We’re skipping a lot of the manuscript to get here, but I may go back and change that later, adding in earlier sections. For the meantime, however, read on only if you’re familiar with the story; the sequence of Beowulf’s death (not to mention the antecedents and the gaps in the manuscript) can be a little strange if you don’t remember Wiglaf, the retainers, and the persistence of the preceding allusions. Enough of that, though, Let’s see Wiglaf come into his name:

The messenger was in haste, eager for the journey back,
by precious things urged on; anxiety him oppressed,
whether the bold in spirit alive he would find
in that place, the Weders’ prince,
deprived of strength where he himself before had left.
He then with that treasure to the renowned prince,
his own lord bleeding found, at the end of his life; he him again began
to sprinkle with water, until words began
through the breasthoard breaking…[the warrior king spoke]
old in sorrow–at the gold he looked–:
“I for these precious things the lord of all thank,
to the Glory King say words,
to the eternal lord, for that I here gaze on,
this which I have been permitted for my people
before my deathday such to gain.
Now I for a hoard of treasures have sold my
aged life, attending to, still,
the people’s needs; nor may I here long be.
Command a burial mound famed in battle to build
splendid like flame at the promontory by the sea;
that is to be as memorial to my people,
a high tower on Hronesness,
that it sailors afterwards may call
Beowulf’s Barrow, when those of ships
over the flood’s mist from afar navigate.”
Took he off his neck ring golden,
the prince brave-hearted, to his thane gave it,
to the young warrior, gold-adorned helm,
ring and mail coat, commanded him to use them well:
“you are the end-leaving of our kin,
Wægmundings; all fate swept away
of my kinsmen to destiny’s decree,
earls in valor; I must after them.”
That was from the old one the last word
from his heart’s thoughts before he the pyre chose,
hot hostile flame; from his breast departed
soul sought righteous glory.

And that was the end of the king, at least, although the tale does not end there. More on that later! Ah, and brownie points to anyone who remembers the literal translation of Wiglaf’s name…

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