"Beowul Part One" He saves a neighboring people from a monster, Grendel, eventually becomes the king of his own people, and dies defending them from a dragon.

Essay by EmperorOfWritingJunior High, 9th gradeA+, December 2003

download word file, 13 pages 2.9 2 reviews

Downloaded 52 times
Keywords , , , ,

Early History of the Danes


You have heard of the Danish Kings

in the old days and how

they were great warriors.

Shield, the son of Sheaf,

took many an enemy's chair,

terrified many a warrior,

after he was found an orphan.

He prospered under the sky

until people everywhere

listened when he spoke.

He was a good king!

Shield had a son,

child for his yard,

sent by God

to comfort the people,

to keep them from fear--

Grain was his name;

he was famous

throughout the North.

Young princes should do as he did--

give out treasures

while they're still young

so that when they're old

people will support them

in time of war.

A man prospers

by good deeds

in any nation.

Shield died at his fated hour,

went to God still strong.

His people carried him to the sea,

which was his last request.

In the harbor stood

a well-built ship,

icy but ready for the sea.

They laid Shield there,

propped him against the mast

surrounded by gold

and treasure from distant lands.

I've never heard

of a more beautiful ship,

filled with shields, swords,

and coats of mail, gifts

to him for his long trip.

No doubt he had a little more

than he did as a child

when he was sent out,

a naked orphan in an empty boat.

Now he had a golden banner

high over his head, was,

sadly by a rich people,

given to the sea.

The wisest alive can't tell

where a death ship goes.

Grain ruled the Danes

a long time after his father's death,

and to him was born

the great Healfdene, fierce in battle,

who ruled until he was old.

Healfdene had four children--

Heorogar, Hrothgar, Halga the Good,

and a daughter who married

Onela, King of the Swedes.

Hrothgar Becomes King of the Danes

After Hrothgar became king

he won many battles:

his friends and family

willingly obeyed him;

his childhood friends

became famous soldiers.

So Hrothgar decided

he would build a mead-hall,

the greatest the world had

ever seen, or even imagined.

There he would share out

to young and old alike

all that God gave him

(except for public lands and men's lives).

I have heard that orders

went out far and wide;

tribes throughout the world

set to work on that building.

And it was built, the world's

greatest mead-hall.

And that great man

called the building

"Herot," the hart.

After it was built,

Hrothgar did what he said

he would: handed out gold

and treasure at huge feasts.

That hall was high-towered,

tall and wide-gabled

(though destruction awaited,

fire and swords of family trouble;

and outside in the night waited

a tortured spirit of hell).

The words of the poet,

the sounds of the harp,

the joy of people echoed.

The poet told how the world

came to be, how God made the earth

and the water surrounding,

how He set the sun and the moon

as lights for people

and adorned the earth

with limbs and leaves for everyone.

Hrothgar's people lived in joy,

happy until that wanderer of the wasteland,

Grendel the demon, possessor of the moors,

began his crimes.

He was of a race of monsters

exiled from mankind by God--

He was of the race of Cain,

that man punished for

murdering his brother.

From that family comes

all evil beings--

monsters, elves, zombies.

Also the giants who

fought with God and got

repaid with the flood.

Beowulf Comes to Herot

The paved road guided the men.

Their war-coats shone,

the hard locks ringing

as they came toward the hall.

The sea-weary ones set

their broad, strong shields

against the building's wall,

then sat down on benches,

their armor resounding.

They stood their spears together,

ash wood tipped with gray,

an iron troop.

Then a proud Danish warrior asked them:

"From where have you carried

these gold-inlaid shields,

these shirts of mail,

masked helmets, and battle shafts?

I am Hrothgar's messenger and officer.

Never have I seen braver strangers.

I expect you're here

to find adventure, not asylum."

The brave one answered him,

he of the proud Geats tribe,

hard under his helmet:

"We are Hygelac's table companions.

Beowulf is my name.

I will declare to the great lord,

Healfdene's son, my errand,

if your prince will greet us."

Wulfgar spoke--he was

of the Wendla tribe

and known to many

for fighting and wisdom--

"I will ask the lord of the Danes,

the giver of rings,

if he will reward your journey

and speedily make his wishes known."

Wulfgar went quickly

to where Hrothgar sat,

old and gray, with

his most trusted men.

He went before the face

of the Dane's lord,

knowing the customs of warriors.

Wulfgar spoke to his friendly lord:

"From far over the sea's expanse

has come a man of the Geats,

a chief of warriors named Beowulf.

