Beowulf: Beowulf Sails to Denmark
[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.

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Images from the Beowulf comic books by Gareth Hinds

Beowulf Sails to Denmark -- Audio:
beowulf-audio-0194a-0224a-benslade.mp3 108 seconds, 1.7Mb, Sampling Rate=22,050, 16bit -- lines 194-224a
Click to hear Ben Slade read about Beowulf's journey in Old English (or right click and "Save-As" to save to your hard drive)
Ben Slade's Beowulf page is at http://www.heorot.dk.

Michael Alexander (1973)
This was heard of at his home by one of Hygelac's followers,
a good man among the Geats, Grendel's raidings;
he was for main strength of all men foremost
that trod the earth at that time of day;
build and blood matched.
 
     He bade a seaworthy
wave-cutter be fitted out for him; the warrior king
he would seek, he said, over swan's riding,
that lord of great name, needing men.
The wiser sought to dissuade him from voyaging
hardly or not at all, though they held him dear;
they whetted his quest-thirst, watched omens.
The prince had already picked his men
from the folk's flower, the fiercest among them
that might be found. With fourteen men
he sought sound-wood; sea-wise Beowulf
led them right down to the land's edge.
 
Time running on, she rode the waves now,
hard in by headland. Harnessed warriors
stepped on her stem; setting tide churned
sea with sand, soldiers carried
bright mail-coats to the mast's foot,
war-gear well-wrought; willingly they shoved her out,
thorough-braced craft, on the craved voyage.
 
Away she went over a wavy ocean,
boat like a bird, breaking seas,
wind-whetted, white-throated,
till the curved prow had ploughed so far
-- the sun standing right on the second day --
that they might see land loom on the skyline,
then the shimmer of cliffs, sheer fells behind,
reaching capes.
 
     The crossing was at an end;
closed the wake.

William Alfred (1963)
    Far off in his domain, a noble retainer of Hygelac, a man of some repute among the Götar, heard that tale of Grendel's deeds. As to his gifts, he was the strongest of mankind in that day of his life, a man of nobility and of more than ordinary powers. He had them build him a stout boat to cross the waves in. He said that he meant to make his way across the swan's road to that king of battles, that famous lord, at this time when his need for men was great. People of foresight did not for a second dissuade him from that expedition, even though he did happen to be dear to them. They urged on that man bent on bravery; they looked at it as a piece of luck. The gallant man had picked his champions, the bravest he could find in the whole nation of the Götar. Not the least of fifteen, he made his way to the sea-worthy timbers. That warrior, a man very knowledgeable about currents, laid their course with an eye to the shores they would coast.

    The time allotted passed day by day. The vessel was launched on the waves, that boat, in the lee of the bluff. Fully equipped, the men boarded her by the prow. The tides turned, the sea churned against the sand. Fighting men were carrying their bright, handsome trappings into the hull of the ship, their splendid war-gear; soldiers were shoving off, men on a voyage to their liking, shoving the lashed timbers off. Then, across the wave's swell, very lika a bird, sped by the wind, the boat went sailing, collared with foam, till on schedule, on the second day, its well-lashed prow had reached the point where those sailors caught sight of land, sea-cliffs shimmering, towering bluffs, spits nosing far out to sea. The sea had been crossed, then, right on course to their destination. ---

Thomas Arnold (1876)
A thane of Higelac heard that from home, a man of valour among the Geatas, concerning Grendel's deeds, who was strongest of might amongst mankind, in the day of this life, noble and powerful. He bade make ready for him a good sea-boat; he said that he would seek across the wild swan's path the warrior king, the noble prince, since he had need of men. The wise townsfolk but faintly blamed in him that expedition, though he was dear to them; [rather] they whetted his confident ardour, and beheld [i.e. prognisticated] a happy issue. The good [chief] had chosen fighting men from among the tribes of the Geatas, of those that he could find keenest [for war]; with fourteen comrades he sought the vessel; a man, a skilled mariner, pointed out the landmarks. The time flew on; the ship floated on the waves; the bark [lay] under the hill. The seamen with alacrity climbed on to her stem; the streams rolled, the water [dashed] against the sand. The mariners bore a bright freight into the vessel's hold, a well-appointed war-array; the crew, -- men on a volunteer cruise, -- shoved off the banded bark. Then the foamy-necked cruiser, hurried on by the wind, flew over the sea, most like to a bird, until, about the first hour of the next day, the vessel with twisted stem had run [so far], that the mariners saw land, the sea-cliffs glittering, -- steep mountains, large headlands. Then was the ocean voyage at an end.

Harry Morgan Ayres (1933)
   As for Beowulf there is this to be said. He was sister's son to King Hygelac, and Ecgtheow the Waegmunding was known for his father. But truly in his youth he was more like to one whose father had been a great bear in the forest. For he was heavy and slow and cared not for the war-play of heroes, so that the sons of the Geats held him of small account and despised him, and the lord of the Storm-Geats showed him little honor on the mead-bench. And ever when he was twitted with his slackness would he heave up his great shoulders and wrestle like a bear, gripping his foe with his mighty hands, for he came in his time to the strength of thirty strong men. Haply for this got he the name of Beowulf, that is the bees' wolf, which is the bear, the eater of honey. Howbeit a change came upon him and he grew a valiant warrior, skilful with sword and ashen spear, though it was a strong weapon that did not break asunder in his terrible grip. Nor ever did he wholly lay aside his old way of fighting bearlike, and would still on occasion use it.

   Thus noble and well-thriven, the strongest man of his might in that day of the world, Beowulf bade make ready for him a good ship, a wave-goer; said he would pay a visit to the war-king over the sea, the swan-road, since he had need of men. And the wisemen dissuaded him little from the journey, though he was dear to them; urged him on rather and pronounced the omens good. Only his uncle Hygelac, who loved him well, sought to stay him, continually prayed him not to venture against the monster, but let the South-Danes wage their own wars against Grendel. But Beowulf was bent on the journey, mindful of favors which Hrothgar the king had aforetime done to his father Ecgtheow. So he made choice of the warriors of the Geats, the keenest he could find, and fifteen in all they sought out their ship, and from a man who had many a time sailed the coast they learned all the sea-marks and landfalls that lay on their course to Hleithragard.

   Time went on; the ship rode in the harbor under the hill. The warriors yarely swarmed aboard at the prow; the waters swirled against the sand; the heroes carried into the waist of the ship gleaming treasures, splendid armor; joyous adventurers they pushed off from shore. Thus sped over the sea-wave, urged by the wind, the ship foamy-necked most like to a bird, until about the first hour of the next day the ship, curve-stemmed, had sped so well that the sailors caught sight of land, saw the sea-cliffs shining, the towering headlands, the wide sea-nesses. The course was sailed, the journey over.

Albert C. Baugh (1925)
   All this, the deeds of Grendel, a thane of Hygelac heard of far off in his country, a good man among the Geats, who was of mankind the strongest of might in his day and generation, noble and great. He ordered him a good wave-courser fitted out; said he would seek the war-king, the renowned prince, over the swan-road, since he had need of men. Wise men blamed him not for that journey, though he was dear to them. They urged the valiant one on, foretold success. The good man had chosen warriors of the Geat-folk, the bravest that he could find. One of the fifteen, he started for the ship; the sea-crafty man led them to the shore. Time went on. The ship was on the waves, boat under bluff. Ready men mounted the prow; the waters rolled, sea against sand. The warriors bore into the bosom of the craft bright trappings, dazzling armor. The men shoved off the tight-seamed ship, heroes on willing journey. Then, driven by the wind, the foamy-necked boat, likest to a bird, went over the waves, till about the same hour of the next day the curve-stemmed ship had advanced so that the voyagers saw land, the sea-cliffs gleam, steep hills, broad headlands. Then was the sea-farer at the voyage's end.

Gavin Bone (1946)
But far off a thane of Higelac, a man of birth
In the land of the Geats, heard the deeds of GRENDEL.
He was the biggest man for strength in the whole earth,
--Mighty hard to handle!
He bid them dress him on a good ship right;
He said he would seek that king across the sea,
By the swan-road, who needed men of might.
The wise grudged not his going (though beloved was he)
But urged the hero forth. Omens they explored.
Of all brave spirits in Geatland he chose the best,
And with them went to the ship-- the swimming-board--
Fifteen men. His sea-knowing self guided the rest.
    Time ran by. She was floating on the wave,
The boat under the bank. Men climbed on her crest;
Sea went against the sand and the currents curled and clave:
Men carried bright armour into the ship's breast.
They pushed the well-braced barque on her wished journey away;
She went like a bird afloat on the foamy neck
Pressed by the wind-- till the due hour next day
When they saw from the bent prow the brim-cliffs break
Out of the sea-- the wide dunes, the steep-up banks.
So the sound was traversed at the end of the tossing:
They climbed on to the field, moored and gave thanks
That God had granted them easy crossing.

S. A. J. Bradley (1995)
     -- 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.


David Breeden (1999)
But a warrior of Hygelac's
heard of Grendel's doings;
The was the strongest of men
alive in that day,
mighty and noble.
That man called for a ship,
said he would cross the ocean
and help the king who needed help.
Wise men urged him
to that adventure
though he was dear to them.
They examined omens
and whetted him on.
 
So the good Geat chose
the bravest warriors,
fourteen of them,
and that crafty sailor
led them to the land's brim,
to the ship.
They readied the ship
on the waves under the cliffs
and the warriors stood at the prow
as the water wound against the sand.
The warriors bore
into the ship's bosom
bright weapons,
fitted armor.
 
The men shoved
the well-braced ship
out on the journey
they'd dreamed of.
The foamy-necked ship
went out like a bird
so that the next day
its curved prow
had gone so far
that the seafarers saw land,
shining shore cliffs
and steep mountains.
Their journey was already over
and the Geat warriors
pulled their ship to the shore
and stood on land
in their rattling shirts,
their war-clothes. They
thanked God for an easy trip.

Elsie Straffin Bronson (1910)
... This, Grendel's deeds, the thane of Hygelac found out from home, a good man among the Geats; he was in might the strongest of mankind in the day of his life, high-born and powerful. He bade gear him a good wave-crosser; he said he would seek this war-king over the swan-road, this great prince, since he had need of men. Wise men blamed him little for the journey, though he was dear to them: they whetted his strong courage and saw lucky signs.

    The good man had chosen champions of the Geat people, the keenest he could find; with fourteen others he sought the seawood. A man, sea-crafty, pointed out landmarks. Time went forward: the float was on the waves, the boat beneath the hill. Ready heroes mounted on the stem; streams whirled the sea against the sand; warriors bore to the lap of the bark bright trappings, war-armor gayly garnished; men on a willing journey shoved out the wooden ship. Then over the wavy sea, sped by the wind, went the float, foamy-necked, most like to a bird, until the bark with twisted stem had waded up to about the same hour of the next day, when the sailors saw land, sea-cliffs gleaming, steep hills, wide headlands; then the sound at the end of the sea was crossed.

Howell D. Chickering Jr. (1977)
  Image of the top 3 lines of page 134v (Kevin Kiernan).  Click to see a 1448x322 pixel version (48k in size)
This image of the original manuscript [first word of line 203b to last word of line 206b] is of the first 3 lines of folio 134v (from the Electronic Beowulf CD by Kevin Kiernan). You can click the image to see a 1448x322 pixel version (48k in size).

The Chickering Old English transcription of these words is:

  203 þéah hé him léof wære;
hwetton hige-rófne, 204 hæl scéawedon.
Hæfde se góda 205 Géata léoda
cempan gecorone 206 þára þe hé cénoste
This shows why Chickering has italisized the first word of line 203b, the first letter of the fourth word in line 203b, the last half of line 204a, the first word of 204b and the first 2 letters of line 206a: you cannot read the words in the original manuscript, and one must guess at what the words should be. He has italisized words in his Old English transcription in this way throughout his edition.


Far off in his homeland Hygalac's thane,   Þæt fram hám gefrægn Higeláces þegn,
good man of the Geats, heard about Grendel; 195 gód mid Géatum, Grendles dæda;
he was the strongest of all living men   sé wæs mon-cynnes mægenes strengest
at that time in this world,   on þæm dæge þysses lífes,
noble and huge. He ordered made ready   æþele ond éacen. Hét him ýð-lidan
a good wave-rider, announced he would seek   gódne gegyrwan; cwæð,hé gúð-cyning
the warrior king, famous ruler, 200 ofer swan-ráde sécean wolde,
across the swan's riding, since he needed men.   mærne þéoden, þá him wæs manna þearf.
Against that journey all sensible men   Ðone síð-fæt him snotere ceorlas
said not a word, though he was dear to them,   lýt-hwón lógon þéah hé him léof wære;
but encouraged such heart, observed the omens.   hwetton hige-rófne, hæl scéawedon.
The mighty man had carefully chosen 205 Hæfde se góda Géata léoda
from tribes of the Geats champions, battlers,   cempan gecorone þára þe hé cénoste
the best he could find, the acknowledged brave.   findan mihte; fíf-týna sum
A group of fifteen he led to his ship;   sund-wudu sóhte secg wísade
the sea-skilled man marched down to the shore.   lagu-cræftig mon land-gemyrcu.
Time passed quickly. They made all secure. 210 Fyrst forð gewát; flota wæs on ýðum,
Then the ship was floating beneath the cliffs.   bát under beorge. Beornas gearwe
Armored warriors climbed the prow;   on stefn stigon; stréamas wundon
the sea-currents eddied; they carried up weapons,   sund wiðsande; secgas bæron
stored them amidships, all the bright ornaments,   on bearm nacan beorhte frætwe
stately battle-dress. Then the men shoved off, 215 gúð-searo geatolíc; guman út scufon
on a willing journey in their well-braced ship.   weras on wil-síð wudu bundenne.
Across open seas, blown by the wind,   Gewát þá ofer wæg-holm winde gefýsed
the foamy-necked ship went like a bird,   flota fámí-heals, fugle gelícost,
till in good time, the second day out,   oðþæt ymb án-tíd, óþres dógores,
the curved prow-carving had gone so far 220 wunden-stefna gewaden hæfde,
that the seafaring men sighted land   þæt ðá líðende land geséwon,
silvery sea-cliffs, high rocky shores,   brim-clifu blícan, beorgas stéape,
broad headlands. The deep sea was crossed,   síde sæ-næssas; þá wæs sund liden,
their journey at an end.     éoletes æt ende.  

