24 August 2011

XXI. Grief for Aeschere

Another short Fitt. Hrothgar mourns the loss of Aeschere, taken by Grendel's mother. He then tells of the wilderness where Grendel and his mother had lived. The details are not completely consistent, but they inspire fear, if not awe. The Haunted Mere in Beowulf by William Witherle Lawrence (available on Archive.org here) discusses this section in detail. Immediately after, Hrothgar turns to the matter at hand: the social and legal necessity of revenge, and asks Beowulf to take on the work.
Then Hrothgar spoke, the helmet of Scyldings.
“Say nothing of peace! Pain is renewed
“for every Dane. Aeschere is dead,
“an older brother to Yrmenlaf,
“my rune reader, my ready counsel,
“my right-hand man in many fights,
“who warded my head from warriors’ blows
“and crushed boar-crests, a credit to mankind.
“Aeschere was always worthy.
“He found in Heort a hand to slay him 1330
“an elusive killer. I cannot tell
“if, proud of her prey, she pressed on home
“full-bellied from her feast. The feud she avenged
“was last night’s fight when you felled Grendel,
“wrenched him round in a rough embrace
“because too long my countrymen were
“weakened and wasted. War finished him.
“His life ended. Another has come,
“a strong evildoer, to strike in return
“and has gone far towards her feud’s success, 1340
“as many thanes might be thinking
“who weep in their hearts for the wealth giver.
“A hard grief to bear! The hand has now fallen
“that offered aid to everyone’s hopes.

“From local landsmen, my loyal subjects,
“and high counsellors I heard stories
“that they have seen such a couple
“haunting the wetlands, huge distant walkers,
“unearthly beings. Out of them, one—
“for they could tell the truth of this— 1350
“seemed a woman. The second, though grotesque,
“in man’s form traced murderers’ trackways,
“but more massive than men ever are.
“The country folk call him Grendel.
“They never knew the name of his father
“nor if others were ever born,
“uncanny lives.
                           “Their little-known country
“has wolves on its hill-slopes, windy headlands,
“a fearsome fen-path. A flowing stream there
“descends to fill, under foggy cliffs, 1360
“a lake under ground. It is no great distance,
“as measured in miles, that the mere stands.
“Ice-covered groves grow up to its edge.
“The sure-rooted trees shadow the water.
“There, nightly, one sees a sight against nature:
“the water burns. No wise man living,
“no son of man, has sounded that mere.
“Though a heath-stepper with hounds pursuing,
“a firm-antlered hart, flees a great distance
“in a long chase, he chooses to lose 1370
“his life on land than leap in the water
“to hide his head. No happy place.
“There, a whirlpool whips the waters high,
“black up to the clouds when blasts are stirring—
“evil weathers—till the air darkens
“and heaven weeps.
                                   “Now help, once more,
“is in your hands. You have not seen
“the fearful country you could find her in,
“that sinful being. Seek if you dare,
“and I will reward you with wealth for this fight, 1380
“ancient treasures, as I earlier did;
“if you return, with twisted gold.”

20 August 2011

XX. Grendel's Mother Attacks

In this Fitt, everyone in Heorot falls asleep. Fate looms over them again in the person of Grendel's mother. Whereas Grendel was simply a monster, a fiend, Grendel's mother is described as a "formidable lady." Her ancestry is traced back to the first murderer, Cain. Nevertheless, her motivation for a raid on Heorot--revenge for her son's death--is entirely understandable and even laudable to the poem's original audience. She is also weaker and more vulnerable than Grendel was, so she has to flee from the hall's defenders. These do not include Beowulf, as he is sleeping in separate chambers that night. As she leaves, she snatches up and carries off a single person, the king's counsellor, Aeschere. This causes the king great grief. In the morning, he summons Beowulf.


