Beowulf: Translations by S. A. J. Bradley (1995)

Click for a larger version (900 pixels high) Anglo-Saxon Poetry [pages 405-494]. Everyman, Charles E. Tuttle, Vermont, 1995. ISBN: 0-460-87507-8.
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[lines 194-224a in section III and 8th line from the bottom of folio 134r to 4th line from the bottom of folio 134v on Kevin S. Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf CD] Images of the original manuscript text of this section, and an mp3 file of Ben Slade reading it in Old English, are here.

    {Beowulf hears about Grendel and decides to travel from his home in Geatland (southern Sweden) to Heorot (in northeast Denmark) to see if he can help out. }

     -- until a thane of Hygelac, a worthy man, heard in his homeland among the Geats of Grendel's doings. He, Beowulf, was in strength the sturdiest of humankind at that time in this mortal existence, nobly born and of a physique beyond the ordinary. He ordered a good sea-going boat to be prepared for him. He declared that he wanted to go seeking the warrior-king, the famed prince, across the swan-road, since he was in need of men. Men of wisdom hardly cavilled at him over that expedition, though he was dear to them; they encouraged him in his braveness of purpose and watched for the favourable signs. The worthy man had chosen soldiers out of the keenest that he could find among the Geatish people. As one of fifteen, he made his way to the timbered vessel; the man, being a person familiar with the ocean, led them to the limits of the land.

     Time passed on. The buoyant vessel was waiting on the waves in the lee of the land. Accoutred heroes stepped aboard the prowed ship -- the currents swirled, sea against sand -- into the ship's hold soldiers carried gleaming pieces of equipment, magnificent fighting-gear. The men pushed off their boat of braced timbers upon that willing enterprise. Then the buoyant vessel with foam about its neck set off across the heaving ocean, exhilarated by the wind just like a bird, until at the due time on the second day the ship with curved prow had made such progrss that the voyagers spied land, the coastal promontories gleaming, steep cliffs, wide headlands. So, with the ending of the voyage, the ocean had been successfully navigated.

[lines 791-819a in section XII and 8th line from the top of folio 147r to 13th line from the top of folio 147v on Kevin S. Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf CD] Images of the original manuscript text of this section, and an mp3 file of Ben Slade reading it in Old English, are here.

    {At this moment Beowulf and Grendel are fighting and Grendel is howling and screaming and wishing to escape but Beowulf has grabbed Grendel's arm and is using his incredible hand-strength to hold on to him. }

     Beowulf, shelterer of earls, was not willing on any account to release the murderous intruder alive for he did not reckon that the days of his life were to anyone's advantage. Repeatedly, one of Beowulf's earls would draw his ancient sword there, wanting to protect the life of their lord and famed prince wherever they could. There was something they did not know when they joined in the struggle, those sternly motivated fighting-men, and thought to chop at him from every side and seek his life: no battle-blade nor any iron sword, not the choicest on earth, would touch that evil spoiler, for he had made himself impervious by magic to weapons customarily victorious, to any sword whatever -- yet his severance from life at that time in this mortal existence was to be a wretched one and this alien was to journey far away into the power of devils.

     Then he who hitherto perpetrated much heartfelt affliction and violence against humankind -- he being antagonistic towards God -- found that his body would not perform for him, for Hygelac's courageous kinsman was restraining him by means of his hands. Each was loathsome to the other as long as he remained alive. The terrible monster suffered a bodily wound -- in his shoulder a great lesion became conspicuous. The sinews were snapping apart, his joints were bursting. To Beowulf was granted the battle-triumph;

[lines 1537-1569 in sections XXII and XXIII and 5th line from the bottom of folio 163v, through folio 164r to 4th line from the top of folio 164v on Kevin S. Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf CD] Images of the original manuscript text of this section, and an mp3 file of Ben Slade reading it in Old English, are here. Note: there is a discussion of the word eaxle in line 1537a on my page on Shoulder Grabbing vs. Hair Pulling

    {At this moment Beowulf has just failed to hurt Grendel's mother with the sword Hrunting and he tries to wrestle her as he had done with Grendel. }

