Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Page: 20Then Hrothgar burst forth in uncontrollable emotion: “O Beowulf, help us if thou canst! Help is only to be found in thee. But yet thou knowest not the dangerous place thou must needs explore if thou seek the fiend in her den. I will richly reward thy valour if thou returnest alive from this hazardous journey.”
Beowulf was touched by the sorrow of the grey-haired king, and replied:
That he avenge his friend, than that he mourn him much.
Each man must undergo death at the end of life.
Let him win while he may warlike fame in the world!
That is best after death for the slain warrior.”
The warriors gazed awe-struck, and the dread horn sang
From time to time fiercely eager defiance.
The warriors sat down there, and saw on the water
The sea-dragons swimming to search the abysses.
They saw on the steep nesses sea-monsters lying,
Snakes and weird creatures: these madly shot away
Wrathful and venomous when the sound smote their ears,
The blast of the war-horn.”
As Beowulf stood on the shore and watched the uncouth sea-creatures, serpents, nicors, monstrous beasts of all kinds, he suddenly drew his bow and shot one of them to the heart. The rest darted furiously away, and the thanes were able to drag the carcase of the slain beast on shore, where they surveyed it with wonder.
The Fight with Grendel’s Mother
Meanwhile Beowulf had made ready for his task. He trusted to his well-woven mail, the corslet fitting closely to his body and protecting his breast, the shining helm guarding his head, bright with the boar-image on the crest, and the mighty sword Hrunting, [Pg 24] which Hunferth, his jealousy forgotten in admiration, pressed on the adventurous hero.
Steel was the blade itself, tempered with poison-twigs,
Hardened with battle-blood: never in fight it failed
Any who wielded it, when he would wage a strife
In the dire battlefield, folk-moot of enemies.”