. So all should do
Who glory would find and fame abiding,
In the crash of conflict, nor care for their lives.
The Lord of the Battle-Jutes braved the en-

The murderous hag by the hair he caught;
Down he dragged the dam of Grendel
In his swelling rage, till she sprawled on the

floor. Quick to repay in kind what she got, On her foe she fastened her fearful clutches; Enfolded the warrior weary with fighting; The sure-footed hero stumbled and fell. On his prostrate body she squatted enormous; Unsheathed her hip-knife, shining and broad, Her son to avenge, her offspring sole. But the close-linked corslet covered his breast, Foiled the stroke and saved his life. All had been over with Ecgtheow's son, Under the depths of the Ocean vast, Had not his harness availed to help him, His battle-net stiff, and the strength of God. The Ruler of battles aright decided it; The Wielder all-wise awarded the victory: Lightly the hero leaped to his feet. He spied 'mongst the arms a sword surpassing, Huge and ancient, a hard-forged slayer, Weapon matchless and warriors' delight, Save that its weight was more than another Might bear into battle or brandish in war; 1560 Giants had forged that finest of blades. Then seized its chain-hilt the chief of the

Scyldings; His wrath was aroused, reckless his mood, As he brandished the sword for a savage blow. Bit the blade in the back of her neck, Cut the neck-bone, and cleft its way Clean through her body; she sank to the

ground; The sword was gory; glad was the hero. A light flashed out from the inmost den, Like heaven's candle, when clear it shines 1570









Soon was in the sea the slayer of monsters;
Upward he shot through the shimmer of waves;
Cleared was the ocean, cleansed were its waters,
The wolfish water-hag wallowed no more;
The mere-wife had yielded her miserable life.
Swift to the shore the sailors' deliverer
Came lustily swimming, with sea-spoil laden;
Rejoiced in the burden he bore to the land.
Ran to meet him his mailed comrades, 1630
With thanks to God who gave them their leader
Safe again back and sound from the deep.
Quickly their hero's helmet they loosened,
Unbuckled his breastplate. The blood-stained


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Brought from the holm-cliff the head of the

monster; 'Twas toil and labor to lift the burden, Four of their stoutest scarce could carry it Swung from a spear-pole, a staggering load. . 1638 Thus the fourteen of them, thanes adventur

ous, Marched o'er the moor to the mead-hall of

Hrothgar. Tall in the midst of them towered the hero; Strode among his comrades, till they came to

the hall. In went Beowulf, the brave and victorious, 1645 Battle-beast hardy, Hrothgar to greet. Lifting by the hair the head of Grendel, They laid it in the hall, where the heroes were

carousing, Right before the king, and right before the

queen; Gruesome was the sight that greeted the Danes.






For this I bear both breastplate and shield; 2525
No foot will I flinch from the foe of the barrow.
Wyrd is over us, each shall meet
His doom ordained at the dragon-cliff!
Bold is my mood, but my boast I omit
'Gainst the battle-flier. Abide ye here,
Heroes in harness, hard by the barrow,
Cased in your armor the issue await:
Which of us two his wounds shall survive.
Not yours the attempt, the task is mine.
'Tis meant for no man but me alone
To measure his might 'gainst the monster fierce.
I get you the gold in glorious fight,
Or battle-death bitter shall bear off your lord.”

Uprose with his shield the shining hero,
Bold 'neath his helmet. He bore his harness
In under the cliff; alone he went,
Himself he trusted; no task for faint-heart.
Then saw by the wall the warrior brave,
Hero of many a hard-fought battle,
Arches of stone that opened a way;
From the rocky gate there gushed a stream,
Bubbling and boiling with battle-fire.
So great the heat no hope was there
To come at the hoard in the cavern's depth,
Unscathed by the blast of the scorching dragon.
He let from his breast his battle-cry leap,
Swoln with rage was the royal Jute,
Stormed the stout-heart; strong and clear
Through the gloom of the cave his cry went

