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Prelude of the Founder of the Danish House

HARK! WE Have heard of the glory of the kings of men among the spear-bearing Danes in days of long ago. We have heard how the princes won renown!

Scyld of Scefing often wrested mead-benches from bands of enemies; he struck fear in the chieftains of many tribes. A foundling was he when he first lay friendless; fate later brought him solace as he waxed in power and flourished in wealth, until folk who lodge on the whale-paths near and far heeded his decree and gave him tribute—that was a good king!

An heir was later born to him—a son in his halls sent by heaven to comfort the people. God knew the woe they had earlier experienced when they lacked a leader, and the Lord of Life, the Wielder of Wonder, endowed the heir with renown. Beow was famed; the son of Scyld's tale spread far in the Scedelands. It is fitting that a young prince use wealth thus in his younger days while his father still lives; graciously giving so that when war comes in his later years, willing warriors come to his aid and comrades hold steadfast and loyal. Praiseworthy deeds are the ways to attain honor in every clan.

At the hour of destiny, stalwart Scyld departed to God's keeping. His dear clansmen carried him to the seashore, as he had bid them do while he still ruled over the Scyldings with words; he was a well-loved chieftain, and long was his tenure as lord.

In the harbor rode a ship, its prow bedecked with rings; ice-flecked, outbound—it was a prince's barge—and there they laid their beloved lord, the ring-giver, on the boat's bosom, by the mast. Many treasures and ornaments fetched from afar were gathered with him. Never have I heard of a ship so nobly adorned with weapons of war and battle gear, blades and armored mail—heaped upon him was a hoard meant to travel hence with him into the watery realm. They loaded him with gifts no less lordly than those given him when he was sent forth alone as a suckling child on the waves. And, high over his head, they set a golden banner, then gave him to the ocean, and let the waves take him; their hearts were grave, and their mood mournful. No man can truly say, neither son of the halls nor hero under heaven, who received that burden.