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last updated on 15-June-2005

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Ðá wæs on burgum      Béowulf Scyldinga


Then was in boroughs,      Beowulf the Scylding (Beaw),
léof léodcyning      longe þráge


beloved king of the people      a long age
folcum gefraége      --fæder ellor hwearf


famed among the folk      --his father having gone elsewhere,
aldor of earde--      oþ þæt him eft onwóc


elder on earth--      until unto him in turn was born
héah Healfdene      héold þenden lifde


high Half-Dane,      he ruled so long as he lived
gamol ond gúðréouw      glæde Scyldingas·


old and battle-fierce,      the glad Scyldings;
ðaém féower bearn      forðgerímed


to him four sons      in succession
in worold wócun      weoroda raéswan:


woke in the world,      the leader of the legions:
Heorogár ond Hróðgár      ond Hálga til·


Heorogar and Hrothgar      and good Halga;
hýrde ic þæt Ýrse      wæs Onelan cwén


I heard that Yrse      was Onela's queen,
Heaðo-Scilfingas      healsgebedda.


the War-Scylfing's      belovèd embraced in bed.
Þá wæs Hróðgáre      herespéd gyfen


Then was to Hrothgar      success in warcraft given,
wíges weorðmynd      þæt him his winemágas


honour in war,      so that his retainers
georne hýrdon      oðð þæt séo geogoð gewéox


eagerly served him      until the young war-band grew
magodriht micel·      him on mód bearn


into a mighty battalion;      it came into his mind
þæt healreced      hátan wolde


that a hall-house,      he wished to command,
medoærn micel      men gewyrcean


a grand mead-hall,      be built by men
þone yldo bearn      aéfre gefrúnon


which the sons of men      should hear of forever,
ond þaér on innan      eall gedaélan


and there within      share out all
geongum ond ealdum      swylc him god sealde


to young and old,      such as God gave him,
búton folcscare      ond feorum gumena·


except the common land      and the lives of men;
ða ic wíde gefrægn      weorc gebannan


Then, I heard, widely      was the work commissioned
manigre maégþe      geond þisne middangeard·


from many peoples      throughout this middle-earth,
folcstede frætwan.      Him on fyrste gelomp


to furnish this hall of the folk.      For him in time it came to pass,
aédre mid yldum      þæt hit wearð ealgearo


early, through the men,      that it was fully finished,
healærna maést·      scóp him Heort naman


the best of royal halls;      he named it Heorot,
sé þe his wordes geweald      wíde hæfde·


he whose words weight      had everywhere;
hé béot ne áléh·      béagas daélde


he did not lie when he boasted;      rings he dealt out,
sinc æt symle.      Sele hlífade


riches at his feasts.      The hall towered,
héah ond horngéap·      heaðowylma bád


high and horn-gabled;      it awaited the cruel surges
láðan líges·      ne wæs hit lenge þá gén


of hateful flames;      nor was the time yet nigh
þæt se ecghete      áþumswéoran


that the furious edge-malice      of son-in-law and father-in-law,
æfter wælníðe      wæcnan scolde.


arising from deadly enmity      would inevitably awaken.
Ðá se ellengaést      earfoðlíce


Then the bold spirit,      impatiently
þráge geþolode      sé þe in þýstrum bád


endured dreary time,      he who dwelt in darkness,
þæt hé dógora gehwám      dréam gehýrde


he that every day      heard noise of revelry
hlúdne in healle·      þaér wæs hearpan swég


loud in the hall;      there was the harmony of the harp,
swutol sang scopes·      sægde sé þe cúþe


the sweet song of the poet;      he spoke who knew how
frumsceaft fíra      feorran reccan·


the origin of men      to narrate from afar;
cwæð þæt se ælmihtiga      eorðan worhte


said he that the almighty one      wrought the earth,
wlitebeorhtne wang      swá wæter bebúgeð·


(that) fair, sublime field      bounded by water;
gesette sigehréþig      sunnan ond mónan


set up triumphant      the sun and moon,
léoman tó léohte      land-búendum


luminaries as lamps      for the land-dwellers
ond gefrætwade      foldan scéatas


and adorned      the corners of the earth
leomum ond léafum·      líf éac gesceóp


with limbs and leaves;      life too He formed
cynna gehwylcum      þára ðe cwice hwyrfaþ·


for each of the species      which lives and moves.
Swá ðá drihtguman      dréamum lifdon


So the lord's men      lived in joys,
éadiglice      oð ðæt án ongan


happily,      until one began
fyrene fremman      féond on helle·


to execute atrocities,      a fiend in hell;
wæs se grimma gaést      Grendel háten


this ghastly demon was      named Grendel,
maére mearcstapa      sé þe móras héold


infamous stalker in the marches,      he who held the moors,
fen ond fæsten·      fífelcynnes eard


fen and desolate strong-hold;      the land of marsh-monsters,
wonsaélí wer      weardode hwíle


the wretched creature      ruled for a time
siþðan him scyppend      forscrifen hæfde


since him the Creator      had condemned
in Cames cynne      þone cwealm gewræc


with the kin of Cain (Cham);      that killing avenged
éce drihten      þæs þe hé Ábel slóg·


the eternal Lord,      in which he slew Abel;
ne gefeah hé þaére faéhðe      ac hé hine feor forwræc


this feud he did not enjoy,      for He drove him far away,
metod for þý máne      mancynne fram·


the Ruler, for this crime,      from mankind;
þanon untýdras      ealle onwócon


thence unspeakable offspring      all awoke:
eotenas ond ylfe      ond orcnéäs


ogres and elves      and spirits from the underworld;
swylce gígantas      þá wið gode wunnon


also giants,      who strove with God
lange þráge·      hé him ðæs léan forgeald.


for an interminable season;      He gave them their reward for that.