The Queen Speaks

Then Wealhtheow came out<br>
under a golden crown<br>
to where the good men sat,<br>
nephew and uncle (at that time <br>
there was peace between the two,<br>
each still true to the other).<br>
Unferth the spokesman<br>
sat at Hrothgar’s feet–<br>
everyone considered him<br>
brave in spirit though <br>
he had not been kind to <br>
his kin at the sword’s play.<br>
Spoke then the queen of the Danes:<br>
“Receive this cup,<br>
my dear lord,<br>
giver of treasure.<br>
Be in joy,<br>
gold friend of men,<br>
and speak to these Geats<br>
with kind words<br>
as men should do.<br>
Be gracious to the Geats<br>
and mindful of the gifts<br>
you have from near and far.<br>
A man said to me<br>
that he would have<br>
this warrior for a son.<br>
Herot, the bright ring hall,<br>
is purged. Give while you can<br>
many rewards and leave<br>
to your kin people and land<br>
when you must go<br>
to learn fate’s decree.<br>
I know my nephew Hrothulf<br>
will keep his honor<br>
if you, king of the Danes,<br>
leave this world earlier that he.<br>
I know Hruthulf will remember<br>
what we two wish<br>
and the kindness we showed<br>
when he was a child.”<br>
Wealhtheow turned then<br>
to the bench where her sons <br>
were, Hrethric and Hrothmund,<br>
children of warriors,<br>
the youth together.<br>
There the good ones sat,<br>
Beowulf of the Geats<br>
and the two brothers.<br>
To him the cup was carried<br>
and friendship offered in words.<br>
Wound gold was kindly bestowed:<br>
two arm ornaments, shirts <br>
of mail, rings, and the largest <br>
neck ring I have heard <br>
tell of on the earth.<br>
I have not heard<br>
of any greater hoard-treasures<br>
under the sky since<br>
Hama carried away<br>
to his bright fortress<br>
the necklace of the Brosings.<br>
He fled a treacherous quarrel<br>
from the king of the East Goths<br>
with the ornament and its setting,<br>
choosing everlasting gain.<br>
(This is the ring Hygelac <br>
of the Geats, grandson of Swerting,<br>
uncle of Beowulf, would have near<br>
when he guarded the battle-spoil<br>
under his banner. Fate would take him <br>
when he courted trouble– <br>
out of pride–in a feud <br>
with the Frisians. He would wear <br>
those noble stones over <br>
the cup of the waves. He would<br>
fall beneath his shield. His body, <br>
his armor, and the ring also, would<br>
pass into the power of the Franks.<br>
Bad warriors rifled the corpses<br>
after the battle slaughter.<br>
The Geat people remained <br>
in the field of corpses.)<br>
Music filled the hall. Wealhtheow <br>
spoke before the company:<br>
“Enjoy this neck-ring, <br>
beloved Beowulf, young hero, <br>
and use this armor, these <br>
treasures of the people.<br>
Thrive well, be known<br>
for valor, and give kind<br>
instruction to these two boys.<br>
I will remember your deeds.<br>
You have earned forever<br>
the praise of men, <br>
from near and far,<br>
even to the home of the winds<br>
and the walls of the sea.<br>
Be blessed while you live, prince!<br>
I wish you well with the treasures.<br>
Be gentle, joyful one, to my sons.<br>
In this place is each warrior<br>
true to the other, mild <br>
in spirit, an d faithful<br>
to his king. The warriors<br>
are united, the men drink<br>
deep, and they do my biding.”<br>
She went to her seat.<br>
There was a choice feast,<br>
men drank wine.<br>
They did not know<br>
that grim fate<br>
would come to many nobles<br>
after evening fell<br>
and powerful Hrothgar<br>
went to his house to rest.<br>
Countless warriors guarded the hall,<br>
as they had often done:<br>
they cleared the floor of benches,<br>
spread out beds and cushions.<br>
One of the beer drinkers,<br>
doomed and fated,<br>
lay on the couch.<br>
They set by their heads<br>
their war gear and bright <br>
wood shields. There on the bench <br>
over each warrior could be seen <br>
a towering helmet, ringed armor, <br>
and a huge wooden spear. <br>
Their custom was that they were <br>
always ready for war, both <br>
in the field and at home, each <br>
ready anytime his king needed him.<br>
Those were good people.<br>
end of episode six<br>
Part Two: Grendel’s Mother<br>
–The Attack of Grendel’s Mother–<br>
They sank into sleep.<br>
One paid dearly for <br>
his evening’s rest,<br>
as had happened often<br>
since Grendel had come<br>
to the gold hall<br>
performing his evil<br>
until the end came to him,<br>
death after his sins.<br>
It was soon learned<br>
and widely known among men<br>
that an avenger yet lived<br>
after that war-trouble:<br>
Grendel’s mother, a monster<br>
woman, she who lived in <br>
the terrible water,<br>
the cold streams, <br>
thought of her misery.<br>
After Cain killed his brother,<br>
his father’s son,<br>
he went in guilt,<br>
marked by murder,<br>
fleeing the joys of men<br>
to occupy the waste land.<br>
There awoke many fated spirits,<br>
Grendel being one,<br>
that savage, hateful outcast.<br>
At Herot he found a man<br>
awake and ready for war.<br>
The monster laid hold of him,<br>
but Beowulf kept in mind his <br>
strength, the precious gift <br>
God had granted, and God gave <br>
him help and support.<br>
Thus Beowulf overcame that enemy,<br>
subdued that hellish demon.<br>
Then Grendel went,<br>
the enemy of mankind,<br>
deprived of joy,<br>
seeking his death place.<br>
So his mother, greedy<br>
