XXI

HROTHGAR'S ACCOUNT OF THE MONSTERS

          Hrothgar rejoined, helm of the Scyldings:
          "Ask not of joyance! Grief is renewed to
          The folk of the Danemen. Dead is Æschere,
          Yrmenlaf's brother, older than he,
5       My true-hearted counsellor, trusty adviser,
          Shoulder-companion, when fighting in battle
          Our heads we protected, when troopers were clashing,
          And heroes were dashing; such an earl should be ever,
          An erst-worthy atheling, as Æschere proved him.
10      The flickering death-spirit became in Heorot
          His hand-to-hand murderer; I can not tell whither
          The cruel one turned in the carcass exulting,
          By cramming discovered. The quarrel she wreaked then,
          That last night igone Grendel thou killedst
15      In grewsomest manner, with grim-holding clutches,
          Since too long he had lessened my liege-troop and wasted
          My folk-men so foully. He fell in the battle
          With forfeit of life, and another has followed,
          A mighty crime-worker, her kinsman avenging,
20      And henceforth hath 'stablished her hatred unyielding,
          As it well may appear to many a liegeman,
          Who mourneth in spirit the treasure-bestower,
          Her heavy heart-sorrow; the hand is now lifeless
          Which availed you in every wish that you cherished.
25      Land-people heard I, liegemen, this saying,
          Dwellers in halls, they had seen very often
          A pair of such mighty march-striding creatures,
          Far-dwelling spirits, holding the moorlands:
          One of them wore, as well they might notice,
30      The image of woman, the other one wretched
          In guise of a man wandered in exile,
          Except he was huger than any of earthmen;
          Earth-dwelling people entitled him Grendel
          In days of yore: they know not their father,
35      Whe'r ill-going spirits any were borne him
          Ever before. They guard the wolf-coverts,
          Lands inaccessible, wind-beaten nesses,
          Fearfullest fen-deeps, where a flood from the mountains
          'Neath mists of the nesses netherward rattles,
40      The stream under earth: not far is it henceward
          Measured by mile-lengths that the mere-water standeth,
          Which forests hang over, with frost-whiting covered,
          A firm-rooted forest, the floods overshadow.
          There ever at night one an ill-meaning portent
45      A fire-flood may see; 'mong children of men
          None liveth so wise that wot of the bottom;
          Though harassed by hounds the heath-stepper seek for,
          Fly to the forest, firm-antlered he-deer,
          Spurred from afar, his spirit he yieldeth,
50      His life on the shore, ere in he will venture
          To cover his head. Uncanny the place is:
          Thence upward ascendeth the surging of waters,
          Wan to the welkin, when the wind is stirring
          The weathers unpleasing, till the air groweth gloomy,
55      And the heavens lower. Now is help to be gotten
          From thee and thee only! The abode thou know'st not,
          The dangerous place where thou'rt able to meet with
          The sin-laden hero: seek if thou darest!
          For the feud I will fully fee thee with money,
60      With old-time treasure, as erstwhile I did thee,
          With well-twisted jewels, if away thou shalt get thee."