The Old English letters used on this page are from the list at http://www.jagular.com/colors.html#SPECIAL-CHARS

Clarence Griffin Child (1904)
...Of this and Grendel's deeds, the thane of Hygelac, of goodly fame among the Geats, heard tell when from home. Strongest in might of manhood was he in this life's day, noble and powerful. He bade be fitted for himself a good sea-goer, said he would seek out the war-king, the mighty prince over the swan-road, seeing he had need of men. Men deemed wise blamed him no whit for that journey, dear though he was to them. They spurred on the valiant-minded hero, and sought signs for casting his fortune.

     He, the worthy one, took to himself picked warriors of the Geat-folk, the boldest he might find. One of fifteen, he set out for the sea-wood. A man skilled in the sea pointed out the landmarks. Time went on, the ship was on the wave, the boat beneath the bluff. The warriors ready went up on the prow. The currents of the sea eddied along the shore. The warsmen bare their bright trappings, war-gear splendrous, into the bosom of the vessel. The men shoved out the well-joined wood on its willing journey. Then went over the bollowy sea, sped by the wind, the foamy-necked ship, likest to a bird, till next day at the hour awaited the curved prow had gone so far that the seafarers might see the land, the shore-cliffs gleam, the broad sea-nesses. Then was the ocean-farer at end of its voyage.


A. J. Church (1918)
     Now in the land of the Goths there was a certain King, Hygelac by name, and this King had a nephew, whose name was Beowulf, a youth that had in him the strength of thirty men. To him came the report of King Hrothgar's trouble, and he conceived in his mind the purpose to help him. So he set sail to the land of the Danes, having fourteen comrades with him, the bravest that he could find in all the land of the Goths. All that day and all that night they sailed, and on the morrow, at the very hour of their setting out, they saw land, a land of great cliffs and of headlands jutting far out into the sea. so they drove the ship to the beach, and sprang ashore in their warriors' gear, and made fast their craft.

Samuel Harden Church (1901)
When two long years had passed, and on the land
A mark of fatal devastation lay,
Came Beowulf again across the wave.
The cry of woe had reached beyond the sea
Where he was winning an immortal fame.
It called him to redress his country's wrong,
Forgetting he was banished from her shore.
But when his boat was ready to set sail
No man dared go with him upon his quest
To meet a bloody and impermeable foe.
So he, unfaltering at duty's call,
Embarked alone and sailed for England's shore.
One day and night he sped across the waves,
And then arrived in safety on the beach.

John R. Clark Hall (1911)
A thane of Hygelac, excellent among the Geats,-- he who was strongest of mankind in might in this life's day, noble and stalwart,-- heard in his fatherland of Grendel's deeds.

   He bade make ready for himself a good ship for the crossing of the waves,-- said he would seek the warrior-king, the noted prince, over the swan's road, since he was in need of men. Wise men did not blame him at all for that expedition, though he was dear to them; they urged on the stout-hearted one, and watched the omens. The hero had chosen warriors from the people of the Geats, from the boldest he could find; with fourteen men he went to the ship; skilled in sea-craft, he himself led the way to the shore.

   Time passed on; the bark was on the waves, the boat under the lee of the cliff. The warriors, well prepared, stepped on to the prow; streams of ocean made the sea eddy against the sand; men bore into the bosom of the ship bright armour, splendid war-gear; the heroes, the warriors on their eagerly-sought adventure, pushed off the vessel of braced timbers. Then with foam at its prow, most like to a bird, it floated over the billowing waves, urged onwards by the wind, until in due time on the second day the curved prow had journeyed on so far that the voyagers saw the land, the sea-cliffs, glisten-- the steep mountains, the bold promontories. Then was the ship at the end of the watery way.

John Josias Conybeare (1826)
The Goths' high chief, the thane of Higelac, learnt;
He that was strongest of the sons of men.
And soon that noble soldier bad array
A goodly ship of strength. The hero spoke
His brave intent, far o'er the sea-bird's path
To seek the monarch at his hour of need.
     Full swift address'd them to that enterprise
His loved associates. Of the Gothic race
Thrice five bold champions chose the dauntless chief,
Keenest in fight beyond their fellows known.
     They sought the bark; a wary pilot first,
Well in his seacraft skill'd, each landmark taught.
     And now the chief delay'd not, for their vessel
Was on the waters; by the sea-girt cliffs
She floated, while the ready warriors plied
Near the tide-beaten sands the well poised oar. --
Deep in her hold all the bright gear of war,
Armour and arms, were stow'd, as fitted best
The willing purpose of their way. -- And now
By favouring winds propell'd, e'en as a bird
She cut the waves that foam'd around her prow.
Thus ere the second day had closed upon them --
So swift they swept the deep -- the eager host
Saw the bright cliffs and lengthen'd headlands rise,
And knew in that steep shore their destined port.

G. Cox, E. H. Jones (1886)
     Away to the westward among the people of the Geáts lived a man, strongest of his race, tall, mighty-handed, and clean made. He was a thane, kinsman to Hygelác the Geátish chief, and nobly born, being son of Ecgtheow the Wægmunding, a war-prince who wedded with the daughter of Hrethel the Geát. This man heard of Grendel's deeds, of Hrothgár's sorrow, and the sore distress of the Danes, and having sought out fifteen warriors, he entered into a new-pitched ship to seek the war-king across the sea. Bird-like the vessel's swan-necked prow breasted the white sea-foam till the warriors reached the windy walls of cliff and the steep mountains of the Danish shores. They thanked God because the wave-ways had been easy to them;

Kevin Crossley-Holland (1982)
This journey is not included in this version of the story.

Kevin Crossley-Holland (1999)
     One of Hygelac's thanes, Beowulf by name,
renowned among the Geats for his great bravery,
heard in his own country of Grendel's crimes;
he was the strongest man alive,
princely and powerful. He gave orders
that a good ship should be prepared, said he would sail
over the sea to assist the famous leader,
the warrior king, since he needed hardy men.
Wise men admired his spirit of adventure.
Dear to them though he was, they encouraged
the warrior and consulted the omens.
Beowulf searched out the bravest of the Geats,
asked them to go with him; that seasoned sailor
led fourteen thanes to the ship at the shore.
 
     Days went by; the boat was on the water,
moored under the cliff. The warriors, all prepared,
stepped onto the prow -- the water streams eddied,
stirred up sand; the men stowed
gleaming armour, noble war-gear
deep within the ship; then those warriors launched
the well-built boat and so began their journey.
Foaming at the prow and most like a sea-bird,
the boat sped over the waves, urged on by the wind;
until next day, at about the expected time,
so far had the curved prow come
that the travellers sighted land,
shining cliffs, steep hills,
broad headlands. So did they cross the sea;
their journey was at its end.

D. H. Crawford (1926)
Afar in his homeland the thane of Higelac,
the Geats' hero, heard of Grendel's deeds;
among mankind in strength he was mightiest
of all on that day of this our life,
princely and powerful. He bade them prepare him
a goodly sea-farer, saying that he would visit
over the swan's path the warrior king,
the glorious prince, who stood in need of men.
For that bold venture men of wisdom
blamed him but little, though dearly they loved him;
they urged on the stout-hearted, watching the omens.
The noble prince from the Geat people
had chosen out champions, the keenest he could find;
he sought the wooden vessel with fourteen comrades;
their pilot was he and, a skilful seaman
crafty in seal-lore, he steered by the landmarks.
Time wore on; the boat was on the billows
under the sea-cliff. The men all ready
stepped on the prow; tides were churning,
sea and sand together, and heroes were bearing
on to the boat's bosom bright-shining armour,
princely battle-gear; the warrior men pushed out
on their willing venture the well-braced vessel.
Then over the sea-wave, sped by the wind,
went the boat foamy-necked, most like to a bird,
till after due time on the second day
the coiléd prow had travelled so far
that the sea-voyagers sighted the coast-land
sea-cliffs shining and steep-browed mountains,
headlands huge; then had the sea-trampler
ended her journey. ---

E. Talbot Donaldson (1966)
A thane of Hygelac, a good man among the Geats, heard in his homeland of Grendelís deeds: of mankind he was the strongest of might in the time of this life, noble and great. He bade that a good ship be made ready for him, said he would seek the war-king over the swanís road, the famous prince, since he had need of men. Very little did wise men blame him for that adventure, though he was dear to them; they urged the brave one on, examined the omens. From the folk of the Geats the good man had chosen warriors of the bravest that he could find; one of fifteen he led the way, the warrior sought the wooden ship, the sea-skilled one the landís edge. The time had come: the ship was on the waves, the boat under the cliff. The warriors eagerly climbed on the prow -- the sea currents eddied, sea against sand: men bore bright weapons into the shipís bosom, splendid armor. Men pushed the well-braced ship from shore, warriors on a well-wished voyage. Then oer the sea waves, blown by the wind, the foam-necked traveled, most like a bird, until at good time on the second day the curved prow had come to where the seafarers could see land, the sea-cliffs shine, towering hills, great headlands. Then was the sea crossed, the journey at end.

John Earle (1892)
     That in his distant home learnt a thane of Hygelac's, a brave man among the Goths; he learnt the deeds of Grendel; he was of mankind strongest in might in the day of this life; he was of noble birth and of robust growth. He ordered a wave-traveller, a good one, to be prepared for him; said he would pass over the swan-road and visit the gallant king, the illustrious ruler, inasmuch as he was in need of men. That adventure was little grudged him by sagacious men, though he was dear to them; they edded on the dareful spirit, they observed auguries. The brave man had selected champions of the Leeds of the Goths, the keenest whom he could find; with fourteen in company he took a ship; -- a swain for a pilot, a water-skilled man, pointed out the landmarks.

     Time went on; the floater was on the waves, the boat under the cliff. Warriors ready dight mounted on the prow; currents eddied, surf against the beach; lads bore into the ship's lap bright apparel, gallant harness of war; the men, the brave men on adventure, shoved off the tight-timbered craft. So the foamy-necked floater went forth over the swelling ocean urged by the wind, most like to a bird; till that in due time, on the next day, the coily-stemmed cruiser had made such way that the voyagers saw land, sea-cliffs gleaming, hills towering, headlands stretching out to sea; then was the voyage accomplished, the water-passage ended.


M. I. Ebbutt (1985)
--- For this and other victories, and for the bodily strength which gave Beowulf's handgrip the force of thirty men, the hero was already famed when the news of Grendel's ravages reached Geatland. Beowulf, eager to try his strength against the monster, and burning to add to his fame, asked and obtained permission from his uncle, King Hygelac, to seek the stricken Danish king and offer his help against Grendel; then, choosing fourteen loyal comrades and kinsfolk, he took a cheerful farewell of the Geatish royal family and sailed for Denmark.

G. N. Garmonsway (1971)
    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.

James M. Garnett (1882)
That from home learnt Higelac's thane,
Good 'mong the Geats, the deeds of Grendel:
He was of mankind strongest in might
In the day then of this mortal life,
Noble and great. For him a ship bade he
A good one prepare, quoth, he the war-king
Over the swan-road wished to seek out,
The mighty prince, since he need had of men.
That journey to him the cunning churls
Not at all blamed, though he dear to them was.
They whetted the brave one, good omens they saw.
The good one had of the Geats' people
Warriors chosen, of those whom he bravest
Was able to find: one of fifteen
The vessel he sought: a warrior made known,
A sea-crafty man, the neighboring landmarks.
Thus time went on: on the waves was the ship,
Boat under the mountain. The heroes ready
On the prow stied: the billows rolled
The sea 'gainst the sand. The warrors bore
On the deck of the ship ornaments bright,
Equipments ornate: the men shoved out,
Men on willing journey, the well-fitted wood.
Went then o'er the waves, by the wind hastened,
The foamy-necked float to a fowl most like,
Till at the same hour of the next day
The curvéd prow had traversed the water,
So that the sailors then saw the land,
The sea-cliffs shine, the mountains steep,
The broad sea-nesses. Then was the sea-goer
At the end of its voyage.---

G. H. Gerould (1929)
   Then heard in his home Hygelac's kinsman,
great among the Geats, of Grendel's deeds.
Mighty he was, of men the brawniest,
of mortal heroes highest in power,
both strong and noble. 'Make ready a ship,'
he bade them, and said, a battle-king he
over the swan-road would seek out the prince,
the king so renowned who had need of men.
His prudent henchmen to hold him back
made little attempt, though beloved was he;
they praised the venture, and viewed the omens.
From the Geats the chieftain had chosen his warriors,
the keenest among them as comrades and friends.
With fourteen followers whom he found to his liking
he marched to the shore, to the ship that waited,
a mariner trained with his men behind him.
   The hour had come; at the hill's base rode
the boat on the waves. The warriors mounted
the prow of the ship, while the surf came splashing,
sea against sand; they stowed their gear,
their weapons bright in the breast of the vessel,
their war-gear splendid. Then the warriors eager
pushed out the boat well-bound and sturdy.
Over the waters by the wind impelled
went the foamy-necked ship like a flying bird.
For a day it waded the deep unchecked,
the craft with its prow that was proudly uplifted,
until the sea-farers had sight of land,
the shore-cliffs steep, the shining nesses,
the mighty forelands. They had found their haven,
the voyage had ended.

