The Expedition Of Grendel’s Mere

The Expedition Of Grendel’s Mere

A horse with plaited mane<br>
was saddled for Hrothgar:<br>
the wise king rode in splendor,<br>
a band of men marching on foot.<br>
<br>
Tracks were clearly visible<br>
going over the ground<br>
along the forest paths<br>
where she had gone forth<br>
over the murky moors<br>
carrying the good warrior,<br>
the best of men, lifeless,<br>
a man who had helped<br>
Hrothgar guard his home.<br>
<br>
The noble Hrothgar passed <br>
over narrows, lonely paths,<br>
steep, stony slopes <br>
on that unknown way<br>
among steep bluffs<br>
and the homes of water monsters.<br>
<br>
He and the wise men<br>
went before the rest<br>
to scout the place,<br>
and suddenly, he saw<br>
a joyless woods leaning over<br>
turbid and bloody water.<br>
For all the Danes <br>
it was grievous, and <br>
the warriors suffered <br>
when they on the sea <br>
cliff saw Aeschere’s head.<br>
The water boiled with blood<br>
and hot gore as the men watched.<br>
<br>
Sometimes a horn sang out,<br>
an eager war song, but<br>
the troop all waited, watching<br>
along the water the kin<br>
of snakes, strange sea dragons,<br>
swimming in the deep or<br>
lying on the steep slopes–<br>
water monsters, serpents, and<br>
wild beasts, such as the ones<br>
that appear on a dangerous <br>
sea journey in the morning time.<br>
When those creatures heard <br>
the war horn’s note<br>
they hurried away<br>
bitter and angry.<br>
<br>
A man from the Geat <br>
tribe with his bow<br>
deprived of life, of<br>
wave battle, one<br>
of the monsters. An<br>
arrow, war hard, stuck<br>
in its heart, and it<br>
swam more weakly<br>
as death took it.<br>
Quickly it was attacked<br>
in the waves with barbed<br>
spears and swords and<br>
dragged by force to the<br>
bluff, a wondrous sea roamer. <br>
Warriors examined<br>
the terrible stranger. <br>
<br>
Beowulf arrayed himself<br>
in armor, not at all <br>
worrying about his life,<br>
putting on his mail shirt,<br>
large and decorated, <br>
woven by hand so that<br>
it could protect his chest<br>
as he tried the water,<br>
so that hostile grips,<br>
the fury’s malicious grasps,<br>
might not scathe his life.<br>
<br>
A shiny helmet protected the head<br>
that would go to the watery depths.<br>
It was adorned with treasures,<br>
encircled with splendid chains–<br>
in the old days weapon-smiths<br>
formed it wondrously, setting<br>
on it boar figures so that<br>
no sword could bite it in battle.<br>
<br>
And it was not the weakest of helps<br>
Unferth, Hrothgar’s spokesman,<br>
loaned: the hilted sword called<br>
Hrunting, an ancient treasure<br>
with edges of iron and adorned<br>
with poison strips. That sword,<br>
hardened in blood, had never failed <br>
a man who grasped it in hand <br>
and dared a terrible journey,<br>
battles in a hostile place. <br>
This would not be the first time<br>
it had gone to do brave work.<br>
Unferth, great of strength,<br>
did not remember what he had <br>
said, drunk on wine, but loaned <br>
his weapon to a better sword <br>
warrior: he himself did not <br>
dare venture his life<br>
under the terrible waves<br>
to perform a deed of valor.<br>
There he lost his fame,<br>
his renown for valor.<br>
<br>
This was not so for that other man, <br>
he who prepared himself for war.<br>
Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:<br>
“Remember, Hrothgar, kin of Healfdene,<br>
gold friend of men, wise king, <br>
now that I am ready to start,<br>
what we have spoken of–<br>
if I, in your service,<br>
lose my life, that you<br>
will be in position of my father.<br>
Be a protector of my warriors,<br>
my comrades, if war takes me.<br>
Also, beloved Hrothgar,<br>
send the treasure you gave me<br>
to Hygelac, king of the Geats,<br>
that he may perceive from the gold,<br>
beholding the treasure,<br>
that I found a virtuous ring giver<br>
who I enjoyed while I could.<br>
And give Unferth my old heirloom,<br>
my splendid wavy sword<br>
widely known among men<br>
to have a hard edge.<br>
I will do my glory work<br>
with Hrunting–or<br>
death will take me. . .”<br>
<br>
With these words<br>
the chief of the Geats,<br>
waiting for no reply,<br>
hastened with bravery.<br>
The surging water took<br>
the warrior, and it was<br>
a good part of a day<br>
before he found the bottom. <br>
