11 May 2012

Fitt 37: A Dragon Dies, Beowulf is Dying

I've been away from the translation for a while now. Consider it a holiday after about a long haul. However, I'm back on the job, and here is the first part of Fitt 37.

Wiglaf stabs the dragon and Beowulf, despite his wound, kills it. Beowulf recognizes that his time has come, so sits by the rock wall of the tomb and Wiglaf washes the blood off him.

I look forward to polishing some of the lines here before I'm done, but first I want to push on toward completing the poem, then toward a more polished version.


I heard that then, to help his king,
the earl at his side summoned up courage,
power and nerve, all part of his nature.
He scorned its head; though his hand was scorched,
the man helped his kin with mind and strength.

A little lower on the outlandish foe
the armored soldier sank his weapon            2700
bright and golden, so the blaze began
to lose its light.
                                  At last the king
gathered his wits, got out his war-knife
bitter and sharp, sheathed on his byrnie.
The Weders' helm then halved the worm,
their fierce courage felled their rival
and it took those two together to kill it,
lordly kinsmen.  Likewise men ought
to be loyal when needed.
                                                     For the lord that was
the last of his deeds that led to success.        2710
his work in the world. The wound started
that the earth dragon earlier made
to swell and fester. He soon discovered
a deadly evil deepened in his breast,
poison inside. The prince then went
by the wall of rock, wise in his thinking,
and seated himself. He saw the Giants' work
how stone arches on strong pillars
held up forever the hall in the earth.

With hands that were bloody from battle then        2720
the famous lord, the faultless thane,
cleansed with water his king and friend,
exhausted from battle, and unbuckled his helmet.

Beowulf spoke, despite his hurt,
his awful wound. He understood
his days of life were done at last,
the pleasures of the earth, that all had passed
of his numbered days, death very near.

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