They sank into sleep. Someone paid dearly
for his evening rest—as often happened
when the gold-hall was held by Grendel
who had caused evil till his end came,
killed for his crimes. It became well-known
that some avenger still survived him,
lived after the loss. For a long time past
her grim bereavement, Grendel’s mother
a formidable woman, mourned her woes.
She inhabited horrid waters, 1260
cold-flowing currents, for Cain had slaughtered,
put to the edge, his only brother,
his father’s son. The sinner fled,
marked by murder, from communal joys
and lived in the wilds. From him woke many
monstrous spirits, among them Grendel,
the hateful felon who found at Heort
a warrior watching, waiting for battle.
The great monster grappled the man,
but he remembered the might he had, 1270
the greatest gift that God had sent him,
and relied for his life on the Lord’s favour,
comfort and aid. So he overcame,
subdued the hell-fiend, who hurried in despair,
his pleasures done, to his dying place,
the foe of mankind.
                                           And his mother now
grieving and greedy grew in desire
for a sad journey to seek revenge.
She reached Heort, where Ring-Danes were
scattered, asleep. It soon happened: 1280
their fortunes altered when she first appeared,
Grendel’s mother, a menace less great
by the same amount a maiden’s strength,
a woman’s might, is weaker than an armed man’s
when a fine blade, forged by hammers,
a blood-fouled sword, slices through a boar-crest
and its keen edge cuts into a helmet.
They hastily hauled hard edges out,
blades from the benches, and broad-rimmed shields
held firm in their hands. Helmets were left 1290
and heavy hauberks when the horror struck.

She turned her attention to taking flight,
once she was sighted, to save her life.
She swiftly seized a single noble
and held him hard, then headed to the fen.
He was the hero Hrothgar loved best
of any who served him by either sea,
a strong shieldbearer, destroyed as he rested,
the best of men. Beowulf was absent,
in a stateroom outside assigned for his use 1300
after the mighty Geat was given treasures.
As turmoil grew, she retrieved from its gore
a familiar arm.
                                Anguish was admitted
back to their homes—a harsh bargain
with a dear one dead on each side
as the settled price. The sage king felt,
the grey-haired fighter, frustrated grief
when he realized the warrior lord,
his closest friend, was claimed by death.

Beowulf was called to the king’s chamber, 1310
the victorious man, as morning broke.
That noble went; the well-born knight
and his comrades walked to the waiting king
whose mind wondered if the Almighty would,
after sad news, set things aright.
The warrior then went over the floor
with his hand-picked men. The hall’s wood boomed.
Wishing to greet the wise monarch,
he asked if the ruler had rested well.
Had the night passed, as he hoped, in peace? 1320

16 August 2011

The Beowulf Rap

Alliterative Verse has some similarities to rap songs. Both were sometimes composed during a performance, instead of before. Both have accentual rhythm. Both use poetic devices that repeat sounds. One difference is that Alliterative Verse uses alliteration in predictable ways, but rap uses rhyme, consonance, and assonance just as much, and sometimes in surprising ways. If the beginning of Beowulf were sung to the tune of Eminem's rap "Lose Yourself," it might sound like this:

(Fitt 1)

Yo! I know you heard of the Scyldings already
When battle went down, the kings were deadly, swords steady
Each one did whatever he said he
Would do, and to grab onto more glory was ready.
Scyld started their line, looked mighty fine
Just a baby found a-bobbin' in a boat
Grew great so kings gave him silver and gold
Then a Beowulf was born,
Not the one whose story is told.
When King Beowulf died it was Halfdane's rule
He was famed as great-minded and was never cruel
His three sons were fine ones appearing in a row,
There was Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good.
And Yrsa that Onela loved as he should-yo!

But the best one was Beowulf, the bee wolf,
The bear in from the snow
He protected the people in trouble so
He was the best king, the best thing that they'd ever know.

(Fitt II)

When Heorogar died, then Hrothgar took over
A bad dude to cross, he created world order
From riots to ruling, the danger was cooling
As gold flowed the old knowed that something was brewing
Then Hrothgar revealed his new master plan
The building he'd choose was a palace for booze
to show the hood who is the man!


(Fitt III)

A hovel it was not, it was called Heorot,
but when the partying started the guests were all caught
By a creature who'd feature in a nightmare
where if he'd meet ya
he'd shred you then eat ya
He threw thirty thanes right out in the street - yeah -
The place Hrothgar built was bloody,
and guilt
was the stink
when he'd think
of the blood
that was spilt
for twelve rotten years,
there was rage, fight, and tears
As Grendel nightly ground them in his gears
The bravest ones died, all the others turned tail
from the monstah who'd munch ya
even if you wore mail.


