BEOWULF The Adventures of Beowulf
an Adaptation from the Old English
by Dr. David Breeden
Illustrated by Randy Grochoske

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The adventures of Beowulf, Episode 8
--Meanwhile, Up Above--

The wise men with Hrothgar
saw the surging water mingled
with blood. The old gray-hairs
spoke together, saying
they did not expect the famous
prince to be victorious.
To many it seemed the sea wolf
had destroyed him.
Then came noon of the day
and the valiant Danes left
the bluff. The king went
home. His guests sat down
sick at heart
and stared at he mere.
They wished, but did not hope,
that they would see
their dear lord again.

Back in the Cave

The sword, because of the blood,
began to fade--a battle icicle.
That was some wonder:
it all melted,
just like ice
when the Father--
who has power
over times and seasons--
loosens the bands
and unwinds the wave ropes.
(That is the True Maker.)

The leader of the Geats
took no more treasures
from the dwelling,
though he saw many,
except for the head
and the hilt decorated
with treasure. The blade
had melted. . .the
ornamented sword burned up--
so hot was the blood,
so poisonous the alien
spirit who died there.

Soon he was swimming;
his enemy had fallen in fight.
He swam up through the water--
the surging waters were purged,
all the broad expanse,
when the alien spirit
gave up her life days
on this loaned world.

Beowulf Comes Up

Came then to the land
the chief of the sailors,
boldly swimming. He rejoiced
in the sea-booty,
the mighty burden of things
he had with him.

His men rushed toward him,
thanking God they saw him
safe. The helmet and armor
were quickly loosed from
the strong man. The lake
grew calm, the water under
the clouds, stained with blood.
They went from there
on the forest paths
glad in mind.

The brave men measured
the well-known road
bearing the head
from the lake cliff
with difficulty--
it took four men
to bear the spear shaft
with Grendel's head
to the gold hall.

The fourteen brave
war-like Geats marched
straight to the hall
with the lord of men
proud among them.

He crossed the meadow,
then came inside,
the prince of warriors,
the man of daring deeds,
honored with glory,
a hero in battle,
to greet Hrothgar.

They carried Grendel's head
by its hair onto the floor
where the men were drinking--
a terrible sight before
the warriors and the women
with them, a wondrous sight.
The men looked at it.

Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:
"Behold, son of Healfdene,
Lord of the Danes--we have brought
you with pleasure this sea booty,
as token of glory,
which you see here.
I hardly survived
the battle under the water,
engaged in that deed
with difficulty. The battle
would have ended quickly
if God had not protected me.
Nor could I accomplish anything
with Hrunting, that strong
weapon, but the ruler of men
granted me to see
a beautiful old mighty sword
hanging on the wall.
He often guides a man
devoid of friends.
I drew that weapon,
cut in that conflict
the house guardians
when I saw the chance.
That ornamented sword burned
up as the blood sprang.
I carried the hilt away
from the enemies.
The deeds of crime,
the slaughter of the Danes,
has been avenged
as it was right to do.
I promise you
that you and your warriors
may sleep in Herot
free from care
and every warrior
of your tribe,
old men and young--
you need not,
Prince of the Danes,
fear for them,
death of your warriors
from that side
as you did before."
 
Then was the golden hilt,
the ancient work of giants,
given to the hand
of the aged warrior,
the gray war leader.
The possession of it,
the wondrous work of smiths,
passed, after the deaths
of demons, to the king of the Danes.
When the grim-hearted being,
God's adversary, guilty of murder,
left this world,
and his mother also,
the hilt passed
into the power of the best
of the world's kings
between the seas
who dealt out treasure
in the Northland.

Hrothgar examined the hilt,
the old heirloom,
on which was written
in ancient runes
the story of the flood
which with rushing sea
slew the race of giants
with terrible suffering.
That was a race foreign
to the Eternal Lord.
The Almighty gave them
a final reward through
the water's surging.

Also on the sword guard
bright with gold
was rightly written--
in rune letters,
set and said--
for whom the sword
had been wrought,
this choicest of iron
with twisted hilt
and snake ornaments.

