ll. 484-528

It’s been quite some time since I last posted, but we are back on track! So here, we are in the midst of Hrothgar’s speech, but more importantly we are introduced to Unferth, who we all love to hate.

Old English

ðonne wæs þeos medoheal on morgentid,
drihtsele dreorfah, þonne dæg lixte,
eal bencþelu blode bestymed,
heall heorudreore; ahte ic holdra þy læs,
deorre duguðe, þe þa deað fornam.
Site nu to symle ond onsæl meoto,
sigehreð secgum, swa þin sefa hwette.
þa wæs Geatmæcgum geador ætsomne
on beorsele benc gerymed;
þær swiðferhþe sittan eodon,
þryðum dealle. þegn nytte beheold,
se þe on handa bær hroden ealowæge,
scencte scir wered. Scop hwilum sang
hador on Heorote. þær wæs hæleða dream,
duguð unlytel Dena ond Wedera.
Unferð maþelode, Ecglafes bearn,
þe æt fotum sæt frean Scyldinga,
onband beadurune wæs him Beowulfes sið,
modges merefaran, micel æfþunca,
forþon þe he ne uþe þæt ænig oðer man
æfre mærða þon ma middangeardes
gehedde under heofenum þonne he sylfa:
Eart þu se Beowulf, se þe wið Brecan wunne,
on sidne sæ ymb sund flite,
ðær git for wlence wada cunnedon
ond for dolgilpe on deop wæter
aldrum neþdon? Ne inc ænig mon,
ne leof ne lað, belean mihte
sorhfullne sið, þa git on sund reon.
þær git eagorstream earmum þehton,
mæton merestræta, mundum brugdon,
glidon ofer garsecg; geofon yþum weol,
wintrys wylmum. Git on wæteres æht
seofon niht swuncon; he þe æt sunde oferflat,
hæfde mare mægen. þa hine on morgentid
on Heaþoræmas holm up ætbær;
ðonon he gesohte swæsne eþel,
leof his leodum, lond Brondinga,
freoðoburh fægere, þær he folc ahte
burh ond beagas. Beot eal wið þe
sunu Beanstanes soðe gelæste.
ðonne wene ic to þe wyrsan geþingea,
ðeah þu heaðoræsa gehwær dohte,
grimre guðe, gif þu Grendles dearst
nihtlongne fyrst nean bidan.


And then the morning would fall over the hall and jesus, the gaff would be caked in manky shit when the day shone in, the benches pure drenched in blood, y’know, like blood from the fight all over the hall. I rule over fewer lads now, and good lads those were and all, scooped up by death. But sure, anyway, sit there now for a bit of a feast and loosen up a bit, bask in the victory of all these fine fellas.”
All the Geatish lads were together then in the beer-hall, and a bench was cleared and all those hard men went to it, big feckin’ heads on them with the pride. Some fella jumped to it and carried about this class lookin’ cupán, and poured out some sweet gatt. Every now and then the poet sang, belting it out in Heorot. There was absolute joy and devilry amongst the lads, and it wasn’t a small group of Danes and Weders now I’ll tell ya that for nothing.
Unferth, Eglaf’s son, spoke up. He was at the Scylding lord’s feet, and he wanted to stir some shite regarding some battle rumours. To him, Beowulf, that prideful gomie, his whole journey was a load of bollocks, ’cause he could not fuckin’ stand the thought that any other poor fecker under the heavens could ever be as absolutely daycent as himself (pure septic like).* So, he was all like, “Here la, are you that Beowulf feen who contended with Breca in the the sea, fought in the bay, where the two of ye, up yerselves as ye were, took on the waters and for some dopey prideful reason, risked yere lives in the deep water? And not a soul, neither those ye like or loathe, could dissuade ye from that absolutely lethal going on when ye two lads swam the sound. There ye opened up yere arms to the sea’s currents, measuring the sea paths, arms bating about, gliding over the sea’s edge**.
The ocean’s waves welled up in the winter’s madness, and there ye were in the water’s grip for seven nights. And sure then the sea carried himself, safe and sound, not a bother on him, up amongst the Heathoreams one morning, and off he mowsied on to his own home, back where he was popular out, in the land of the Brondings, this fortress – it’s actually me daza, like! – he ruled over all the shams there in this walled city (like Cork, boi!) full of treasures. The son of Beanstan truly claimed ya in this boast, boyo.
And I don’t have much feckin’ hope for you now so I don’t, despite how strong you may have been in past battles and in grim wars, if you dare bide your time waiting all night just over there la for Grendel.

