Næs hit lengra fyrst,
ac ymb ane niht eft gefremede
morðbeala mare ond no mearn fore,
fæhðe ond fyrene; wæs to fæst on þam.
þa wæs eaðfynde þe him elles hwær
gerumlicor ræste sohte,
bed æfter burum, ða him gebeacnod wæs,
gesægd soðlice sweotolan tacne
healðegnes hete; heold hyne syðþan
fyr ond fæstor se þæm feonde ætwand.
Swa rixode ond wið rihte wan,
ana wið eallum, oðþæt idel stod
husa selest. Wæs seo hwil micel;
XII wintra tid torn geþolode
wine Scyldinga, weana gehwelcne,
sidra sorga. Forðam [gesyne] wearð,
ylda bearnum, undyrne cuð,
gyddum geomore, þætte Grendel wan
hwile wið Hroþgar, heteniðas wæg,
fyrene ond fæhðe fela missera,
singale sæce, sibbe ne wolde
wið manna hwone mægenes Deniga,
feorhbealo feorran, fea þingian,
ne þær nænig witena wenan þorfte
beorhtre bote to banan folmum,
ac se æglæca ehtende wæs,
deorc deaþscua, duguþe ond geogoþe,
seomade ond syrede, sinnihte heold
mistige moras. men ne cunnon
hwyder helrunan hwyrftum scriþað.
And it wasn’t much longer at all, but after just one night he killed some more dead, not a hint of remorse – he was stone mad for feud and crime. And by jesus, twasn’t hard to find someone who had their eye on a bed elsewhere, further away, a leaba* in some more private gaff, after that hall-feen’s hatred became so clear as bloody day it was that obvious. And these lads who avoided this mad feen stayed the absolute fuck away after that.
And so he ruled, fightin’ the law, one against all, until that banger of a gaff stood empty. It was a good while now, 12 feckin’ winters in fact, that the pure sound king of the Scyldings suffered grief and every sort of woe and fierce sorrow (awh lads, ’twas dreadful, like). And like, everyone, soon they all knew about it, and the sad stories became well-known, of this Grendel lad, who for a while now fought with Hrothgar (absolute bai), and of the hatred that was waged and of the crimes and feud that carried on for years and years – it was bloody constant like, this strife was. And there was no talking to him about making a pact with any of the Danish lads, or putting a stop to all this killing, he wouldn’t even settle for a bit of money, and the counsellors gave up on expecting any sort of compo from that gurrier’s hands, but that absolute feen**, pure dark thoughts in his head***, stalked auld and young fellas alike, skulked and plotted, holding those misty moors in a never-ending night. Nobody knows what circles these devilish lads move about in.
*leaba is Irish for “bed”, and probably one of the more common uses of Irish in everyday speech.
** “absolute feen” is what I have chosen to translate aglæca as – as a term that is used of Grendel, his mother, the dragon, Beowulf himself (with the dragon), Sigemund, and absolute lad Bede, the monstrous translations of this term in certain situations don’t reflect what I believe is the true meaning of the term, “formidable one” – see Sherman Kuhn for his study on this term, and also Elliot van Kirk Dobbie. See Middle English egleche, “brave, fearless” (Kurath and Kuhn)
*** this is the translation of deorc deaþscua – rather than translating as “dark death-shadow” I am taking the approach suggested by Joyce Hill that it is not a physical, spirit-like description of Grendel, but one that describes his state of mind, and his absence from God’s thoughts (no he … his [Metode] myne wise –he would never know his [God’s love]), and thus, in umbra mortis, or in the shadow of death. My translation is also influenced by Edwin Morgan’s rendition of this line as “dark with death’s shadow”, which doesn’t render him as a non-corporeal shadow thing.