15 August 2011

Quotations on Heroes

Since movie versions of Beowulf miss the mark, I wonder if the rather good fantasy film Reign of Fire comes closer to showing some of Beowulf's themes and more of Beowulf's character, which I put somewhere between those of the two main characters in the movie: the determined monster-slayer Denton van Zan and the people's protector, Quinn Abercromby. I mention this because van Zan's best lines in the movie turn out to have an unexpected precedent.
Denton van Zan: Envy the country that has heroes, huh? I say pity the country that needs them. 
This stays in the brain. Today I read an article on Claus von Stauffenberg, a German military officer who did something heroic when he tried to assassinate Hitler. It contained a quotation from scene 12 of Bertolt Brecht's play Galileo, or so says the Wikiquote page on Brecht. (There is no Wikiquote page on Reign of Fire--go here instead, though some of the quotations there do not match my memory). Here is the Brecht quotation:
Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.
Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.
It gives these variant translations:
 Pity the country that needs heroes.
Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes
Now, this blog is about Beowulf, not Brecht, but there is a relation here. Read Seamus Heaney's introduction to his Beowulf translation. It points out that Hrothgar heroically defended his people for fifty years, but his kingdom did not last long after his death. The same is true of the Geat kingdom after Beowulf died. The Geats who speak at the poem's end, Wiglaf and an unnamed woman, say as much.
Envy the country that has a Beowulf, huh? I say pity the country that needs him.
That may be a major theme of Beowulf.

12 August 2011

XIX. Beowulf's Necklace and the Heroes' Rest

Wealhtheow carries gifts to Beowulf, including a marvellous necklace or torc. It is compared to one called the Brosinga mene (The Brosings' Necklace): "I heard of no better under heaven’s arch / from a heroes’ hoard, since Hama brought / the Brosings’ torc to the bright tower, / both stone and setting. He escaped the connivings / of Eormenric for eternal bliss."

The escape story exists in German songs (The Dietrich Cycle), according to Wikipedia, that do not mention a marvellous necklace. However, the necklace may be familiar, too. Its name--Brosingamen--is very similar to Brisingamen (the Bright or Flaming Ornament), the necklace that belonged to the goddess Freyja. It features in two major sources of Icelandic mythology: The Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. It is a good guess that both names refer to one mythological object.

Beowulf's neckace will go to his King, Hygelac, and he will die in battle wearing it. It will be stripped from him, along with his armour.

After giving the history of the gift, the poet returns us to the hall of Heort, which is roaring with approval of Wealhtheow's gift. She then says a few fitting words: please accept this gift, remain a friend and a support to my two sons, and (playing to the crowd) that this hall has loyal and true men guarding it. Her anxiety about the fate of her children is expressed again, as it was in her earlier words to Hrothgar.

When the revelry concludes, the warriors prepare to sleep. Another recurring theme of the poem is expressed here. The men can relax because they are not aware that their fate looms over them as they sleep, oblivious. One, in particular, is "happy and doomed." In fact "to sleep after the feast" is a common euphemism in Beowulf for death.

He was carried a cup and kindly words
were spoken in greeting, spirals of gold
graciously proffered, a pair of arm-bands,
tunic and rings and a torc, larger
than any other on Earth I know of.
I heard of no better under heaven’s arch
from a heroes’ hoard, since Hama brought
the Brosings’ torc to the bright tower,
both stone and setting. He escaped the connivings 1200
of Eormenric for eternal bliss.
Hygelac of the Geats, the grandson of Swerting,
in his last battle bore that necklace
when, under his flag, he defended wealth
won from the war-dead. Wyrd took him then,
after pride led him to look for sorrow,
a war with the Frisians. He had worn the gem,
the strange stone, over the stormy basin.
The strong sovereign stumbled under his shield.
The king’s corpse then was captured by Franks 1210
with the ornament and armour he wore.
Lesser warriors looted the dead
after battle’s bloodshed. The bodies of Geats
held the death-field.
                                 The hall resounded.
Watched by the soldiers, Wealhtheow said,
“Enjoy this gem, gentle Beowulf,
“with warmest wishes, and wear these clothes
“and wealth from our land. Live up to your worth,
“demonstrate strength, and stay, to these boys,
“a kind teacher. I will take it to heart. 1220
“You have earned such fame that far and near,
“for time out of mind, men will praise you
“even as widely as the ocean holds
“the walls of land that winds inhabit.
“My prince, I wish you wealth in plenty
“and every success. Aid both my sons,
“a friend in their deeds, so fortune will smile.
“Every earl here honours the rest,
“contented and kind in the king’s protection.
“The soldiers are loyal; the servants, alert; 1230
“mellow with drink, the men do my bidding.”
She went to her seat. There was a feast.
The warriors drank wine, unaware of their fate,
a dire destiny, a doom that they shared
with countless earls.
                                  When evening came
and Hrothgar had left to lie in his chambers,
the ruler to rest, the room was guarded
by a horde of men, as it had been often.
They carried off benches and covered the floor
with bedding and bolsters. One beer drinker 1240
lay in his hall-bed, happy and doomed.
They set at their heads their hard-bossed shields,
bright linden-wood. There lay on the bench
over each noble, easily noticed,
a lofty helmet, a linked byrnie,
a great-shafted war-spear. It was their custom
to always be battle-ready
whether at home or harrying abroad
for their sovereign king on such occasions
as troubles came. They were trusty men. 1250

