14 June 2012

Fitt 39, Part 1: The Dragon and Beowulf Praised

Wiglaf has heard Beowulf's last request. Now the poet contrasts the dead dragon with the power and pride it had in life. Beowulf is praised for his rare courage in killing the beast. (89% of the translation's done).


Then everything took a turn for the youth
towards the worse. There was, on the ground,
his beloved lord, his life at its end,
still suffering. The slayer, too,
the dreadful earth dragon, was dead himself,   2825
badly beaten. The bounty of rings
could not be kept by the coiling wyrm.
Instead, the stroke of steel took him,
the hard, war-dented hammers' leavings,
so the far-flier, transfixed by wounds,    2830
fell to the earth not far from his hoard,
no longer lithe, aloft in the air
in deep darkness, drunk with treasure,
displaying himself, but sank to earth,
which was the work of the war-leader's hands.   2835

I find there are few fighters on earth,
however strong, as I hear tell,
and daring in every act of valour,
to brave a dragon's deadly breath
or disturb with hands his hall of rings      2840
if a warden, watching, were discovered
denned in the barrow.

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