He and his men have, my lord,

asked to exchange words with you.

Do not refuse the request,

Hrothgar! These men look worthy

of a warrior's esteem. Indeed,

the chief among them,

he who guides them, is strong."

Hrothgar, guard of the Danes, spoke:

"I knew him when he was a boy.

His father is called Edgtheow.

To that man Hrethel of the Geats

gave his only daughter.

Now his offspring has come

in bravery seeking a loyal friend.

Seafarers who took gifts

to the Geats say that he

has the strength of thirty men

in his hand grip.

Holy God, out of kindness,

has sent this man to us

to save us from Grendel's terror.

I shall give treasures

to that brave man

for his impetuous courage.

Be you in haste: go,

call in this band of kinsmen.

Say to them that they are welcome

to the Danish people."

Wulfgar, famous warrior,

went to the door:

"My victorious lord,

prince of the Danes,

bids me say he knows

your noble descent and

that brave men who

come over the sea swells

are welcome to him.

Come with your war dress,

under your helmets,

to see Hrothgar, but

let your war shields

and wooden spears await

the outcome of your talk."

The mighty one arose,

surrounded by warriors,

a mighty band of men.

Some remained with the weapons,

as the brave one ordered.

The rest hastened,

as the man guided,

under Herot's roof.

The great warrior went,

hard under his helmet,

until he stood within

in his shining coat of mail,

his armor-net sewn by smiths.

Beowulf spoke:

"I am Hygelac's kinsman and warrior.

I have undertaken many

glorious deeds. I learned

of Grendel in my native land.

Seafarers say this place,

the best of halls,

stands idle and useless

after sundown. Hrothgar,

the wise men among my people

advised that I seek you

because they know my strength--

they saw me come from battles

stained in the blood of my enemies,

when I destroyed a family of giants,

when I endured pain all night,

killing water monsters,

grinding them to bits,

to avenge for the Geats

those who asked for misery.

And now I shall, alone,

fight Grendel. I ask you,

lord of the Danes,

protector of this people,

for only one favor:

that you refuse me not,

fair friend of the people,

do not refuse those who

have come so far the chance

to cleanse Herot.

I have heard that the monster

in his recklessness uses no weapons.

I, therefore, to amuse Hygelac my lord,

scorn to carry sword or shield,

but I shall seize my enemy

in my hand grip and fight,

enemy against enemy,

and let God decide

who shall be taken by death.

I expect, if he wins, that

he will eat fearlessly of

the Geat people in this hall

as he often has of yours.

Nor will you need,

if death takes me,

worry about a burial--

that solitary one

will carry my corpse,

dripping with blood,

to a ruthless feast.

If battle takes me,

send this best of war garments,

this shirt of mail,

to Hygelac--it is

an inheritance from Hrethel

and the work of Weland.

Fate always goes as it will!"

Hrothgar, protector of the Danes, spoke:

"Because of past kindness

and deeds done, you have come,

my friend Beowulf. By a killing

your father brought about

the greatest of feuds.

He was the killer of Heatholaf

among the Wylfings. The Geats,

for fear of war, would not have him,

so he sought us Danes

over the rolling waves. . .

back when I first ruled,

as a youth, this wide kingdom

of the Danish people,

this treasure city of heroes.

Heorogar was dead then,

my older brother,

the son of Healfdene.

(He was better than I!)

I paid money to settle

your father's feud, sent

treasure over the water's back

to the Wylfings. Your father

swore oaths to me.

It is a sorrow for me

to say to any man

what Grendel has done--

humiliations in Herot--

hostile attacks on my hall warriors

until they are diminished,

swept away in Grendel's horror.

God may easily put an end

to that mad ravager's deeds.

Quite often have men boasted,

over their ale-cups,

drunk on beer,

that they would meet

Grendel's attack in the hall

with grim swords. But

in the morning when the daylight

shone, the mead hall was stained

in gore, the hall wet with

the blood of battle. And I had

a few less loyal men.

Sit now and feast,

glory of warriors,

and speak your thoughts

as your heart tells you."

So a bench was cleared for

the Geats and the brave men

sat down proud in their strength.

A warrior did his duty,

bearing an etched cup

and pouring sweet drink.

The poet sang in a clear voice,

and in Herot there was the joy

of brave men, Danes and Geats.

