Here’s an excerpt from much earlier in the poem than my last few posts: lines 1556-1590. This takes place in the lair of Grendel’s mother, when Beowulf is fighting for his life and being rather badly whupped. The venerable sword given him by Unferth (who, honestly, is not someone I would have trusted to keep a good weapon) fails, and Grendel’s mother is giving a much better account of herself than her son did. Sometime we’ll have to take a look at the sorrowful and the monstrous idres, but that can wait. It looks like I’ll be doing Wednesday updates for now, so I’ll see all two of you next week.

Saw he there among the arms a sword blessed by victory,
oldsword crafted by giants, with strong edges,
warriors’ glory; that was the best weapon,
but that it was more than any other man
to the warplay might carry,
good and splendid, work of giants.
He seized that ornamental hilt, warrior of the Scyldings,*
fierce and deadly grim, he drew the ringsword
without hope of life, struck angrily
that on her neck caught hard,
her bonerings broke. The sword passed through all
of the fated flesh-being; she fell to the floor.
The sword was bloody, the man in his work rejoiced
that gleam shone forth, light appeared further in.
Just as that from heaven brightly shines
the sky’s candle. He looked about the hall;
he turned by the wall, weapon raised
hard along the hilts Hygelac’s thane,
angry and resolute. Nor was that blade useless
to the warrior, rather he quickly would
Grendel repay for his many attacks
of which he carried out upon the West-Danes
much more often than on one occasion,
when he Hroðgar’s heart-companions
slew in slumber, in sleep devoured
of the folk of the Danes fifteen men,
and other such carried off,
loathsome boon. He to him for that reward repaid,
fierce warrior, so that when he on its resting place saw,
worn out by battle, Grendel’s corpse
lifeless, because he earlier had wounded him
in the battle at Heorot. The body burst wide open
since it after death suffered a blow
with a bold swordstroke, and with that carved off the head.

*Beowulf is still a Geat, but since he is currently on Scylding business and has been accepted by Hroðgar as being as dear as a son, he can be called a Scylding for now. Hroðgar’s fatherly love for the hero is beautifully (if windily) expressed, and the gesture was sufficiently close enough to adopting Beowulf as kin to get Wealtheow, Hroðgar’s queen, worked up about succession. I’d have to code switch to explain the tremendous significance in this culture more gracefully. The Irish do an excellent job with mo cuisla, which translates close to “my own blood.”

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