Then Hrothgar went with his hero-train,
defence-of-Scyldings, forth from hall;
fain would the war-lord Wealhtheow seek,
665couch of his queen. The King-of-Glory
against this Grendel a guard had set,
so heroes heard, a hall-defender,
who warded the monarch and watched for the monster.
In truth, the Geats’ prince gladly trusted
670his mettle, his might, the mercy of God!
Cast off then his corselet of iron,
helmet from head; to his henchman gave, —
choicest of weapons, — the well-chased sword,
bidding him guard the gear of battle.
675Spake then his Vaunt the valiant man,
Beowulf Geat, ere the bed he sought:—
“Of force in fight no feebler I count me,
in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.
Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death
680his life will I give, though it lie in my power.
No skill is his to strike against me,
my shield to hew though he hardy be,
bold in battle; we both, this night,
shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,
685unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,
sacred Lord, on which side soever
doom decree as he deemeth right.”
Reclined then the chieftain, and cheek-pillows held
the head of the earl, while all about him
690seamen hardy on hall-beds sank.
None of them thought that thence their steps
to the folk and fastness that fostered them,
to the land they loved, would lead them back!
Full well they wist that on warriors many
695battle-death seized, in the banquet-hall,
of Danish clan. But comfort and help,
war-weal weaving, to Weder folk
the Master gave, that, by might of one,
over their enemy all prevailed,
700by single strength. In sooth ’tis told
that highest God o’er human kind
hath wielded ever!—Thro’ wan night striding,
came the walker-in-shadow. Warriors slept
whose best was to guard the gabled hall,—
705all save one. ’Twas widely known
that against God’s will the ghostly ravager
him could not hurl to haunts of darkness;
wakeful, ready, with warrior’s wrath,
bold he bided the battle’s issue.
- See above, vv. 572 f.
- This Vaunt, or Boast, spoken to the hero’s few comrades on the eve of the vigil and fight, is different from the Vaunt at the banquet, and in its sentimental turn has some distant resemblance to the later “Good-Nights,” particularly the type of Lord Maxwell’s Last Good-Night.
- The usual mingling of pagan tradition and Christian doctrine. The weaving, as in classical myths, is work of the Norns, or fates, but God disposes it as he will. Often, however, the Germanic fates stand alone at their loom. “Wyrd wove me this.”
- Beowulf,—the “one.” Ms. has “them.”