06 August 2011

XVIII. The Story of Finn and Hengest Ends

This Fitt concludes the story of Finn and Hengest. It tells how the enemies lived together through the winter, locked in by winter storms. When the ice breaks and a Danish ship comes, all hell breaks loose and Finn and his men are killed.

With the story over, revelry starts up again. There is foreshadowing that Hrothulf will eventually betray his uncle Hrothgar's family, coupled with a reminder that Unferth had killed his own brothers.

Queen Wealhtheow then enters, presents drink to the King, then addresses him in front of the court. Her concern seems to be that Hrothgar had promised to treat Beowulf as a son, and she wants to remind him to place his own sons firmly in the line of succession, not the newly-adopted Geat hero.

She opens her speech by encouraging Hrothgar to give proper and generous rewards to the Geats who had helped him. Then she comes to her purpose:

In either case, trusting in Hrothulf is her only hope that her children will ever come to the throne. That could never happen if Beowulf became the Danish king. His own children would inherit.

Several lines in this Fitt are longer than usual or, to use the technical term, they are hypermetric. Those are the ones marked with an asterisk (*). They are the first of three short clusters of hypermetric lines in the poem. The greater length of a hypermetric line is not achieved by adding a few extra syllables at random, though: they simply follow different rules than a normal line. The rules should be a topic for another post.



Soldiers set off to seek their homes,
with friends missing. They made for Frisia,
their houses and stronghold, but Hengest still
waited out with Finn that fouled winter,
maintaining the peace, remembering his land
but he could not drive a curve-prowed ship 1130
through the stiff seas. Storm-waves mounted,
fought with the wind, then winter locked them
in icy bindings till another year
came to the courtyards, as they come today,
presenting new cycles of seasons in turn,
wonderful weathers. Then winter was gone.
Earth’s breast was fair. The exile fretted
to leave his lodgings, but longing for revenge
consumed his mind more than seaways,
bringing about a bitter meeting, 1140
for the Ettins’ sons were always remembered.

So he did not spurn the expected duty
when the battle-light, the blade Hunlafing,
the noblest sword, was set on his knees,
its edge familiar to the Ettin men.
So their fiercest foe, Finn, was repaid
in his own home, was hacked with swords
for Guthlaf and Oslaf reopened their grief
after sea-travel. They told of their sorrow
and blamed him1 in part. The perturbation 1150
broke from his breast. The building then reddened
with foes’ lifeblood. Finn, too, was slain,
the king with his guard, and the queen taken.
Brave-hearted Scyldings bore to the ships
loot they had claimed from the land’s king,
all they could find in Finn’s estate,
jewelwork and gems. They journeyed the sea-path
to lead the lady to the land of Danes
and her own people.

                                           The poem was over,
the maker’s song. Once more there sprang 1160
boisterous bench-joy. Bearers offered
* wine from wondrous containers. And then Wealhtheow entered,
* going in a golden torc to where a good pair of men
* idled, uncle and nephew, without enmity yet,
* each one true to the other. Near them, Unferth, the spokesman,
* couched himself at the king’s feet. They still kept faith in him,
* cordially trusted his keen heart, although his kin had found
his swordplay too sharp.
                                               The Scylding lady spoke.
“Drink from this cup, my dearest lord,
“giver of jewels. Be joyful, you, 1170
“dispenser of gold. Speak to the Geats
“in unselfish words that suit a man.
“Be gracious with those men, remembering the gifts
“that you now have from near and far.
“It was told me that you wish to take
“this hero as a son. Heort is purged,
“the bright jewel-hall. Enjoy, while you may,
“your full storerooms and bestow on your family
“both men and land, when you must leave
“to meet your Maker. My mind is sure 1180
“of gracious Hrothulf, who will foster
“the young ones’ hopes if you, before him,
“friend of the Scyldings, forsake this world.
“I trust he will treat the two of them well,
“our two young sons, if he retains a thought
“of favours we did, how we furthered his rise,
“chose to aid him from childhood on.”
Then she turned to the bench where her boys sat,
Hrethric and Hrothmund, with heroes’ sons,
young men together. The good one, too, 1190
sat with the brothers, Beowulf the Geat.