*This is my own addition. Septic refers to someone who is vain.

** – garsecg – I previously translated this as “Spear-Man”, but here I said, I’d translate it as sea’s edge, sure why not.

ll. 445b-483

Old English:

Na þu minne þearft
hafalan hydan, ac he me habban wile
dreore fahne, gif mec deað nimeð.
Byreð blodig wæl, byrgean þenceð,
eteð angenga unmurnlice,
mearcað morhopu; no ðu ymb mines ne þearft
lices feorme leng sorgian.
Onsend Higelace, gif mec hild nime,
beaduscruda betst, þæt mine breost wereð,
hrægla selest; þæt is Hrædlan laf,
Welandes geweorc. Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel.
Hroðgar maþelode, helm Scyldinga:
For gewyrhtum þu, wine min Beowulf,
ond for arstafum usic sohtest.
Gesloh þin fæder fæhðe mæste;
wearþ he Heaþolafe to handbonan
mid Wilfingum; ða hine Wedera cyn
for herebrogan habban ne mihte.
þanon he gesohte Suðdena folc
ofer yða gewealc, Arscyldinga.
ða ic furþum weold folce Deniga
ond on geogoðe heold ginne rice,
hordburh hæleþa; ða wæs Heregar dead,
min yldra mæg unlifigende,
bearn Healfdenes; se wæs betera ðonne ic.
Siððan þa fæhðe feo þingode;
sende ic Wylfingum ofer wæteres hrycg
ealde madmas; he me aþas swor.
Sorh is me to secganne on sefan minum
gumena ængum hwæt me Grendel hafað
hynðo on Heorote mid his heteþancum,
færniða gefremed. Is min fletwerod,
wigheap gewanod; hie wyrd forsweop
on Grendles gryre. God eaþe mæg
þone dolsceaðan dæda getwæfan.
Ful oft gebeotedon beore druncne
ofer ealowæge oretmecgas
þæt hie in beorsele bidan woldon
Grendles guþe mid gryrum ecga.


And here la, sure there’ll be no need for ye to bury my head anyway, because himself will have me all bloody and manky if Death decides to catch me. He’ll be off with my bloody corpse, meaning to bury it in his gob, hound into it all alone, no shame on him, making a bloody mess of the shop*, y’know. There’ll be no worrying now about caring for my corpse, alright? And if war does be getting me, send on to Hygelac my battlegarments that are the best at protecting this chest, the finest piece of clothing. This here is Hrethel’s heirloom, dy’know, the work of Weland himself! Sure lookit, that’s it isn’t it.**
Hrothgar spoke, “Beowulf lad, for a bit of fightin’ and also out of a bit of kindness, I suppose, you’ve come to us. Your father, God he was some shit stirrer so he was. He murdered Heatholaf the Wylfing dead, and sure then for the fear of some more crapiola, the Weder bais couldn’t be harbouring him, y’know. So what did he do now, he sought out the South-Danes over the big mouldy waves***, the Pure Sound Scyldings. It was myself who had started ruling the Danish folk back then, and when I was a younger lad I held a massive amount of land, a rich city of legends, now Heregar was dead, that would be my older brother, and a better man no doubt about it, cold as stone, Halfdane’s youngfella. After that I had to pay out big time to settle the feud. On the Selkie’s back**** I sent the Wylfings a load of old shite. He, your auld fella, made some swears to me.
And I’m absolutely morto now when I think of it, or say it to any feen, like, now this Grendel lad has banjaxed Heorot, cause he’s lost the rag of himself, and with his mad knawvshawling*****. I’m losing lads by the minute here, like, I dunno if fate is sweeping them into Grendel’s shite or what. And y’know what bai, God could easily put a stop to all this messalling. And you’d get sick of it, like, hearing these warriors and what comes out of them, absolutely langers off a rake of pints, full of it going on over their cups about how they’ll stall on there in the beer-hall for Grendel’s attack, ready to knife the fucker.

