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HROTHGAR spake,—to the hall he went,
stood by the steps, the steep roof saw,
garnished with gold, and Grendel’s hand:—
“For the sight I see to the Sovran Ruler
be speedy thanks! A throng of sorrows
I have borne from Grendel; but God still works
wonder on wonder, the Warden-of-Glory.
It was but now that I never more
for woes that weighed on me waited help
long as I lived, when, laved in blood,
stood sword-gore-stained this stateliest house,—
widespread woe for wise men all,
who had no hope to hinder ever
foes infernal and fiendish sprites
from havoc in hall. This hero now,
by the Wielder’s might, a work has done
that not all of us erst could ever do
by wile and wisdom. Lo, well can she say
whoso of women this warrior bore
among sons of men, if still she liveth,
that the God of the ages was good to her
in the birth of her bairn. Now, Beowulf, thee,
of heroes best, I shall heartily love
as mine own, my son; preserve thou ever
this kinship new: thou shalt never lack
wealth of the world that I wield as mine!
Full oft for less have I largess showered,
my precious hoard, on a punier man,
less stout in struggle. Thyself hast now
fulfilled such deeds, that thy fame shall endure
through all the ages. As ever he did,
well may the Wielder reward thee still!”
Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:—
“This work of war most willingly
we have fought, this fight, and fearlessly dared
force of the foe. Fain, too, were I
hadst thou but seen himself, what time
the fiend in his trappings tottered to fall!
Swiftly, I thought, in strongest gripe
on his bed of death to bind him down,
that he in the hent of this hand of mine
should breathe his last: but he broke away.
Him I might not—the Maker willed not—
hinder from flight, and firm enough hold
the life-destroyer: too sturdy was he,
the ruthless, in running! For rescue, however,
he left behind him his hand in pledge,
arm and shoulder; nor aught of help
could the cursed one thus procure at all.
None the longer liveth he, loathsome fiend,
sunk in his sins, but sorrow holds him
tightly grasped in gripe of anguish,
in baleful bonds, where bide he must,
evil outlaw, such awful doom
as the Mighty Maker shall mete him out.”
More and more men rode their horses to the great hall to see what Beowulf had done. The king and his queen left their private quarters and came into the hall. There, Hrothgar looked up at Grendel’s arm mounted on the wall, and gave a speech. “First, let us thank Almighty God for this sight. I have long suffered at the hands of Grendel, but God has delivered us from that monster’s grasp. I thought I would never be rid of that foul beast and the sorrows he caused. This glorious hall was filled with blood night after night. But now one man, with God’s help, has done what all of us together could not do. If his mother is still alive, she can thank God for the great gift he gave her. Now, Beowulf, I will love you as my own son. Take this bond seriously. You will have everything that wealth can provide. In the past I have given honor and riches to men who have achieved much less than you have. But your honor will live forever. May God protect and bless you.” Beowulf replied, “We fought this battle willingly and were blessed with victory. I wish that his whole body was still here so you could see the fiend where he fell. That was my plan, but he broke free and died in his den. God willed it this way. But the beast left behind his arm and cannot live long. He must suffer the punishment God has planned for him.”
More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf
in boastful speech of his battle-deeds,
since athelings all, through the earl’s great prowess,
beheld that hand, on the high roof gazing,
foeman’s fingers,—the forepart of each
of the sturdy nails to steel was likest,—
heathen’s “hand-spear,” hostile warrior’s
claw uncanny. ’Twas clear, they said,
that him no blade of the brave could touch,
how keen soever, or cut away
that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe.
Unferth, who had been so boastful the day before, now sat silently. Everyone could see the proof of Beowulf’s power hanging on the wall. Grendel’s claw was as hard as steel, and it was obvious that no sword could have severed his arm from his body.