<br>
She who had fiercely guarded,<br>
grim and greedy, that water<br>
for a hundred half-years<br>
quickly saw that some man<br>
from above was exploring<br>
the monsters’ home. Then<br>
the enemy seized the warrior<br>
in her horrid clutches, yet<br>
he was not injured–the ringed <br>
armor protected him, and she <br>
could not break his mail shirt <br>
with her hostile claws.<br>
<br>
The sea wolf bore <br>
the armored warrior<br>
down to her dwelling <br>
at the bottom. He could not, <br>
despite his bravery, command <br>
his weapons–many a sea beast<br>
harassed him with battle tusks, <br>
trying to cut his armor.<br>
<br>
Then the chief found<br>
that he was with someone<br>
in a hostile hall.<br>
The flood’s rush<br>
could not harm him there<br>
because of the hall’s roof.<br>
<br>
He saw a firelight shine<br>
in a brilliant flame.<br>
Then the warrior saw<br>
that monster of the deep,<br>
the mighty mere-woman.<br>
<br>
He swung his battle sword<br>
quickly–he did not hold<br>
back–and the ringed blade<br>
sang a greedy war song<br>
on her head. But the guest<br>
found that the flashing <br>
sword would not bite,<br>
could not harm her life–<br>
the edge failed him at need.<br>
(It had endured many <br>
combats, often slashed helmets<br>
and fated war garments. . .<br>
This was the first time<br>
that precious treasure<br>
failed in its glory.)<br>
<br>
But Beowulf was resolute,<br>
by no means slow in valor,<br>
still thinking of daring deeds.<br>
The angry warrior threw<br>
the carved sword covered <br>
in ornaments, stiff and edged<br>
in iron, to the floor<br>
and trusted in his powerful <br>
hand grip. (So must a man do <br>
when he wishes for enduring <br>
fame at war: he cannot <br>
The lord of the Geats <br>
did not grieve at the battle<br>
but seized Grendel’s mother<br>
by the shoulder.<br>
Now he was enraged<br>
and flung his deadly foe<br>
to the ground.<br>
<br>
She paid him back quickly<br>
with angry claws and<br>
clutched him against her.<br>
At that moment <br>
the strongest of warriors<br>
felt sick at heart:<br>
he fell. She sat<br>
on her hall guest<br>
and drew a dagger,<br>
wide and brown-edged–<br>
she would avenge her son,<br>
her only offspring.<br>
<br>
On his shoulder lay<br>
the woven mail shirt.<br>
It protected his life,<br>
withstood the entrance<br>
of point and edge.<br>
Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow,<br>
champion of the Geats,<br>
would have perished then<br>
under the wide ground<br>
had not his armor,<br>
his hard war net, helped<br>
him (and Holy God, who<br>
brought about war victory).<br>
<br>
The wise ruler of the skies<br>
decided justice easily when<br>
Beowulf stood up again:<br>
there among the weapons<br>
he saw a victory-blessed sword,<br>
an old sword made by giants<br>
with strong edges, the glory<br>
of warriors. It was <br>
the choicest of weapons,<br>
good and majestical, <br>
the work of giants, but<br>
larger than any other man<br>
could carry to battle sport.<br>
<br>
He who fought for the Danes,<br>
fierce and sword grim, <br>
despairing of life,<br>
seized the chain-wound hilt,<br>
drew the ringed sword,<br>
and angrily struck–<br>
It grasped her neck hard<br>
and her bone rings broke.<br>
The blade entered<br>
the fated body.<br>
She fell to the ground.<br>
The sword was bloody,<br>
and the warrior rejoiced<br>
in his work.<br>
<br>
Suddenly light glittered,<br>
a light brightened within,<br>
as bright and clear as<br>
the candle of the sky.<br>
He looked around the building,<br>
walked around the walls.<br>
He raised the weapon<br>
hard by its hilt–<br>
Beowulf was angry and resolute.<br>
The edge was not useless<br>
to the warrior–he wished<br>
to requite Grendel for<br>
the many attacks he<br>
had made on the Danes,<br>
much more often<br>
than on one occasion,<br>
when he had slain<br>
Hrothgar’s guests in their sleep.<br>
Fifteen Danish men<br>
he devoured while they slept,<br>
and carried as many away,<br>
hideous booty. The fierce<br>
champion paid him his reward:<br>
Beowulf saw Grendel in rest,<br>
worn out with fighting,<br>
lifeless from the hard wounds<br>
he had gotten in battle <br>
at Herot. The corpse<br>
split when it suffered<br>
that blow after death–<br>
the hard sword stroke.<br>
Beowulf cut off the head.<br>
<br>