*”the shop” is often used to refer to anywhere in Hiberno-English.
** This is my translation for Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel, “fate goes ever as it must”. It’s a nice Cork phrase where we just throw it all to the wind and say, sure we can’t do anything about it can we. No. We cannot.
*** I chose the term “mouldy” here for the waves, because it’s a Cork phrase for being drunk, and I thought it would have a nicer ring to it than “rolling” or “tumultuous”
**** A Selkie is an Irish and Scottish folkloric sea creature.
***** Knawvshawling means “quarreling” and is a bit of an older Cork slang term, not used so much anymore. From Irish cnáibhseáil, “grumbing, complaining”>

ll. 426b-445a

‘Tis been a while! I’ll be honest, I had some doubts about coming back to this project, but some recent interest and compliments has boosted my motivation again. So, in the last few lines Beowulf was all about himself (ugh), and here are some more lines, where he is still all about himself.

Old English:

Ic þe nu ða,
brego Beorhtdena, biddan wille,
eodor Scyldinga, anre bene,
þæt ðu me ne forwyrne, wigendra hleo,
freowine folca, nu ic þus feorran com,
þæt ic mote ana ond minra eorla gedryht,
þes hearda heap, Heorot fælsian.
Hæbbe ic eac geahsod þæt se æglæca
for his wonhydum wæpna ne recceð.
Ic þæt þonne forhicge swa me Higelac sie,
min mondrihten, modes bliðe,
þæt ic sweord bere oþðe sidne scyld,
geolorand to guþe, ac ic mid grape sceal
fon wið feonde ond ymb feorh sacan,
lað wið laþum; ðær gelyfan sceal
dryhtnes dome se þe hine deað nimeð.
Wen ic þæt he wille, gif he wealdan mot,
in þæm guðsele Geotena leode
etan unforhte, swa he oft dyde,
mægenhreð manna.


“Alright, so look, you’re this great feckin’ lord of these bright Danish lads, and by God, don’t you take care of the Scyldings like nobody, sure you’re popular out, bai! So I just want to ask one thing of you and that’s that you don’t refuse me, cause look, I’ve come a long feckin’ way here now, you know, but give me the pure and utter privilege with my boys, big hardy bunch of them, to cleanse this Heorot gaff. And sure look, I’ve heard, so I have, that this absolute feen of a lad, he’s pure mad like, won’t even use weapons! And so, and Hygelac would be fierce proud of me now for this, wouldn’t he lads, I won’t even use a sword myself or even a broad shield, but I will grab that fucker and fight for my life that way, foe against foe. And it’ll be God above’s judgement then whoever death catches hold of. But I’m tellin’ ya now, I’m expecting that he wants, and by God if he manages it, he’ll ate up every single last bit of the Geatish people in this war-hall, not a bother on him, as he has so often done before to the might of men.

ll. 389b-426a

In which we start to find out that Beowulf is feckin’ septic, like shut up ya vain prick.

Also, I want to point out that I wrote an article for RTÉ Brainstorm about this translation, which can be found here, and also thank you to everyone for checking that out!

Old English:

