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last updated on 01-Oct-2006

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Hwæt! Wé Gárdena      in géardagum


Listen! We --of the Spear-Danes      in the days of yore,
þéodcyninga      þrym gefrúnon·


of those clan-kings--      heard of their glory.
hú ðá æþelingas      ellen fremedon.


how those nobles      performed courageous deeds.
Oft Scyld Scéfing      sceaþena þréatum


Often Scyld, Scef's son,      from enemy hosts
monegum maégþum      meodosetla oftéah·


from many peoples      seized mead-benches;
egsode Eorle      syððan aérest wearð


and terrorised the fearsome Heruli      after first he was
féasceaft funden      hé þæs frófre gebád·


found helpless and destitute,      he then knew recompense for that:-
wéox under wolcnum·      weorðmyndum þáh


he waxed under the clouds,      throve in honours,
oð þæt him aéghwylc      þára ymbsittendra


until to him each      of the bordering tribes
ofer hronráde      hýran scolde,


beyond the whale-road      had to submit,
gomban gyldan·      þæt wæs gód cyning.


and yield tribute:-      that was a good king!
Ðaém eafera wæs      æfter cenned


To him a heir was      born then
geong in geardum      þone god sende


young in the yards,      God sent him
folce tó frófre·      fyrenðearfe ongeat·


to comfort the people;      He had seen the dire distress
þæt híe aér drugon      aldorléase


that they suffered before,      leader-less
lange hwíle·      him þæs líffréä


a long while;      them for that the Life-Lord,
wuldres wealdend      woroldáre forgeaf:


Ruler of Glory,      granted honour on earth:
Béowulf wæs bréme      --blaéd wíde sprang--


Beowulf (Beaw) was famed      --his renown spread wide--
Scyldes eafera      Scedelandum in.


Scyld's heir,      in Northern lands.
Swá sceal geong guma      góde gewyrcean


So ought a young man      by good deeds deserve,
fromum feohgiftum      on fæder bearme


(and) by fine treasure-gifts,      while in his father's keeping,
þæt hine on ylde      eft gewunigen


that him in old age      shall again stand by,
wilgesíþas      þonne wíg cume·


willing companions,      when war comes,
léode gelaésten:      lofdaédum sceal


people serve him:      by glorious deeds must,
in maégþa gehwaére      man geþéön.


amongst his people, everywhere,      one prosper.
Him ðá Scyld gewát      tó gescæphwíle


Then Scyld departed      at the destined time,
felahrór féran      on fréan waére·


still in his full-strength, to fare      in the protection of the Lord Frea;
hí hyne þá ætbaéron      tó brimes faroðe


he they carried      to the sea's surf,
swaése gesíþas      swá hé selfa bæd


his dear comrades,      as he himself had bid,
þenden wordum wéold      wine Scyldinga


when he yet wielded words,      that friend of the Scyldings,
léof landfruma      lange áhte·


beloved ruler of the land,      had ruled for a long time;
þaér æt hýðe stód      hringedstefna


there at the harbour stood      with a ringed-prow,
ísig ond útfús      æþelinges fær·


icy and keen to sail,      a hero's vessel;
álédon þá      léofne þéoden


they then laid down      the beloved prince,
béaga bryttan      on bearm scipes


the giver of rings and treasure,      in the bosom of the boat,
maérne be mæste·      þaér wæs mádma fela


the mighty by the mast;      many riches were there,
of feorwegum      frætwa gelaéded·


from far-off lands      ornate armour and baubles were brought;
ne hýrde ic cýmlícor      céol gegyrwan


I have not heard of a comelier      keel adorned
hildewaépnum      ond heaðowaédum


with weapons of battle      and war-dress,
billum ond byrnum·      him on bearme læg


bill-blades and byrnies;      there lay on his breast
mádma mænigo      þá him mid scoldon


many treasures,      which with him must,
on flódes aéht      feor gewítan·


in the power of the waves,      drift far off;
nalæs hí hine laéssan      lácum téodan


in no way had they upon him fewer      gifts bestowed
þéodgestréonum      þonne þá dydon


with the wealth of a nation,      than those did
þe hine æt frumsceafte      forð onsendon


who him in the beginning      had sent forth
aénne ofer ýðe      umborwesende·


alone upon the waves      being but a child;
þá gýt híe him ásetton      segen gyldenne


yet then they set up      the standard of gold,
héah ofer héafod·      léton holm beran·


high over head;      they let the sea bear,
géafon on gársecg·      him wæs geómor sefa


gave to the ocean,      in them were troubled hearts,
murnende mód·      men ne cunnon


mourning minds;      men cannot
secgan tó sóðe      seleraédenne


say for certain,      (neither) court-counsellors
hæleð under heofenum      hwá þaém hlæste onféng.


(nor) heroes under heaven,      who received that cargo.