Beowulf: Translations by G. N. Garmonsway (1971)

Click for a larger version (900 pixels high) Beowulf And Its Analogues. E.P. Dutton and Company, New York, 1971. ISBN: 0-525-47294-0.
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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. }

    Away in his homeland among the Geats, Beowulf, a house-thane of Hygelac, heard of Grendel's deeds. In his strength he was the mightiest of all mankind in that day and age; he was of high birth, and of more than human stature. He gave orders for a good seagoing ship to be fitted out for him; he said that he wished to seek out the warrior-king, the renowned prince, over the swan-ridden seas, since he had need of men. Far-sighted men did not reproach him at all for that venture, dear though he was to them; they encouraged his bold spirit, and scanned the omens. The hero had with him picked champions of the Geatish people, the braves he could find; with fourteen men he went down to the water-borne timbers. One of the warriors, a man skilled in sea-lore, guided them along the coast.

   So time went by; the ship rode the waves afloat under the lee of the cliff. Warriors, fully equipped, stepped aboard by the prow; the currents eddied, the seas lapped the shore. Into the vessel's hold the men bore their shining trappings, their armour so splendidly wrought for the fray. The warriors setting out on their chosen venture thrust their well-braced timbers out to sea.

   Then away went the ship over the rolling deeps; sped by the wind, so like a bird, it drove onwards with foam-ringed neck, until, about the due time on the following day, its curving prow had gone so far that the voyagers could get sight of land, see the sea-cliffs gleaming, the tall crags and broad headlands. Thus the sea had been crossed, the voyage was at an end.

[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, shield of heroes, would on no account let that deadly visitant go alive, for he held that his life would bring no good to any man.

   Many of Beowulf's followers brandished some weapon, some ancient heirloom, wishing to defend the life of their noble lord and renowned prince wherever they could. One thing they did not know, as these comrades in battle, filled with stern purpose, joined in the struggle, thinking they would hack him from every side and threaten his life-- this wicked ravager was one whom no sword on earth, not the choicest of steel blades, could touch; he had cast a spell to blunt the edges of all victorious weapons. Yet his death was to be a wretched one in that day and age, and the being from the overworld was to pass far awar into the power of fiends.

   Then he who for so long had wrought many violent deeds against mankind out of a murderous heart, he who was at feud with God, found that his own body would not obey him, for Hygelac's valiant kinsman kept a hold on his hand. each would be foe to the other as long as he lived. The fearsome monster felt agony in his own body; on his shoulder a vast gash appeared, pain to see; the sinews were tearing apart, the muscles that bound the bones were splitting. To Beowulf was granted triumph in the fray; ---

[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. }

    Then the chieftain of the warlike Geats gripped Grendel's mother by the shoulder-- he felt no remorse for the hostile deed-- and flung down his deadly opponent so that she fell to the floor, for he was hardy in combat, and fury was rising within him. She quickly paid him back by her fierce grasp as she clutched at him. Then this strongest of fighting men, this champion among marching hosts, stumbled with weariness, so that he got a fall.

   She then seated herself on the guest in her hall, and drew her broad knife with its burnished edge; she meant to avenge her son, her only offspring. But across his shoulder lay the interwoven mesh that guarded his breast; this protected his life, preventing all entrance by point and edge. Ecgtheow's offspring, champion of the Geats, would have perished then down under the broad earth, had not the hard war-mesh of his corselet afforded him help, and had not Holy God held victory in His power. It was easy for the Wise Lord, Ruler of the Heavens, to decide this matter according to justice, when Beowulf had risen again to his feet.

   The he saw, among other weapons, a broadsword blessed with the luck of victory, and ancient sword of the ogers' making, doughty of edge, a thing of glory to fighting men. It was the choicest of weapons, save that it was too huge for any other man to carry it in the sport of battle-- a fine sword, splendidly wrought, the work of giants. The daring champion of the Scyldings, savage and cruelly grim, grasped the hilt and its fastenings and drew the blade with coiling patterns. Recking nothing for his own life, he struck so wrathfully that the sword took her hard on the neck and broke the rings of bone; the broadsword passed straight through her death-bloomed flesh. She fell to the floor. The sword was gory; the warrior rejoiced at his work.

[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. }

--- The fell champion had paid him the reward due for this, to so good effect that he now saw Grendel lying on his couch wearied out from the fray, lifeless, so gravely had he been injured in battle at Heorot. The corpse burst wide open when, after death, he suffered the stroke of a hard sword-blow, as 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. }

--- In these waves of flame Wiglaf's shield was burnt up to the boss, nor could the corselet afford aid to the young spearman; but the youthful warrior valiantly took his place behind his kinsman's shield when his own had been utterly destroyed by coals of fire.

   Then once again the warrior king set his mind upon glory, and in his mighty strength he dealt such a stroke with his warlike sword that it stuck fast in the head, driven deep by his violence. Nægling broke in two; Beowulf's ancient sword with its grey glinting blade had failed him in combat. It had not been granted him that steely edges might help in battle; his was too strong a hand-- so I heard tell-- which would overtax every blade by its stroke, whenever he carried into combat some wondrously hard weapon, so that for all that he was no better off.

   Then for the third time, when his opportunity came, the perilous fire-dragon, the scourge of the nation, with his mind set on some bloody deed, rushed hot and fiercely grim against the bold hero and gripped his whole neck between cutting teeth. Beowulf was stained with his own dripping life-blood; gore gushed out in floods.

   I have heard how in the king's hour of need the hero at his side showed the valour, strength and boldness which were his birthright. He took no heed of the head, though the hand of this brave man in his armour was burnt as he helped his kinsman by striking rather lower down at the spiteful creature, so that his gleaming gold-plated sword plunged in so well that from that time the fire began to die down. By then the king himself was master of his senses once more, and he drew a deadly knife, sharp and biting in battle, which he wore with his corselet; the helm of the Wederas ripped the serpent open in the middle. They had felled the foe, their valour taking his life by force; both these high-born kinsmen had struck him down together. --