word inne abead:
Eow het secgan sigedrihten min,
aldor Eastdena, þæt he eower æþelu can,
ond ge him syndon ofer sæwylmas
heardhicgende hider wilcuman.
Nu ge moton gangan in eowrum guðgeatawum
under heregriman Hroðgar geseon;
lætað hildebord her onbidan,
wudu, wælsceaftas, worda geþinges.
Aras þa se rica, ymb hine rinc manig,
þryðlic þegna heap; sume þær bidon,
heaðoreaf heoldon, swa him se hearda bebead.
Snyredon ætsomne, þa secg wisode,
under Heorotes hrof
heard under helme, þæt he on heoðe gestod.
Beowulf maðelode on him byrne scan,
searonet seowed smiþes orþancum:
Wæs þu, Hroðgar, hal. Ic eom Higelaces
mæg ond magoðegn; hæbbe ic mærða fela
ongunnen on geogoþe. Me wearð Grendles þing
on minre eþeltyrf undyrne cuð;
secgað sæliðend þæt þæs sele stande,
reced selesta, rinca gehwylcum
idel ond unnyt, siððan æfenleoht
under heofenes hador beholen weorþeð.
þa me þæt gelærdon leode mine
þa selestan, snotere ceorlas,
þeoden Hroðgar, þæt ic þe sohte,
forþan hie mægenes cræft minne cuþon,
selfe ofersawon, ða ic of searwum cwom,
fah from feondum. þær ic fife geband,
yðde eotena cyn ond on yðum slog
niceras nihtes, nearoþearfe dreah,
wræc Wedera nið wean ahsodon,
forgrand gramum, ond nu wið Grendel sceal,
wið þam aglæcan, ana gehegan
ðing wið þyrse.


Words were offered inside: “So, my lord, the leader of the Danes, and great man if I say so myself, has ordered me to tell you that he knows who you came from and that ye, brave lads that ye are after travelling over those waves, are welcome here. Ye can go in there now in your gear and those unreal helmets to see Hrothgar, but look lads, I’m going to ask ye there to leave yeer shields out here and also those spears – they could take an eye out!- until we’ve everything settled, okay.”

The hero got up then, surrounded by a load of lads, his grand old troop of bais. Some of them stayed put to keep an eye on all the battle-gear, as yet man had ordered. The rest of th blade shimmied on in under Heorot’s roof, led by yer man. The brave old fella himself anyway, big head on him* under the helmet, went on in so he was stood in the hall.

Beowulf spoke. His chainmail was all shiny, the coat of mail sewn by some pure legend of a Smith. “Alright feen. Story?! I’m ‘Huge Lad’ Hygelac’s kinsman and warrior. You would. Not. Believe the shit I’ve done when I was a young fella! This whole sca with Grendel is the talk of the town back in my country. The lads off the boats would be going on about how this hall here, this big mighty gaff altogehter, stands empty and useless after the heaven’s bright sky becomes hidden. So like, all these smart lads, the most respected people now like, said to me, what I should do now, I should go find yourself, because they know all about the pure skill of my strength. Sure haven’t they seen themselves that time when I got out of a fight, absolutely drenched in blood, after I tied up 5 of them and bate the heads off this family of gombeens, and sure didn’t I kill sea-serpents and all, in the waves, and it night on top of that! I’ve gone through a lot now like, avenged some of my Weder-Geat lads – they were feckin’ asking for it and by Christ I gave it to them! And now with Grendel, with that absolute feen*, I, by myself I might add, will take on this absolute giant of a prick!*

*I’ve used “big head on him” instead of heard, “hardy” just because I wanted to. Tis a nice Irish expression.

*”absolute feen”, as I’ve said previously, is my interpretation of aglæca

*so, I’ve decided to translate þyrse like this because it gets the essence of him being a big lad (without just saying “giant”) and also captures the negative connotations of this term, associated negatively in Old Norse texts.

ll. 371-389a

Wulfgar has just informed the man himself, Hrothgar, that some boyos have shown up in their shores, but some mighty fine lookin’ boyos if we are being honest with ourselves. Built ta fuck. Here, he realises sure doesn’t he know Beowulf, jaysus, small world isn’t it!

Old English:

Hroðgar maþelode, helm Scyldinga:
Ic hine cuðe cnihtwesende.
Wæs his ealdfæder Ecgþeo haten,
ðæm to ham forgeaf Hreþel Geata
angan dohtor; is his eafora nu
heard her cumen, sohte holdne wine.
ðonne sægdon þæt sæliþende,
þa ðe gifsceattas Geata fyredon
þyder to þance, þæt he XXXtiges
manna mægencræft on his mundgripe
heaþorof hæbbe. Hine halig god
for arstafum us onsende,
to Westdenum, þæs ic wen hæbbe,
wið Grendles gryre. Ic þæm godan sceal
for his modþræce madmas beodan.
Beo ðu on ofeste, hat in gan
seon sibbegedriht samod ætgædere;
gesaga him eac wordum þæt hie sint wilcuman
Deniga leodum.