ringing. Hate was aroused, the hoard-ward knew The leader's hail. Too late 'twas now To parley for peace. The poisonous breath Of the monster shot from the mouth of the cave, Reeking hot. The hollow earth rumbled. The man by the rock upraised his shield, The Lord of the Jutes, 'gainst the loathly

dragon. Now kindled for battle the curled-up beast; The king undaunted with drawn sword stood, ('Twas an heirloom olden with edge of lightning) Each was so fierce he affrighted the other. 2565 Towering tall 'neath tilted shield, Waited the king as the worm coiled back, Sudden to spring: so stood he and waited. Blazing he came in coils of fire Swift to his doom. The shield of iron Sheltered the hero too short a while, Life and limb it less protected Than he hoped it would, for the weapon he held First time that day he tried in battle; Wyrd had not willed he should win the fight. But the Lord of the Jutes uplifted his arm, 2576 Smote the scaly worm, struck him so fierce That his ancient bright-edged blade gave way, Bent on the bone, and bit less sure Than its owner had need in his hour of peril.2580 That sword-stroke roused the wrath of the cave

guard; Fire and flame afar he spirted, Blaze of battle; but Beowulf there No victory boasted: his blade had failed him, Naked in battle, as never it should have, Well-tempered iron! Nor easy it was For Ecgtheow's heir, honored and famous,


(Beowulf left with the Danes his grisly trophies of battle, the head of Grendel, his huge forequarter, and the hilt of the giant sword with its mystical runic inscription. Loading his boat with the gifts of Hrothgar, he and his comrades sailed away home. After the death of Hygėlac and his son, Beowulf became king of the Jutes, and ruled over them fifty years. In his old age his people were harried by a fire-dragon whom the hero went out to fight. It seems that an outlaw, banished and flying for shelter, had come upon a treasure hid in a deep cave or barrow, guarded by a dragon. Long years before, an earl, the last of his race, had buried the treasure. After his death the dragon, sniffing about the stones, had found it and guarded it three hundred years, until the banished man discovered the place, and carried off one of the golden goblets. In revenge the dragon made nightly raids on Beowulf's realm, flying through the air, spitting fire, burning houses and villages, even Beowulf's hall, the “gift-stool" of the Jutes. Beowulf had an iron shield made against the dragon's fiery breath, and with eleven companions, sought out the hill-vault near the sea. Before attacking the monster he spoke these words to his comrades:) Beowulf said to them, brave words spoke he: “Brunt of battles I bore in my youth, One fight more I make this day. I mean to win fame defending my people, If the grim destroyer will seek me out, Come at my call from his cavern dark.” Then he greeted his thanes each one, For the last time hailed his helmeted warriors, His comrades dear. “I should carry no sword, No weapon of war 'gainst the worm should bear, If the foe I might slay by strength of my arm, As Grendel I slew long since by my hand. 2522 But I look to fight a fiery battle, With scorching puffs of poisonous breath.



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This earth to forsake, forever to leave it; Years ago, in youth, thou vowedst
Yet he must go, against his will

Living, ne'er to lose thine honor,
Elsewhere to dwell. So we all must leave 2590 Shield thy life and show thy valor.
This fleeting life.-Erelong the foes

I stand by thee to the end!” Bursting with wrath the battle renewed.

After these words the worm came on, The hoard-ward took heart, and with heaving Snorting with rage, for a second charge; breast

All mottled with fire his foes he sought, Came charging amain. The champion brave, The warriors hated. But Wiglaf's shield Strength of his people, was sore oppressed, 2595 Was burnt to the boss by the billows of fire; Enfolded by flame. No faithful comrades His harness helped not the hero young. Crowded about him, his chosen band,

Shelter he found 'neath the shield of his kinsAll æthelings' sons, to save their lives,

man, Fled to the wood. One of them only

When the crackling blaze had crumbled his own: Felt surging sorrow; for nought can stifle 2600 But mindful of glory, the mighty hero Call of kin in a comrade true;

