XV

HROTHGAR'S GRATITUDE

          Hrothgar discoursed (to the hall-building went he,
          He stood by the pillar, saw the steep-rising hall-roof
          Gleaming with gold-gems, and Grendel his hand there):
          "For the sight we behold now, thanks to the Wielder
5       Early be offered! Much evil I bided,
          Snaring from Grendel: God can e'er 'complish
          Wonder on wonder, Wielder of Glory!
          But lately I reckoned ne'er under heaven
          Comfort to gain me for any of sorrows,
10      While the handsomest of houses horrid with bloodstain
          Gory uptowered; grief had off frightened
          Each of the wise ones who weened not that ever
          The folk-troop's defences 'gainst foes they should strengthen,
          'Gainst sprites and monsters. Through the might of the Wielder
15      A doughty retainer hath a deed now accomplished
          Which erstwhile we all with our excellent wisdom
          Failed to perform. May affirm very truly
          What woman soever in all of the nations
          Gave birth to the child, if yet she surviveth,
20      That the long-ruling Lord was lavish to herward
          In the birth of the bairn. Now, Beowulf dear,
          Most excellent hero, I'll love thee in spirit
          As bairn of my body; bear well henceforward
          The relationship new. No lack shall befall thee
25      Of earth-joys any I ever can give thee.
          Full often for lesser service I've given
          Hero less hardy hoard-treasure precious,
          To a weaker in war-strife. By works of distinction
          Thou hast gained for thyself now that thy glory shall flourish
30      Forever and ever. The All-Ruler quite thee
          With good from His hand as He hitherto did thee!"
          Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow's offspring:
          "That labor of glory most gladly achieved we,
          The combat accomplished, unquailing we ventured
35      The enemy's grapple; I would grant it much rather
          Thou wert able to look at the creature in person,
          Faint unto falling, the foe in his trappings!
          On murder-bed quickly I minded to bind him,
          With firm-holding fetters, that forced by my grapple
40      Low he should lie in life-and-death struggle
          'Less his body escape; I was wholly unable,
          Since God did not will it, to keep him from going,
          Not held him that firmly, hated opposer;
          Too swift was the foeman. Yet safety regarding
45      He suffered his hand behind him to linger,
          His arm and shoulder, to act as watcher;
          No shadow of solace the woe-begone creature
          Found him there nathless: the hated destroyer
          Liveth no longer, lashed for his evils,
50      But sorrow hath seized him, in snare-meshes hath him
          Close in its clutches, keepeth him writhing
          In baleful bonds: there banished for evil
          The man shall wait for the mighty tribunal,
          How the God of glory shall give him his earnings."
55      Then the soldier kept silent, son of old Ecglaf,
          From boasting and bragging of battle-achievements,
          Since the princes beheld there the hand that depended
          'Neath the lofty hall-timbers by the might of the nobleman,
          Each one before him, the enemy's fingers;
60      Each finger-nail strong steel most resembled,
          The heathen one's hand-spur, the hero-in-battle's
          Claw most uncanny; quoth they agreeing,
          That not any excellent edges of brave ones
          Was willing to touch him, the terrible creature's
65      Battle-hand bloody to bear away from him.