Beowulf: Translations by Albert W. Haley (1978)

Click for a larger version (900 pixels high) Beowulf: A New Translation. Branden Press, Boston, 1978. ISBN: 0-8283-1713-5.
Buy this book used at: Google online PDF

[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. }

   But then, from far away in his homeland,
Hygelac's war-attendant-- one
who was worthy among those Geats!-- heard
of these things, of Grendel's transgressions. The Geat
was the strongest in prowess-- noble and
powerful-- of all men during
that day of this life, and bade that a sea-worthy
wave-farer be made ready for him,
declaring that, over the swan's-road, he
would seek the war-king-- Hrothgar the famous
prince-- since he was in need of brave men.
Prudent retainers among the Geats
did not reproach their hero at all
about the venture, though he was dear
to them-- they encouraged that stout-hearted man,
and observed the omens. And now from among
the Geatish people that worthy hero
had chosen champions, the most valiant
of those he could find, and, one of fifteen,
he sought the wooden, sea-going vessel--
a man who knew the sea, that warrior
led the way to the land's edge. Time passed,
the bouyant craft was now on the waves,
the boat beneath the cliff, and the heroes
readily stepped onto the prow
as the currents eddied, sea against sand;
the warriors stowed in the boat's bosom gleaming
war-gear, armor skillfully
adorned, and then those heroes, men on
that longed-for voyage, pushed that well-timbered
vessel off, and, driven before
the wind, the foamy-necked, buoyant craft
fared most like a bird on the wave-filled sea,
till after due time on the following day
the curve-prowed ship had journeyed so far
that the seaman descried land-- sea-cliffs shimmering,
steep hills, broad headlands; the floodway was crossed, then
the voyage over. ---

[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. }

--- For Beowulf-- that
protector of nobles!-- would not by any
means let that murderous visitant get
away alive! (The Geat did not
believe that Grendel's life's days were useful
to any of the nations!) And then one
warrior of Beowulf after
another drew his ancient heirloom,
his sword; he wanted to protect
the life of his lord, of his glorious prince,
if he could do so. As they took part
in that strife, though-- bold-minded warriors!--
and meant to hew Grendel to pieces from every
side-- to seek out his life!-- they did not
know this: that none of the best of irons
on earth, none of those war-swords, could harm
that outlaw, for he had rendered weapons
of victory useless-- every sort of
edge!-- by a spell! His leave-taking on
that day of this life, however, was to be
wretched, and the alien spirit
journey afar into the power
   of fiends. Then he who formerly had
committed many sins with mischief
at heart against mankind-- Grendel
was in feud against God!-- found this: that
his body would not help him, for Hygelac's
proud-hearted kinsman had him by
the hand! (While living, each of those two
was loathsome to the other!) The horrible
monster felt bodily pain: an enormous
wound appeared on his shoulder, thews
sprang apart, and body-joints burst-- and glory
in battle was given by fate to Beowulf!

[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--
not at all shrinking from combat!-- the War-Geats'
prince seized Grendel's mother by the
shoulder, and, stern in the struggle-- swollen
with rage as he was, then!-- he flung his deadly
enemy, so that she fell on the floor.
But quickly she gave him repayment in turn,
with angry grips, and grasped at him; weary
of heart, then, stumbled, so that he fell;
and then she sat on her "guest" in that hall,
and drew her dagger, broad and bright-edged:
she wished to avenge her child, her only
offspring! But the breast-net of woven
rings lay on Beowulf's shoulder, and so
protected his life, withstanding the entry
of point and of edge-- Ecgtheow's son,
the champion of the Geats, would then
have perished under the vast earth, had not
his battle-corselet-- that hard war-net!--
afforded him help-- and God the most holy
brought about victory in battle:
the all-wise Lord, the Ruler of
the heavens, rightly and easily
decided the matter, once Beowulf had
   stood up again-- when he saw, among
the armor, a blade blest with victories,
an ancient, giant-made sword, strong
of its edges, the glory of warriors: it was
the finest of weapons-- though it was greater
than any other man could bear
to the war-play, a worthy and splendid blade,
the work of giants. And Beowulf seized
the chained hilt, then, and the Scyldings' hero,
savage and slaughter-fierce, drew that ring-sword,
and-- despairing of life!-- struck angrily,
so that the blade bit her hard on the neck,
and broke the bone-joints; the sword ran all
the way through that doomed flesh-dwelling: she fell
to the floor, the sword was sweaty with blood--
   and that man rejoiced in that 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. }

          ---           But the
fierce champion, Beowulf, had given
him his reward for that, so that now,
he-- Beowulf-- beheld the war-weary
Grendel, lying at rest and lifeless.
(The battle at Heorot had thus harmed
him earlier!) His body now bounded
away, when he suffered that blow after death--
a hard sword-stroke!-- and then Beowulf cut the fiend's
   head off! ---

[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. }

          ---           And Wiglaf's
wooden shield was burned to the boss
from the waves of flame, his armor could not
afford the young spear-warrior help,
and the kinsman's shield, now that his-- the youth's--
own had been consumed by the flames.
Then, mindful of glorious deeds once more,
that war-king struck with great strength with his battle-
sword, so that, driven by hatred, the weapon
lodged in the dragon's head-- and Naegling
burst! Ancient and gray-coloured, Beowulf's
sword had failed him in the fight! It had
not been granted to him that the edges
of iron blades could help him in war--
his hand was too strong, that man whose stroke,
as I heard, tried every sword too much
when he bore the weapon wondrously hard
into battle. (He was not in the least
   the better for it!) Then, for the third time,
that enemy of the people, the dangerous
fire-dragon, was mindful of feuding,
and, hot and battle-grim, rushed, as soon as
an opening was given to him, at the
mighty Beowulf, and clasped his
whole neck with his-- the dragon's-- sharp fangs--
and Beowulf became gory with his
own life's blood, which "sweat" welled forth
    in waves! Then, as I heard, at that folk-king's
distress, the earl at Beowulf's side
showed courage, strength, and boldness, as was
his nature: he paid no attention to
the head, though the brave man's hand was burned
the while he was helping his kinsman, as,
a man in armor, he, Wiglaf, struck
the fell visitant somewhat lower down, so that,
gleaming and overlaid with gold,
that sword plunged in-- so that, afterwards,
the fire began to subside! And the king
himself still ruled his senses: he drew
the war-dagger, keen and battle-sharp, which he
kept in his armor-- and the Weders'
protector cut the serpent in half
through the middle! The enemy fell (courage
had driven out his life!)-- and they both
had killed him, kinsmen-noblemen that they
were! --- --