Page images


The ocean surges all were cleansed, 1620 | the Danes' death-plague, as it was fitting. 1670 the dwellings vast, when the stranger guest “I promise thee now that thou in Heorot ner life-days left and this fleeting existence. mayest sleep secure with thy warrior-band, Then came to land the sailor's protector and thy thanes, each one, thanes of thy people, stoutly swimming, rejoiced in his sea-spoil, the tried and the youthful; that thou needest the mighty burden of what he brought with not, him.

oh prince of the Scyldings, fear from that side Then toward him they went, with thanks to life's bane to thy warriors as erst thou didst.” God,

Then the golden hilt, to the aged hero, the stout band of thanes, rejoiced in their lord, the hoar war-leader, in hand was given, because they beheld him safe and sound. giant-work old; it passed to the keeping From the vigorous chief both helm and byrniej (those devils once fallen) of the lord of the were then soon loosed. The sea subsided


1680 the cloud-shadowed water with death-gore dap- wonderful smith-work; when quitted this world pled.

1631 | the fierce-hearted creature, God's adversary, Thence forth they went retracing their steps of murder guilty, and his mother also, happy at heart, the high-way measured,

it passed to the keeping of the best the well-known road. The nobly bold men

of the world-kings that by the two seas, up from the sea-shore bore the head,

in Scania-land, treasures dealt. not without labor for each of them,

Then Hrothgar spake; he gazed on the hilt, the mightily daring. Four undertook

old relic whereon was the origin written with toil to bear on the battle-spear,

of an ancient war, when the flood had slainup to the gold-hall, the head of Grendel;

the flowing ocean—the race of the giants;-until straightway to the hall they came, 1640 they had borne them boldly. That was a people resolute, warlike, four and ten of them,

alien from God; them a final reward, 1692 Geats all marching with their lord.

through the rage of the water, the All-wielder Proud amid the throng, he trod the meadows

gave. Then entering came the prince of than, 1 On the mounting too, of shining gold, the deed-strong man with glory honed,

in runic letters, was rightly marked, the man bold in battle, Hrothgar , greet. was set and said, for whom first was wrought And into the hall, where men e drinking, that choicest of swords, with hilt bound round Grendel's head by the hair was borne,

and serpentine. Then spake the wise man, a thing of terror to nobles and lady.

the son of lealfdene, (all were silent): 'Twas a wonderful sight men looked upon. “Lo this may he say who practises truth

and right 'mong the people, far back all reXXV. HROTHGAR'S GRATITUDE AND COUNSEL members,

1701 1957 a land-warder ald, that this earl was Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow's son:

nobly born. "Lo, these sea-offerings, son of Healfdene,

my fame is exalted, lord of the Scyldings, we have joyfully brought,

through far and wide ways, Beowulf, my friend, in token of glory: thou seest them here.

| over every nation. Thou wearest with patience Not easily did I escape with my life,

thy might, and with prudence. I shall show ventured with pain on the war under water.

thee my love, Indeed the struggle would have been ended

e'en as we two have said: thou shalt be for a outright, had not God me shielded.

comfort Not able was I, in the conflict, with Hrunting | a very long time to thine own people,

a help unto warriors. Not so was Heremodi aught to accomplish, though that weapon was good;

1660 ) to Ecgwela's children, the noble Scyldings;

he throve not for their weal, but for their but the Ruler of men granted to me, that I saw on the wall, all beautiful hanging,

slaughter, an old heavy sword, (He has often directed

and for a death-plague to the folk of the Danes. the friendless man,) and that weapon I drew.

