Grendel Attacks Again

Came then striding in the night<br>
the walker of darkness.<br>
In that gabled hall <br>
the warriors slept,<br>
those who guarded the hall. . .<br>
all but one.<br>
It was well known among men<br>
that, if God willed it not,<br>
no one could drag<br>
that demon to the shadows.<br>
But Beowulf watched<br>
in anger, waiting<br>
the battle’s outcome.<br>
Came then from the moor<br>
under the misty hills<br>
Grendel stalking under<br>
the weight of God’s anger.<br>
That wicked ravager<br>
planned to ensnare<br>
many of the race of men<br>
in the high hall.<br>
He strode under the clouds,<br>
seeking eagerly, till he came to <br>
the wine-hall, the treasure-hall<br>
of men decorated in gold.<br>
Nor was it the first time he <br>
had sought Hrothgar’s home.<br>
But never in his life before<br>
–or since–<br>
did he find worse luck!<br>
Came then to the building<br>
that creature bereft of joys.<br>
When he touched it with his hands<br>
the door gave way at once<br>
though its bands were forged <br>
in fire. Intending evil,<br>
enraged, he swung the door wide,<br>
stood at the building’s mouth.<br>
Quickly the foe moved<br>
across the well-made floor,<br>
in an angry mood–a horrible light, <br>
like fire, in his eyes. <br>
He saw the many warriors in the building,<br>
that band of kinsmen asleep <br>
together, and his spirit laughed:<br>
that monster expected<br>
to rip life from the body of each <br>
one before morning came.<br>
He expected a plentiful meal.<br>
(It was his fate<br>
that he eat no more<br>
of the race of men<br>
after that night. . .)<br>
The mighty one, Beowulf, watched,<br>
waiting to see how that wicked one<br>
would go about starting.<br>
Nor did the wretch delay, <br>
but set about seizing<br>
a sleeping warrior unawares<br>
and bit into his bone locks,<br>
drinking the streams of blood,<br>
then swallowing huge morsels<br>
of flesh. Quickly he ate that man,<br>
even to his hands and feet.<br>
Forward Grendel came,<br>
stepping nearer. Then <br>
he reached for Beowulf.<br>
Beowulf grasped his arm <br>
and sat up. The criminal <br>
knew he had not met<br>
in this middle-earth<br>
another with such a grip.<br>
Grendel’s spirit was afraid<br>
and his heart eager <br>
to get away, to flee<br>
to his hiding place, flee <br>
to the devils he kept<br>
for company. Never had he met<br>
a man such as this.<br>
Beowulf then kept in mind <br>
the speeches he had made <br>
in the evening and stood <br>
upright, firmly grasping<br>
Grendel’s hand until<br>
the fingers broke.<br>
The monster strove to escape.<br>
Beowulf stepped closer. That <br>
famous monster suddenly wanted <br>
to disappear into the fens.<br>
He realized the power of those hands, <br>
the wrathful grip he was in. <br>
Grendel felt sorry <br>
he had made a trip to Herot.<br>
That hall of warriors dinned.<br>
All the Danes of the city,<br>
all the brave ones, feared disaster. <br>
The building resounded.<br>
It is a wonder the wine-hall<br>
withstood the battle,<br>
that the beautiful building<br>
did not fall to the ground.<br>
But it was made fast,<br>
within and without, <br>
with iron bands <br>
forged with great skill.<br>
I have heard say<br>
many a mead bench<br>
adorned in gold<br>
went flying when<br>
those hostiles fought.<br>
No wise man had ever thought<br>
that splendid building could <br>
be damaged (unless a fire<br>
should swallow it). <br>
The din rose louder, the Danes stood<br>
in dreadful terror–everyone<br>
heard lamentation, a terrifying<br>
song, through the wall:<br>
Grendel, Hell’s friend, <br>
God’s enemy, sang in defeat,<br>
bewailing his wound.<br>
That man, mightiest <br>
of warriors alive, held fast.<br>
He would not <br>
for any reason<br>
allow his murderous visitor<br>
to escape alive,<br>
to keep the days of his life.<br>
Beowulf’s warriors brandished<br>
many a sword, inheritances<br>
from the ancient days,<br>
trying to protect their chief,<br>
but that did no good: they <br>
could not have known, those <br>
brave warriors as they fought,<br>
striking from all sides, seeking <br>
to take Grendel’s soul, that <br>
no battle sword could harm him–<br>
he had enchantment against <br>
the edges of weapons.<br>
The end of Grendel’s life was <br>
miserable, and he would travel <br>
far into the hands of fiends.<br>
Grendel, the foe of God, who had <br>