Smote amain with his matchless sword. Wiglaf his name, 'twas Weohstan's son

Down it hurtled, driven by anger, Shield-thane beloved, lord of the Scylfings Till it stuck in the skull, then snapped the blade, Ælfhere's kinsman. When his king he saw Broken was Nægling, Beowulf's sword, Hard by the heat under helmet oppressed, 2605 Ancient and gray. 'Twas granted him never He remembered the gifts he had got of old, To count on edge of iron in battle; Lands and wealth of the Wægmunding line, His hand was too heavy, too hard his strokes, The folk-rights all that his father's had been; As I have heard tell, for every blade He could hold no longer, but hard he gripped

He brandished in battle: the best gave way, Linden shield yellow and ancient sword. ... 2610 And left him helpless and hard bestead. For the first time there the faithful thane, 2652 Now for a third time neared the destroyer; 2715 Youthful and stalwart, stood with his leader, The fire-drake fierce, old feuds remembering, Shoulder to shoulder in shock of battle.

Charged the warrior who wavered an instant; Nor melted his courage, nor cracked his blade, Blazing he came and closed his fangs His war-sword true, as the worm found out 2656 On Beowulf's throat; and throbbing spirts When together they got in grim encounter. Of life-blood dark o'erdrenched the hero.

Wiglaf in wrath upbraided his comrades, Then in the hour of utmost peril, Sore was his heart as he spake these words: The stripling proved what stock he came of; “Well I mind when our mead we drank

Showed his endurance and dauntless courage. In the princely hall, how we promised our lord Though burnt was his hand when he backed his Who gave us these rings and golden armlets, kinsman, That we would repay his war-gifts rich, With head unguarded the good thane charged, Helmets and armor, if haply should come Thrust from below at the loathly dragon, His hour of peril; us hath he made

Pierced with the point and plunged the blade in, Thanes of his choice for this adventure;

The gleaming-bright, till the glow abated
Spurred us to glory, and gave us these treasures Waning low. Ere long the king
Because he deemed us doughty spearmen, Came to himself, and swiftly drew

2730 Helmeted warriors, hardy and brave.

The war-knife that hung at his harness' side, Yet all the while, unhelped and alone,

And cut in two the coiled monster. He meant to finish this feat of strength, So felled they the foe and finished him bravely, Shepherd of men and mightiest lord

Together they killed him, the kinsmen two, Of daring deeds. The day is come, –

A noble pair. So needs must do Now is the hour he needs the aid

Comrades in peril. For the king it proved Of spearmen good. Let us go to him now, 2675 His uttermost triumph, the end of his deeds Help our hero while hard bestead

And work in the world. The wound began, By the nimble flames. God knows that I Where the cave-dragon savage had sunk his Had rather the fire should ruthlessly fold

teeth, My body with his, than harbor me safe. To swell and fever, and soon he felt Shame it were surely our shields to carry 2680 The baleful poison pulse through his blood, Home to our lands, unless we first

And burn in his breast. The brave old warrior Slay this foe and save the life

Sat by the wall and summoned his thoughts, Of the Weder-king. Full well I know

Gazed on the wondrous work of the giants: To leave him thus, alone to endure,

Arches of stone, firm-set on their pillars, 2745 Bereft of aid, breaks ancient right.

2685 Upheld that hill-vault hoar and ancient. My helmet and sword shall serve for us both, Shield and armor we share to-day.”

Now Beowulf's thane, the brave and faithful,

Dashed with water his darling lord, Waded the warrior through welter and reek; His comrade and king all covered with blood Buckler and helmet he bore to his leader; And faint with the fight; unfastened his helmet. Heartened the hero with words of hope:

Beowulf spoke despite his hurt, Do thy best now, dearest Beowulf,

His piteous wound. Full well he knew











Gazing sad at the gold before him:
“For the harvest of gold that here I look on,
To the God of Glory I give my thanks. 2795
To the Ruler Eternal I render praise
That ere I must go he granted me this,
To leave to my people this priceless hoard.
'Twas bought with my life; now look ye well
To my people's need when I have departed. 2800
No more I may bide among ye here.
Bid the battle-famed build on the foreland
A far-seen barrow when flames have burnt me.
High o'er the headland of whales it shall tower,
A beacon and mark to remind my people. 2806
And sailors shall call it in years to come
Beowulf's Barrow as back from afar
O'er the glooming deep they drive their keels."
The great-hearted king unclasped from his