In angry mood slew he his table-sharers, Then I slew in that strife, as occasion afforded,

his nearest friends, till he lonely departed, the wards of the house. That war-falchion then,

the very great prince, from the joys of men. that drawn brand. was burnt. as the blood Though him Mighty God, with delights of burst forth,

power, of strife-blood the hottest. Thence I the hilt with strength had exalted, above all men . from the foes bore away, avenged the crimes, 11 A Danish King, banished for cruelty.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


had advanced him, yet there grew in his heart shall fail and darken; sudden 'twill be, a bloodthirsty spirit; he gave no rings

that thee, noble warrior, death shall o’erpower. to the Danes, as was custom; joyless continued “Thus I the Ring-Danes half a hundred years he,

1720 had ruled 'neath the welkin, and saved them in so that of war he the misery suffered,


1776 long bale to the people. Learn thou from him; from many tribes through this mid-earth, lay hold of man's virtue! For thee have I told with spears and swords, so that I counted this,

that under Heaven I had no foe. wise in winters. 'Tis wondrous to say,

Lo to me then came a reverse in my realm, how mighty God, to the race of men,

after merriment sadness, since Grendel became through his ample mind, dispenses wisdom, my enemy old, and my assailant. lands and valor: He has power over all. From that persecution have I constantly borne Sometimes He lets wander at their own will great grief of mind. So thanks be to God the thoughts of a man of race renownedl, the Lord Eternal, that I have lived in his country gives him the joy of earth, 1730 till I on that head all clotted with gore, 1780 a shelter-city of men to possess;

old conflict ended, might gaze with my eyes. thus makes to him subject parts of the world, Go now to thy seat, the banquet enjoy, ample kingdoms, that he himself may not, O honored in battle; for us two shall be because of his folly, think of his end.

many treasures in common, when morning shall He lives in plenty; no whit deters him

come." disease or old age, no uneasy care

Glad was the Geat and straightway went darkens his soul, nor anywhere strife

to take his seat, as the sage commanded. breeds hostile hate; but for him the whole Then as before were the famed for valor, world

the sitters at court right handsomely turns at his will; he the worse knows not, set feasting afresh. The night-helm grew

murky, XXVI. HROTHGAR'S COUNSEL CONCLUDED dark o'er the vassals; the courtiers all rose; until within him a great deal of arrogance

the grizzly-haired prince would go to his bed, grows and buds, when the guardian sleeps, 1741 | the aged Scylding; the Geat, exceedingly the keeper of the soul. Too fast is the sleep,

famed shield-warrior, desired to rest. bound down by cares; very near is the slayer,

Him, journey-weary, come from afar, who from his arrow-bow wickedly shoots.

a hall-thane promptly guided forth Then he in the breast, 'neath the helm, will be

who in respect had all things provided stricken

for a thane 's need, such as in that day with the bitter shaft; he cannot guard him

farers over the sea should have. from strange evil orders of the Spirit accursed.

The great-hearted rested. High rose the hall Too small seems to him what long he has held; vaulted and gold-hued; therein slept the guest, fierce minded he covets, gives not in his pride

until the black raven, blithe-hearted, announced many rich rings; and the future life 1750

the joy of heaven. Then came the bright sun he forgets and neglects, because God to him

o'er the fields gliding. . . . .


[Beowulf returns the sword Hrunting to gave, Ruler of glory, many great dignities.

Hunferth, then goes to the king and announces In the final close at length it chances

his intention of returning to his fatherland. that the body-home, inconstant, sinks,

The king repeats his thanks and praises.] fated falls. Another succeeds, who without reluctance treasure dispenses,

XXVII. THE PARTING old wealth of the warrior, terror heeds not. Then to him gave the warrior's protector,

“From that evil keep thee, Beowulf dear, the son of Healfdene, treasures twelve; best among warriors, and choose thee the better, with those gifts bade him his own dear people counsels eternal. Heed not arrogance, 1760 in safety to seek, and quickly return. 1869 famous champion! Now is thy might

