November 2007


For this I reworked the fight sequence to have a meter corresponding to the original’s; where the Old English takes 10 syllables, I take twelve–after all, Modern English has to deal with articles. There is only one line where I deviate from this, and that is for aesthetic purposes; the original makes a slight break, but not where I find the emphasis to be. On occasion, I was able to work in some alliteration, but I tried to stay as faithful to the literal meaning of the lines as possible. There are also places where one might notice that a pronoun, or even an understood pronoun, has become a proper noun. This I did for the dual purposes of meter and clarity. In any case, I would appreciate all feedback, and hope you enjoy!

The mighty one beheld
kinsman of Hygelac, how the man-scather
with his onslaught would proceed.
Nor was it that the awful fiend thought to delay,
but he seized quick at the first opportunity
a sleeping warrior and tore with abandon,
bit into his bonelocks, drank the blood from his veins,
gorged himself on gigantic morsels; soon he had
the entire lifeless corpse consumed,
feet and hands. Forward, nearer, he stepped,
and then he grasped with both his hands the strong-hearted
warrior on his palate, he reached out towards
the enemy with his grip; the thane seized him quick
with hostile intent, and with his own arm sat up.
Presently that master of wicked arts realized
that he had never before met on Middle Earth,
in the reaches of the world, in another man
a greater handgrip; Grendel in his heart became
fearful of spirit; yet he couldn’t break away.
His mind was eager for him to be off; he longed to flee into the darkness,
seek the devils’ company; nor was his experience there
such as he before in older days had ever encountered.
Remembered he then, the brave kin of Hygelac,
his evening speech; he stood upright
and held fast his foe. Fingers burst;
the giant was striving to flee, the earl stepped up.
Intended that infamous one, should he be able,
to escape farther off and away from that place,
flee for his fen retreat; he knew his fingers’ wield
in that hostile grasp. That was a bitter journey
that the harm-monger undertook to Heorot!

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Ordered then Hildeburh at Hnæf’s funeral pyre
her own son committed to the blaze,
bone-vessel to burn, and on pyre placed
at his uncle’s shoulder. The woman mourned,
lamenting in dirge; the warrior ascended;
wound to the clouds in the funeral pyre’s mist,
it roared before the barrow. Heads melted
wound-gashes burst, then blood sprang forth,
grievous wounds of the body. The corpses all it swallowed,
greediest spirit, of whom there war had carried off
of both bands; and so it was their glory passed away.
XVII
Departed then with him the warriors,
deprived of friends, Frisia saw,
homes and stronghold. Hengest then still
the slaughter-stained winter stayed with Finn
with ill-fated courage; thinking on the homeland,
though he could [not] sail on the sea
in a ring-prowed ship. The sea surged in storm,
contended with wind; winter the waves locked
icebound until another cam,
year in dwelling, which now still it does,
that always the proper seasons observed,
wonderfully bright weather. Then was winter departed
from Earth’s beautiful lap; eager to go was the exile,
guest of the dwellings; he of revenge
oftener thought when on sea-journey
if he a hostile encounter could bring about
that he the Jutes’s bairns in his heart might remember.
So he did not refuse the law of the world
when to him Hunlafing the battle-light,
the finest sword, on his lap placed;
its edges were known among the Jutes.
Likewise to spirit-bold Finn afterwards befell
cruel death at the sword in his own home,
Afterwards of the grim attack Gu∂laf and Oslaf
after their sea-journey spoke of the sorrow,
blamed their share of the woes; it could not, the restless spirit
constrain itself in the heart. Then was the hall reddened
with enemies’s blood, and Finn slain,
king of the troop, and the queen taken.
The Warrior-Scyldings to the ship carried
all possessions of the king of the land,
such as they at Finn’s house could find
jewels, finely worked gems. They in seajourney
the noble wife to Daneland carried,
led her to her people.

There shall be more translations (we do two a week, usually) when I have the time to clean them up and post. Right now, though, I’m working on a graded poetic translation for my term paper, so it might be a week or so. ‘Til then!