18 July 2011

XIII. Beowulf Tears off Grendel's Arm

Beowulf's fight with Grendel reaches a climax then a few concluding thoughts are offered about what Beowulf's success means to the Danes.


The earls’ defender found no reason
that he should keep that killer alive
nor could others count his days
as having use. A horde brandished
their heirloom blades. Beowulf’s allies
rushed to defend their ruler’s life,
the famous lord’s, if it lay in them.
They had not discovered when they came to fight—
though willing to strive with the strength they had,
to slash with their swords this side and that 800
and seek the soul of the sinning foe—
that the finest edges ever fashioned,
would not wound him, no war-sword could,
for he had made himself safe from all points
and every edge. However, his death,
on that earlier day of earthly life,
would be ghastly, and his wandering ghost
would travel far, into fiends’ control.
At last he found—who in former times
held in his heart hate for mankind, 810
fashioned horrors and fought with God—
that his body frame failed to obey
for the high in heart, Hygelac’s kin
had him by the hand. Each hated the other
to his final breath. He felt agony,
the wicked ogre. A wide opening
showed where sinews in his shoulder split
and bone-locks burst. To Beowulf
glory was granted. Grendel had to flee,
fatally hurt, under fenland hills 820
to his noisome den. He knew his doom:
he had come at last to his life’s finish,
his total of days. The Danes received
from the war-tempest wishes come true.
He had purged it, the prince from afar,
through power and prudence. The palace of Hrothgar,
he rescued from ruin. He relished his night-work,
his excellent deeds. To the East Danes
the Geats’ captain had kept his word.
So all their sorrow was set aright, 830
the awful burden they earlier bore,
and harsh distress they had withstood,
no little pain. That was plain to see
when the deadly lord had laid the hand,
arm and shoulder—all together—
the grip of Grendel under the gabled roof.

No comments:

Post a Comment