     So the leader of the warfaring Geats, who felt no compunction in the feud, grabbed Grendel's mother by the shoulder; then, ruthless in the struggle, for he was no enraged to bursting, he threw the life-menacing foe so that she feel to the floor. She sharply gave him quittance again with savage clutches, and she made a grab at him. Then, desperate of mood, she tripped the man fighting on foot, strongest of warriors, so that he was prostrated; then she pinned down her hall-visitor and dragged out her broad, bright-edged knife; she meant to avenge her child, her only son. Across his shoulder lay the meshed mail-shirt: it saved his life and resisted penetration by point or edge. Ecgtheow's son, the Geatish campaigner, would have perished then down in the vast deep, had not his battle-corslet, his sturdy soldier's mail-coat, afforded him help; and were it not that holy God held sway over victory in war. The wise Lord, arbiter of the heavens, easily determined the matter on the side of right as soon as he got up again.

     Then, among some trappings, he saw a blade blessed with success, an ancient, gigantic sword, excelling in its edges, a thing to lend prestige to warriors. It was the choicest of weapons -- except that it was huger than any other man would be able to carry into the cut and thrust of battle -- efficient and beautiful, the work of giants. So, bold hero of the Scyldings, fierce and deadly grim, he grabbed the bound hilt, unsheathed the ring-embellished sword and, not expecting to survive, struck angrily -- so that it caught her hard on her neck and smashed the rings of bone: clean through her doomed flesh clove the blade. She fell dead to the floor. The sword was bloody. The man felt pleased at his achievement.

[lines 1584b-1590 in section XXIII and 7th line from the bottom of folio 164v to first half of the last line of folio 164v on Kevin S. Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf CD] Images of the original manuscript text of this section, and an mp3 file of Ben Slade reading it in Old English, are here.

    {At this moment Beowulf has just discovered Grendel's lifeless body lying in the cave. }

For this, Beowulf, fierce campaigner, paid him reward -- so efficaciously that on a bed he beheld the battle-weary Grendel lying lifeless, following the damage which the struggle at Heorot had done him. Wide open split his corpse as, after death, he suffered a blow, a hard swingeing sword-stroke -- and Beowulf cut off his head.

[lines 2672b-2708a in sections XXXVI and XXXVII and 8th line from the bottom of folio 189A197r, through folio 189A197v to 3rd line from the top of folio 189r on Kevin S. Kiernan's Electronic Beowulf CD] Images of the original manuscript text of this section, and an mp3 file of Ben Slade reading it in Old English, are here.

    {At this moment, Wiglaf has just run into the flames to be by Beowulf's side and the dragon has charged at them both, incinerating Wiglaf's shield. }

     The fire advanced in waves and burned Wiglaf's shield to the boss. His mail-coat could not afford the young armed warrior safety but the young man bravely carried on under cover of his kinsman's shield when his own had been destroyed by the fiery gobbets.

     Still the warrior-king kept his mind on matters of glory: in the might of his strength he struck with his battle-blade so that, given impetus by his hatred, it stuck fast in the head.

     Nægling broke; Beowulf's old and grey-coloured sword failed him in the struggle. It was not allotted him that the edges of iron weapons could assist him in the fight; that hand of his which, as I have heard, asked over much of every blade in the wielding, was too strong when he carried the weapon toughened by bleeding wounds into the struggle, and he was none the better off.

     Then for a third time the ravager of the nation, the ferocious and fiery dragon, determined upon aggressive moves, and when the opportunity offered itself to him he rushed, hot and fierce in the assault, upon the renowned man and grabbed him right round his neck with his cruel tusks. Beowulf was smothered with blood, his life-blood; the gore welled out in pulsing streams.

     I have heard that then, in the people's king's time of need, the earl at his side displayed courage, skill and daring, as was instinctive in him. He did not bother about the head but the brave man's hand was burnt as he helped his kinsman in that he, this man in his armour, struck the spiteful creature somewhat lower down, so that the sword, gleaming and gold-plated, plunged in; and forthwith the fire began to abate.

     Still the king himself was in command of his senses; he unsheathed a deadly knife, cruel and sharp in conflict which he was carrying in his mail-coat. The protective lord of the Weder-Geats slashed the reptile apart in the middle. They had felled the foe -- their courage had ousted his life -- and the two of them together, noble kinsmen, had destroyed him. --