A collar of gold, and gave to his thane,
The brave young warrior, his bright-gilt helmet,
Breastplate and ring. So bade him farewell:
“Thou art the last to be left of our house.
Wyrd hath o'erwhelmed our Wægmunding line,
Swept my kinsmen swift to their doom, 2816
Earls in their prime. I must follow them."
These words were the last that the warrior gray
Found in his heart ere the flames he chose.
Swift from his bosom his soul departed 2820
To find the reward of the faithful and true.




His years on earth were ended now,
His hours of glad life gone for aye,
His days alloted, and death was near:
“Now would I gladly give to a son
These weapons of war, had Wyrd ' but granted
That heir of my own should after me come,
Sprung from my loins. This land have I ruled
Fifty winters. No folk-king dared,
None of the chiefs of the neighboring tribes,
To touch me with sword or assail me with terror
Of battle-threats. I bided at home,
Held my peace and my heritage kept,
Seeking no feuds nor swearing false oaths. 2765
This gives me comfort, and gladdens me now,
Though wounded sore and sick unto death.
As I leave my life the Lord may not charge me
With killing of kinsmen. Now quickly go,
Wiglaf beloved, to look at the hoard, 2770
Where hidden it rests 'neath the hoary rock.
For the worm lies still, put asleep by his wound,
Robbed of his riches. Then rise and haste!
Give me to see that golden hoard,
Gaze on the store of glorious gems,
That easier then I may end my life,
Leave my lordship that long I held.”

Swiftly, 'tis said, the son of Weohstan
Obeyed the words of his bleeding lord,
Maimed in the battle. Through the mouth of

the cave Boldly he bore his battle-net in. Glad of the victory, he gazed about him; Many a sun-bright jewel he saw; Glittering gold, strewn on the ground, Heaped in the den of the dragon hoary, Old twilight-flier,-flagons once bright, Wassail cups wondrous of warriors departed Stript of their mountings, many a helmet Ancient and rusted, armlets a many, Curiously woven. (Wealth so hoarded, Buried treasure, will taint with pride, Him that hides it, whoever it be.) Towering high o'er the hoard he saw A gleaming banner with gold inwoven, Of broidure rare, its radiance streamed So ht, he could peer to the bounds of the cave, Survey its wonders; no worm was seen. Edge of the sword had ended his life. Then, as they say, that single adventurer Plundered the hoard that was piled by the

giants Gathered together old goblets and platters, Took what he liked; the towering banner Brightest of beacons he brought likewise. .. .2776 So Wiglaf returned with treasure laden The high-souled hero hastened his steps, Anxiously wondered if he should find 2785 The lord of the Weders alive where he left him Sapped of his strength and stretched on the

ground. As he came from the hill he beheld his comrade, His lord of bounty, bleeding and faint, Near unto death. He dashed him once more Bravely with water, till burden of speech Broke from his breast, and Beowulf spoke,

1 The Goddess of Fate.



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(Translated by P. V. D. SHELLY) No man becomes, before death calls him, Wiser in thought than then he needs be Well to consider, ere the thread's severed, What to his ghost, of good or of evil, After the death-day is destined by doom.



THE DROWNING OF THE EGYPTIANS (From the Exodus. Translated by

J. D. SPAETH.) The host was harrowed with horror of drowning; Sea-death menaced their miserable souls. 448

1 The Erodus, a poem of 589 lines, is the oldest extant epic of a series on Biblical subjects, written apparently in the north of England. No exact date can be given, but it was evidently written before the time of King Al fred (871-901).


