Beowulf: Translations by Archibald Strong (1925)

Click for a larger version (900 pixels high) Beowulf: Translated Into Modern English Rnyming Verse. Constable and Company Ltd., London, 1925. ISBN: none.
Buy this book used 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. }

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.

[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. }

And in all the hearts of the North-Danes a hideous terror stirred
When the wailing cry of God's foeman flung back from the wall they heard,
The song of his soul in torment, the shriek of that thrall of hell,
As he moaned for his death-wound, grappled in the might of one more fell
Than any of mortal lineage in the days of this our life.
--Now the Shelter of Earls endured not to let sunder from the strife
Quick and whole the ravening stranger, for he deemed that no help nor aid
Was his life unto any mortals. Now many a proven blade
Did the earls of Beowulf brandish, for full eager were one and all
To shelter the life of their master, if e'en so it might befall;
But those keen-souled champions knew not when they flung them upon the fight,
Hoping this way and that to hew him, seeking ever his heart to smite,
That never on earth was there falchion no bill so bravely wrought
As could touch the life of the monster, for by spells had he turned unto naught
The might of all weapons of victory, that no steel might harm him or slay.
Howbeit a dom of misery must he dree on the selfsame day,
And his alien spirit must wander to the sway of the fiends of hell.
For he that of yore in joyance had wrought many an outrage fell
On the kin of men in God's despite, knew his body's power was past,
Since Hygelac's keen-souled kinsman gripped his talons and held them fast
And each one while he lived to the other was a thing of loathing and hate.
Now each of his limbs the monster felt the anguish of his fate,
For a wound gaped wide on his shoulder, and his sinews were rent and riven,
And his body was burst asunder, and to Beowulf was triumph 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. }

And now in his strength he trusteth, and the stern gripe of his hands,
E'en as each should do who in combat hath purposed to command
Honour long while to serve him, nor recketh aught of his life.
Even so the prince of the War-Geats hath no sorrow for the strife,
But he grippeth the dam of Grendel by the shoulder and swingeth her round
In his rage and fury of battle, till his dread foe lies on the ground;
Yet swift with her deadly hand-gripe she quites him, and grapples him fast,
And the might of the hero faileth, and he reeleth, and lieth o'ercast,
And over that guest in her chamber she croucheth, and draweth her knife
Bright-edged and massy, and vengeance she meaneth for the life
Of him who was all her offspring. But across his shoulder lay
His sark of the woven ring-mail that guarded his life in the fray,
Staung edge and point from entry. Ay, Ecgtheow's son had passed
From living, the Geats' champion, 'neath His sway.
--Lightly he rose, for the Warden of the heavens had doomed it aright,
And the falchion radiant with victory he espied 'mid the gear of the fight
Whose blade of old by the Eotens was hammered and tempered keen
Till 'twas waxen the pride of the warriors, nor of swords was a goodlier seen,
Howbeit 'twas so huge that none other might bear to the bandy of war
That wonder the giants had smithied. So reckless and angered sore
The chief of the vikings handselled the hilt of many a chain,
And he brandished the ringed falchion, and in fury smote amain,
And straitly her neck it grappled, and through the bone-rings shore,
And clave through the flesh of that doomed one, and she sank adown on the floor,
And the blade ran red with her life-blood, and joy of his work had the wight.

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

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

... But for this that fighter dread
Had given him utmost quittance, forasmuch as before him, dead.
He looked on the war-spent Grendel, as the fight had laid him low
In Hart; but his corpse sprang asunder when in death it dreed that blow,
The fearsome stroke of the falchion, and he smote his head from him sheer.

[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. }

Once more, a deadly monster, aglow with surging flame,
To fall on the foes it hated: and e'en unto its boss the shield
Was burnt by the billows, nor could yet the byrny yield
The valorous stripling succour: yet the youthful fighter went
Swiftly under the targe of his kinsman, since his own with the flame was shent.
But the king took thought of his glory, and in might and valour dread
He smote with his blade of battle, and it clashed on the monster's head,
Driven home by hate. But Nägling, e'en Beowulf's sword, in the fray
Failed now, and utterly riven, that the heirloom steely grey,
For ne'er yet in his days was he granted that edge of steel in the fight
Could aid him, so runneth the story, for all too stark in its might
Was his hand, and each blade of the falchions with its stroke was overwrought,
And the wondrous keen was the weapon he bore frayward, it helped him naught.
--But a third while now the dragon that scatheth the folk with fire
Was minded for battle, and onward in flame and fury dire
It rushed at the chief from its vantage, and gat hold with its tusks of dread
On his throat, and with streaming life-blood his body all ran red.
--But now as the story telleth, swift leapt the earl upright
In the folk-king's need, and made showing of the valour and craft and might
That he had from his sires before him. Of the head he took no heed,
For all charred was the hand of the hero as he helped his kin at his need,
So lower down at the body of the deadly foe he drave,
That wight in the glorious armour, and deep in the falchion clave
Agleam with its golden chasing. Straight the fire-waves slacker grew,
And again the king waxed conscious, and the knife of death he drew,
Bitter and keen for the battle, that beside his mail he wore,
And the Helm of the Weder-Geats clean through the dragon shore.
--Thus felled they their foe and their valiance drave forth his spirit's breath. --