John Gibb (1884)
     It came to the ears of Beowulf, in Gotland, what deeds Grendel had done in the land of the Danes, and how he had filled the land with lamentation and mourning. Now Beowulf was a thane of Hygelac, the King of the Geatas. There was none like him for strength and for valour in all the land. And when Beowulf heard of the sorrow of Hrothga, he said --

     "Make ready for me a good sea-boat. I will go across the swan's path to the help of the noble prince who is in need of me."

     The Geatas loved Beowulf, but they did not seek to dissuade him. They knew that he was a strong hero who had done many mighty deeds, and they said --

     "Of a surety Beowulf will deliver the King of the Danes."

     Beowulf then chose fourteen fighting men as his comrades in the adventure. Soon their ship floated on the waves, and the sailors climbed up its sides. The bright armour was taken on board, and the ship was shoved forth from the land.

     Wafted by the wind, the ship passed over the waves like a swift bird. On the next morning the sailors looked forth, and behold, steep mountains and white cliffs glittered in the sunlight. They knew that they had reached the land of the Danes, and they guided the ship to the shore.


Julian Glover (1987)
This Grendel feud was heard of by one of King Hygelac's warriors,
Brave among the Geats from over the seas.
He was for main strength of all men foremost
That trod the earth at that time;
Great framed, great heart. Æþele ond êacen.
He had a seaworthy wave-cutter fitted out for him:
The warrior king Hrothgar he would seek, he said, over the swan's riding.
That lord of great name, desperate for men.
The prince picked his men from the flower of his folk,
The fiercest among them that might be found.
Fourteen;
Sea-skilled Beowulf led them down to the beach's fringe.
Time running on, the boat rode the waves hard in by the headland.

Robert Kay Gordon (1923/1992)
   Hygelac's thane, a valiant man among the Geats, heard of that at home, of the deeds of Grendel. He was the greatest in might among men at that time, noble and powerful. He bade a good ship to be built for him; he said that he was set on seeking the warlike king, the famous prince over the swan-road, since he had need of men. No whit did wise men blame him for the venture, though he was dear to them; they urged on the staunch-minded man, they watched the omens. The valiant man had chosen warriors of the men of the Geats, the boldest he could find; with fourteen others he sought the ship. A man cunning in knowledge of the sea led them to the shore.

   Time passed on; the ship was on the waves, the boat beneath the cliff. The warriors eagerly embarked. The currents turned the sea against the sand. Men bore bright orhaments, splendid war-trappings, to the bosom of the ship. The men, the heroes on their willing venture, shoved out the well-timbered ship. The foamy-necked floater like a bird went then over the wave-filled sea, sped by the wind, till after due time on the next day the boat with twisted prow had gone so far that the voyagers saw land, the sea-cliffs shining, the steep headlads, the broad sea-capes. Then the sea was traversed, the journey at an end.

A. Wigfall Green (1935)
   That at home heard     thane of Hygelac,
Good one among Geats,     of deeds of Grendel;
He was of mankind     strongest of main
In the day     of this life,
Noble and mighty.     He commanded for him ship
Good to gear;     he said, he war-king
Over swan-road     would seek,
Famous king,     when to him was need of men.
The expedition him     wise churls
Little blamed for,     though he to them was dear;
They whetted on strong-minded one;     good luck they saw.
The good one had     of peoples of Geats
Warriors chosen,     of those whom he keenest
Might find;     he, one of fifteen,
Sought sound-wood;     warrior pointed out,
Lake-crafty man,     landmarks.
Time forth departed;     float was on waves,
Boat under cliff.     Bairns ready
On stem stepped up,--     streams wound about,
Sound against sand;     men bore
On bosom of ship     bright ornaments,
War-gears splendid;     men shoved out,
Men on wished-for journey,     bound wood.
Departed then over wave-sea,     by wind impelled,
Float foamy-necked,     likest to fowl,
Until about same time     of next day
Wound stem     had advanced;
So that the seafarers     land saw,
Brim-cliffs shine,     shores steep,
Large sea-nesses;     then was sound traversed,
At end of voyage.     ---

Paula Grant (1995)
From his home a thane of Hygelac
Learned of Grendel's deeds.
Powerful among the Geats,
Strongest all the days he lived,
Princely and great. He had a ship
Well fitted out, quoth he would seek
The famous prince, the warrior king
Across the sea, and needed men.

Small blame to him from prudent friends
Though him they loved;
Encouraged, Valour looked for Luck.
This leader from the Geatish land
Picked the keenest he could find--
Some fifteen men the vessel sought,
The sea-skilled swordsman knew the coast.
First forth they went. Afloat on waves
The boat lay under cliffs. Eager braves
Stepped on the prow, currents churned
With sand the Sound. On the ship's beam brightly shone
The gear of war by warrior's borne.
Men shoved off the loaded bark,
Friends in willing enterprise.
Went they over billows, wind-borne.
Floated foamy-prowed as sea-birds.
Till another day in time
The vessel's curving stem had sailed
That sighted they the gentle land:
Bright cliff shining, steep hill towering,
Spacious capes, then sea was sailed,
Their journey's end. ---

Stanley B. Greenfield, Alain Renoir (1982)
   That at home heard     thane of Hygelac,
Good one among Geats,     of deeds of Grendel;
He was of mankind     strongest of main
In the day     of this life,
Noble and mighty.     He commanded for him ship
Good to gear;     he said, he war-king
Over swan-road     would seek,
Famous king,     when to him was need of men.
The expedition him     wise churls
Little blamed for,     though he to them was dear;
They whetted on strong-minded one;     good luck they saw.
The good one had     of peoples of Geats
Warriors chosen,     of those whom he keenest
Might find;     he, one of fifteen,
Sought sound-wood;     warrior pointed out,
Lake-crafty man,     landmarks.
Time forth departed;     float was on waves,
Boat under cliff.     Bairns ready
On stem stepped up,--     streams wound about,
Sound against sand;     men bore
On bosom of ship     bright ornaments,
War-gears splendid;     men shoved out,
Men on wished-for journey,     bound wood.
Departed then over wave-sea,     by wind impelled,
Float foamy-necked,     likest to fowl,
Until about same time     of next day
Wound stem     had advanced;
So that the seafarers     land saw,
Brim-cliffs shine,     shores steep,
Large sea-nesses;     then was sound traversed,
At end of voyage.     ---

Francis B. Gummere (1910)
This heard in his home Hygelac's thane,
great among Geats, of Grendel's doings.
He was the mightiest man of valor
in that same day of this our life,
stalwart and stately. A stout wave-walker
he bade make ready. Yon battle-king, said he,
far o'er the swan-road he fain would seek,
the noble monarch who needed men!
The prince's journey by prudent folk
was little blamed, though they loved him dear;
they whetted the hero, and hailed good omens.
And now the bold one from bands of Geats
comrades chose, the keenest of warriors
e'er he could find; with fourteen men
the sea-wood he sought, and, sailor proved,
led them on to the land's confines.
 
Time had now flown; afloat was the ship,
boat under bluff. On board they climbed,
warriors ready; waves were churning
sea with sand; the sailors bore
on the breast of the bark their bright array,
their mail and weapons: the men pushed off,
on its willing way, the well-braced craft.
Then moved o'er the waters by might of the wind
that bark like a bird with breast of foam,
till in season due, on the second day,
the curved prow such course had run
that sailors now could see the land,
sea-cliffs shining, steep high hills,
headlands broad. Their haven was found,
their journey ended.

Albert W. Haley (1978)
   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. ---

Lesslie Hall (1892)
            So Higelacís liegeman,
Good amid Geatman, of Grendelís achievements
Heard in his home: of heroes then living
He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble.
He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty;
He said he the war-king would seek oíer the ocean,
The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers.
For the perilous project prudent companions
Chided him little, though loving him dearly;
They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.
The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen
Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them
Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions
The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them,
A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country.
Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water,
The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then
Well equipped warriors: the wave currents twisted
The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried
On the breast of the vessel bright shining jewels,
Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then,
Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.
The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze,
Likest a bird, glided the waters,
Till twenty and four hours thereafter
The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance
That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments,
The sea-cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains,
Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits
At the end of the ocean.

Seamus Heaney (2000)
When he heard about Grendel, Hygelac's thane
was on home ground, over in Geatland.
There was no one else like him alive.
In his day, he was the mightiest man on earth,
high-born and powerful. He order a boat
that would ply the waves. He announced his plan:
to sail the swan's road and search out that king,
the famous prince who needed defenders.
Nobody tried to keep him from going,
no elder denied him, dear as he was to them.
Instead, they inspected omens and spurred
his ambition to go, whilst he moved about
like the leader he was, enlisting men,
the best he could find; with fourteen others
the warrior boarded the boat as captain,
a canny pilot along coast and currents.
Time went by, the boat was on water,
in close under the cliffs.
Men climbed eagerly up the gangplank,
sand churned in surf, warriors loaded
a cargo of weapons, shining war-gear
in the vessel's hold, then heaved out,
away with a will in their wood-weathered ship.
Over the waves, with the wind behind her
and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird
until her curved prow had covered the distance
and on the following day, at the due hour,
those seafarers sighted land,
sunlit cliffs, sheer crags
and looming headlands, the landfall they sought.
It was the end of their voyage

Constance B. Hieatt (1967)
     A brave man of the tribe of the Geats, a thane of Hygelac, heard in his homeland of Grendel's deeds. He was the strongest and mightiest man alive, noble and stalwart. He ordered a good ship prepared for him, saying he wished to seek out the warrior king over the road of the swans, since the glorious leader had need of men. Wise men did not blame him for this venture, although he was dear to them; they encouraged the brave man, and looked at the omens. The hero had chosen the keenest champions he could find among the Geatish people, and it was as one of fifteen that he led the way to the ship, and skilled seaman guiding his band along the shore.

     In good time the boat was on the waves, floating under the cliffs. Watchful men climbed the prow. The ocean streams eddied, sea washed against sand, as the men bore bright trappings and splendid armor into the ship. The men shoved out; the warriors launched the well-braced craft on the longed-for journey. Driven by the wind, the boat went over the billowy sea, foamy necked, like a bird, until in due time on the following day the curved prow had advanced so that the seafarers saw land; they sighted the shining sea cliffs, the steep banks of the shore, the broad headlands. The sea had been crossed and the voyage was at an end.


Florence Holbrook (1905)
   When the harper had ceased, the hall was still. All voices were hushed as all grieved with the sorrow of the good Hrothgar. Then the brave Beowulf cried out: "Give me leave, O king! Let me go to Hrothgar and free his land of this monster so wicked and fearsome." The other thanes applauded his words and cried, "Take us with you!"

   But Hygelac, the great king, said wisely: "Brave men go to war with care and after deep thought. Not easy is the way over the sea; not easy is the contest with the evil Grendel. But to fight for a good and to nobly win or nobly die is the best a man can do. Proud is my heart when I see so many brave men ready to overcome the evil monster or to die fighting, but all may not venture. Go, my cousin and my thane, " he said to Beowulf, "and make they name famous in all places where honor is loved."

   Beowulf thanked his king and chose fourteen of his bravest warriors to go with him. They prepared the strong ship and found a pilot who knew the road the swans take, and who could safely guide the boat. The warriots made their weapons bright and carried them to the ship. The men shoved the boat from the shore. The sails were raised, and, driven by the wind, the boat flew over the foamy waves.

   On the second day the voyagers saw the shining ocean-shore. The sea-sailor was at the end of the watery way. Quickly the men stepped out upon the plain. They tied the sea-wood, shook their shirts of mail, and thanked God that to them the wave paths had been easy.

Dorothy Hosford (1947)
    Far off in his home a thane of Hygelac, named Beowulf, famed among the Geats, heard of the deeds of Grendel. He was a man of mighty valor, noble and powerful. At once he made ready. He would sail far over the sea and seek out the king of the Danes, who had need of men. Nor did Beowulf's kinsmen discourage him from the dangerous journey, though they loved him dearly.

    Then this bold Geat chose the comrades he would take with him, the keenest warriors he could find, fourteen in number. Time passed and the ship was ready; the boat was drawn up under the bluff, where the waves were churning the sea with the sand. The warriors bore to the vessel their shining war-gear, their mail, and weapons. The men pushed off and the boat, built of strong timbers, was on its way. Like a bird sped by the wind the ship moved over the waters. They sailed over their course with such swiftness that on the second day they sighted the land of the Danes. They saw the sea-cliffs shining, the steep hills, and the broad headlands. Their journey was ended.