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That the ocean's master was mightier than he.
By the strength of His arm He decided the battle,
Wrathful and grim. He gave the Egyptians 506
Thorough reward for that day's work.
Not one of that host to his home came back;
Of all those warriors not one returned
To bring the news of the battle's end,
To tell in the towns the tidings of woe,
Their husbands' doom to the heroes' wives,
How sea-death swallowed the stately host,
No messenger left. The Lord Almighty
Confounded their boasting; they fought against

Cynewulf 1
(From The Crist. Translated by J. D. SPAETH.)
Our life is likest a long sea-voyage:
O'er the water cold in our keels we glide,
O'er Ocean's streams, in our stallions of the

deep We drive afar. 'Tis a dreary waste Of ceaseless surges we sail across, In this wavering world, o'er wind-swept tracts Of open sea.. Anxious the struggle, Ere we bring at last our barks to land, O'er the rough sea-ridges. Our rescue is near; The Son of God doth safely guide us, Helps us into our harbor of refuge;

860 Shows from the deck the sheltered waters Where smoothly to anchor our ancient chargers, Hold with the hawsers our horses of the deep. Then fix we our hope on that haven of safety That the Prince of Glory prepared for us all, 865 The Ruler on high, when He rose to heaven.




The slopes of the hill-sides were splashed with

blood. There was woe on the waters, the waves spat

gore; They were full of weapons, and frothed with

slaughter. Back were beaten the bold Egyptians, Fled in fear; they were filled with terror. Headlong they hastened their homes to seek. Less bold were their boasts as the billows rolled

o'er them, Dread welter of waves. Not one of that army Went again home, but Wyrd from behind Barred with billows their backward path. Where ways had lain, now weltered the sea, The swelling flood. The storm went up High to the heavens; hugest of uproars Darkened the sky; the dying shrieked With voices doomed. The Deep streamed with

blood. Shield-walls were shattered by shock of the

tempest. Greatest of sea-deaths engulfed the mighty, 465 Captains and troops. Retreat was cut off At the ocean's brink. Their battle-shields

gleamed High o'er their heads as the heaped-up waters Compassed them round, the raging flood. Doomed was the host, by death hemmed in, 470 Suddenly trapped. The salty billows Swept with their swirling the sand from their

feet, As the Ocean cold to its ancient bed, Through winding channels the churning flood, Came rolling back o'er the rippled bottom, 475 Swift avenger, naked and wild. With slaughter was streaked the storm-dark air; The bursting deep with blood-terror yawned, When He who made it, by Moses' hand Unbitted the wrath of the raging flood; Wide it came sweeping to swallow the foe; Foamed the waters, the fated sank; Earth was o'erwhelmed, the air was darkened; Burst the wave-walls, the bulwarks tumbled; The sea-towers melted, when the Mighty One

smote The pride of the host, through the pillar of fire, With holy hand from heaven above. The onslaught wild of the angry main None might oppose. He appointed their end In the roaring horror. Wroth was the sea: 490 Up it rose, down it smote, dealing destruction. Slaughter-blood spread, the sea-wall fell, Upreared on high, the handiwork of God, When the ocean He smote with His ancient

sword, Felled the defence of the foam-breasted waves. With the death-blow deep, the doomed men

slept. The army of sinners their souls gave up, The sea-pale host, ensnared and surrounded, When the dark upheaval o'erwhelmed them all, Hugest of wild waves. The host sank down, Pharaoh and his folk, the flower of Egypt Utterly perished. The enemy of God Soon discovered, when the sea he entered,

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DOOMSDAY (From The Crist. Translated by J. D. SPAETH.) Lo! on a sudden, and all unlooked for, In the dead of the night, the day of the Lord Shall break tremendous on man and beast, O’erwhelming the world and the wide creation, As a ruthless robber, ranging at night, Who strides through the dark with stealthy

pace, And suddenly springs on sleep-bound heroes, Greets with violence his victims unguarded. A mighty host on the mount of Sion Shall gather together glad and rejoicing The faithful of the Lord, they shall find their

reward. With one accord from the quarters four, And uttermost ends of the earth at once, Glorious angels together shall blow Their shattering trumpets; the trembling earth Shall shake and sink, as they sound together,

i Cynewulf, the greatest early poet of the north of England, lived probably in Northumbria at the end of the 8th century. The Christ, from which the two selections are taken, is his chief poem; it is 1664 lines long and consists of three parts, The Advent, The Ascension, and Doomsday.





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