Chapter four of our absolute langer, Boyo-wulf, is here! I want to preface this post by saying a huge thank you for all the support I have been getting with this translation – the positive feedback really makes it feel worthwhile. Ye’re a bunch of ledges!
ða wæs on burgum Beowulf Scyldinga,
leof leodcyning, longe þrage
folcum gefræge fæder ellor hwearf,
aldor of earde, oþþæt him eft onwoc
heah Healfdene; heold þenden lifde,
gamol ond guðreouw, glæde Scyldingas.
ðæm feower bearn forð gerimed
in worold wocun, weoroda ræswan,
Heorogar ond Hroðgar ond Halga til;
hyrde ic þæt wæs Onelan cwen,
þa wæs Hroðgare heresped gyfen,
wiges weorðmynd, þæt him his winemagas
georne hyrdon, oðð þæt seo geogoð geweox,
magodriht micel. Him on mod bearn
þæt healreced hatan wolde,
medoærn micel, men gewyrcean
þonne yldo bearn æfre gefrunon,
ond þær on innan eall gedælan
geongum ond ealdum, swylc him god sealde,
buton folcscare ond feorum gumena.
ða ic wide gefrægn weorc gebannan
manigre mægþe geond þisne middangeard,
folcstede frætwan. Him on fyrste gelomp,
ædre mid yldum, þæt hit wearð ealgearo,
healærna mæst; scop him Heort naman
se þe his wordes geweald wide hæfde.
He beot ne aleh, beagas dælde,
sinc æt symle. Sele hlifade,
heah ond horngeap, heaðowylma bad,
laðan liges; ne wæs hit lenge þa gen
þæt se ecghete aþumsweorum,
æfter wælniðe wæcnan scolde.
Then it was up to the Scylding Beowulf (again, different fella), who the people were pure mad about and for a long time he was celebrated by the people – his father, that fine man (god rest his soul), had passed on – until to him then was born good old Healfdane; and then he was in charge of the Scyldings as long as he lived, absolutely ancient and mad in battle. And he, that leader of armies, had four babógs; Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the Classss, and I’ve heard that […]* was Onela’s old doll, the Battle-Scylfing’s bed-fellow.
Hrothgar was given victory in war, he was pure class at it, like, so that all the lads gladly took his word and they grew from a bunch of young fellas into a mighty troop of absolute bais. And then it came to him, he’d get the men to throw up a hall, this mead-gaff, greater than all the children of men had ever even heard of, and there then inside it he would give to both the young and the old that which God himself (lord bless us and save us) had given him – that is, everything but the people’s land and the lives of men.
And I’ve heard from all over the place now that work was given to a load of feens across the land to do up that gaff. And sure it wasn’t long at all before it was ready, the most unreal of hall buildings. He named it Heorot, he whose word was law. And I’m tellin’ ya, he never forgot a promise, that lad; he dealt out rings and treasures at the feasts. The hall was huge, like, and bloody wide too; But it awaited fierce flames and the scutter of battle – and by God, it wasn’t long at all at all when the sword-hate of the son-in-law and the father-in-law** should come about, after a deadly hatred be woken.
*It’s unclear what’s going on in the MS here – the scribe wrote hyrde ic þæt elan cwen (you can see this about half way down the image of 130r), but it is generally assumed that there is text missing here, and that it should be rendered hyrde ic þæt [… was On]elan cwen. There have been suggestions of Yrse or Ursula, after comparisons with Norse sources. Kiernan suggests Hyrde ic þæt ides wæs æþelan cwen, “I heard that the woman was a glorious one’s queen”.
**the term used in the MS is aþum swerian, but this is mostly amended to aþumsweoran – probably a dvanda, or linguistic compound that includes multiple words which make a new word – aþum (son-in-law) and sweor (father-in-law). Kiernan appears to favour keeping the term as is and translating as “swear with oaths”. But we do know that it s referring to Hrothgar and Ingeld. Liuzza translates as “sword in-laws” which seems a nice middle-ground. I decided to go with the former, it being somewhat more straightforward, and it meant I got to use the definitive article, which is often used in Cork in front of these kind of familial terms, or at least in my family anyway.