Unferth, Ecglaf's son,

who sat at the feet

of the king of the Danes,

spoke, unloosing a battle-rune

(The bravery of Beowulf

was a vexation to him

because he envied any man

on this middle-earth who had

more glory than himself):

"Are you that Beowulf

who struggled with Brecca

in the broad sea

in a swimming contest?

The one who, out of pride,

risked his life in the deep water

though both friends and enemies

told you it was too dangerous?

Are you the one who hugged

the sea, gliding through the boiling

waves of the winter's swell?

You and Brecca toiled

seven nights in the sea,

and he, with more strength,

overcame you. And

in the morning the waves

bore him to the Heathrames

from whence he went home

to the Brondings, beloved of them,

to his people and mead hall.

Brecca fulfilled all his boast.

Because of this, though you have

everywhere withstood the battle storm,

I don't expect much from you

if you dare await

Grendel in the night."

Beowulf spoke:

"Well, my friend Unferth, you

have said a good many things

about Brecca and that trip,

drunk on beer as you are.

Truth to tell, I had more strength

but also more hardships in the waves.

He and I were both boys

and boasted out of our youth

that we two would risk

our lives in the sea.

And so we did.

With naked swords in hand,

to ward off whales,

we swam. Brecca could not

out-swim me, nor could I

out-distance him. And thus

we were, for five nights.

It was cold weather and

the waves surged, driving us

apart, and the North wind came

like a battle in the night.

Fierce were the waves

and the anger of the sea fish

stirred. My coat of mail,

adorned in gold

and locked hard by hand,

helped against those foes.

A hostile thing drew me

to the bottom in its grim grip,

but it was granted to me

to reach it with my sword's

point. The battle storm

destroyed that mighty

sea beast through my hand.

And on and on evil

things threatened me.

I served them with my sword

as it was right to do.

Those wicked things

had no joy of the feast,

did not sit at the sea's

bottom eating my bones.

When the morning came

my sword had put

many to sleep, and even today

in that fiord they don't

hinder seafarers. Light

shone from the East,

that bright beacon of God,

and the seas subsided.

I saw cliffs, the windy

walls of the sea.

Fate often saves

an undoomed man if

his courage holds.

Anyway, with my sword

I slew nine sea monsters.

Nor have I heard tell

of a harder fight

or a more distressed man

ever to go in the sea.

I survived the grasp

of hostiles, and the sea

bore me, the surging water,

weary, into the land of the Finns.

I have not heard

anything about you

surviving such battles,

such terrors of the sword.

Neither Brecca nor you have

performed such deeds in

war sport or with shining swords.

Yet I don't boast about it.

But you, your own brother's

murderer, shall be damned

and burn in Hell no matter

how strong your wit is.

I say to you truly,

son of Ecglaf, that wretch

Grendel would never have done

such horrors, such humiliations

on you chief, if you were so

fierce as you suppose.

Grendel has found

he need not fear feud,

any sword storm,

from your people.

He takes his toll,

showing no mercy

to the Danish folk.

He enjoys himself,

killing and feasting,

and expects no fight

from the Danes.

But I shall offer him

the battle of a Geat in

strength and courage.

When I get done with him,

anyone who wishes may

happily go into the mead hall

as morning shines

on the children of men.

On that day the sun

will be clothed in radiance

as it shines from the South!"

The giver of treasure, Hrothgar,

gray-haired and brave in battle,

felt glad--the chief of the Danes

could count on help.

That guardian of the folk

heard in Beowulf firm resolution.

The men laughed, the din

resounding, and the words

turned friendly.

Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's queen,

came forth, mindful of kin,

adorned in gold to greet the men.

First she gave the cup

to the country's guardian,

that one dear to his people,

biding joy in his beer drinking.

That king famous for victories

happily took the feast cup.

Then that woman of the Helmings

went round to each, young and old,

sharing the precious cup.

In proper time that ring-adorned

queen excellent in mind

brought the mead cup to Beowulf.

She greeted him, thanking

God that her wish had

been fulfilled, that finally

a hero had come who

she could count on

to stop Grendel's crimes.

Beowulf, fierce in war,

received the cup from Wealhtheow

and spoke eagerly of battle:

"I resolved when I set to sea

in my boat with my warriors

that I, alone, will fulfill

the wish of your people. . .

or die in the foe's grasp.

I shall perform the deeds

of a hero or I have passed

my last day in this mead hall."

The woman liked these words,

this brave speech of the Geat.

The gold-adorned folk queen

went to sit by her lord.