Hrothgar, the Scylding lord, spoke:

“Sure I knew him when he was a boy child*. His old fella was called Ecgtheow. Hrethel the Geat have his only young wan to him and this fine looking lad has come here now, looking for a good friend. Seafarers who would be ferrying shite over from the Geats to pay their respects would be saying as well that he has the strength of feckin’ thirty men in the grip of his hand, he’s some strong fecker, boy. God above, sound lad that he is, has sent him to us, to the West Danes, and you know what I think now, I think he’s after sending him to us to deal with this absolute shambles with Grendel. I’ll have to give the good lad some spondoolies for his bravery. Alright, c’mon there quick lads, and order all of that noble bunch of boyos in together. And sure look, tell them that they’re welcome here in the Danish lands while you’re at it.”

*In Cork, and wider Irish slang, there’s a strange penchant for saying “child” over something a bit less formal. It also reminds me of a phrase my mom’s side of the family (who are from North Cork) sometimes (and apparently, hopefully, ironically) use to find out the sex of a baby: “Is it a boy or a child?” Cause, ya know, tis only worth talking about if ’tis a boy. I might also take this opportunity to defend my use of the word “mom”, which feckin’ Dubs are always saying is an Americanism. It’s actually common in Cork and Kerry, and hails from the pronunciation of Irish mam, which sounds quite like “mom”. So feck off.

ll. 331b-370

So we’ve gotten through the Watchman, and he thinks all the bais are class, and they have all plonked their gear against the wall of Heorot, only to be questioned again, by another lad who also thinks they are class.

Old English:

þa ðær wlonc hæleð
oretmecgas æfter æþelum frægn:
Hwanon ferigeað ge fætte scyldas,
græge syrcan ond grimhelmas,
heresceafta heap? Ic eom Hroðgares
ar ond ombiht. Ne seah ic elþeodige
þus manige men modiglicran.
Wen ic þæt ge for wlenco, nalles for wræcsiðum,
ac for higeþrymmum Hroðgar sohton.
Him þa ellenrof andswarode,
wlanc Wedera leod, word æfter spræc,
heard under helme: We synt Higelaces
beodgeneatas; Beowulf is min nama.
Wille ic asecgan sunu Healfdenes,
mærum þeodne, min ærende,
aldre þinum, gif he us geunnan wile
þæt we hine swa godne gretan moton.
Wulfgar maþelode þæt wæs Wendla leod;
wæs his modsefa manegum gecyðed,
wig ond wisdom: Ic þæs wine Deniga,
frean Scildinga, frinan wille,
beaga bryttan, swa þu bena eart,
þeoden mærne, ymb þinne sið,
ond þe þa ondsware ædre gecyðan
ðe me se goda agifan þenceð.
Hwearf þa hrædlice þær Hroðgar sæt
eald ond anhar mid his eorla gedriht;
eode ellenrof, þæt he for eaxlum gestod
Deniga frean; cuþe he duguðe þeaw.
Wulfgar maðelode to his winedrihtne:
Her syndon geferede, feorran cumene
ofer geofenes begang Geata leode;
þone yldestan oretmecgas
Beowulf nemnað. Hy benan synt
þæt hie, þeoden min, wið þe moton
wordum wrixlan. No ðu him wearne geteoh
ðinra gegncwida, glædman Hroðgar.
Hy on wiggetawum wyrðe þinceað
eorla geæhtlan; huru se aldor deah,
se þæm heaðorincum hider wisade.


Then some proud fella asked all the lads about their backgrounds:

“Stall the ball there lads, who the hell do ye think ye are now with all these fancy shields and metal shirts and feckin’ savage* helmets on ye and a big rake of spears? I’m Hrothgar’s messenger and officer, y’know, and never in the life of me have I seen so many foreign lads as brave out as yerselves, and so many of ye, Chrisht! I’d say now that ye lads are here for some prideful business, I doubt ye’ve been fecked out if yeer own gaffs. Nah, ’tis bravery that’s brought ye looking for Hrothgar, I’d say so myself anyway.”