Marc Hudson (1990)
     Rumors of Grendel's deeds reached Higelac's thane,
great among the Geats, in his homeland.
In his strength he dwarfed all other men
alive on the Earth in those days,
and was great-spirited. He commanded a ship
be rigged for travel, said he would seek
the war king over swan-tracked waves,
that great lord who had need of men.
Wise counselors did not dissuade him
from the expedition, though they held him dear:
they urged him on, studying the portents.
That great one of the Geat tribe
chose swordsmen of the keenest temper
he might obtain; one of fifteen,
he sought his ship, learned in sea-things,
he led the way to land's end.
Time hastened, the ship rode the waves,
the boat beneath sea-cliffs. Men in their eagerness
stepped over the gunnels; the surf was heavy,
thundered against the sand. They stowed
bright heirlooms, gold-adorned war-gear
in the ship's hold, then shoved out,
those men on the wished-for journey, their trim ship.
It sped over waves under a strong wind,
that foam-throated ship so like a sea-bird,
until soon after dawn on the second day
land was sighted and sailors could gaze
by the curving bowsprit on a stretch of beach
backed by glittering cliffs, a steep shore-range
and broad promontories. So the sea was crossed,
the voyage at end.

Bernard F. Huppe (1987)
In his distant home     a retainer of Higelac,
valued by the Geats,     heard of Grendel's deeds;
he was deemed to be     in the days of this life
the most mighty     in manly strength
of all mankind;     he commanded that a ship
be made ready to sail     and said he would seek
across the sea     the illustrious king
and warlike lord     who had need of warriors;
though he was beloved     by the lords of council
they were easily persuaded     to consent to his venture
and gave him encouragement,     the omens being good.
The good man selected     from the Geatish warriors
the men he found     of most courage;
with his fellowship     of fourteen men
the skillful sailor     sought the seawood,
leading the way     to the land's edge.
The time had come     - on the sea under the cliffs
the ship waited;     vigilant warriors
climbed the prow     - the sea currents
merged with the shore;     the men carried
to the bosom of the ship     the brightly polished
beautiful wargear;     men with a will
launched on its way     the well-locked wood.
Wind-ready it went,     crested the waters,
floated swanlike     with foamy neck;
on the due hour     of the second day
the curve-prowed craft     had come so far
that the seafarers     could see the land,
the shore with its cliffs     and its steep hills
and wide headlands     - the water was crossed
and harbor come. ---

Wentworth Huyshe (1907)
   A thane of Hygelac, excellent among the Goths, heard in his home of the deeds of Grendel. He was, in the day of this life, the strongest in might of mankind; noble and powerful. He bade make ready for him a good wave-crossing ship; said he would seek out the War-King, the great prince, over the Swan's-road, since he had need of men. Not at all did prudent people blame him for that voyage, dear to them though he was; they whetted him -- the stout hearted-one; they looked for good omens. The brave one had chosen fighting men from the people of the Goths, the keenest he could find of them; he took ship; some fifteen in all. A skilful seafaring man pointed out the landmarks.

   The time passed on; the ship was on the waves, under the mountain the boat; the warriors ready, stepped up on to the prow; the billows rolled the sea upon the sand. The warriors carried into the bosom of the ship, bright ornaments, splendid war-gear; the men -- men on a willing journey -- shoved out the timber-braced craft. Then, most like to a bird, the foamy-necked floater went, wind-driven over the sea wave, until at the same hour of the next day the curved prow had ploughed along so far that the travellers saw land, the sea-cliffs shine, steep mountains, broad headlands of the sea. The sea was crossed; the voyage at an end.

John Mitchell Kemble (1835,37)
That from his home heard Hygelac's thane, good among the Geats, he heard of Grendel's deeds: he of the race of men was strongest of might, in the day of this life; noble and full-grown. He commanded to make ready for him a good ship: quoth he, he would seek the war-king over the swan's path; the renowned prince, since he had need of men. This journey prudent men somewhat blamed, although he were dear to them: they sharpened......they watched the omen. The good chieftain had chosen warriors of the Geatish people, the bravest of those whom he could find. With fifteen men he sought the sea-wood; a warrior, a man crafty in lakes, pointed out the boundaries of the land. The time passed on, the ship was on the waves, the boat beneath a mountain; the ready warriors stepped upon the prow. They whirled the streams, the sea against the sand: the men bore into the bosom of the bark a bright ornament, their ready warlike appointments. The men shoved forth the bounden wood, the men upon the journey they desired. Then likest to a bird, the foam-necked ship, impelled by the wind, started over the deep waves of the sea, till that about one hour of the second day, the wreathed prowed ship had sailed over, so that the travellers saw the land, the sea-cliffs, the steep mountains shine, the wide sea-promontories. There was the sea sailed over, at the end of their pains.

Charles W. Kennedy (1940)
     Then tales of the terrible deeds of Grendel
Reached Hygelac's thane in his home with the Geats;
Of living strong men he was the strongest,
Fearless and gallant and great of heart.
He gave command for a goodly vessel
Fitted and furnished; he fain would sail
Over the swan-road to seek the king
Who suffered so sorely for need of men.
And his bold retainers found little to blame
In his daring venture, dear though he was;
They viewed the omens, and urged him on.
Brave was the band he had gathered about him,
Fourteen stalwarts seasoned and bold,
Seeking the shore where the ship lay waiting,
A sea-skilled mariner sighting the landmarks.
Came the hour of boarding; the boat was riding
The waves of the harbor under the hill.
The eager mariners mounted the prow;
Billows were breaking, sea against sand.
In the ship's hold snugly they stowed their trappings,
Gleaming armor and battle-gear;
Launched the vessel, the well-braced bark,
Seaward bound on a joyous journey.
Over breaking billows, with bellying sail
And foamy beak, like a flying bird
The ship sped on, till the next day's sun
Showed sea-cliffs shining, towering hills
And stretching headlands. The sea was crossed,
The voyage ended, the vessel moored.

Thomas C. Kennedy (2001)
Then, where he lived, Higelacís thane,
the Geatís good man, heard the news
of Grendelís crimes. Mankindís strongest
he was on that day of this life,
noble and mighty. He ordered
a wave-crosser, said that over
the path of the swan he would seek
that great king, since he needed a man.
Although they loved him very much,
the wise argued little with him,
encouraged him, looked at omens.
The good man, from the Geat tribe,
had chosen the keenest warriors
that he might find, fifteen in all.
That sea-crafty man picked a boat
and led his men to the landís end.
It was time. She was in the waves,
under the cliff. Warriorís ready
stepped on her prow, currents twisting
water with sand. The men carried
bright treasures to the shipís bosom,
beautiful war-gear and they shoved
their boat out, men on dream journey.
Wood went over waves urged by wind
floating foamy-necked like a bird,
and sometime on the second day,
their curved prow wading the waters,
those seafarers saw land again,
sea-cliffs shining and steep mountains
and broad headlands. They were across.

Eric A. Kimmel (2005)
   Beowulf was attending his lord, King Hygelac, when he heard a horrifying tale from across the sea. A savage monster named Grendel was ravaging the land of the Spear-Danes. Hrothgar, their king, could do nothing to stop him.

   The creature lurked in swamps and fens. He came out at night to attack Heorot, Hrothgar's beautiful hall. Grendel would seize Hrothgar's bravest fighters and devour them. Not a single man of Hrothgar's mighty host dared challenge the fiend, for the warrior who tried would be carried off into the shadows and never seen again.

   "I will defend King Hrothgar," Beowulf said. "I will drive this foul creature Grendel from Heorot Hall or die in the attempt."

   Beowulf pulled on his shirt of chain mail. He placed his helmet on his head and buckled his sword around his waist. Together with fourteen of his bravest companions, he set sail.

   The ship flew across the ocean like a seabird. The wind caressed her back. Seafoam covered her bow.

   Soon the high cliffs of the Danish land came into view. Beowulf and his companions pulled their ship onto the beach.

Ernest J. B. Kirtlan (1913)
   Then the thane of Hygelac, the good man of the Geats, heard from home of the deeds of Grendel. And on the day of this life he was the strongest of main of all men in the world; noble was he and powerful. He bade a fair ship be made, and said that he would be seeking the War-King, the famous prince, over the swan-path, and that he needed men. And the proud churls little blamed him for that journey, though dear he was to them. They urged on the valiant man and marked the omen. The good man of the Geats had chosen champions of those who were keenest, and sought out the ship. And one, a sea-crafty man, pointed to the land-marks. Time passed by, the ship was on the waves, the boat under the cliff, and the warriors all readily went up to the stern. And the currents were swirling, with sea and sand. And men were carrying on to the naked deck bright ornaments and splendid war-armour. Then they shove forth the ship that was well bound together; and it set forth over the waves, driven by the wind, this foamy-necked ship, likest to a bird; until about the same time on the next day, the ship with its twisted stern had gone so far that the sailing men could see the land, the shining sea-cliffs, the steep mountains, and the wide sea-nesses. Then they crossed the remaining portion of the sea. ---

Ruth P. M. Lehmann (1988)
Hygelac's kinsman, high-ranked by Geats,
gleaned by asking Grendel's doings.
Beowulf the brave was best, strongest
of mighty warriors at that moment then
of an honored life. He ordered a vessel,
best on breakers, said he was bound elsewhere
seeking the war-king over the swan's pathway,
since the renowned ruler had need of warriors.
Men with insight muttered little
at that enterprise, though they all loved him,
heartened their hero and heeded omens.
The chief had chosen choice fighting men
of those he found finest of the foremost Geats,
bravest of men. He brought to the seashore
fifteen fellows to fare in that vessel;
a skilful seaman described the coastline.
Time traveled on, the transport on the seaway,
the ship under sheer cliffs, shore swept with waves,
with winding currents. Willingly fighters
mounted the gangway; men carried in
to the hollow hold handsome armor,
well-made war-gear. Warriors started,
launched the vessel on its longed-for course.
Off across the ocean, urged by breezes,
foamy fore-stem flew like a bird,
till by the set season of the second day
the craft with curved prow had covered the distance,
and those sailing men saw land ahead,
shorecliffs shining, sheer escarpments,
wide seaheadlands; waters were traversed,
travel ended.  

William Ellery Leonard (1923)
Far in his home, that good man, among the Geatish breeds,
Hygelac's thane and nephew, got word of Grendel's deeds.
Of all mankind the strongest in might and man was he,
In the days of this our life here, high-born and free.
Bade made ready for him a rider-of-the-sea;
Quoth, he'd seek this War-King, o'er the swan-road, he!--
Seek this noble Chieftain, 'for that 't is men he needs.'
The canny earls did chide him (though he to them was dear)
Little for his faring; nay, rather spake him cheer,
Him the battle-brave One, and looked for omens clear.
The Good One of the Greatfolk now picked his comrades keen;
When he sought his timbered vessel, he was one of bold fifteen;
And when he kenned the coast-marks, wise in sailor-craft.
The boat ere long they launched, under the bluffs abaft;
The ready warriors clambered over the wave-tossed side;
Against the sands the breakers were writhing with the tide;
On the breast of the bark the heroes bore their bright array,
Their battle-gear so gorgeous. They pushed the bark away,
Away on its eager voyage. The well-braced floater flew,
The foamy-necked, the bird-like, before the winds that blew,
Over the waves of the waters-- till, after the risen sun
Of the next day, the curved prow her course so well had run
That these faring-men the land saw, the cliff's aglow o'er the deep,
Broad sea promontories, high hills steep.
Ocean now was o'er-wandered, now was their voyaging o'er.

Roy M. Liuzza (2000)
          Then from his home the thane of Hygelac,
a good man among the Geats, heard of Grendel's deeds --
he was of mankind the strongest of might
in those days of this life,
noble and mighty. He commanded to be made
a good wave-crosser, said that that war-king
he would seek out over the swan's-riding,
the renowned prince, when he was in need of men.
Wise men did not dissuade him at all
from that journey, though he was dear to them;
they encouraged his bold spirit, inspected the omens.
From the Geatish nation that good man
had chosen the boldest champions, the best
he could find; one of fifteen,
he sought the sea-wood. A wise sailor
showed the way to the edge of the shore.
The time came -- the craft was on the waves,
moored under the cliffs. Eager men
climbed on the prow -- the currents eddied,
sea against sand -- the soldiers bore
into the bosom of the ship their bright gear,
fine polished armor; the men pushed off
on their wished-for journey in that wooden vessel.
Over the billowing waves, urged by the wind,
the foamy-necked floater flew like a bird,
until in due time on the second day
the curved-prowed vessel had come so far
that the seafarers sighted land,
shining shore-cliffs, steep mountains,
wide headlands -- then the waves were crossed,
the journey at an end.