Now again, as it had been

in the old days, brave words

were spoken and the people were happy.

The gladness of warriors continued

until the son of Healfdene

wished to go to his evening rest.

Hrothgar knew the wretch

planned to attack the hall

after the sun had set,

night over the hall,

when the shadows came

striding dark under the clouds.

All the company arose.

Warrior then saluted warrior,

Hrothgar wishing Beowulf luck

in his fight for the hall.

Hrothgar said these words:

"Never, since I have been able

to lift shield, have I entrusted

this hall, this mighty house

of the Danes, to any man.

But now I entrust it to you.

Have and hold this best of houses.

Keep fame in mind, watch

against the foe, and make

your valor known! You shall

lack nothing if you

survive this deed."

Then Hrothgar, protector

of the Danes, and his band

of warriors left the hall.

Hrothgar sought the queen's bed.

God, as men learned,

had chosen a man

who could fight Grendel.

The chief of the Geats,

indeed, trusted his strength

and God's favor.

Beowulf took off his armor,

off his helmet, handed

his figured sword to the attendant.

Beowulf, that good man, then

spoke some brave words

before he got in bed:

"I don't claim myself

any lower in strength or brave deeds

than Grendel. Therefore, I will

not kill him with a sword,

though I easily might.

Though he is famous for strength,

he knows no weapons to cut a shield.

If he chooses to forego a sword,

if he dares seek me without weapon,

then we two shall fight without,

and wise God, that king, shall

choose who shall win glory."

The battle-brave one lay down then,

a pillow received the warrior's face,

and his brave men sought rest

around him in the hall. Not one

thought he would seek home again,

see his people or birthplace.

Far too many Danes had already

died there. But the Lord would

give victory to the Geat people,

helping and supporting, so that

one man's craft overcame all.

(It is well known that God

always rules the race of men.)

Grendel Attacks Again

Came then striding in the night

the walker of darkness.

In that gabled hall

the warriors slept,

those who guarded the hall. . .

all but one.

It was well known among men

that, if God willed it not,

no one could drag

that demon to the shadows.

But Beowulf watched

in anger, waiting

the battle's outcome.

Came then from the moor

under the misty hills

Grendel stalking under

the weight of God's anger.

That wicked ravager

planned to ensnare

many of the race of men

in the high hall.

He strode under the clouds,

seeking eagerly, till he came to

the wine-hall, the treasure-hall

of men decorated in gold.

Nor was it the first time he

had sought Hrothgar's home.

But never in his life before

--or since--

did he find worse luck!

Came then to the building

that creature bereft of joys.

When he touched it with his hands

the door gave way at once

though its bands were forged

in fire. Intending evil,

enraged, he swung the door wide,

stood at the building's mouth.

Quickly the foe moved

across the well-made floor,

in an angry mood--a horrible light,

like fire, in his eyes.

He saw the many warriors in the building,

that band of kinsmen asleep

together, and his spirit laughed:

that monster expected

to rip life from the body of each

one before morning came.

He expected a plentiful meal.

(It was his fate

that he eat no more

of the race of men

after that night. . .)

The mighty one, Beowulf, watched,

waiting to see how that wicked one

would go about starting.

Nor did the wretch delay,

but set about seizing

a sleeping warrior unawares

and bit into his bone locks,

drinking the streams of blood,

then swallowing huge morsels

of flesh. Quickly he ate that man,

even to his hands and feet.

Forward Grendel came,

stepping nearer. Then

he reached for Beowulf.

Beowulf grasped his arm

and sat up. The criminal

knew he had not met

in this middle-earth

another with such a grip.

Grendel's spirit was afraid

and his heart eager

to get away, to flee

to his hiding place, flee

to the devils he kept

for company. Never had he met

a man such as this.

Beowulf then kept in mind

the speeches he had made

in the evening and stood

upright, firmly grasping

Grendel's hand until

the fingers broke.

The monster strove to escape.

Beowulf stepped closer. That

famous monster suddenly wanted

to disappear into the fens.

He realized the power of those hands,

the wrathful grip he was in.

Grendel felt sorry

he had made a trip to Herot.

That hall of warriors dinned.

All the Danes of the city,

all the brave ones, feared disaster.

The building resounded.

It is a wonder the wine-hall

withstood the battle,

that the beautiful building

did not fall to the ground.

But it was made fast,

within and without,

with iron bands

forged with great skill.

I have heard say

many a mead bench

adorned in gold

went flying when

those hostiles fought.