The king, in birth noble, then kissed the prince, in flower for awhile; eftsoons will it be

the lord of the Scyldings the best of thanes;that disease or the sword shall deprive thee of and round the neck clasped him; tears he shed, strength,

the hoary headed; chances two or the clutch of fire, or rage of flood,

there were to the aged, the second stronger, or falchion's grip, or arrows' flight,

whether (or not) they should see each other or cruel age; or brightness of eyes

| again in conference. So dear was the man





that his breast's heaving he could not restrain, | her maidhood departed, and yet could nowise but in his bosom, in heart-bands fast,

clearly divine how it might be. for the man beloved his secret longing

That was o'erpassed; this may pass also. burned in his blood. Beowulf thence,

Of Hild's fate we have heard from many. a gold-proud warrior, trod the greensward,

Land-bereaved were the Geatish chieftains, in treasure exulting. The sea-ganger awaited,

so that sorrow left them sleepless. at anchor riding, its owner and lord.*

That was o'erpassed; this may pass also.

Theodoric kept for thirty winters

in the burg of the Mærings; 'twas known of Weland for a woman learned to know exile,

many. that haughty earl bowed unto hardship,

That was o'erpassed; this may pass also. had for companions sorrow and longing, Heard have we likewise of Eormanric's mind, the winter's cold sting, woe upon woe,

wolfishly tempered; widely enthralled he what time Nithhad laid sore need on him. | the folk of the Goth-realm; he was a grim king. Withering sinew-wounds! Ill-starred man! 6 Vany a warrior sat locked in bis sorrow, 24

That was oerpassed; this may pass also. waiting on woe; wished, how earnestly! On Beadohilde bore not so heavily

the reign of that king might come to an end. her brother's death as the dule in her own

That uus o'erpassed; this may pass also. heart

. . Now of myself this will I say: 35 when she perceived, past shadow of doubt, Erewhile I was Scôp of the Heodenings,

dear to my lord. Deor my name was. * Is the poem of Beowulf in any sense mythological? Perhaps the latest and best opinion

A many winters I knew good service; on the subject is that it is not.

gracious was my lord. But now Heorrenda, "Undoubtedly one is here on the borderland of myth. But in the actual poem the

by craft of his singing, succeeds to the land. border is not crossed. Whatever the remote

right connection of Beowulf the hero with Beowa the god, . . to the poet of the epic its

that Guardian of Men erst gave unto me. hero is a man, and the monsters are such

That was ocrpassed; this may pass also. as folk then believed to haunt sea and lake and moor."---Francis B. Gummere: The Oldest English Epic.

"The poem loses nothing of its picturesque. ness in being denied its mythology. The fire

CAEDMON (A. 670) drake and Grendel and the she-demon are more terrible when conceived as uncanny and FROM THE PARAPHRASE OF THE abominable beings whose activities in the world can only be dimly imagined by men

.SCRIPTURES* than they are when made mere personifications of the forces of nature. Beowulf is no

THE GARDEN OF EDEN less heroic as a mortal facing with undaunted courage these grisly phantoms of the moor Then beheld our ('reator and mere, than as a god subduing the sea or the darkness. And the proud words that the beauty of his works and the excellence of he utters in his dying hour are more impres

his productions, sive from the lips of a man than from those of a being who still retains some of the glory

of the new creatures. Paradise stood of a god about him,--'In my home I awaited what time might bring me, held well my own, sought no treacherous feuds, swore no false

with forward benefits. Fair washed oaths. In all this I can rejoice, though sick the genial land the running water, unto death with my wounds.' "-William W. Lawrence : Pub. Alod. Lang. Association,

the well-brook: no clouds as yet June, 1909.

over the ample ground bore rains Deor's Lament is one of the poems that may lowering with wind; yet with fruits stood

have been brought from the continent by the Angles in their early migrations. "Its form."

earth avlorn'd. Held their onward course says Stopford Brooke, "is remarkable. It has | river-streams, four noble ones, a refrain, and there is no other early Eng. lish instance of this known to us.

from the new Paradise.

