Beowulf: Translations by Ben Slade (2002)

Beowulf on Steorarume. [2002]. This translation is available online at Ben Slade's website at  

[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. }

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.

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

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

The protector of earls had no wish     for any reason
the murderous guest     to release alive,
nor his life-days     to any people
counted as advantage.     There many brandished
warriors of Beowulf,     old heirlooms,
they wished prince-lord's     life defend,
the legendary leader's,     if they could do so;
they did not know that,     when they joined the fray,
the bold-minded     battle-men,
and on each side     thought to heaw,
to seek the soul:     that the sin-scather
any on earth,     of the choicest of irons,
of war-bills, none,     could not at all greet him
but he victory-weapons     had forsworn,
every blade-edge.     His life-severing was bound to
on that day     in this life
be wretched,     and the alien-spirit
into the administration of fiends     would journey far away;
then he found,     he who before many,
miseries in his mind,     on mankind
atrocities committed     --he, who fought with God--
that him his body-shell     would not obey,
but him the daring     kinsman of Hygelac
had by the hand;     each was by the other
loathed while living;     body-pain he felt,
the awful ogre;     on his shoulder was
a great wound apparent,     sinows sprang asunder,
bone-locks burst;     to Beowulf was
war-glory given;     

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

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

Grabbed her then by the shoulder     --not in the least regretting the feud--
the prince of the War-Geats,     Grendel's mother;
the hard man of conflict then heaved,     now that he was enraged,
the deadly foe,     so that she fell to the floor;
she again him quickly     gave hand-reward
with wrathful grips     and clutched him against herself;
then, weary in spirit, he stumbled,     the strongest man,
warrior on foot,     so that he was in a fall;
then she bestrode the guest in her hall,     and drew her seax,
broad and bright-edged;     she wished to avenge her son,
only offspring;     on his shoulder lay
woven breast-net;     it protected life,
against point and against edge     it withstood entry.
Then he would have perished,     the son of Edgetheow,
under the yawning ground,     the champion of the Geats,
except that him the war-byrnie     provided help,
firm army-net--     and holy God
controlled the war-victory;     the wise Lord,
the Ruler of the heavens,     decided it rightly,
easily,     thereupon he stood up again.
He saw then among the arms     a victory-blessed bill,
an old giantish sword     with firm edges,
an honour of warriors,     it was the choicest weapon,
but it was more     than any other man
to battle-play     could carry,
good and stately,     the work of giants;
he seized then the ring-hilt,     champion of the Scyldings
wild and furiously battle-fierce,     he drew the ring-weapon
without hope of life,     angrily struck,
so that through her neck     it clutched hard,
broke bone-rings;     the bill passed entirely through
the doomed cloak of flesh;     she fell on the floor;
the sword was bloody,     the warrior rejoiced in his work.

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

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

     he paid him the reward of that,
the fierce fighter,     in that he saw in repose
war-weary     Grendel lying,
lifeless,     as he had injured him earlier
in the conflict at Heorot     --the corpse burst wide open,
when it after death     suffered a blow,
a hard sword-stroke--     and then its head he cut off.

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

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

     the flame came forth in waves,
burned shield to the boss;     the byrnie could not
to the young spear-fighter     lend support
but the young man,     under his kinsman's shield
courageously advanced,     when his own was
consumed by fire.     Then again the war-king
remembered his strength,     with mighty force struck
with his battle-bill,     so that it stood in (the serpent's) head
driven by violence;     Naegling burst asunder,
failed in the fight     Beowulf's sword
ancient and silver-streaked;     it was not granted to him,
that for him irons'     edges could
help in battle:     the hand was too strong,
that each one of the blades     --I heard--
in stroke he over-taxed;     when he bore to battle
a weapon hardened by wounds,     it was not any better for him.
Then the scourge of people     a third time,
the fierce fire-drake     enmity in mind,
rushed at the brave man,     when he was yielded space,
hot and battle-fierce,     (Beowulf's) whole neck he clamped
between sharp fangs;     he was drenched
in life-blood;     gore gushed in waves.
I heard that then at the need     of the folk-king
the nobleman alongside     displayed courage,
strength and boldness,     as was natural to him;
he did not heed (the dragon's) head,     though the hand was burned
of the spirited man,     there he his strength helped,
that he the hostile outsider     struck somewhat lower,
the warrior in his war-gear,     so that the sword sank in
gleaming and golden     so that the fire began
to weaken after that.     Then again the king himself
gathered his wits,     drew a slaughter-seax
bitter and battle-sharp,     that he wore on his byrnie;
The Helm of the Wederas cut through     the wyrm in the middle.
The foe they felled     --their courage driving out life--
and then the both of them him     had destroyed,
the noble kinsmen; --