No wise man had ever thought

that splendid building could

be damaged (unless a fire

should swallow it).

The din rose louder, the Danes stood

in dreadful terror--everyone

heard lamentation, a terrifying

song, through the wall:

Grendel, Hell's friend,

God's enemy, sang in defeat,

bewailing his wound.

That man, mightiest

of warriors alive, held fast.

He would not

for any reason

allow his murderous visitor

to escape alive,

to keep the days of his life.

Beowulf's warriors brandished

many a sword, inheritances

from the ancient days,

trying to protect their chief,

but that did no good: they

could not have known, those

brave warriors as they fought,

striking from all sides, seeking

to take Grendel's soul, that

no battle sword could harm him--

he had enchantment against

the edges of weapons.

The end of Grendel's life was

miserable, and he would travel

far into the hands of fiends.

Grendel, the foe of God, who had

long troubled the spirits of men

with his crimes, found that

his body could not stand against

the hand grip of that warrior.

Each was hateful to the other

alive. The horrible monster endured

a wound: the bone-locks

of his shoulder gave way,

and his sinews sprang out.

The glory of battle went to

Beowulf, and Grendel,

mortally wounded,

sought his sad home

under the fen slope.

He knew surely that

his life had reached its end,

the number of his days gone.

The hope of the Danes

had come to pass--He

who came from far had

cleansed Hrothgar's hall

and saved it from affliction.

They rejoiced it that

night's work. Beowulf had

fulfilled his promise

to the Danes and all

the distress they had endured,

all the trouble and sorrow,

had reached an end.

The fact was plain when

Beowulf laid that arm

and shoulder down, there

altogether, Grendel's claw,

under the vaulted roof.

The Warriors Rejoice

I have heard say that

on that morning warriors

came from near and far

to look at the wonder.

Grendel's death made

no warrior sad.

They looked at the huge footprints

and the path he had taken,

dragging himself wearily away

after he had been overcome in battle.

The fated fugitive's bloody tracks

led into the water-monster's mere.

There bloody water boiled,

a horrible swirl of waves

mingled with hot gore.

That doomed one had died,

deprived of joy,

in his fen refuge, his heathen

soul taken into Hell.

After seeing that place

the warriors once again

rode their horses to Herot.

They spoke of Beowulf's

glorious deed, often saying

that no man under the sky's

expanse, North nor South

between the seas, no man

who bore a shield, was more

worthy of a kingdom. They,

however, never found fault

with the gracious Hrothgar--

he was a good king.

The warriors let their

bay horses go, a contest

for the best horse,

galloping through whatever

path looked fair.

Sometimes a king's man, a warrior

covered in glory who knew

the old traditions, would be

reminded of an ancient song,

and he would call up words adorned

in truth. The man would think

of Beowulf's deeds and quickly

compose a skillful tale in words.

Then he sang of things he'd heard

about Sigemund's valorous deeds,

untold things about Weals's son,

his struggles, his wide journeys and feuds.

The singer told things the children

of men did not know, except for

Fitela, Sigemund's nephew, who

stood with him in battle.

With swords those two felled

many from the race of giants.

After Sigemund's death day

not a little fame sprang to him,

about his hardy fight and killing

of a dragon, keeper of a hoard.

Under gray stone that prince alone

engaged in that audacious deed,

not even Fitela with him.

Anyway, it happened that

Sigemund's sword went clear through

the huge dragon and

that splendid iron

stuck in the wall.

The dragon died violently.

By brave deeds the hero

won a ring hoard for himself.

He bore into a ship's bosom

those bright treasures

of the Weal kin,

and the dragon melted

of its own heat.

Sigemund was by far the most

renowned adventurer. N He had

first prospered under King Heremod,

but that man's strength

and victory subsided.

Among the Jutes

Heremod was betrayed

into enemy hands

and put to death.

Sorrow oppressed him too long.

He became a trouble to his people.

Many a wise man

bewailed the old days

when Heremod had taken

the protector's position

to hold the treasure

of the Danish kingdom.

He had loved the Geats

more than his own people:

evil had seized him.

Thus told the song.

Sometimes the warriors raced

their horses on the yellow road.

The morning sped away.

Many a brave warrior

went to the high hall

to see the wonder.

So also the king himself,

the keeper of the rings,

leaving the queen's rooms,

went with his famous company.

And the queen also

with a troop of maidens

walked among the mead seats.





World Book 1947