Lieut.-Colonel H.W. Lumsden (1883)
   Of Grendel's deeds the tidings reached a valiant
           Gothic knight,
Highborn, a thane of Higelac; no mortal man in might
In this life's day was like to him. A goodly ship he
           bade
Make ready the swan's path to sail, that he might
           carry aid
To that great lord, the warrior king, now in his time
           of need.
And, though they loved him well, wise churls but
           lightly blamed the deed,
They looked for happy end to come, and whetted his
           bold mind.
Now had he chosen fighting men, the keenest he
           could find
Of Gothic race; fifteen in all down to the ship they
           went.
A seaman skilled the landmarks told; and now the
           time was spent;
Below the cliff the vessel lay afloat upon the tide,
And while the waves broke on the sand the heroes
           climbed her side.
Into her lap a gleaming freight of goodly arms they
           bore,
And then they pushed with willing hearts the close-
           ribbed bark from shore.
   Now foamy-throated o'er the seas the ship before
           the gale
Flew like a bird; and far and fast the wreathed stem
           did sail
Till with morn's first hour the land broke on the
           sailor's sight,
The headlands great and mountains steep and sea-cliffs
           shining bright.
   The voyage ended straightway sprang the Weder
           folk ashore;

Donald A. Mackenzie (1995)
    Then did Beowulf, a thane among the Geats, come to hear in his fatherland of the deeds of Grendel. In his time he was the strongest among living men, and he was noble as he was indeed mighty.

   "Get ready my good wave-traverser," he said. "I shall go unto Hrothgar over the swan-way; he hath need of men."

   The prudent, who depended on his aid, sought not to hold Beowulf back; they urged on the stout-hearted hero, and looked eagerly for favourable omens.

    Beowulf selected fourteen of the finest war men to go with him, and took also a sea-skilled mariner, who knew the landmarks along the path of the Ocean. Then to the ship they all went together: it lay beached below a sheltering headland. The warriors, bearing their arms, walked on the stem, while the sea waves were washed against the sand. The armour and ornaments were placed on board, and then the willing heroes pushed into deep water the strong timber-braced ship. Like to a bird was that swift floater, necked with white foam, driven by favourable winds over the sea waves. All night they sailed on, and next day they beheld high and shining cliffs, steep mountains, and bold sea-nesses. So came they to the seaway end: the voyage was over and past.

    The heroes leapt speedily from the ship and made it fast to the shore. Their armour clinked as they turned inland, while they thanked God that the seaway had been made easy to them.

Donald A. MacKenzie (1985)
   Then did Beowulf, a thane among the Geats, come to hear in his fatherland of the deeds of Grendel. In his time he was the strongest among living men, and he was noble as he was indeed mighty.

   "Get ready my good wave-traverser," he said. "I shall go unto Hrothgar over the swan-way; he hath need of men."

   The prudent, who depended on his aid, sought not to hold Beowulf back; they urged on the stout-hearted hero, and looked eagerly for favourable omens.

   Beowulf selected fourteen of the finest war men to go with him, and took also a sea-mariner, who knew the landmarks along the path of Ocean. Then to the ship they all went together: it lay beached below a sheltering headland. The warriors, bearing their arms, walked on to the stem, while the sea waves were washed against the sand. The armour and ornaments were placed on board, and the strong timber-braced ship. Like to a bird was that swift floater, necked with white foam, driven by favourable winds over the sea waves. All night they sailed on, and the next day they beheld high and shining cliffs, steep mountains, and bold sea-nesses. So came they to the seaway end; the voyage was over and past.

H. E. Marshall (1908)
   And now it came to pass that, across the sea in far Gothland, the songs of Grendel and his wrath were sung, until to Beowulf the Goth the tale of woe was carried. And Beowulf, when he heard of Grendel's deeds, cried that he would go across the waves to Hrothgar, the brave king, since he had need of men to help him.

   Now Beowulf was very strong in war, mighty among men. Of all the nobles of the Goths there was none so great as he. Much beloved, too was he of Hygelac, King of the Goths, for they were kinsmen and good comrades. And because of the love they bore him, many prayed him to bide peacefully at home, but others, knowing his prowess, bade him go forth.

   Beowulf was eager for the contest, so taking with him fifteen warriors and good comrades, he stepped into a ship and bade the captain set sail for Daneland.

   Then like a bird wind-driven upon the waves, the foam-necked ship sped forth. For two days the warriors fared on over the blue sea, until they came again to Daneland and achored beneath the steep mountains of that far shore.

John McNamara (2005)
     In his own homeland, the thane of Hygelac,
the yaliant Geat, heard the tales told of Grendel.
This Geat was among men the greatest in strength,
most noble and mighty, for as long as his life-days
were destined to last. He directed a wave-traveler
to be well prepared, and said he would seek
the Danish war-king, that renowned ruler,
over the swan-road, since the Dane was in need.
The wise men of the Geats could find no fault
with that journey, though their hero to them was dear:
they inspected the omens and urged on the brave one.
This excellent chieftain had chosen as comrades
the best and the bravest from among the Geats
that he might find. With these fourteen
he sought the sea-planks, a skillful sailor,
leading the way down to the end of the land.
The time was ready, with the ship on the waves,
the boat beneath cliffs. Well-equipped young warriors
stepped up on the prow. Sea-currents wound round,
sea against sand. Then the warriors bore
into the ship's bosom the shining war-gear,
their splendid arms. The men shoved off
the well-bound vessel, for the much-sought voyage.
The foamy-necked boat, most like a bird,
soared over the waves, made eager by wind--
until in due time, the following day,
the tightly-wound prow had traveled so far
that the seafarers now sighted the land:
shining shore-cliffs, the towering banks,
the broad headlands. The boat crossed the waters,
to the end of the sea.

Charles Scott Moncrieff (1921)
Till heard from his home / Higelac's thegn,
So good mid the Geats, / of Grendel's deeds;
He was of man-kind's / meiny the strongest
In the days / of this our life,
Well-born and waxing. / He bade him a wave-glider
Good be got ready; / quoth he, the great King
Over the swan-road / he would seek,
That mighty Lord, / since men he lacked.
For that way-faring / his wise fellows
Blamed him but little, / though loved of them he was;
His high-mind they whetted, / watched holy omens.
He had, good man, / from the Geatish people
Champions chosen, / of those that keenest
Might be found: / with fourteen else
The sound-wood he sought; / a sailor shewed them,
A lake-crafty man / the land-marks.
On time went; / on the waves was their ship,
A boat under bergs. / The boys all ready
Stepped on the stem; the stream was washing
The sound on the sand; / those seamen bare
Into the breast of the bark / bright adornments,
Wondrous war-armour; / well out they shoved her,
The foamy-necked floater, / to a fowl best likened,
Til about the same time / on the second day
Her winding stem / had waded so far
That the sailors / land could see,
Shore-cliffs shining, / mountains sheer,
Spreading sea-nesses; / then was the sound crossed
At the end of the ocean. ---

Edwin Morgan (1952)
   This Grendel feud became known at home
To Hygelac's warrior, brave among the Geats;
Who at that hour of his earthly life
Was master of manhood of all mankind,
Great-framed, greatheart. He had himself prepared
A sound sea-vessel, and said he would visit
The strong king beyond the swan's-way,
The illustrious prince desperate for men.
From that expedition he was little dissuaded
By friends and advisers, though to them he was dear;
They urged the hero on, they augured him well.
The good man had picked out from the people of the Geats
Soldiers who were the eagerest among those he could find,
And with a band of fourteen men collected
He made for the boat, the warrior led the way,
The sea-skilled man to the fringe of the beach.
Not long after was the vessel on the waves,
The boat beneath the cliff. The men, alert,
Leapt onto the prow; surf was swirling,
Sand was stirring; soldiers took up
Into the ship-hold glittering trappings,
Splendid battle-arms; and the men cast off,
Eager voyagers, in their tight-timbered boat.
Off over the choppy sea, wind-whipped,
The foam-throated thing went bobbing like a bird,
Till after a space on the second day
The winding prow of the ship had advanced
To where the seafarers had glimpse of land,
Could see cliffs gleaming, sheer fall of bluffs,
Ample promontories: they had crossed the sea,
Their voyage was ended.

William Morris & A. J. Wyatt (1898)
Now that from his home heard the Hygelac's thane,
Good midst of the Geat-folk; of Grendel's deeds heard he.
But he was of mankind of might and main mightiest
In the day that we tell of, the day of this life,
All noble, strong-waxen. He bade a wave-wearer
Right good to be gear'd him, and quoth he that the war-king
Over the swan-road he would be seeking,
The folk-lord far-famed, since lack of men had he.
Forsooth of that faring the carles wiser-fashion'd
Laid little blame on him, though lief to them was he;
The heart-hardy whetted they, heeded the omen.
There had the good one, e'en he of the Geat-folk,
Champions out-chosen of them that he keenest
Might find for his needs; and he then the fifteenth
Sought to the sound-wood. A swain thereon show'd him,
A sea-crafty man, all the make of the land-marks.
Wore then a while, on the waves was the floater,
The boat under the berg, and yare then the warriors
Strode up on the stem; the streams were a-winding
The sea 'gainst the sands. Upbore the swains then
Up into the bark's barm the bright-fretted weapons,
The war-array stately; then out the lads shov'd her,
The fold on the welcome way shov'd out the wood-bound.
Then by the wind driven out o'er the wave-holm
Far'd the foamy-neck'd floater most like to a fowl,
Till when was the same tide of the second day's wearing
The wound-about-stemm'd one had waded her way,
So that then they that sail'd her had sight of the land,
Bleak shine of the sea-cliffs, bergs steep up above,
Sea-nesses wide reaching;

Felix Nobis (2000)
Meanwhile, a thane amonst the clan of
Hygelac heard of Grendel's outrages.
No greater man amongst the Geats, or amongst mankind,
Upon that day, within this life,
In strength and in nobility. A sturdy vessel of the sea
At once did he commission, swearing that he would
Sail the wild-swan's-way, and seek this
Famous battle-king, of men bereft and needy.
And from the greatest champions of the Geatish people,
He took choice of the fourteen bravest
To be found, and fifteen men approached
The ocean's timber, sure-footed, one leading.
Sea-crafted, to the land's frontier,
Where boat balanced upon waves,
Sea-cliff-shadowed ship, and soldiers
Climbed aboard, and crept down winding stream.
Safe within her breast
The men had born beautiful battle-gear,
Polished and precious and pushed out to ocean,
Men on a mission in masterly vessel.
Over water they glided, guided by the wind
Like a foamy-crested-seabird.
And on the second day, just as they were due to,
Noble-prowed and nimble-crafted,
Seafarers saw land.
Cliffs a-sparkle, steep and craggy hills
And headlands high. And there was horizon traversed,
And there was ocean's end.

Robert Nye (1968)
   When Beowulf had heard all the stories about the dreadful deeds of the demon Grendel, he determined to go and help Hrothgar, if he could. His ship was made ready, a fine seaworthy craft with a great curved prow. He chose fourteen men to go with him. They were brave indomitable fellows, well tested in battle and willing to follow their hero wherever he went. However, it was not merely for their skill as warriors that Beowulf picked them. he had heard enough about Grendel to know that the monster could not be killed by strength alone.

   Wind filled the sails, and the ship sped forward. The second day, they came in sight of the land of the Danes.

Raymond Oliver (1990)
But so intense was Grendel's hatred, long
And loathsome, that at last its fame arrived
Among the Geats. And one of them was strong;
So strong, no foe that fought with him survived
His giant grip. The monster from the fen
Interested him. And Hrothgar needed men.

He ordered that a vessel be prepared,
A good one, said he meant to see a king
Across the swan-road. No one gaped or stared
Or questioned; they assembled everything
He wanted; read the omens; wished him well.
Though he was dear, they knew what force compelled

The sudden moods of Higelac's young thane,
Moods that did not abate till turned to deeds.
Not even king and uncle could restrain
This prince, when he had wedded will to needs.
He picked as company the fourteen best,
The bravest he could find, whom he impressed

With both the danger and magnificence
Of their adventure; there would be no loot,
Only the hope of gifts and praise-- and less
Of giving than of praising, which would suit,
He said, the hearts of heroes. He didn't plead,
For all were young; they instantly agreed.

He led to where the boat was, on the waves
Beneath a brooding cliff; the currents curled
Around the hull. As one whose energy craves
Release, the leader leaped aboard and hurled
His pack amidships; others did the same.
Men in the strength of youth are rarely tame.

However milky-dull the winter sun,
Their blades and byrnies shown like beacons-- mail
Whose links a Weland-smith had one by one
Knit close together, swords that would not fail
If wielded well, all edged with welded strips
That shear through steel; the kind a hero grips.

With shouts and grunts the others shoved them off
And put the high-prowed wood-bound ship to sea.
Sped by a wind that screamed like eagles aloft
It sliced the ice-grey waters easily,
A foamy-throated swan through showers of hail
Scudding over precincts of the whale.

The cold had bound their feet, its clamps of frost
Would not let go; behung with icicles
Their cloaks and beards partook of seas they crossed
And made them kin to icy-feathered gulls.
Night and snow from the north. They made their way
Far on the flood-was till the second day.

They saw the sea-cliffs glitter in the distance;
Here were the steep and thick-set coastal hills,
Their goal. They felt a sudden snug resistance --
The prow bit sand. They'd passed the sea which kills
And pays no wergild. ---

Lucien Dean Pearson (1965)
    Hygelac's thane, great among the Geats, heard in
his far home of Grendel's prowess; he was gallant,
noble, strongest of mankind in his time. He bade them
gear a good wave-rider, spoke his will to seek the
battle king across the swan-road, famous chief who
needed earls. The wise retainers blamed him little
for the venture, though they held him dear; they
whetted his strong-souled will; they looked upon the
omens. The prince of Geats had picked warriors with
him, the boldest he could find; one of fifteen, he
sought the sea-wood; ocean-skilled, he pointed out
the shore.