The brave man himself answered back, pure proud head on him, the leader of the Geats, and let out some words, big husky voice under his helmet:

“We’re some of Hygelac’s clan, there la. Beowulf is my own name. I’d like to have an old chat there with good old Healfdane’s son, the mighty man in charge, your leader, about why we are here, if he’d be good enough now that he might greet us.”

Wulfgar spoke, he was a Vendel man himself so he was, and he has some name for himself this lad did, for fightin’ and having a good head on his shoulders too:

“Look sure, as you wish, I’ll pass on the message to the lord of the Scyldings, friend of the Danes, and pure sound man when it comes to ring-giving. I’ll ask him there about your travels and I’ll be back to you, give me a few minutes there, and I’ll let you know what himself think, alright”

He shimmied around then to where Hrothgar, the hairy auld fella, sat, in the middle of all his own lads. He went up so that he was stood in front of the Danish king. He knew the customs well so he did, and Wulfgar, to his pure sound lord, was all like:

“Some Geatish lads have shown up there, the sea after bringing them some mighty distance. The fella in charge of these lads is a a so-called Beowulf. They’re after a bit of s banter with you, my lord. I know you’re a sound lad Hrothgar, so don’t be refusing them but give them a response, g’wan sure. Looking at the gear on then, you can tell there’s no lack of money there, if you know what I mean*, and they seem worthy of respect, and especially the lad in charge who has led them all here.”

*I chose “savage” here, because it means “cool” or “impressive” in Cork slang, and it is also one of the translations of the OE grim-!
*this isn’t in the OE, but I think it fits nicely here.

ll. 300-331a

Once again have I left it too long until I update this translation. But, as a means of distracting myself from the horrible turbulence on my flight from Amsterdam through Storm Ciara, I finally got around to doing a small but of translation! Gwan the lads!

So, Beowulf has landed, the Watchman is impressed and he brings all the lads up to the hall.

Old English:

Gewiton him þa feran. Flota stille bad,
seomode on sale sidfæþmed scip,
on ancre fæst. Eoforlic scionon
ofer hleorberan gehroden golde,
fah ond fyrheard; ferhwearde heold
guþmod grimmon. Guman onetton,
sigon ætsomne, oþþæt hy sæl timbred,
geatolic ond goldfah, ongyton mihton;
þæt wæs foremærost foldbuendum
receda under roderum, on þæm se rica bad;
lixte se leoma ofer landa fela.

Him þa hildedeor hof modigra
torht getæhte, þæt hie him to mihton
gegnum gangan; guðbeorna sum
wicg gewende, word æfter cwæð:
Mæl is me to feran; fæder alwalda
mid arstafum eowic gehealde
siða gesunde. Ic to sæ wille
wið wrað werod wearde healdan.
Stræt wæs stanfah, stig wisode
gumum ætgædere. Guðbyrne scan
heard hondlocen, hringiren scir
song in searwum, þa hie to sele furðum
in hyra gryregeatwum gangan cwomon.
Setton sæmeþe side scyldas,
rondas regnhearde, wið þæs recedes weal,
bugon þa to bence. Byrnan hringdon,
guðsearo gumena; garas stodon,
sæmanna searo, samod ætgædere,
æscholt ufan græg; wæs se irenþreat
wæpnum gewurþad


Off then so they went. The ship stayed put, having an old rest on the sand, that big-bellied boat, anchored fast so she was.* Images of boars shone on their face-guards, made from gold, all shiny from the forge, guarding over life. The lads, mad for a bit of fightin caused a bit of a hoo-ha, and the men scooted on together until they could catch a glimpse of that Big House, all stately and gawdy with gold. It was famous out to every fecker who ever walked on this very earth, that hall sitting under the heavens. And twas in there the man himself lived, and that grand old gaff’s light could be felt over many a land.

Then the brave lad showed them the class hall, so they could all get on with it. Your man turned his horse and was then like, “alright lads, I best be off there now alright, but God bless ye and by God I hope he keeps ye safe out on ye’re journey. I’ve got to get back to the sea there myself, make sure no gurriers get in, ya know yourself sure.”

