Our longest translation yet which, as I’m sure you shall see, I had fun with. For once, I’m done two days early!

The mighty one beheld,
kinsman of Hygelac, how the man-reaper
with his onslaught would proceed.
Nor was it that the awful assailant thought to delay
but he seized quickly at the first opportunity
a sleeping warrior, tore with abandon,
bit into his bonelocks, drank the blood from his veins,
gulped sinful morsels; soon he had
the entire lifeless corpse consumed,
feet and hands. Forward nearer he stepped,
then he with hand felt for the stronghearted
warrior on his bed, reached out
the fiend with his hand; he [Beowulf] seized quickly
with hostile intent and with his [own] arm sat himself up.
Immediately realized that master of wicked deeds,
that he had never met on Middle Earth,
in the regions of the world in another man
a greater handgrip; it in his heart aroused
fear of spirit; yet he could not break away.
His mind was eager for him to get away; he wanted to flee into the darkness,
go to the devils’ company; nor was his experience there
such as he before in the older days encountered.
Remembered then the brave* kin of Hygelac
his evening speech, he stood upright
and grasped him fast; fingers burst
the giant was trying to escape, the warrior stepped forward.
Intended that infamous one, if he could do so,
to escape further off and away from there
flee to his fen retreat; he knew his fingers’ power
in that hostile grasp. That was a bitter journey
that the harmmonger undertook to Heorot!
The noble hall resounded; in the Danes all arose,
hall dwellers, for the bravery of each,
in the warriors a terror**. Furious were both,
fierce hallwards; the hall resounded.
It was a great wonder that the hall
withstood [it] brave in battle, that it did not fall to the ground,
beautiful building; but it so fast was
inside and out with iron bands
skillfully forged. There from the floor were wrenched
many mead benches, as I have heard,
gold-adorned, when those hostiles fought.
This was never thought by any wise Shielding,
that [the hall] ever by any means for many years,
excellend and ivory-adorned, would shatter,
with cunning be destroyed, until fire’s embrace
swallowed it in flame. A sound rose up
new and often; the North Danes stood
in horrible fear, each one
who from the [outer] wall heard of the wailing,
the chant of terror of God’s adversary,
song of defeat, lamenting the wound
of Hell’s captive. Held him fast,
he who of men was of the greatest strength
in the days of this life.

*MS “good”
**there is some debate over the meaning and etymology of ealuscerwen but, though it and its presumed relative, meoduscerwen, are translated as “terror,” it appears that its literal meaning corresponds to “the serving of bitter ale” or, worse, “deprivation of ale.” This is one of those kennings that make Old English fun.

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