Time passed; under the lee of bluffs the vessel
Floated free. The ready heroes climbed
The prow; the tide surged and sank against
The sand; they bore bright-garnished armor to
The vessel's bosom, splendid war-gear shaped
With art; the men shoved off the firm-bound wood,
Desirous of the journey. Then the foam-necked
Floater sailed on the wave-rough sea, sped bird-
Like by the wind, until about the reckoned
Hour of the coming day the curve-
Stemmed ship had made such way that sailors sighted
Land and saw the sea-cliff shine, the steep
Slopes and wide nesses; then was the sea
Traversed, the journey ended.

John Porter (1993)
That from home heard Hygelac's thane
good among Geats, Grendel's deeds:
he was of human might strongest
in that day of this life,
noble and prodigious. He ordered him wave-crosser
good prepared; said he battle-king
over swan-road seek would,
mighty chieftain, when he was man-needy.
That venture him clear-sighted men
in no way blamed, though he to them dear was;
they urged the valiant man, omens they scanned.
Had the good warrior from Geats' tribes
champions chosen those that he bravest
find was able; fifteen together
sea-timber sought; warrior showed,
ocean-crafty man, shore-boundaries.
Time forth passed; ship was on waves,
boat under cliff. Warriors willing
in prow stepped; streams eddied,
sea against sand; men bore
into bosom of ship bright trappings,
war-gear precious; warriors out shoved,
men on willed-way, wood well-braced.
Went then over wave-sea by wind urged
floater foamy-necked, a bird most like,
until in due time of second day
curved stem-post journeyed had,
so that the sailors land sighted,
sea-cliffs shining, shores steep,
broad sea-nesses; then was sea crossed,
voyage at ending;  

Tessa Potter (1996)
This episode is not included in this story.

Burton Raffel (1963)
In his far-off home Beowulf, Higlac's
Follower and the strongest of the Geats -- greater
And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world --
Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror
And quickly commanded a boat fitted out,
Proclaiming that he'd go to that famous king,
Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar,
Now when help was needed. None
Of the wise ones regretted his going, much
As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good,
And they urged the adventure on. So Beowulf
Chose the mightiest men he could find,
The bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen
In all, and led them down to their boat;
He knew the sea, would point the prow
Straight to that distant Danish shore.
Then they sailed, set their ship
Out on the waves, under the cliffs.
Ready for what came they wound through the currents,
The seas beating at the sand, and were borne
In the lap of their shining ship, lined
With gleaming armor, going safely
In that oak-hard boat to where their hearts took them.
The wind hurried them over the waves,
The ship foamed through the sea like a bird
Until, in the time they had known it would take,
Standing in the round-curled prow they could see
Sparkling hills, high and green,
Jutting up over the shore, and rejoicing
In those rock-steep cliffs they quietly ended
Their voyage.

Frederick Rebsamen (1971)
     "He heard at his home about the ravages of Grendel," says the poet, "a good man among the Geats. He was the strongest alive in those days, a noble and powerful man."

     I could no longer sit in Hygelac's hall drinking and talking the days away when such a great King had need of my hands. I asked that a good boat be prepared, long but broad in the middle with shallow draft and strong sail, a supple craft of good oak and pine with tall mast and high, coiled prow. I announced that I would sail straight across to the Danish shore as the swan flies.

     Though they loved me well, the elders did not discourage me. They studied the signs of sea and weather, nodded, and urged me on. Hygelac was not so eager, for he was friend and uncle as well as king: he asked me not to go, to stay at home where I belonged and let the Danes attend to their own problems. But I reminded him that they had tried their best for twelve years without any luck -- then I asked for his blessing and prepared to leave. To sail with me I chose fourteen of the best young men of the nation, and ordered them to sharpen swords and spears and burnish corselets and helmets so that we might step forth into the court of the Danes as clear evidence of the splendor of Hygalac's hall.

     I led the way down to the sea where the shore guard waited to see us off. The tide came swirling in as we stowed our weapons and armor by the mast; we shoved out into the sea and stroked away from the cliffs of Götland until the big four-cornered sail was hoisted and the wind snatched at the ship and pulled it away.

     We sailed smoothly on in good bright weather, skimming like a huge bird across the top of the water, and the next morning in good time caught sight of the steep shining cliffs of Zealand, center of the Danish kingdom.

     The wind drove our ship upon the sand and we lowered sail, leapt into the shallow water and moored our boat to the shore.


Frederick Rebsamen (1991/2004)
Frederick Rebsamen's 2004 book is a slightly updated version of his 1991 book.
The revisions are shown here in magenta.
In the home of the Geats Hygelac's thane
gathered the stories of Grendel's torment
a good man and strong strongest of all
in that broad kingdom born for deliverance
shaped for that hour. He ordered a boat
lithe wave-cutter loudly-proclaimed
he would seek the Battle-Danes sail the waveswells
hail their king there kindle their hearts.
Though they loved him life-seasoned elders
answered his courage urged him onwards
gazed at the weather gave heart-blessings.
(2004: wished for the sun.)
with care this champion chose his spearmen
culled from the Geats their keenest fighters
good men and faithful. Fifteen in all
they sought their seacraft strode to the cliffs
followed their chief to the fallow waves.
Fast by the headland their hard-keeled boat
waited for westering. Winding in swirls
the sea met the sand. They stored their weapons
bright shields gleaming spears and helmets
strong war-weapons. Shoved through the breakers
the stout-bound wood slid from the land.
They flew on the water fast by the wind blown
sail flecked with foam swam with birdwing
(2004: skimmed the waverolls.)
through day and darkness. Dawn grayed the sky
and the hour grew near when over the wave-tops
the coiled bowsprit brought them a sign.
A rising of land reached towards the sun
shining seacliffs steep rock-pillars
bound with shoresand.
(2004: stood before them.)
The sail grew limp
shallows lapped at them  

Strafford Riggs (1934)
    FOR seven days and seven nights there were great preparations in the halls of Hygelac the Geat, that Beowulf might go on his adventure fully equipped for whatever awaited him in Daneland. From the group of companions who had come to manhood at the same time as himself, Beowulf selected fourteen earls to accompany him. He had wished to go alone to the land of the Danes, but his uncle the king had commanded that he be suitably companioned on such a voyage, so that at the court of Hrothgar it could not be said that Hygelac had sent the youth upon a fool's errand and badly equipped. So, with the best grace he could muster (for Beowulf was stubborn, as you have seen and shall see again) he named his earls, and Hygelac ordered that they be furnished with the finest head-pieces and spears and swords in the kingdom.

   Special shields were made, of stout wood covered with thick hides and bound with iron and studded with golden nails. Rich cloaks of scarlet and blue there were for the warriors, and massive bracelets of fine gold for their arms and wrists, and collars of gold wire for their throats.

    When at last they stood ready in the mead-hall of Hygelac, they were a fine company of young men, whose like was not to be seen in all the countries of the North. Each stood well over six feet in height, with broad shoulders and sturdy legs; and each was as swift of foot as a reindeer.

   But Beowulf overtopped them all in stature and in strength and in the speed of his running, and as Hygd beheld him she thought: This is indeed a fine son that my husband's sister was mother to, and his father Ecgtheow would have been a proud man to look upon him.

   Hygelac made a speech to the fourteen earls and charged them to be faithful to Beowulf and to the tradition of the Geats in battle. He put them under the command of Beowulf, and urged them to obey their lord in every particular and to find no service too difficult to render him and no hardship too great to endure for his sake.

   Then he turned to Beowulf, and gave the earls into the young man's keeping and begged him to uphold the honor of Geatsland and of his king. Then he nodded to Hygd, who stood beside him clad in a marvelous soft robe of red, her lovely arms covered with bracelets of green gems, and took from her hands a golden collar which he clasped about the throat of his nephew. As Beowulf knelt to receive the gift, a great shout went up from the assmbled company, swords were brandished in the air, and there was a tumult of excitement in the high hall of Hygelac.

   Then came the signal for the journey down to the beach where a ship lay in readiness to receive Beowulf and his earls, and with torches flaming in the grayness of approaching dawn, the company took its departure.

E. L. Risden (1994)
              Thus from home heard        Hygelac's thane,
good man of the Geats,        of Grendel's deeds;
he was of mankind       the greatest in might
in those days       of this life,
noble and mighty.       He ordered prepared
a wave-traveler;       he said he would seek
over the swan-road       the warrior-king,
the great lord,       who needed men.
With that adventure       wise men
found little fault,       though he was dear to them,
they urged on the valiant one,       examined the omens.
From the people of the Geats       the good man
chose cahmpions,       the best of those
he could find--       they were fifteen in all--
and sought the sea-wood.       The warrior led them,
the sea-skilled man,       to the land-boundary.
              A time passed;       a floater was on the waves,
a craft under the cliffs.       Ready soldiers
climbed into the prow;       currents eddied,
swimming along the shore.       The warriors carried
into the bosom of the ship       bright weapons
and noble battle-armor.       The men shoved off
on a longed-for adventure       in the well-braced ship,
embarked over the wave-way       urged by the wind,
the foamy-necked floater       most like a bird,
till after a dure time       the next day
the curve-prowed ship       had advanced
so that the seafarers       saw land,
the sea-cliffs gleam,       the steep shores,
the wide sea-headlands.       Then was ocean traversed,
the voyage at an end.

Gildas Roberts (1984)
   Beowulf, thane of Hygelac, a brave man among the Geats,
Heard in his homeland about the deeds of Grendel.
He was the very strongest of men
At that time in this world,
Princely and powerful. He ordered a good ship
to be fitted out for him. He said he wanted
To visit the king across the swan-road,
The illustrious prince, because he was in need of men.
The wise Geats blamed him very little
For that expedition though he was dear to them:
They urged on the strong-minded man, they examined the omens.

Beowulf quickly chose fighters from among
The Geats, the bravest
He could find. With fourteen men
He made for his ship; skilled in sailing
He himself led the way to the shore.
Soon the vessel was launched on the waves,
Rode in the lee of the cliff. The men were ready
And climbed aboard; the currents eddied,
The sea swept against the shore. The Geats carried
Their bright weapons, their splendid war-gear,
Into the bosom of the ship. Warriors on a willing journey,
They cast loose their tightly-timbered craft.
Sped on by the wind the foamy-necked ship
Went over the waves like a bird,
Until at first light on the following day
The vessel with the curved prow had sailed so far
That the travellers saw land,
The sea-cliffs gleaming, the towering bluffs,
The broad headlands. The sea had been crossed,
The voyage was at an end. ---

Louis J. Rodrigues (2002)
    In his homeland, a thane of Hygelac's,
excellent among the Geats, heard of Grendel's deeds;
he was the greatest in strength among men
at that time in this life,
noble and mighty. He ordered a good ship
to be prepared for him; said he would seek
the war-king, the famous prince,
over the swan's road, since he had need of men.
Wise men found very little fault with him
for that venture, | though he was dear to them;
they encouraged the valiant man, examined the omens.
From the people of the Geats a hero
had chosen warriors, the bravest
he could find; with fourteen others
he sought the ship, a man skilled
in sea-craft led the way to the shore.
Time passed on; the ship was on the waves,
the boat under the cliff. The warriors, equipped,
climbed on the prow; currents eddied,
sea against sand. Men bore
into the bosom of the ship bright trappings,
splendid war-gear; the men shoved out
the well-braced ship, warriors on a willing journey.
Then, over the sea, driven on by the wind,
flew the foamy-necked ship, most like a bird,
until in due course on the following day
its curved prow had come to where
the voyagers could sight land,
shining sea-cliffs, steep crags,
broad headlands; then was the sea crossed,
the voyage at an end.

Bertha Rogers (2000)
In his faraway home Hygelac's thane, famous among Geats, heard the Grendel stories. Of all men, he was the strongest of his time, in his world the noblest, the tallest.

He commissioned a good wave rider; he made it known that he would seek, across the swan's course, the battle king. He would find the chief who was in need of warriors. No wise men cautioned him against the venture, though they loved him; they emboldened his mighty soul; they studied the omens.

The prince of Geats had chosen bold fighters, the finest, the bravest of champions. Fourteen men followed him to the sea bark; a sea-learned man showed them the shore. In little time they secured the craft, then freed the boat beneath the hanging crags. They clambered up on the prow. The tide slept and wakened while they stored their weapons in the belly of the ship -- their embellished armor, battle wear. Then, eager as they were, they shoved off their well-made wave crester.

Across seas watched only by heaven's eye they sailed, the foam-necked rider flying like a wind-blown bird, until, on only the second day, the crescent prow had traveled so far that land was sighted -- glittering sea cliffs, rock-strewn shores, wide headlands. Thus they consumed the ocean; their journey was complete.


Tim Romano (2000)

He learned in his homeland
Huugleik's thane


Gautland's hero
of Grendel's deeds.


He was the mightiest
of men alive


indeed the strongest
of his day and age


straight-limbed and immense.
He commanded a swift


keel to be readied
declared he would seek


across the swan's way
the warring king


the renowned lord
for he had need of men.