The street was all cobbledy, that old path that led all the lads. The war-shirts, all fastened by hand, shone like mad, and the iron-rings were clanging off the armour. They finally got to the hall in their big fuck-off war-gear, and the lads, a absolutel knackered so they were, fecked their big shields up against the wall of the place and sat their arses down on the benches. The mail was clinking, the warrior lads’ armour, and the spears, all those sea-folks’ crafts stood, all piled together and looking like some sort of grey ash forest or something from above, and jaysus if there wasn’t any finer weapons.

*While I’m an absolute demon for pointing out unnecessary gendering especially when it comes to things like cars and boats, I wanted to stick with what I thought was most likely to come out of some pure Corkonian’s mouth. Also, ship in Old English is a feminine noun, and “it”, had it been written here, would likely have been written as “heo” (in the nominative), “she”. In Old English, gendered nouns did not necessarily reflect the “gender” of what it represented.

ll. 258-300

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a while. In fact, the last time I updated this blog was the 7th of July, and indeed, I deserve a special place in the liber monstrorum for such monstrous acts. But alas, life, and writing, and conferences got in the way, and I should hopefully have something to show for my inattentiveness (keep your eyes out for The Medieval Review!).

Anyway, so, last time, Beowulf and the lads had landed in Denmark and our friend the watchman (hwa wæceþ þa weardmenn?) was almost wetting himself at the size of Beowulf and was all like “sorrry, who are ye, like”…

Old English:

Him se yldesta ondswarode,
werodes wisa, wordhord onleac:
We synt gumcynnes Geata leode
ond Higelaces heorðgeneatas.
Wæs min fæder folcum gecyþed,
æþele ordfruma, Ecgþeow haten.
Gebad wintra worn, ær he on weg hwurfe,
gamol of geardum; hine gearwe geman
witena welhwylc wide geond eorþan.
We þurh holdne hige hlaford þinne,
sunu Healfdenes, secean cwomon,
leodgebyrgean; wes þu us larena god.
Habbað we to þæm mæran micel ærende,
Deniga frean, ne sceal þær dyrne sum
wesan, þæs ic wene. þu wast gif hit is
swa we soþlice secgan hyrdon
þæt mid Scyldingum sceaðona ic nat hwylc,
deogol dædhata, deorcum nihtum
eaweð þurh egsan uncuðne nið,
hynðu ond hrafyl. Ic þæs Hroðgar mæg
þurh rumne sefan ræd gelæran,
hu he frod ond god feond oferswyðeþ,
gyf him edwendan æfre scolde
bealuwa bisigu, bot eft cuman,
ond þa cearwylmas colran wurðaþ;
oððe a syþðan earfoðþrage,
þreanyd þolað, þenden þær wunað
on heahstede husa selest.
Weard maþelode, ðær on wicge sæt,
ombeht unforht: æghwæþres sceal
scearp scyldwiga gescad witan,
worda ond worca, se þe wel þenceð.
Ic þæt gehyre, þæt þis is hold weorod
frean Scyldinga. Gewitaþ forð beran
wæpen ond gewædu; ic eow wisige.
Swylce ic maguþegnas mine hate
wið feonda gehwone flotan eowerne,
niwtyrwydne nacan on sande
arum healdan, oþðæt eft byreð
ofer lagustreamas leofne mannan
wudu wundenhals to Wedermearce,
godfremmendra swylcum gifeþe bið
þæt þone hilderæs hal gedigeð.


