Excerpt From Beowulf In Plain and Simple English
Prelude to the Founder of the Danish House
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
HERE, praise the abilities of the kings of the people
of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
of the Danish men armed with spears, long ago
we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
we have heard, and what honor those warriors won!
Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
Often, Scyld the Scefing, surrounded by enemies
from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
from many different tribes, he broke the peace
awing the earls. Since erst he lay
frightening the nobles. Since he was once
friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
friendless, an orphan, fate repaid him:
for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve
for he grew powerful under the sky, becoming rich
till before him the folk, both far and near
until the people both far and near
who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate
who live by the sea, came under his rule
gave him gifts: a good king he!
gave him gifts: a great king he was!
To him an heir was afterward born
Later his heir was born
a son in his halls, whom heaven sent
a son in his place, sent by heaven
to favor the folk, feeling their woe
to help out the people, feeling their sorrow
that erst they had lacked an earl for a leader
that previously they had no one to lead them
so long a while; the Lord endowed him
for such a long time; God blessed him
the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.
the one holding wonderful abilities, with the world's admiration and fame.
Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him,
This Beowulf [a different one from the one this poem is mostly about] was famous: his reputation was widely known
Son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.
Son of Scyld, throughout what there was then of Scandinavia - eventually Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
So becomes it a youth to quit him well
So it is a good thing for a young man to make something of himself
with his father's friends, by fee and gift,
with his father's friends, through money and gifts
that to aid him, aged, in after days
in order for them to come to help him when he is old, years later
come warriors willing, should war draw nigh
soldiers will willingly help him if war comes near
liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds
loyal knights: it is by admired actions
shall an earl have honor in every clan.
shall a nobleman be honored by every community.
Forth he fared at the fated moment
Off he went at the time fate decreed
sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.
Scyld died and his soul went to God.
Then they bore him to the ocean's billow,
Then they carried him to the ocean waves,
loving clansmen, as late he charged them,
loving family, as he had asked them to earlier,
while wielded words the winsome Scyld,
while the lovable Scyld could still talk,
the leader beloved who long had ruled...
the beloved leader who had ruled for a long time...
In the roadstead rocked a ring-dight vessel,
In the current rocked a ring-decked boat,
ice-flecked, outbound, atheling's barge:
lightly covered with ice, traveling away, a warrior's barge:
there laid they down their darling lord
there they laid down their darling lord
on the breast of the boat, the breaker-of-rings,
on the wide part of the boat, the man who had rewarded them well
by the mast the mighty one. Many a treasure,
by the mast they laid that mighty man. Many treasures,
fetched from far were freighted with him
taken from far away were in the boat with him.
No ship have I known so nobly dight
No other ship to my knowledge was so nobly decked
with weapons of war and weeds of battle,
with weapons of war and clothing of battle,
with breastplate and blade: on his bosom lay
with breastplate and sword: on his chest lay
a heaped hoard that hence should go
a piled hoard that afterwards would go
far o'er the flood with him floating away.
far over the flood with him floating away.
No less these loaded the lordly gifts,
Those who loaded the lordly gifts were of equal rank,
thanes' huge treasure, than those had done
these treasures of aristocracy, they were equal to those
who in former times forth had sent him
who in previous times had sent him out
sole on the seas, a suckling child.
all alone on the sea, as a baby.
High o'er his head they hoist the standard,
High over his head they raise the flag,
a gold-wove banner; let billows take him,
a golden banner; let the waves take him,
gave him to ocean. Grave were their spirits,
they gave him to the ocean. Their spirits were sad,
mournful their mood. No man is able
their mood was mournful. No man is able
to say in sooth, no son of the halls
to prophesy, no one born in a palace
no hero 'neath heaven - who harbored that freight!
no hero beneath heaven - who eventually took in and sheltered that ship!
