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  Beowulf.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
XII
 
 
NOT in any wise would the earls’-defence 1
suffer that slaughterous stranger to live,
useless deeming his days and years
to men on earth. Now many an earl
of Beowulf brandished blade ancestral,        5
fain the life of their lord to shield,
their praiséd prince, if power were theirs;
never they knew,—as they neared the foe,
hardy-hearted heroes of war,
aiming their swords on every side        10
the accursed to kill,—no keenest blade,
no farest of falchions fashioned on earth,
could harm or hurt that hideous fiend!
He was safe, by his spells, from sword of battle,
from edge of iron. Yet his end and parting        15
on that same day of this our life
woful should be, and his wandering soul
far off flit to the fiends’ domain.
Soon he found, who in former days,
harmful in heart and hated of God,        20
on many a man such murder wrought,
that the frame of his body failed him now.
For him the keen-souled kinsman of Hygelac
held in hand; hateful alive
was each to other. The outlaw dire        25
took mortal hurt; a mighty wound
showed on his shoulder, and sinews cracked,
and the bone-frame burst. To Beowulf now
the glory was given, and Grendel thence
death-sick his den in the dark moor sought,        30
noisome abode: he knew too well
that here was the last of life, an end
of his days on earth.—To all the Danes
by that bloody battle the boon had come.
From ravage had rescued the roving stranger        35
Hrothgar’s hall; the hardy and wise one
had purged it anew. His night-work pleased him,
his deed and its honor. To Eastern Danes
had the valiant Geat his vaunt made good,
all their sorrow and ills assuaged,        40
their bale of battle borne so long,
and all the dole they erst endured,
pain a-plenty.—’Twas proof of this,
when the hardy-in-fight a hand laid down,
arm and shoulder,—all, indeed,        45
of Grendel’s gripe,—’neath the gabled roof.
 
Note 1. Kenning for Beowulf. [back]
 

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