Original Text

Modern Text

THERE was hurry and hest in Heorot now
for hands to bedeck it, and dense was the throng
of men and women the wine-hall to cleanse,
the guest-room to garnish. Gold-gay shone the hangings
that were wove on the wall, and wonders many
to delight each mortal that looks upon them.
Though braced within by iron bands,
that building bright was broken sorely;
rent were its hinges; the roof alone
held safe and sound, when, seared with crime,
the fiendish foe his flight essayed,
of life despairing.—No light thing that,
the flight for safety,—essay it who will!
Forced of fate, he shall find his way
to the refuge ready for race of man,
for soul-possessors, and sons of earth;
and there his body on bed of death
shall rest after revel.
Arrived was the hour
when to hall proceeded Healfdene’s son:
the king himself would sit to banquet.
Ne’er heard I of host in haughtier throng
more graciously gathered round giver-of-rings!
Bowed then to bench those bearers-of-glory,
fain of the feasting. Featly received
many a mead-cup the mighty-in-spirit,
kinsmen who sat in the sumptuous hall,
Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Heorot now
was filled with friends; the folk of Scyldings
ne’er yet had tried the traitor’s deed.
To Beowulf gave the bairn of Healfdene
a gold-wove banner, guerdon of triumph,
broidered battle-flag, breastplate and helmet;
and a splendid sword was seen of many
borne to the brave one. Beowulf took
cup in hall: for such costly gifts
he suffered no shame in that soldier throng.
For I heard of few heroes, in heartier mood,
with four such gifts, so fashioned with gold,
on the ale-bench honoring others thus!
O’er the roof of the helmet high, a ridge,
wound with wires, kept ward o’er the head,
lest the relict-of-files should fierce invade,
sharp in the strife, when that shielded hero
should go to grapple against his foes.
Then the earls’-defence on the floor bade lead
coursers eight, with carven head-gear,
adown the hall: one horse was decked
with a saddle all shining and set in jewels;
’twas the battle-seat of the best of kings,
when to play of swords the son of Healfdene
was fain to fare. Ne’er failed his valor
in the crush of combat when corpses fell.
To Beowulf over them both then gave
the refuge-of-Ingwines right and power,
o’er war-steeds and weapons: wished him joy of them.
Manfully thus the mighty prince,
hoard-guard for heroes, that hard fight repaid
with steeds and treasures contemned by none
who is willing to say the sooth aright.
Everyone began to pitch in to help repair the damage done to Heorot and to prepare it for a feast. Wonderful new decorations were to be hung from the walls. Though the building still stood, it was badly damaged by the battle. The roof was the only part that wasn’t scarred by Grendel’s attack and his attempt to escape. No one, however, can escape death-it awaits us all. It was time for Hrothgar to arrive at the banquet. Never before did such a large and noble group gather around their king. Famous men from across the land sat at the tables, drinking endless rounds of mead. Everyone in Heorot was filled with the spirit of friendship. The people had not yet learned to betray one another. Hrothgar gave Beowulf a splendid new sword and set of armor, along with a golden battle flag and a helmet with a ridge to protect its wearer. Beowulf drank to his host. He was not ashamed to receive such expensive gifts in front of his men, for he had earned them. It is rare that treasures like those would be handed over in so friendly a way. Then Hrothgar had eight horses brought into the hall. One was wearing a saddle covered in gold and jewels. It was the saddle Hrothgar used when he rode bravely into battle. He gave this all to Beowulf. The king behaved very nobly.