and gloomy as the gallows,<br>
went on a sorrowful journey<br>
to avenge her son’s death.<br>
So she came to Herot where<br>
the Danes slept in the hall.<br>
The fortunes of the noble ones<br>
changed when Grendel’s mother<br>
got inside: the terror was less<br>
by just so much as<br>
is the strength of a woman,<br>
the war-horror of a woman,<br>
is less than the horror of<br>
a sword forged with hammer<br>
and stained in blood<br>
shearing the strong edges<br>
of the boar on a helmet.<br>
Hard edges were drawn in the hall,<br>
swords off the benches,<br>
and many broad shields fast in hand,<br>
though they forgot about helmets<br>
and broad mail shirts when<br>
the terror seized them.<br>
After they had seen her,<br>
she was in haste<br>
to get out of there<br>
and save her life.<br>
She quickly seized<br>
one of the warriors<br>
then headed back to the fens.<br>
The warrior she killed, <br>
in his sleep, was Hrothgar’s <br>
most trusted man, famous <br>
between the two seas,<br>
a glorious hero.<br>
(Beowulf was not there,<br>
for after the treasure-giving<br>
the famous Geat had gone<br>
to another house.)<br>
She took her son’s famous<br>
blood-covered hand.<br>
An outcry came from Herot,<br>
care had been renewed<br>
and returned to the dwelling <br>
place–that was not a good <br>
bargain, that both sides paid<br>
with the lives of friends.<br>
The wise old king,<br>
the gray warrior,<br>
was in a savage mood<br>
when he heard his<br>
chief warrior was dead.<br>
Beowulf was quickly <br>
fetched to the chamber.<br>
As day broke the noble champion<br>
together with his warriors<br>
went to the wise ones, the hall’s<br>
wood floors resounding.<br>
The wise ones all wondered <br>
if ever the Almighty would <br>
remove this woeful spell.<br>
Beowulf asked with words<br>
if the night had been<br>
according to his desire<br>
and all things agreeable.<br>
Hrothgar, protector of the Danes, spoke:<br>
“Don’t ask about happiness!<br>
Sorrow is renewed<br>
among the Danish people.<br>
Aeschere is dead, Yrmenlaf’s <br>
elder brother, my confidant, <br>
the bearer of my advice, my <br>
shoulder companion when troops <br>
clash and boar helmets smashed.<br>
As a noble prince should be,<br>
such Aeschere was!<br>
Now he has been slain<br>
in Herot by the hands<br>
of a restless, murderous spirit.<br>
I do not know where<br>
his carcass has gone<br>
to be gladly feasted on.<br>
She has avenged the feud<br>
for your violent killing <br>
with hard hand clasps<br>
of Grendel yesternight<br>
for diminishing and destroying<br>
my people for so long.<br>
Grendel fell in battle,<br>
forfeited his life, and <br>
now another has come,<br>
a mighty man-eater<br>
to avenge her kin,<br>
as is seen by many <br>
a warrior who mourns for me, <br>
treasure giver, weeping in <br>
their minds for my heavy <br>
sorrow, a hand lying lifeless <br>
who gave good things to you.<br>
I have heard tell<br>
among my people<br>
and councilors that<br>
they had seen two mighty <br>
wanderers in the waste land<br>
moors keeping guard, <br>
alien spirits. One was,<br>
as far as they could see,<br>
the likeness of a woman.<br>
The other miserable thing<br>
in the stature of a man,<br>
though he was larger<br>
than any other man,<br>
as they trod the paths of exiles.<br>
In the days of old<br>
earth dwellers called him Grendel.<br>
We have no knowledge of a father,<br>
of any forebears among evil spirits.<br>
They occupied the secret land,<br>
the wolf’s retreat–<br>
windy bluffs, perilous fens,<br>
where a waterfall<br>
darkens under bluffs<br>
and goes down under the ground.<br>
It is not far from here,<br>
by measure of miles,<br>
that the mere stands.<br>
Over it hangs a frost-covered <br>
grove, woods rooted deep-<br>
shadowing the water.<br>
There each night<br>
a portent may be seen:<br>
fire on the water.<br>
No wise one among<br>
the sons of men<br>
knows the bottom.<br>
Though the heath-stalker,<br>
the strong-horned hart,<br>
harassed by hounds, seeks <br>
the forest in his flight,<br>
he will give his life<br>
rather than protect his head<br>
by going there.<br>
That is not a good place!<br>
There water surges up,<br>
black, to the clouds,<br>
and the wind stirs up<br>
hateful weather so that<br>
the sky turns gloomy and weeps. . .<br>
Again it has happened that<br>
the remedy lies with you alone.<br>
The land, the dangerous place<br>
where you might find<br>
this criminal is unexplored.<br>
Seek it if you dare. . .<br>
For that fight I will pay<br>
as I did before with<br>
wound gold and ancient <br>
treasures. . .if you survive.”<br>
Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:<br>
“Do not sorrow, wise king!<br>
It is better for a man<br>
to avenge a friend <br>
than mourn much. Each of us <br>
must await the end of this <br>
life. He who wishes will <br>
work for glory before death. <br>
That is best for the warrior <br>
after he is gone.<br>
Arise, guardian of the kingdom,<br>
let us go quickly<br>
to see Grendel’s kin.<br>
I promise you this:<br>
she will not escape to shelter–<br>
not into the earth’s bosom,<br>
not into the mountain’s wood,<br>
not into the sea’s bottom,<br>
go where she will!<br>
For this day, have<br>
patience in each woe.”<br>
The veteran leapt up then,<br>
thanking God, the Mighty One,<br>
that the man had so spoken.<br>