It is written in strophes, and one motive. constant These were parted, by the Lord's might, throughout, is expressed in the refrain. This dominant cry of passion makes the poem a

all from one (when he this earth created) true lyric, ... the Father of all English lyrics

. Deor has been deprived of his rewards and lands, and has seen a rival 1 * These paraphrases of the Scriptures are comset above his head. It is this whirling down

monly spoken of as ('ædmon's, though as of Fortune's wheel that he mourns in his cribed to him on very uncertain grounds. song. and he compares his fate to that of

Apart from their intrinsic worth they are others who have suffered, so that he may interesting for their possible relation to Para have some comfort. But the comfort is stern

lise Lost. See Eng. Lit., p. 23. The transla like that the Northmen take."

tion is the literal one of Benjamin Thorpe.

210 water with beauty bright, and sent into the must cede our realm; yet hath he not done world.


360 that he hath struck us down to the fiery abyss THE FALL OF SATAN

of the hot hell, hereft us of heaven's kingdom, The All-powerful had angel tribes,

hath it decreed with mankind through might of hand, the holy Lord,

to people. That of sorrows is to me the ten established, in whom he trusted well

greatest, that they his service would follow,

that Adam shall, who of earth was wrought, work his will; therefore gave he them wit. 250 | my strong seat possess, and shaped them with his hands; the holy Lord.

ve to him in delight, and we endure this torHe had placed them so happily, one he haii


misery in this hell. Oh had 1 power of my made so powerful, so mighty in his mind's thought, he let him


and might one season be without, sway over so much, highest after himself in heaven 's kingdom. lle

be one winter's space, then with this host 1—370 had made him so fair,

Put around me lie iron bonds,

prosseth this cord of chain: I am powerless! so beauteous was his form in heaven, that came to him from the Lord of hosts.

me have so hard the clasps of hell, he was like to the light stars. It was his to

i so firmly grasped! Here is a vast fire work the praise of the Lord,

above and underneath, never did I see it was his to hold dear his joys in heaven, and

a loathlier landskip); the flame abateth not,

hot over hell. Me hath the clasping of these . to thank his Lorii

rings, for the reward that he had bestow'd on him in that light; then had he let him long pos

this hard-polish'd band, impeded in my course,

debarr’dd me from my way; my feet are bounil, sess it; but he turned it for himself to a worse thing,

my hands manacled, of these hell-doors are 380 began to raise war upon him,

the ways obstructeil, so that with aught I cannot against the highest Ruler of heaven, who sitteth

from these limb-bonıls escape.”—From Genesis. in the holy seat.

THE CLOUD BY DAY The fiend with all his comrades fell then from

Had the clouil, in its wide embrace,

the earth and firmament above alike divided: heaven above, through as long as three nights and days,

it led the nation-host; quenched was the flamethe angels from

'aven into hell, and them all.
the Lord

with heat heaven-bright. The people were

amazed, transformed to devils, because they his deed | and word

of multitudes most joyous, their day-shield's

shade would not revere; therefore them in a worse

rolled over the clouds. The wise God had 80 light,

310 under the earth beneath, Almighty God

the sun's course with a sail shrouded; had placed triumphless in the swart hell;

though the mast-ropes men knew not, there they have at even, immeasurably long,

nor the sail-cross might they see,

the inhabitants of earth, all the enginery; each of all the fiends, a renewal of fire; then cometh ere dawn the eastern wind,

how was fastened that greatest of field-houses. frost bitter-cold; ever fire or dart, some hard torment they must have;

THE DROWNING OF PHARAOH AND ITIS ARMY it was wrought for them in punishment.