From his decision to go
sensible men


did little to dissuade him
though he was loved by all


such spirit they viewed
as auspicious and hailed it.


This great man
of the Gautish people


had culled the best
from the keenest campaigners


that he could find.
Some 15 men


sought the skiff-deck.
One skilled in seacraft


led the way
along the shoreline.


Their respite over
they were riding the waves


at the base of the cliff.
They clambered up


to the prow of the craft.
Currents were winding


in streams near the beach.
Into the bosom of the ship


men bore
bright armor


corselets shimmering.
The crew shoved off


spirits buoyant
on the bound planking.


Skimming the waves
wind-driven


with foam on its neck
it flew like a bird


and in due time
on the day after


the curved prow
had covered the distance


and those seafarers
were seeing land


sea-cliffs shining
sheer bergs


wide headlands.
The waves had been crossed


the voyage was over.


E. V. Sandys (1941)
    "Hygelac Lord," responded Beowulf respectfully, " I should be unworthy of my father, Ecgtheow the Waegmunding, and of my noble grandfather Hrethel, King of the Geats, and of you, honored kinsman, if I shirked my duty as warrior now. Hrothgar is in need of a champion to deliver his people from the evil that has befallen them. I cannot rest while the monster still lives!"

    At this, the younger, more excitable thanes gave an involuntary cheer. The elder, more prudent noblemen looked at Beowulf with admiration. In spite of his sorrow and anxiety, the king, too, could not help being proud of his bold young nephew.

    Beowulf had many friends among the Geats, but although they loved him they could not blame him for wanting to go on his perilous journey. Hygelac the king realized that the young warrior could not be turned aside from his decision. Sadly, he ceased his protests and watched with inward concern the preparations that were being made for the voyage.

    For his companions on his adventure, Beowulf chose fourteen of the keenest warriors he could find. The Geats' stoutest ship was provided with sails and oars, and loaded with weapons and armor for the men. Finally, all was ready, and on a brilliantly sunshiny morning the men pushed off their craft from the shore, where the king and the people of the court stood waving goodbye.

    Hygelac and Hygd, his queen, were greatly worried about the outcome of the battle their kinsman proposed to fight with Grendel. But the omens, or the signs in nature that the ancient Germanic people thought predicted the success or failure of an undertaking, had been good for the journey of the young hero. Beowulf's friends felt certain that he would return victorious.

    For two days the ship of the Geats was at sea. The wind blew strongly and evenly, and the ship moved swiftly over the water. Before Beowulf and his men stretched the broad gray sea, glittering in the sunlight and breaking in even curls of foam as the curving prow of the ship cut through its waves. The people who lived on the shores of the Baltic and the North Sea both loved and feared the sea. They called it the "swan-road" or the "whale-path," because, when it was calm, it looked as flat and smooth as the roads they traveled over on land.

    Soon, near the end of the second day, the sailors sighted land. First they saw sea-cliffs shining in the light of the afternoon sun, then steep, high hills, and finally broad headlands that seemed very close to them. They had reached the country of the Danes.

Gladys Schmitt (1962)
   Now, one night in early spring, when Hygelac's thanes, young and old, sat late by the fire talking of Hrothgar's woes, a great thought came like a flash of summer lightning into the mind of young Beowulf. "I am strong, and I have a braver spirit than they know here in Geatland," he thought. "I will go and help Hrothgar and give him back his great hall Heorot. For honor and for pity I will do it, and ask for no reward except a kind word from my own king and queen." And at once, while his heart and hopes were high, he went around Hygelac's hall and asked his young companions to come with him. Nor did those friends fail him. Fourteen promised to sail in a carved boat across the sea and to fight Grendel at Beowulf's side, even to the death.

   The light wind drove them over the springtime water. The ship met no misfortune. She flew to Daneland like a bird. There on the coast of Hrothgar's kingdom, on the beach under the gray cliffs, they took their weapons out of the vessel and gave thanks to God who had brought them there so luckily and so soon.

Ian Serraillier (1954)
                                  Now there lived overseas
In the land of the Geats a youth of valiance abounding,
Mightiest yet mildest of men, his name Beowulf,
Who, hearing of Grendel and minded to destroy him,
Built a boat of the stoutest timber and chose him
Warriors, fourteen of the best. In shining armour
They boarded the great vessel, beached on the shingle
By the curling tide. Straightway they shoved her off.
They ran up the white sail. And the wind caught her,
The biting wind whipped her over the waves.
Like a strong bird the swan-boat winged her way
Over the grey Baltic, the wintry whale-road,
Till the lookout sighted land-- a sickle of fair sand,
And glittering white cliffs. The keel struck
The shingle. ---

Robert Shafer (1927)
This heard in his home Hygelac's thane,
great among Geats, of Grendel's doings.
He was the mightiest man of valor
in that same day of this our life,
stalwart and stately. A stout wave-walker
he bade make ready. Yon battle-king, said he,
far o'er the swan-road he fain would seek,
the noble monarch who needed men!
The prince's journey by prudent folk
was little blamed, though they loved him dear;
they whetted the hero, and hailed good omens.
And now the bold one from bands of Geats
comrades chose, the keenest of warriors
e'er he could find; with fourteen men
the sea-wood he sought, and, sailor proved,
led them on to the land's confines.
    Time had now flown; afloat was the ship,
boat under bluff. On board they climbed,
warriors ready; waves were churning
sea with sand; the sailors bore
on the breast of the bark their bright array,
their mail and weapons: the men pushed off,
on its willing way, the well-braced craft.
Then moved o'er the waters by might of the wind
that bark like a bird with breast of foam,
till in season due, on the second day,
the curved prow such course had run
that sailors now could see the land,
sea-cliffs shining, steep high hills,
headlands broad. Their haven was found,
their journey ended. ---

Ben Slade (2002)

That from home heard     Hygelac's thane,
a good man of the Geats,     of Grendel's deeds;
he was of mankind     of the greatest strength,
on that day     in this life,
noble and mighty;     he ordered them a wave-crosser
--a good one-- prepare;     he said: the war-king
over swan-road     he wished to seek,
that mighty clan-chief,     since he was in need of men;
that adventure him,     the clear-headed chaps,
very little begrudged     though he was dear to them,
they urged on the valiant-hearted one,     and observed the omens.
The worthy one had,     from the Geatish peoples,
chosen champions,     those who were the boldest he
could find;     fifteen together,
they sought the sea-wood,     he led the warriors,
that sea-skilled man,     to the boundary of the shore.
Time passed by;     the ship was on the waves,
the boat under the cliffs;     the ready warriors
stepped up into the prow     --the currents curled round,
sea against sand--     the men bore
into the bosom of boat     bright arms and armour,
noble war-gear;     the fellows shoved off,
men on a welcome voyage,     in a well-braced ship.
Then they went over the water-waves     urged by the wind,
the foamy-necked floater,     remarkably bird-like
until in due time,     on the second day,
the curved-prow     had made the journey,
so that the sailors     sighted land,
bright sea-cliffs,     towering shores,
wide headlands;     then was the sea traversed,
their sea-voyage at an end.

J. Duncan Spaeth (1921)
Then heard in his home king Hygelac's thane,
The dauntless Jute, of the doings of Grendel.
In strength he outstripped the strongest of men
That dwell in the earth in the days of this life.
Gallant and bold, he gave command
To get him a boat, a good wave-skimmer.
O'er the swan-road, he said, he would seek the king
Noble and famous, who needed men.
Though dear to his kin, they discouraged him not;
The prudent in counsel praised the adventure,
Whetted his valor, awaiting good omens.
 
So Beowulf chose from the band of the Jutes
Heroes brave, the best he could find;
He with fourteen followers hardy,
Went to embark; he was wise in seamanship,
Showed them the landmarks, leading the way.
Soon they descried their craft in the water,
At the foot of the cliff. Then climbed aboard
The chosen troop; the tide was churning
Sea against sand; they stowed away
In the hold of the ship their shining armor,
War-gear and weapons; the warriors launched
Their well-braced boat on her welcome voyage.
 
Swift o'er the waves with a wind that favored,
Foam on her breast, like a bird she flew.
A day and a night they drove to seaward,
Cut the waves with the curving prow,
Till the seamen that sailed her sighted the land.
Shining cliffs and coast-wise hills,
Headlands bold. The harbor opened,
Their cruise was ended. ...

Hazelton Spencer (1951)
Then the tales of the terrible deeds of Grendel
Reached Hygelac's thane in his home with the Geats;
Of living strong men he was the strongest,
Fearless and gallant and great of heart.
He gave command for a goodly vessel
Fitted and furnished; he fain would sail
Over the swan-road to seek the king
Who suffered so sorely for need of men.
And his bold retainers found little to blame
In his daring venture, dear though he was;
They viewed the omens, and urged him on.
Brave was the band he had gathered about him,
Fourteen stalwarts seasoned and bold,
Seeking the shore where the ship lay waiting,
A sea-skilled mariner sighting the landmarks.
Came the hour of boarding; the boat was riding
The waves of the harbor under the hill,
The eager mariners mounted the prow;
Billows were breaking, sea against sand,
In the ship's hold snugly they stowed their trappings,
Gleaming armor and battle-gear;
Launched the vessel, the well-braced bark,
Seaward bound on a joyous journey.
Over breaking billows, with bellying sail
And foamy beak, like a flying bird
The ship sped on, till the next day's sun
Showed sea-cliffs shining, towering hills
And stretching headlands. The sea was crossed,
The voyage ended, the vessel moored.

Archibald Strong (1925)
But now came word to the Geath of worth, even Hygelac's thegn,
In his home, of the deeds of Grendel; the starkest, he, in might
Of mortals, in these our life-days, large-thewed, and of lineage bright.
And he bade men build him a vessel of might to cleave the wave,
And he vowed that over the swan-road he would seek the war-lord brave
Whose need was heavy of helpers, for all his puissance dread.
Now his wise ones, though well they loved him, no blame of that emprise said,
But sought out the omens of comfort, and whetted his valiant mind,
The hero had chosen him fighters, the bravest hearts he could find
In all the folk of the Geats. Fourteen were they who hied
To that cruiser of ocean with him, and himself was he their guide
To the shore, for wise was he waxen in all the ways of the sea.
Now onward the hour was creeping: on the wave the craft rode free
'Neath the ocean cliff: aboard her full-armed the fighters stept;
On and over the sand by the sea-race the waves were hurled and swept.
To the vessel's womb the warriors bore down their bright array,
Splendid gear of the battle: and they thrust her out on her way,
On the voyage that their hearts had chosen, that vessel of timbers true;
Birdlike, outward and onward o'er the billowy sea she flew,
And white was her neck with spindthrift as before the wind she sped,
And so swift had the curved prow cliven that or ever a day was fled
Land loomed on the eys of the sailors, and they looked on nesses bright,
And ocean-cliffs tremendous, and mountains of awful height,
And e'en so was the ocean traversed, and the voyage o'er its waves at an end.
Swiftly over and up the sea-beach the Wederfolk 'gan wend,
And tightly they moored their cruiser. Loud rang their sarks of the fray,
And they thanked the Lord Who o'er ocean had made easy and smooth their way.

A. Sullivan & T. Murphy (2004)
A thane of Hygelac heard in his homeland
of Grendel's deeds. Great among Geats,
this man was more mighty than any then living.
He summoned and stocked a swift wave-courser,
and swore to sail over the swan-road
as one warrior should for another in need.
His elders could find no fault with his offer,
and awed by the omens, they urged him on.
He gathered the bravest of Geatish guardsmen.
One of fifteen, the skilled sailor
strode to his ship at the ocean's edge.
   
He was keen to embark: his keel was beached
under the cliff where sea-currents curled
surf against sand; his soldiers were ready.
Over the bow they boarded in armor,
bearing their burnished weapons below,
their gilded war-gear to the boat's bosom.
Other men shoved the ship from the shore,
and off went the band, their wood-braced vessel
bound for the venture with wind on the waves
and foam under bow, like a fulmar in flight.
   
On the second day their upswept prow
slid into sight of steep hillsides,
bright cliffs, wide capes at the close of their crossing,
the goal of their voyage gained in good time.

Michael Swanton (1978)
    At home, a great man among the Geats, a thane of Hygelac, heard of Grendel's deeds. In strength he was the mightiest among mankind in that day and age, noble and powerful. He ordered a good seagoing vessel to be made ready for him; he said that he wished to seek out over the swan's road the war-king, the famous prince, since he had need of men. Wise men in no way reproached him for that venture, though he was dear to them; they encouraged the man renowned for his spirit, examined the omens. From the people Geats the great man had picked champions, the bravest he could find; he went down to the water-borne timbers as one of fifteen. A skilled seaman pointed out the line of the coast.

    The time came; the boat lay on the waves, afloat beneath the cliff. Eager heroes stepped aboard at the prow; the tide turned, sea against the sand; soldiers carried bright trappings, splendid battle-gear, into the bosom of the vessel; men shoved out the well-braced timbers, warriors on a willing journey.

    Then driven by the wind, the ship travelled over the sea-waves, floating foamy-necked, just like a bird, until in due course on the following day its curved prow had come to where the voyagers could sight land, shining sea-cliffs, steep promontories and broad headlands. The sea then was crossed, the voyage at an end.