Section I Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
Now Beowulf lived in the city of Scyld’s followers
Leader beloved, and long he ruled
A beloved leader, and long he ruled
in fame with all folk, since his father had gone
famous to all people, since his father died
away from the world, till awoke an heir
and left the world, until his heir was born
haughty Healfdene, who held through life,
(prideful Healfdene, who continued throughout all his life,)
sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.
wise and healthy, which the people of Scyld were glad of.
Then, one after one, there woke to him,
Then, one after another, there was born to his family,
to the chieftain of clansmen, children four.
to Healfdene, that ruler of a tribe, four children.
Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;
Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then brave Halga
and I heard that --- was ---‘s queen,
and I heard that so-and-so was so-and-so’s queen
The Heathoscylfing’s helpmate dear.
The dear spouse of the descendant of Scylf and Healfdene.
To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,
Hrothgar was fortunate in earning glory in war,
such honor of combat, that all his kin,
such honor in combat, that all his family
obeyed him gladly till great grew his band
obeyed him gladly until his followers became many
of youthful comrades. It came in his mind
young friends and allies. It came in his mind
to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,
to order his men to build a palace,
a master mead-house, mightier far
a great feasting place, far mightier
than ever was seen by the sons of earth,
than any humans had ever seen before,
and within it, then, to old and young
and inside it, then, to both old and young
he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
he would share everything God had sent him,
save only the land and the lives of his men.
except for the land and the lives of his men.
Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,
I heard the work he ordered was vast in scope,
for many a tribe this mid-earth round,
for many tribes around this location,
to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,
to build the great hall. It was completed, as he ordered,
in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,
in quick progress it soon was finished,
of halls the noblest: Heorot he named it
the most noble of halls: he named it Heorot [meaning "The Stag"]
whose message had might in many a land.
whose message had power in many lands.
Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,
Never making reckless promises, the rings he distributed [as rewards],
treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,
treasure at banquet: there was a towering hall,
high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting
high, with wide windows, with a roaring
of furious flame. Nor far was that day
fire at the end of it. However, the day was not far
when father and son-in-law stood in feud
when father and son-in-law became enemies
for warfare and hatred that woke again.
for warfare and hatred that rose again.
With envy and anger an evil spirit
With envy and anger an evil spirit
endured the dole in his dark abode,
endured his exile in his dark home,
that he heard each day the din of revel
that he heard every day the loud festivities
high in the hall: there harps rang out,
high in the hall: there harps rang out,
clear song of the singer. He sang who knew
clear song of the singer, who knew all the
tales of the early time of man,
tales of the beginning of the world [the stories of Genesis in the Bible]
how the Almighty made the earth,
how Almighty God made the earth,
fairest fields enfolded by water,
beautiful fields covered by water,
set, triumphant, sun and moon
placed, gladly, the sun and moon
for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,
for a light to illuminate those that lived on land,
and braided bright the breast of earth
and covered the surface of the earth
with limbs and leaves, made life for all
with tree branches and leaves, made life for all
of mortal beings that breathe and move.
of living things that breath and move.
So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel
So lived the people in cheerful happiness
a winsome life, till one began
a lovely life, until one began
to fashion evils, that field of hell.
to create and do evil, that specialty of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
This grim monster was called "Grendel",
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
a powerful invading monster, living in the swamp,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
in wild land and isolation; home of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
the unfortunate creature a while had stayed
since the Creator his exile doomed.
since God doomed him to exile.
On kin of Cain was the killing avenged
The family of Cain [the first murderer, son of Adam] were punished for the killing
by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.
by vengeful God for the murdered Abel [Cain's brother].
Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven,
His fight was doomed, and he was driven far,
for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men.
for the sake of his murder, he was sent away from the rest of humanity.
Of Cain awoke all that woeful breed,
From Cain descended all those awful beings,
Etins and elves and evil-spirits,
Devils and elves [in those days considered bad] and evil spirits,
as well as the giants that warred with God
As well as the giants that fought against God
weary while: but their wage was paid them!
for a long time: but they received what they deserved!!