05 August 2011

Some Notes on Hildeburh, the Finn Story, and Ettins


The story of Finn and Hengest that is sung by Hrothgar's court poet is straightforward on the face of it.

He chooses to begin with the sorrows of princess Hildeburh of the Danes, the daughter of King Hoc, who married King Finn of the Frisians. The marriage is presented as a happy one: in her home among the Frisians, "she most keenly / had felt the world's joys."

A woman married off to a foreign ruler was called a "peace-weaver" (freothuwebbe) and may often have served that function well. For example, Hrothgar's own wife Wealhtheow is described as "a pledge of peace between peoples" (line 2017). However, Beowulf is doubtful if their daughter's marriage will bring a lasting peace. In fact, he says that marriages often fail in this. In Gummere's translation (I haven't quite got to these lines yet):

But seldom ever
when men are slain, does the murder-spear sink
but briefest while, though the bride be fair!

Beowulf then describes at length how old grudges and revived jealousy at the wedding feast will lead to a renewed conflict and to the estrangement of the man and wife.

The peace woven by Hildeburh outlasted the wedding feast by a considerable margin. There was certainly time to bear a son to Finn and perhaps enough to watch him grow up to be a warrior. (I think he is the subject of line 1118 "the warrior laid" on the pyre). However, eventually, the kingdoms of her birth and marriage fought each other. In that slaughter, she lost her brother, her son, and later her husband.


Ignoring scholarly controversies, Finn's story is this:
  1. Hildeburh, a Dane, is married to Finn, the Frisian king, to help make peace between the nations. 
  2. She has Finn's son.
  3. Some time later, when Danes visit Finn, a fight breaks out between them. We do not know if it was premeditated or spontaneous.
  4. Many men on both sides are killed, including Hildeburh's Danish brother (Hnaef) and her Frisian son, "so it was past [Finn's] strength at that place and time / to finish off the fight with Hengest / or move the men who remained alive."
  5. Finn must therefore make a peace agreement with Hnaef's successor to command, Hengest.
  6. They swear oaths, occupy a hall together, and stringently keep the peace. Anyone who taunts the other side will die. Finn hands rewards to the Danes equally with the Frisians.
  7. Nevertheless, this peace is considered a dishonourable one because it does not allow the deaths to be avenged and apparently does not involve the paying of wergild ("man-gold," fines as recompense for a killing) as an alternative to revenge.
  8. So, when the ice breaks up and navigation can resume, a Danish ship bearing Guthlaf, Oslaf, and Hunlafing arrives. Hunlafing places a sword on Hengest's lap and encourages him to take his revenge.
  9. The Frisians are suddenly slaughtered, their hall looted, and Hildeburh is taken home to Denmark.
    For some reason, the Frisians are sometimes called eotenas (Ettins, in my translation). It is a puzzle why, since eoten generally means "giant." On the other hand, it is very similar to the word Eotan meaning "Jute." (The Jutes were another Germanic people, like the Danes and Geats). In some grammatical uses, the two words look identical; in others, they do not. The grammar works best if the word for "giant" is intended.

    We, nevertheless, have three possible interpretations of the story:
    1. The quarrel is between Danes and Frisians, but the Frisians are sometimes called "giants," just as "Danes" are sometimes called "Scyldings.
    2. A number of real giants were also present and started the fighting. This seems unlikely. Other passages in Beowulf say they were all killed in a flood.
    3. A number of Jutes were present when the Frisians and Danes met and they precipitated the trouble. This is more believable than the theory that giants did it, and is J.R.R. Tolkien's interpretation, but it implies that the scribes became confused and wrote "giants" instead of "Jutes."
    I am going with the first choice because it does not require either grammatical errors or uncertain third parties.