Hrothgar Expounds On How To Be A Good Warrior

Then the wise one,
son of Healfdene, spoke
(all were silent):
"Lo, this he may say
who does truth and right
among the people,
remembers things far distant,
an old guardian:
This is the best-born man!
My friend Beowulf,
your renown is established
beyond the wide ways,
yours over all the nations.
Hold it steady,
might with mind's wisdom.
I shall carry out
my friendship as
we two spoke before.
You shall prove
a long-lasting relief
to your people,
a help to fighters.
Heremod was not so
to the offspring of Ecgwela,
the honorable Danes.
He waxed not to their help
but to their slaughter,
for the destruction
of the Danish people.
Enraged, he cut down
his table companions,
his bosom friends,
until he went about alone,
away from the joy of life
among men, a notorious
prince, although Almighty God
had raised his strength,
advanced it over all men.
His spirit, his heart,
grew blood thirsty.
He gave no rings
to Danes who pursued glory.
Joyless he went on,
struggling on as a long-lasting
affliction. Learn from this
and understand manly virtues.
I, old and wise in winters,
tell you this
for your sake.
It is wonderful to say
how mighty God through
His wisdom and large heart
distributes land and rank
to the race of men.
He controls all.
Sometimes out of love
He gives a man wisdom,
great among his kin,
gives him a home,
the joy of the earth,
gives him control
of a fortress of men,
a wide kingdom in the world,
so that the man
in his un-wisdom
does not think about the end.
He lives in plenty;
neither disease nor age
live with him;
his mind is not darkened
with evil worries,
nor does enmity
bring about war.
All the world
turns to his will--
he does not know worse--
but then arrogance grows;
the guardian of his soul
sleeps. That sleep is
too heavy, bound with affliction,
and the killer very near
who shoots his bow
with evil intent.
Then he is hit
in the heart,
beneath his armor,
with a bitter arrow--
he cannot guard himself
against the perverse commands
of his accursed spirit.
Then what he has long held
seems too little; angry-minded,
he covets, never proudly giving
gold rings, and he forgets
and neglects the future
state because God the Ruler
of Glory has given him
a great deal of honors.
In the end it comes to pass
that the body, on loan,
declines, falls fated. Another,
who recklessly dispenses
treasure, one who does not
hold it in terror, seizes
the warrior's ancient possessions.
Beloved Beowulf, best of warriors,
protect yourself against that
wickedness and choose better,
eternal councils. Do not heed
arrogance, famous champion!
Now is your strength famous. . .
for awhile. Soon after
it shall happen that disease,
or the sword's edge, shall
cut off your strength.
Or maybe the fire's embrace,
or the flood's welling,
or the grip of the sword,
or the arrow's flight,
or dire age. . . Bright eyes
do diminish and go dark.
Straightway death will overpower you, warrior.
Thus I have ruled under the clouds
the prosperous Danes a hundred half-years,
and by war have protected them
against many nations
throughout this middle earth
with spears and edges,
so that under heaven's expanse
I could think of no enemies.
Lo, a reverse came to me--
in my home--sadness after joy
when the old adversary Grendel
invaded. I have continually
carried worry over that visitation.
Therefore, thanks to the Creator,
the Eternal Lord, that I have
remained in life to gaze with
my eyes at the blood-stained head
after that old contention!
Go now to your seat,
feast in joy, you who are
distinguished in battle.
We shall share
a great many treasures
before morning comes."

The Geat was glad in mind,
quickly seeking his seat
as the wise one bade.
Then again was the feast
prepared, as before, for
the courageous ones sitting
in the hall.

The helmet of night turned black,
dark over the warriors.
The men all arose.
The gray-haired one
would seek his bed,
the old Dane.

It pleased the Geat well,
the strong shield warrior,
that he should have rest.
A hall warrior guided
the man who was far from home,
tending to every courtesy, every
need of the warrior. Such
in those days could
a sea-fairer expect.
The great-hearted one then rested.
The hall reached high,
vaulted and adorned in gold.
The guest rested within
until the black raven
told heaven's joy
with a happy heart.
Then came the bright light,
hastening over the shadow.
 
The warriors hurried,
eager to go back
to their people.
The bold of spirit sought his ship.

end of episode eight

* * *
In episode nine a dragon gets angry.


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