Himself, the eldest of the lads and the leader, answered with a silver tongue, “Alrigh’ feeen, we’re some Geatish bais, hearth-companions of Huge-lad Hygelac*. My father had some name for himself also, so he did – Ecgtheow was that noble fella’s name. Oh he sat through many a winter before, aged as he was, off he went on his way** from the courts. Every lad worth his salt throughout this whole land remembers that man, not a bother on him.
We’re here to see the man himself, the son of Healfdane and pillar of the community, and no bullshittin’ us now alright, we’re here on a fierce important errand to the lord of the Danes, and here look, as far as I’m concerned there should be no secret about it. Ad c’mere to me now, you’ll know if this is true or what like, but we’ve been hearing these mad rumours that some sorta yoke***, don’t even ask me what like, is here amongst the Scyldings, some creepy gowl of a lad who goes about in the pitch black of night, whose terror causes mightty havoc, humiliation, and absolute carnage, the likes of which we’ve never heard of before!
And not being up myself now like or anything****, but I can offer some pretty daycent advice about how he, wise and great man that he is, can bate away this enemy, if ever he shall see change, and if relief should come and drown these awful happenings, and his surging fears be cooled (poor craytur). ‘Cause y’know, or else he’ll be left for God knows how long now in terribly hard times so he will, and fierce suffering altogether for as long as that grand old hall sitting up there is about.”
So the watchman, that bould officer sat up on his horse is all like, “Any shield-warrior with half his wits about him should know the difference if someone is all talk or not. And look, I’ll give it to ya, I hear ye are a sound bunch of lads when it comes to the lord of the Scyldings, so go on, off ya go ow with yer weapons and yer gear, and I’ll show you up to the gaff. And look, not only that, but I’ll get some of my own men there to keep a close (and honourable I tell ya!) eye on your ship – newly-tarred and all, bejaysus – on the sand against any dodgy fellas, until its lovely auld curvy prow bears ye back over the sea’s chops, good man yourself now. And may all ye brave lads make it out alive from the battle rush”.

*Hygelac also appears in the Liber Monstrorum, wherein it is said that no horse could carry him from the age of 12 – so basically, he was a big lad, hence the nickname “Huge-lad Hygelac” (the wealth of whose creativity I must also share with Niamh Kehoe, Rachel Burns, and Francis Leneghan). As well as offering some nice in-line alliteration, “Huge-lad” also conveniently encourages us to pronounce the y in “Hygelac” properly.
** I realised after I translated “off he went on his way” that this is also how Heaney translates it. Gwan the bais.
*** Terence Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English has an interesting entry on “yoke”, meaning “any contrivance or implement” which he states goes back to ME yokke and OE geoc. I also love that one of the examples for its usage that he gives is “Get out of my way, you big yoke! (Cavan)”. It seems possible that the term, while meaning a yoke for cattle in Old and Middle and Present Day English, may have widened its meaning to encompass pretty much anything in Ireland.
**** This is how I have decided to translate “Ic . . . mæg þurh rumne sefan”, “I. . . through gracious intent”.

ll. 239b-257

The lads have landed in Denmark, and the watchfella is like “who da fuck are these bais?”
Again, apologies for the lack of images. My internet is a bit gammy (and I’m also lazy).

Old English:

Ic hwile wæs 
endesæta, ægwearde heold, 
þe on land Dena laðra nænig 
mid scipherge sceðþan ne meahte. 
No her cuðlicor cuman ongunnon 
lindhæbbende; ne ge leafnesword 
guðfremmendra gearwe ne wisson, 
maga gemedu. Næfre ic maran geseah 
eorla ofer eorþan ðonne is eower sum, 
secg on searwum; nis þæt seldguma, 
wæpnum geweorðad, næfne him his wlite leoge, 
ænlic ansyn. Nu ic eower sceal 
frumcyn witan, ær ge fyr heonan , 
leassceaweras, on land Dena 
furþur feran. Nu ge feorbuend, 
mereliðende, minne gehyrað 
anfealdne geþoht: Ofost is selest 
to gecyðanne hwanan eowre cyme syndon. 


I’ve been the lookout here for God feckin’ knows how long now at this stage, I’m here making sure no feckin’ gurriers in their ships come and attack the Danish coast. And never before have I seen the likes of this, shield-holders coming here like they own the gaff, not bothering their arses to learn the warriors’ password, or to even check if the lads had agreed to ye being here.
Not in my life have I seen a bigger feen than you lad here, no finer man in armour to be found. This lad here is no mere hall retainer bigged up with some swords and shit, like, unless I’m mistaken by his appearance – class, like.
Now look, I’ll hav to find out what sort of stock ye are from at all, before ye go further into the Danish lands – sure ye could be pure spying bastards for all I know. So, now lads, ye far-off seafaring feens, what’s the craic here, like? And best be quick about telling me where in the fuck ye bais are from”