Clara Linklater Thomson (1904)
--- One of his thanes, named Beowulf, who was also his nephew, was a most famous man in that nation; renowned among all men for his might, noble and powerful. He in his home heard tell of the deeds of Grendel, and gave orders that a good ship should be prepared for him; saying, that since Hrothgar had need of strong men, he would sail across the water to visit him. And when his friends knew of his intention, they were far from dissuading him from it, although he was dear to them; but, on the contrary, they encouraged his enterprise and wished him well.

   So he chose out fourteen of the boldest men that he could find, among the them a wise old mariner, learned in ocean craft, to go with him on the journey; and the time passed by till the boat lay ready at anchor beneath the cliff, where the streams dashed the foam against the sand. Then, carrying on board excellent armour and many a bright ornament, the eager men pushed off amidst the spray; and the boat, driven by a fair wind, sped like a bird across the waves.

   The voyage was not a long one, and about the same time next day the seafarers saw land in the distance; steep cliffs and broad promontories gleaming in the sun. Then they knew that their journey was at an end; ---

Barry Tharaud (1990)
     A good man among the Geats, a thane of Hygelac, heard in his homeland of Grendel's deeds: Beowulf was the mightiest man alive; he was a noble and a great man. He ordered a good ship to be made ready for him; he said he would seek to serve Hrothgar, the war king across the sea, since that famous prince had need of men. Wise men did not blame Beowulf for this adventure; although he was dear to them, they urged the brave man on, and they examined the omens. After the good man had chosen the bravest warriors that he could find among the Geats, he led fourteen heroes to the shore: The seafaring warriors sought the wooden ship at the land's edge. Now the time was at hand: Below the cliffs, the ship was on the waves. Eagerly the warriors climbed aboard. The sea eddied and churned the sand as the men bore glittering weapons and splendid armor aboard the ship.

     The men launched the well-braced ship from shore; the warriors cast off on the eagerly sought adventure. Then the foam-spewed boat traveled over the billowing waves like a bird blown by the wind. The curved prow flew onward until, in due time, on the second day the seafarers made landfall: They saw glistening sea-cliffs, towering hills, and huge promontories. Thus they crossed the sea and their journey was at an end.


W. K. Thomas (1968)
... One of his thanes, named Beowulf, who was also his nephew, was a most famous man in that nation; renowned among all men for his might, noble and powerful. He in his home heard tell of the deeds of Grendel, and gave orders that a good ship should be prepared for him; saying, that since Hrothgar had need of strong men, he would sail across the water to visit him. And when his friends knew of his intention, they were far from dissuading him from it, although he was dear to them; but, on the contrary, they encouraged his enterprise and wished him well.

    So he chose out fourteen of the boldest men that he could find, among them a wise old mariner, learned in ocean craft, to go with him on the journey; and the time passed by till the boat lay ready at anchor beneath the cliff, where the streams dashed the foam against the sand. Then, carrying on board excellent armour and many a bright ornament, the eager men pushed off amidst the spray; and the boat, driven by a fair wind, sped like a bird across the waves.

    The voyage was not a long one, and about the same time next day the seafarers saw land in the distance; steep cliffs and broad promontories gleaming in the sun. Then they knew that their journey was at an end;...

Benjamin Thorpe (1865)
When from home had heard Hygelac's thane,
(a good man among the Goths,) of Grendel's deeds;
who of mankind was in power strongest
in that day of this life,
noble and vigorous, he bade for him a wave-transverser
good be prepar'd; said that he the war-king
over the swan-road would seek,
the renowned prince, as he had need of men.
That voyage to him prudent men
somewhat blam'd, though he was dear to them;
* * * * * *
* * * they whetted the renowned chief,
observed the omen; the good chief had
of the Goth's people chosen champions,
of those whom he the bravest could find;
with some fifteen the floating wood he sought.
A warrior pointed out, a water-crafty man,
the land-boundaries. A time passed on,
the floater was on the waves, the boat under the mountain;
the ready warriors on the prow stept;
the streams roll'd the sea against the sand;
the warriors bare, into the bark's bosom,
bright arms, a sumptuous war-equipment;
the men shov'd out, the people, on the welcome voyage,
the bound wood. Departed then o'er the wavy sea,
by the wind impell'd, the floater foamy-neck'd,
to a bird most like, till that about an hour
of the second day the twisted prow
had sail'd, so that the voyagers
saw land, the ocean-shores shine,
mountains steep, spacious sea-nesses.
Then was the sea-sailer at the end of its watery way.
thence up quickly the Weders' people
stept on the plain; the sea-wood tied,
their mail-shirts shook, their martial weeds;
they thanked God, for that to them the wave-paths
had been easy.  

Chauncey B. Tinker (1902)
    A thane of Hygelac, great among the Geats, heard of these deads of Grendel in his native land. In his strength he was the best of men in the day of this life, noble and mighty. He bade make ready for him a goodly ship, he said that he would go over the ocean-road unto that war-king, the great prince, since he had need of men. Little did his prudent thanes blame him for that journey, though he was dear to them; they encouraged him in his high purpose, and looked for good omens. The hero had warriors, chosen from among the Geats, the keenest he could find. Fifteen in all went down unto the ship. A skilled mariner pointed out the landmarks unto them.

    Time wore on. The ship was upon the waves, the boat under the cliff. The ready warriors mounted the prow. The ocean-streams dashed the waves upon the beach. The men bore rish armor into the bosom of the ship, splendid war-harness. The warriors pushed off their tight-fitted craft on the wished-for adventure. So, driven by the wind, the bark most like unto a bird sped, foamy-necked, across the waves, until, about the same hour the second day, the curving prow had journeyed on so far that the sailors saw land, saw gleaming cliffs and lofty hills, broad ocean-headlands. Thus the sea was crossed, and the voyage ended.

J. R. R. Tolkien
--- Michael Drout will publish the Tolkien translations as soon as he can ---
--- (for more information go to www.BeowulfTranslations.net/tolk.html) ---

Richard M. Trask (1998)
Hygelac's thane     heard from abroad,
     Ðæt fram ham gefrægn     Higelaces þegn,
good warrior of Geats,     about Grendel's doings;
     god mid Geatum,     Grendles dæda;    [195]
he was strongest in might     among all others
     se wæs moncynnes     mægenes strengest
in the time alloted     to this life below,
     on pæm dæge     pysses lifes,
noble and imposing.     He said to prepare a wave skimmer,
     æþele ond eacen.     He him yðlidan
ordered a good one.     He gave in words
     godne gegyrwan,     cwæð he guðcyning
that over the swan road     he would seek the war king,    [200]
     ofer swanrade     secean wolde,
the noble chief,     for he had need of men.
     mærne þeoden,     þa him wæs manna þearf.
The knowing counselors     denied not to him
     Þone siðfæt him     snotere ceorlas
the journey leaving,     though they loved him well;
     lythwon logon,     þeah he him leof wære;
urged on the intrepid one,     trusted the omens.
     hwetton hige[r]ofne,     hæl sceawedon.
The good hero     of the Geatish people
     Hæfde se goda     Geada leoda     [205]
chose the boldest     champions of those
     cempan gecorone     þara þe he cenoste
he could find among them;     fifteen there were,
     findan mihte;     fiftyna sum
one of them sought     the seawood out,
     sundwudu sohte,     secg wisade,
seaworthy he showed     the shore to them.
     lagucræftig mon,     landgemycru.
 
The time had come,     the keel was on the waves,     [210]
     Fyrst forð gewat,     flota wæs on yðum,
the boat under the cliff.     The keen men were ready,
     bat under the beorge.     beomas gearwe
they stepped to the prow--     the streams of sea coiled,
     on stefn stigon,     streamas wundon,
water against sand;     the warriors carried
     sund wið sande;     secgas bæron
to the boat's middle     the bright weaponry,
     on bearm nacan     beorhte frætwe,
shining war gear.     They shoved out then,
     guðsearo geatolic;     guman ut scufon,     [215]
eagergoing companions,     a proud vessel.
     weras on wilsið,     wudu bundenne.
They went over the waveway     in the wind blowing,
     Gewat þa ofer wægholm     winde gefysed,
the foam-neck floater     flying like a bird
     flota famiheals     fugle gelicost,
till the time had come     that the curve-carved prow
     oðþæt ymb antid     oþres dogores
on the second day     could see the land.     [220]
     wundenstefna     gewaden haefde
The wander-goer     had gained progress
     þæt ða liðende     land gesawon,
to a gleaming seacliff,     soaring headlands,
     brimclifu blican,     beorgas steape,
high overhangs;     the oversea journey
     side sænæssas;     þa wæs sund liden,
was at an end.
     eoletes æt ende.

Sharon Turner (1805/1852)
1805:
After stating the crime of Hrothgar which produce the fœthe, the poem narrates the preparations of Beowulf and his failing:
The war king said,
That over the swan's road
He would seek the great chief.
That he had need of men
For that expedition
Prudent Ceorles
Awhile should attend it.
Those that to him were dear --
The good Jute
Had to fail
 
Chosen soldiers
Of those that the bravest
He might find
Some fifteen
Sought the wood of the ocean;
The warrior taught
To the sea-crafty men
The land marks.
Soon the fleet departed.
Then was on the waves
The ship under the mountains.
The warriors ready at his voice
Descended the streams.--
 
He then departed
Over the sea-way,
Hastened by the winds.
Their streamer floated
Like the neck of a bird,
Till they had gone
The space of another day.--
 
Then the sailors
Beheld the land,
The sea-cliffs,
The steep shining mountains,
The ample sea promontory.--
1852:
He said: "The battle-king
over the road of the swans
will seek the great sovereign,
as he has need of men.
This expedition, for him,
prudent Ceorles shall soon provide."
His companions assembled at his request, and
Sought the wood of the sea,
the warrior directed
the sea-skilled men
to the boundary of the shore.
The vessel was under the rock,
the heroes ready,
at his voice went down;
they waded thro' the streams
of the sea: on the sands
the warriors bore
into the empty bosom
the bright ornaments,
the instruments of battle,
of the Jute-like men.
The adventurers drew out,
for their voluntary journey,
the well-bound timber.
Their voyage is then stated. Their sailing is described to be like the fanning of the neck of a fowl, till
They saw land;
the cliffs of the ocean;
the shining hills;
the steep wide promontories:
there their voyage ended.

A.D. Wackerbarth (1849)
Till from his Home, did Higelác's
Thane, 'momgst the Geáts renown'd, th' Attacks
        Of Grendel's Fury hear.
Mightiest of all Mankind was he,
Noble, and full of Dignity,
        In this Life's Daylight fair,
Forth-with a Traveller of the sea
He bade his Men prepare:
Athwart the Path of Swans profound
        He said he would proceed,
And seek the War-king, Prince renown'd
        Sith he of Men had need.
The prudent, though they loved him, deem'd
Somewhat unwise the Journey seem'd,
Sharpen'd their Minds with previous Thought
And anxiously an Omen sought.
The good Chief from the Geátic Land
Had chosen out a valiant Band,
        Whom he could find most keen,
And to his Ocean-wood he went
Escorted by an Armament
        Of gallant Youths fifteen.
Time pass'd, the Ship was on the Wave,
        The Boat beneath the Mountain's Brow,
And ready were the Warriors brave
        And stepp'd upon the Prow.
Anon they sent the Waters there
        Sea whirling o'er the Sand,
The Men their ready War-sears fair
Into the Vessel's Bosom bear
Shove off the Bound-wood, and repair
On perilous Campain to fare
        A willing warriour Band.
Then foamy-neck'd across the Tides,
Driv'n by the Wind, the Vessel glides,
        As Water-fowl doth ride,
And for an Hour, the second Day,
The wreathéd Prow had sail'd away,
        When Land the Wanderers spied:
They saw the Sea-cliffs glisten bright,
And the steep Mountain's dizzy height,
        And ocean Nesses wide,
And now the Sea is safely past
Their Toil is at an End at last.

W. Wagner & M. W. MacDowall (1917)
    Beowulf was held in high honour by the Goths; but he could not sit still, satisfied with what he had already done. He longed to free the royal palace of the Skiöldungs from the monster Grendel, so he presently took ship for King Hrodgar's castle, accomplished by the minstrel, and fifteen noble and courageous Goths.

David Wright (1957)
     But one of Hygelac's followers, in his far-off country, heard about Grendel's doings. Well-born, stalwart, and the strongest of living men, this man was a hero among the Geats. He ordered a seaworthy vessel to be equipped, and announced that he was crossing the sea to pay a visit to Hrothgar, since that famous prince stood in need of men. The wise did not really blame him for undertaking this expedition, although they loved him; but they urged him on, and watched the omens. From among the Geats the hero picked the bravest men that he could find, and took fourteen of them with him to the ship. Himself an experienced seaman, he led the way to the shore.

     Soon the boat was launched and afloat below the headland. The soldiers, in full harness, came aboard by the prow and stowed a cargo of polished armour and magnificent war-equipment amidships, while the sea churned and surf beat against the beach. Then the adventurers, bound on the voyage they had eagerly desired, pushed off their well-braced vessel. With a fair wind behind and a bone in her teeth, the curved prow skimmed over the sea like a bird, until in due course on the second day she had sailed far enough for the voyagers to make a landfall -- glistening cliffs, high mountains, and broad promontories.



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