long troubled the spirits of men<br>
with his crimes, found that <br>
his body could not stand against<br>
the hand grip of that warrior.<br>
Each was hateful to the other <br>
alive. The horrible monster endured <br>
a wound: the bone-locks <br>
of his shoulder gave way, <br>
and his sinews sprang out.<br>
The glory of battle went to <br>
Beowulf, and Grendel, <br>
mortally wounded,<br>
sought his sad home<br>
under the fen slope.<br>
He knew surely that<br>
his life had reached its end,<br>
the number of his days gone.<br>
The hope of the Danes<br>
had come to pass–He<br>
who came from far had<br>
cleansed Hrothgar’s hall<br>
and saved it from affliction.<br>
They rejoiced it that <br>
night’s work. Beowulf had <br>
fulfilled his promise <br>
to the Danes and all <br>
the distress they had endured,<br>
all the trouble and sorrow,<br>
had reached an end.<br>
The fact was plain when <br>
Beowulf laid that arm <br>
and shoulder down, there <br>
altogether, Grendel’s claw,<br>
under the vaulted roof.<br>
The Warriors Rejoice<br>
I have heard say that <br>
on that morning warriors <br>
came from near and far<br>
to look at the wonder.<br>
Grendel’s death made <br>
no warrior sad.<br>
They looked at the huge footprints<br>
and the path he had taken,<br>
dragging himself wearily away<br>
after he had been overcome in battle.<br>
The fated fugitive’s bloody tracks<br>
led into the water-monster’s mere.<br>
There bloody water boiled,<br>
a horrible swirl of waves<br>
mingled with hot gore.<br>
That doomed one had died,<br>
deprived of joy, <br>
in his fen refuge, his heathen<br>
soul taken into Hell.<br>
After seeing that place<br>
the warriors once again<br>
rode their horses to Herot.<br>
They spoke of Beowulf’s <br>
glorious deed, often saying<br>
that no man under the sky’s <br>
expanse, North nor South <br>
between the seas, no man<br>
who bore a shield, was more<br>
worthy of a kingdom. They, <br>
however, never found fault<br>
with the gracious Hrothgar–<br>
he was a good king.<br>
The warriors let their <br>
bay horses go, a contest <br>
for the best horse, <br>
galloping through whatever <br>
path looked fair.<br>
Sometimes a king’s man, a warrior <br>
covered in glory who knew <br>
the old traditions, would be <br>
reminded of an ancient song, <br>
and he would call up words adorned <br>
in truth. The man would think<br>
of Beowulf’s deeds and quickly <br>
compose a skillful tale in words. <br>
Then he sang of things he’d heard <br>
about Sigemund’s valorous deeds, <br>
untold things about Weals’s son,<br>
his struggles, his wide journeys and feuds.<br>
The singer told things the children<br>
of men did not know, except for<br>
Fitela, Sigemund’s nephew, who<br>
stood with him in battle.<br>
With swords those two felled<br>
many from the race of giants.<br>
After Sigemund’s death day<br>
not a little fame sprang to him,<br>
about his hardy fight and killing<br>
of a dragon, keeper of a hoard.<br>
Under gray stone that prince alone <br>
engaged in that audacious deed,<br>
not even Fitela with him.<br>
Anyway, it happened that<br>
Sigemund’s sword went clear through<br>
the huge dragon and <br>
that splendid iron<br>
stuck in the wall.<br>
The dragon died violently.<br>
By brave deeds the hero<br>
won a ring hoard for himself.<br>
He bore into a ship’s bosom<br>
those bright treasures <br>
of the Weal kin,<br>
and the dragon melted<br>
of its own heat.<br>
Sigemund was by far the most <br>
renowned adventurer. N He had <br>
first prospered under King Heremod,<br>
but that man’s strength<br>
and victory subsided.<br>
Among the Jutes<br>
Heremod was betrayed<br>
into enemy hands<br>
and put to death.<br>
Sorrow oppressed him too long.<br>
He became a trouble to his people.<br>
Many a wise man<br>
bewailed the old days<br>
when Heremod had taken<br>
the protector’s position<br>
to hold the treasure<br>
of the Danish kingdom.<br>
He had loved the Geats<br>
more than his own people:<br>
evil had seized him.<br>
Thus told the song.<br>
Sometimes the warriors raced<br>
their horses on the yellow road. <br>
The morning sped away. <br>
Many a brave warrior<br>
went to the high hall<br>
to see the wonder.<br>
So also the king himself,<br>
the keeper of the rings,<br>
leaving the queen’s rooms,<br>
went with his famous company.<br>
And the queen also<br>
with a troop of maidens<br>
walked among the mead seats.<br>