I fancy my fighting strength, my performance in combat, at least as greatly as Grendel does his

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Julian Glover

I fancy my fighting strength, my performance in combat, at least as greatly as Grendel does his.

I therefore shall not foreshorten his life with a slashing sword -- too simple a business -- of good arms he knows nothing, of the shattering of shields.

No, we’ll at night play without any weapon, if unweaponed he dares to face me in fight.

The father in his wisdom shall apportion the honours then, the all-holy lord, to whichever he think fit.
Then the hero lay down, while about him many brave sea-warriors bent to their hall rest, not one of them thinking ever to see again their beloved country.
Com on wanre niht,

Scrithan sceadugenga.

Gliding through the shadows came the walker in the night
The warriors slept. All except one, and this man kept an unblinking watch.

He waited, pent heart swelling with anger against his foe.

From off the moorlands, misting fells, came Grendel stalking.

Tha com of more under mistleothum

Grendel gongan

He moved through the dark, saw with perfect clearness the gold-panelled hall, mead-drinking place of men.

The door gave way at a touch of his hand.

Rage-inflamed, wreckage-bent, he tore the hall’s jaws.

Hastening onwards, angrily advancing, from his eyes shot a light in unlovely form of fire.

He saw in the hall the host of young warriors, and in his heart exulted -- horrible monster -- all his hopes swelling to a gluttonous meal.

He meant to divide,monstrous in frightfulness, the life from each body that lay in that place.

As a first step he set his hand on a sleeping soldier, savagely tore him, gnashed at his bone-joints, bolted huge gobbets, sucked at his veins, and had soon eaten all of the man, to his fingers and feet.

Then he moved forward, reached to seize our warrior Beowulf, stretched out for him with his spite-filled fist.

But, the faster man forestalling, rose up on his arm and quickly gripped that sickening hand.

The upholder of evils immediately knew he had not met on middle earth’s acres with any other man of a harder hand grasp.

He strained to be off, he aimed for his darkness, his company of devils in his den beneath the mere.

But Hygelac’s great kinsman remembered his evening’s utterance and fastened his hold till fingers burst.

The monster strained away, the man moved closer. The monster’s desire was for darkness between them, direction regardless, to get out and run for his fen-bordered lair.

It was an ill journey that persecutor had of it when he made for Heorot.

Fear entered the Danes as they the side-wall, the grisly plaints of the enemy of God, the sobs of the damned one bewailing his pain.

The Geats leapt up to defend their great prince; they were ignorant then that no sword on earth, not the truest of steel, could touch their assailant, for every sword edge and he had blunted by wizardry.

It was then that this monster, filled with spite against our race, found that flesh and blood were to fail him, for Hygelac’s great kinsman, stout hearted warrior, had him fast by the hand.

And hateful to each was the breath of the other.

A rip in the giant flesh frame showed then, shoulder muscles sprang apart, a snapping of tendons, bone-locks burst, the arm of the demon was severed from his side, and Grendel flew death-sick to his joyless den where he knew that the end of his life was in sight.

Beowulf had cleansed Heorot saved the hall from persecution.

As a signal to all, the hero hung the hand, the arm and torn-off shoulder, the entire limb, Grendel’s grip, beneath the soaring roof.

Then it was, as I heard it, at hall next morning warrior with warrior walked to see this ghastly limb.

The athelings gazed at the hand high on the ceiling; each nail-socket seemed steel to the eye, each spur on the hand was a talon of fear.

Of the bright building just the roof had survived unmarred and in one piece.

Along the wide highroads, the chiefs of the clans came, crossed remote tracks to follow the foe’s footprints, who with strength flagging had staggered to his fen lair, giving up his heathen soul.

There the death-daubed waters, becrimsoned, seethed gore-hot, and hell engulfed his life in the deep fen pool.

Then the clan chiefs wheeled away from the mere in bold mood, joined by the young men, white-mounted warriors.

Of Beowulf, many said that over earth’s stretch of all who wielded sword he was worthiest to rule.

In saying this they did not slight in the least the gracious Hrothgar, for he was a good king --

ac thaet was god cyning!
Taking his stand on the steps of the hall, Hrothgar beheld the hand of Grendel and said,

Beowulf, I now take you to my bosom as a son. Hold yourself well in this new relation; you shall lack nothing that lies in my gift. May the almighty father grant you always the success that on your account you have guaranteed in deeds.”

Then Beowulf spoke, son of Ecgtheow:

I had meant to cut him, clamp him in a lockhold, and I clung to him too loosely to prevent his escape. But now he lives no longer, is forced to wait till the lord in his splendour shall pass his great decree.”

Then, as a sign of victory, Hrothgar, son of Healfdene, presented to Beowulf a sword worked in gold, and onto the floor had brought on eight warhorses with glancing bridles -- on with a saddle studded with stones, battle-seat of the Danes.

He bade also compensation to be paid, again in gold, for the men whom Grendel had horribly murdered.

What a banquet then was: gladness mounted, bench-mirth rang, the bearers poured out wine from wonderful vessels ...

leoð wæs asungen,

gleomannes gyd. Gamen eft astah,

beorhtode bencsweg, byrelas sealdon

win of wunderfatum.

When the evening came they cleared away the benches, covered the floor with beds and bolsters.

The Geats laying by their heads their polished shields, their lindens of battle; always ready for war, what a nation they were!

Then they sank into sleep.

But, it was soon made clear a survivor was still living, another foe, ailing, grieving for its loss.

ides, aglæcwif yrmþe gemunde,

se þe wæteregesan wunian scolde

cealde streamas, siþðan Cain wearð

to ecgbanan angan breþer,


In the chilling currents, dwelling in dread waters, the monstrous ogress, Grendel’s mother.

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