03 November 2011

Fitt XXVII. The Parting Words

In this short Fitt, Beowulf tells Hrothgar he wishes to go home, but will return with help if Hrothgar ever needs it. Hrothgar praises Beowulf's wisdom and predicts great things, even kingship, for him. He promises friendship between their peoples. He then embraces Beowulf with tears in his eyes, fearing that this would be their last meeting. In a very different, cheerful, mood, Beowulf walks towards the ship that will take him home. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beowulf said, the son of Ecgtheow,
“We seafarers wish to tell you,
“our home is far, and our hearts desire
“to seek Hygelac. Here, and in full, 1820
“our wants were tended. You welcomed us truly.
“If there is on Earth some act in my power,
“a deed to deserve your deeper love,
“master of men, than is mine so far
“for clash of arms, I will do it.
“When word crosses the wide ocean
“that bordering peoples oppress you with fear,
“as those who hate you have sometimes done,
“I will throw into battle a thousand men,
“heroes to help. Hygelac, I know, 1830
“though the Geat leader is green in years,
“the people’s guard would give me aid
“in word and action, so I can serve you
“and furnish support, a forest of spears,
“might to sustain you when men are needed.
“And if Hrethric decides to seek the Geat court,
“the son of the king can certainly
“find many friends. Far-distant lands
“are pleasant stays for powerful men."

Then Hrothgar spoke to him in answer: 1840
“The words you have given are gifts the wise Lord
“sent to your mind. Such wisdom I never
“heard in the speech of such a young man.
“Your might is great and your mind is wise,
“thoughtful speaker! I think it may be
“that, should it happen a shaft robs you
“of Hrethel’s successor in horrid battle,
“if sickness or sword seize your ruler,
“the people’s shield, and should you still live,
“the seafaring Geats could get no better 1850
“by setting another to serve as king,
“as warriors’ ward, if you wish to rule
“your kinsman’s kingdom. Your keen spirit
“is a deepening joy, dear Beowulf.
“Your efforts ensure that each people,
“the Geats as well as the warlike Danes
“will live in peace and lessen the rancour
“from brutal acts that burdened them.
“While I have rule of this wide kingdom
“wealth will be shared. One and another 1860
“will greet with gifts on the gannet’s bath.
“The curve-prowed craft will carry on waves
“love tokens and presents. These peoples, I know,
“face unafraid both friends and foes,
“blameless in all, in the ancient way.”

The earls’ guardian gave him once more,
Haelfdene’s son, a hoard of twelve gems.
He said, “Take these gifts. Go to your people.
“Travel safely; return quickly."
Then the noble king kissed the good lord, 1870
the first among Scyldings, the finest thane,
and took his neck. Tears fell from the man
with grey in his hair. He had two thoughts.
The mindful old man, the mightier youth
might never have sight of nor sit with the other,
courageous in council. So close was the man
he could not still his stirring breast,
but his heart firmly held to a feeling
for the dear man, a deep longing
burned in his blood.
                                            Beowulf himself, 1880
wearing his gold, walked the grass slope
glad of his treasure. His transport waited,
riding at anchor, ready for its lord.
As they headed home, Hrothgar’s presents
were applauded. He was a king
blameless in all, till age had taken
the joys of strength, a stroke many feel.

No comments:

Post a Comment