Then Hrothgar, the helm of the Shieldings,
went out of the hall with his troop.
The war-chief wished to seek Welltheow,
the queen for his bedmate. The king of glory,
so men heard, had a hall-guard set against Grendel;
they held special service around the protector of the Danes,
and offered protection from man-eaters.
However, the Geat people trusted in a brave one’s might,
and God’s grace. He took off the metal mailcoat,
his helmet from his head, and gave his hursted sword,
made of the choicest iron, and battle-gear to a vassal to hold.
He said just then, that man of goodness,
Beowulf of the Geats, some boastful words
before he bedded down. “In prowess,
I do not consider myself any less battle-keen
than the Grendel himself. Therefore, I will not
have him put to sleep by the sword,
though I might deprive him of his life in that way.
He knows nothing of good things, that he strikes against me,
hews the shield’s edge, though strong in spite he may be.
Tonight the two of us shall forgo the blade,
if he seeks plain war over weapondry.
Afterward, God, in his wisdom, puts in the hand
the glory of whomever he wills,
and so to that man it is given properly, I should think.”
He bowed down, the battle-brave one.
A cheek-cushion took the man’s face,
and those nearby, those many seamen,
lied down quickly for a sheltered rest.
Not one of them thought he would ever look
upon the land he loved thereafter, the folk
or the freetown where he was raised,
for in that wine-hall, they’d heard, death by slaughter
had pillaged too many of the Danish tribe.
But the Lord wove for the Weeder’s tribesman
war-success, solace and support,
so through one’s craft they all overcame their fiend,
through his own might. The truth is well known
that mighty God wields mankind for the long life of the immortal soul.
It came then on the waning night
gliding, the shadow-walker.
The shooters slept, those who had to hold
that horn-gabled house, all but one —
ancestors knew that a sin-scather could not,
when fate desired it not, braid them into shadows—
but still he kept a wrathful watch,
in anger he waited on the ends of battle
his mind bulging.
Then came off the moor under night-fog
Grendel, going, bearing God’s ire,
a man-scather intent on snaring
some of the race of men in the high hall.
He waded under billowing-clouds and came
into line of sight with the gilded wine-hall of men,
stained with shining metalworks. It was not the first time
he’d sought the home of Hrothgar,
but never, not in his living days before, and not since,
would he find harder luck or hall-holders.
He came then to the building, the warrior journeyed,
deprived of joy. The fire-tempered firm door
swiftly gave out once his hands touched it.
It swung open to the malignant one,
and then he grew swollen, at the building’s mouth open.
Quickly after, on the shining floor,
the fiend treaded, moving angrily.
From his eyes arose, most like fire,
a light unbeautiful.
In the keep he saw many ranks,
a sleeping band of kinsmen gathered together,
a heap of soldier sons. Then his mind laughed.
He thought that before day came
he, the terrible, awesome one, would sever
each one’s life from his body,
as in him was arising a deep, eaters hunger.
Not yet was to come his fate: that no more
could he consume mankind overnight.
Higelac’s muscle could behold how the man-scather
under the sudden grip would act.
The awesome one meant no delay, but he grasped
quickly at first chance a sleeping man,
rent him irresistibly, bit bone joints,
drank blood streams, swallowed huge morsels.
Soon he had consumed all the unliving thing,
the feet and the hands.
Near he stepped further, and took then,
with hands determined, one of the resting warriors.
He reached toward the enemy with his hand.
Quickly he seized with hostile purposes
and sat up against the arm. The keeper of sins
soon found that he had not met—not on middle-earth,
nor any other plane of the world—in another being
a greater handgrip. Fear came
to his soul. He could not get away.
His spirit within was eager to away itself.
It wished to flee into some hiding place,
to seek a devil’s hospice. Never in its days
had it met with such an experience.
The good one, Higelach’s kinsman, remembered his bedtime speech.
He stood upright and laid hold on him tightly.
Fingers burst. The man-eater made to throw himself out,
and so the hero stepped along with him.
He thought, that legendry one, of safe-spots in reach
to where he could flee into a marsh-retreat.
He knew his fingers were clamped in hostile claws.
What a sorrowful journey that the harm-giver made to Heorot.
The splendid hall resounded, and an acrid taste
like foul ale spouted in the throat of every Dane,
all fortress-dwellers, each keen one and hero.
Ireful were both, furious guardians of the house.
The house over-echoed. There was much wonder
that the wine-hall withstood those battle-brave ones,
and that it fell not to the ground, that beautiful fold-building,
but it held fast, with iron bands inside,
so skillfully smithed. Many meed-benches,
gold adorned, fell from their braces,
as I have heard, where the grim ones fought.
Wisemen of the Shieldings had never expected that any man,
even the best, the backboned, the decorated,
by common means might break it, or wreck it with cunning,
unless a flame’s embrace swallowed it in the heat.
Then a sound ascended upward,
altogether new, that direly stood the North-Danes
with fear. Everyone within the walls heard weeping,
a terrible song to sing, the enemy of God
sang victoryless and bewailed, sore, as Hell’s captive.
He held him fast. He who was with might
the strongest of men on that day of this life.
The shelterer would not for anything
let that death bringer go alive,
nor did he consider his living days
otherwise useful to any of his tribesmen.
There Beowulf’s men unsheathed many an old survivor,
wishing to defend the life of the lord-king,
the famous chief, where they so could.
They knew not, those tough-minded warriors,
that when they came to struggle and when,
on every side, they thought to cut that sin-scather,
and tried to reach his very soul, that not anything made
from choicest iron on this earth, those war-blades,
not a one would touch him, but so he had repelled
all victory-weapons, each and every edge.
On that day of this life, his parting from life
was to become unhandy, and the foreign guest
was to journey deep into the hands of fiends.
Then he, who before did much disturbance
to men’s hearts, and many crimes—
in a feud with God he was—
found that his body-covering would not avail him,
but the hearty kinsman of Higelac him had by the hand.
Each was hateful to the other alive.
A body-sore that terrible, awesome one suffered,
for in his shoulder broke an angry wound.
Sinews sprang asunder, and his bone-locker burst.
To Beowulf was granted a yeild from the fray.
Grendel had to flee then, life-sick,
under into the moor-slope, to go
to that joyless home. He surely knew
he’d reached his life’s end, his days numbered.
Gladness befell all Danes after that slaughter-storm.
Cleansed, the far-comer, prudent and tough-minded,
he protected the hall of Hrothgar from rancor.
He rejoiced over his night-work, over the fame for his courage.
For the East Danes, the tribesman of the Geatish people
had lasted his boast, and likewise soothed all distress,
the anguished sorrow which they’d suffered before,
and for dire necessity had to swallow, an unsmall grief.
Where the battle-brave one had laid hand,
there was a clear-cut keepsake,
an arm and shoulder that was altogether
Grendel’s grip, under the vaulted roof.
Then in the morning, I have heard,
around the gift-hall were many a warrior,
folk-captains who’d traveled from far and near
and over wide-stretched ways to see
the wonder: the tracks of the loathéd one.
None of those gladiators thought sorely on his life-parting,
those who looked upon the gloryless track,
how he weary-hearted went away,
overcome with enmity, into the kelpie-mere,
fated and put to flight the life-track he bore.
There was a sea-surge of blood.
Terrible waves awhirl, all mingled,
and hot gore and battle-fluid welled.
It concealed the death-fated one when he,
devoid of delight, laid down his life in the marsh-haven,
laid down his heathen soul, where hell received him.