diacritically-marked text and facing translation

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last updated on 15-June-2005

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Hróðgár maþelode      helm Scyldinga:


Hrothgar spoke,      the helm of the Scyldings:
'Fére fyhtum, þú,      wine mín Béowulf,


'Fit to fight, you,      my friend Beowulf,
ond for árstafum      úsic sóhtest.


and for honour      us have sought.
Geslóh þín fæder      faéhðe maéste:


Your father by striking began      the greatest feud:
wearþ hé Heaþoláfe      tó handbonan


he was Heatholaf's      slayer by his own hand
mid Wilfingum·      ðá hine gára cyn


of the Wylfings;      then him his spear-kin
for herebrógan      habban ne mihte·


for dread of troops      could not shelter;
þanon hé gesóhte      Súð-Dena folc


thence he sought      the South-Danes' folk
ofer ýða gewealc,      Ár-Scyldinga·


over the welling of the waves,      the Honour-Scyldings;
ðá ic furþum wéold      folce Deninga


at that time I had just begun to rule      the Danish folk
ond on geogoðe héold      gimmeríce


and in my youth held      the precious kingdom,
hordburh hæleþa·      ðá wæs Heregár déad


the treasure-keep of heroes;      then was Heregar dead,
mín yldra maég      unlifigende


my elder brother      unliving,
bearn Healfdenes·      sé wæs betera ðonne ic.


the son of Half-Dane;      he was better than I.
Siððan þá faéhðe      féo þingode·


Then the feud      I settled with fees;
sende ic Wylfingum      ofer wæteres hrycg


I sent the Wylfings      across the water's ridge
ealde mádmas·      hé mé áþas swór.


ancient treasures;      he swore oaths to me.
Sorh is mé tó secganne      on sefan mínum


It sorrows me to say      in my heart
gumena aéngum      hwæt mé Grendel hafað


to any man      Grendel has caused me what
hýnðo on Heorote      mid his heteþancum


humiliations in Heorot      with his thoughts of hatred,
faérníða gefremed·      is mín fletwerod


carried out lightning-quick attacks;      my hall-troop is
wíghéap gewanod·      híe wyrd forswéop


waned, that war-band;      they have been swept aside by Fate
on Grendles gryre·      god éaþe mæg


in Grendel's horrid violence;      God can easily
þone dolsceaðan      daéda getwaéfan.


the rash ravager's      deeds put an end to.
Ful oft gebéotedon      béore druncne


Full oft have vowed,      having drunk beer,
ofer ealowaége      óretmecgas


over ale-flagons,      battle-men,
þæt híe in béorsele      bídan woldon


that they in the beer-hall      would await
Grendles gúþe      mid gryrum ecga.


Grendel's onslaught      with vicious edges.
Ðonne wæs þéos medoheal      on morgentíd


Then, this mead-hall was      in the morning
drihtsele dréorfáh      þonne dæg lixte,


this noble hall stained with gore      when the day lightened,
eal bencþelu      blóde bestýmed


all of the benches      smeared with blood
heall heoru-dréore·      áhte ic holdra þý laés,


the hall battle-gory;      I had friends the fewer,
déorre duguðe      þé þá déað fornam.


cherished old battle-retinue,      for these Death took them away.
Site nú tó symle      ond onsaél meoto


Sit now to feast      and untie your thoughts
sigehréð secgum      swá þín sefa hwette.'


of your glorious victories to the soldiers,      as your heart urges.'
Þá wæs Géatmæcgum      geador ætsomne


Then the Geatish men were      gathered together
on béorsele      benc gerýmed


in the beer-hall,      room was made on a bench,
þaér swíðferhþe      sittan éodon


there the strong-souled      went to sit down,
þrýðum dealle      þegn nytte behéold


proud in prowess      a thane performed his office,
sé þe on handa bær      hroden ealowaége


he who in his hands bore      an ornate ale-cup,
scencte scír wered·      scop hwílum sang


decanted pure sweet mead;      a bard sang from time to time
hádor on Heorote·      þaér wæs hæleða dréam,


clear in Heorot;      there was joy of heroes,
duguð unlýtel      Dena ond Wedera.


no small host      of Danes and Wederas.