The folk was affrighted, the flood-dread seized

on Then spake the haughty king

their sad souls; ocean wailed with (leath, who of angels erst was brightest,

338 | the mountain heights were with blood befairest in heaven: . . .

steamed, "This narrow place is most unlike

the sea foamed gore, crying was in the waves, that other that we ere knew,

the water full of weapons, a death-mist high in heaven's kingilom, which my master rose;

450 bestow'd on me,

the Egyptians were turned back; though we it, for the All-powerful, may not trembling they fled, they felt fear: possess,

| would that host gladly find their homes;



their vaunt grew sadder; against them as a their allies, and having delivered them from cloud, rose

their cruel oppressors, advised them to build a the fell rolling of the waves; there came not wall between the two seas across the island, any

that it might secure them, and keep off the of that host to home, but from behind inclosed enemy; and thus they returned home with great

triumph. The islanders raising the wall, as fate with the ware. Where ways ere lay, they had been directed, not of stone, as having sea raged. Their might was merged,

no artist capable of such a work, but of sods, the streams stood, the storm rose

made it of no use. However, they drew it for high to heaven; the loudest army-cry 460 many miles between the two bays or inlets of the hostile uttered; the air above was thickened the seas, which we have spoken of; to the end with dying voices; blood pervaded the Hood, that where the defense of the water was wantthe shield-walls were riven, shook the firmamenting, they might use the rampart to defend their that greatest of sea-deaths: the proud died, borders from the irruptions of the enemies. kings in a body; the return prevailed

Of which work there erected, that is, of a ramof the sea at length; their bucklers shone part of extraordinary breadth and height, there high over the soldiers; the sea-wall rose, are evident reniains to be seen at this day. It the proud-ocean-stream, their might in death begins at about two miles' distance from the was

monastery of Abercurnig, and running westfastly' fettered.–From Exodus.

ward, ends near the city Aleluith.3

But the former enemies, when they perceived

that the Roman soldiers were gone, immediBEDE (673-735)

ately coming by sea, broke into the borders, FROM THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY* trampled and overran all places, and like men

mowing ripe corn, bore down all before them. THE BRITONS SEEK SUCCOR FROM THE ROMANS Hereupon messengers are again sent to Rome, THE ROMAN WALL

imploring aid, lest their wretched country From that time,1 the south part of Britain,

should be utterly extirpated, and the name of

"' | the Roman province, so long renowned among destitute of armed soldiers, of martial stores, i

them, overthrown by the cruelties of barbarous and of all its active youth, which had been led

foreigners, might become utterly contemptible, away by the rashness of the tyrants, never to

A legion is accordingly sent again, and, arrivreturn, was wholly exposed to rapine, as being

ing unexpectedly in autumn, made great slaughtotally ignorant of the use of weapons. Where

ter of the enemy, obliging all those that could upon they suffered many years under two very

escape, to flee beyond the sea; whereas before, savage foreign nations, the Scots from the west,

they were wont yearly to carry off their booty and the Picts from the north. We call these

without any opposition. Then the Romans deforeign nations, not on account of their being

clared to the Britons that they could not for seated out of Britain, but because they were

the future undertake such troublesome expediremote from that part of it which was pos

tions for their sake, advising them rather to sessed by the Britons; two inlets of the sea

handle their weapons like men, and undertake lying between them, one of which runs in far

themselves the charge of engaging their eneand broad into the land of Britain, from the

mies, who would not prove too powerful for Eastern Ocean, and the other from the West

them, unless they were deterred by cowardice; ern, though they do not reach so as to touch

and, thinking that it might be some help to the one another. . . On account of the irruption of these nations,

allies, whom they were forced to abandon, they

built a strong stone wall from sea to sea, in a the Britons sent messengers to Rome with let

straight line between the towns that had been ters in mournful manner, praying for succours,

there built for fear of the enemy, and not far and promising perpetual subjection, provided

from the trench of Severus. This famous wall, that the impending enemy should be driven

which is still to be seen, was built at the public away. An armed legion was immediately sent

and private expense, the Britons also lending them, which, arriving in the island, and en

their assistance. It is eight feet in breadth, gaging the enemy, slew a great multitude of

and twelve in height, in a straight line from them, drove the rest out of the territories of

2 Abercorn, a village on the south bank of the 1 About 400 onward.

Firth of Forth. • See Eny. Lit., p. 23.

| 3 Dumharton.


« PreviousContinue »