    One might ask why the story does not clarify whether two groups or three were involved. One answer is that the story was already well known to the audience. In the tiny remnant of Anglo-Saxon writings we still have, Finn is mentioned in three: Beowulf, "Widsith," and the "Finnesburg Fragment." A story told of an equally well-known conflict of our time--World War II, for example--could refer to Germans at certain times, Nazis in others, and the relationship of Germans to Nazis would, very likely, never be explained. Were they one group or two?

    "Widsith" doesn't say much of Finn, just that "Finn son of Folcwalda [ruled] the tribe of the Frisians." The Finnesburg Fragment (see the translation here) is a partial description of the fight itself. It mentions Hnaef and Hengest, but gives no reason for the fight.

    02 August 2011

    XVII. The Story of Finn and Hengest Begins

    Hrothgar completes the ceremony of thanking the Geats for their efforts against Grendel. He rewards Beowulf's crew members and pays wergild, gold to compensate for a man's death, for the crew member who was killed. The poet considers how the events that had passed reveal the condition of human life: "One comes to face / much love and much hate if he lasts on earth / to savour life these uncertain days." What we must do, then, is contemplate how the evil events may lead to good results because "The Maker ordained for mankind's good / as God still does."

    At this point, the scop (pronounced "shop," a musician and poet, a singer of songs such as Beowulf) begins the story of a disastrous encounter between the Dane Hengest and the Frisian Finn. There will be more to say about that in the next Fitt, when the story concludes.

    Also the lord to each of the men 1050
    who joined Beowulf to journey at sea
    awarded honours from his ale-bench,
    heirloom items, and ordered gold
    to make amends for the man Grendel
    first wickedly killed, and would have kept on,
    but the wise Father frustrated Wyrd
    as did the brave man. The Maker ordained
    for mankind’s good, as God still does.
    Understanding this is always best,
    so cultivate forethought. One comes to face 1060
    much love and much hate, if he lasts on Earth
    to savour life these uncertain days.

    The sounds of music and song mingled
    about Haelfdene’s battle-planner.1
    Many strings were struck for story telling
    when Hrothgar’s harpist held their attention.
    in front of the ale-bench. He was asked to perform
    of Finn’s descendants, sent to their fates
    with Haelfdene’s hero, Hnaef the Scylding,
    all fated to fall on Frisian land. 1070

    Hildeburh need hold no high opinion
    of the Ettins’ good faith. The innocent woman
    lost her loved ones to the lances’ play.
    Both son and brother were broken by Fate,
    wounded by spears. The woman grieved
    with due reason. The daughter of Hoc
    mourned Fate’s command. When morning came
    she was able to see, under the sky,
    her kinsmen murdered where she most keenly
    had felt the world’s joys. Fate had claimed all 1080
    except a few of Finn’s soldiers,
    so it was past his strength at that place and time
    to finish off the fight with Hengest
    or move the men who remained alive.

    So the prince’s man then made a pact
    that another shelter should be emptied,
    hall and high seat, half ruled by them
    and all the rest by the Ettins’ sons,
    and when Finn gave out the fighters’ gold
    every day, he would honour the Danes 1090
    by handing rings to Hengest’s men,
    equally, even objects fashioned
    of fine-worked gold, as Frisians got
    to boost their spirits in the beer-hall.
    Then they solemnly swore, both sides together,
    a firm agreement. Finn to Hengest
    openly pledged that, upon his honour,
    as sages advised, the scraps of his army
    would be held in order, so any man
    by word or action not weaken the pact 1100
    or, evilly plotting, ever complain
    Danes had joined ranks with their ring-giver’s killer,
    masterless men without many choices.
    If any free-tongued Frisian taunted,
    reminding the men of the murderous feud
    then a sword’s edge would settle the matter.

    The bone-fire was prepared and precious gold
    fetched from the hoard. The Fighting-Scyldings’
    best warrior was on his bier.
    Piled on the pyre in plain sight were 1110
    the gory sarks, the golden swine,
    the iron-hard boars. Their army had many
    slain by their wounds, wasted in slaughter.
    At Hildeburh’s bidding, by Hnaef’s body,
    the son she had borne was bedded for flames,
    the body’s bone-frame for burning, and had
    white arm over shoulder. The woman sang
    and wailed for the dead. The warrior laid,
    the great corpse-fire coiled far above
    and howled from the hill. Heads melted down, 1120
    body-wounds burst, and blood spurted
    from the sword’s bites. The blaze swallowed all—
    the greediest guest. It glutted on war-dead
    from both peoples. Their power dispersed.

    1Hrothgar. He had worked in this role for his father.