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The Haunting of Heorot Hall


Hwæt! Wé Gárdena  in géardagum

þéodcyninga  þrym gefrúnon· 

hú ðá æþelingas  ellen fremedon.


We have learned of the War Danes in the olden days,

Of their clan kings, their bravery,

How those heroes did deeds of glory.


King Hrothgar was given such success in battle,

honour in war, that his men eagerly served him      

until the young band of warriors grew

into a mighty host;  It came into Hrothgar’s mind

that a hall-house,  be built by men.


þæt wæs gód cyning. --That was a good king!


He wished to command a great mead-hall, 

which the sons of men should hear of forever,

and within it  to share out

to young and old, all God gave him,

except the common land and the lives of men.


Then, I heard,  the work was commissioned widely

From peoples in many lands throughout this middle-earth, to furnish this hall for his folk. 


Soon it came to pass, that it was fully finished,

the best of royal halls;  Hrothgar named it Heorot,

he whose words had  command  everywhere.


Hrothgar kept his vows;  béagas daélde--rings he dealt out, riches at his feasts. The hall towered, high and horn-gabled. 


Block and Strum chords here, upbeat music.


So the lord's men lived in joys, happily,  

Stark shift in tone/music


--Until one began

to execute atrocities,  a fiend in hell;


That ellengaést, impatiently endured a dreary time,   

he who dwelt in darkness,

he that heard happiness loud in the hall every day;  


The harmony of the harp,

the sweet song of the poet

Musical flourish/effect


This grimma gaést  was  called Grendel,

Infamous mearcstapa,  he who held the moors,

fen and desolate strong-hold;  the lands of the fivel-kin.

The wretched creature ruled for a while

since the Creator had condemned

him with the clan of Cain; because Cain slew Abel

Cain did not enjoy that fued,

For his crime the Ruler 

drove him far away from mankind;

The eternal Lord avenged that killing.  


From Cain awoke misbegotten  offspring:

Eotenas ond ylfe  

Ond orcnéäs  also gigantes, who strove with God for a long time;  He gave them their reward for that.


When night came he went to visit and see 

the high house, how they fared,

the Ring-Danes after the beer-feast,


He found then therein the noble company

slumbering after the feast; they knew no sorrow,

the misery of men.  


That damned creature, savage and cruel

grim ond graédig -- was soon ready,

and from their rest seized

thirty thanes; from there he went

to his home, proud in plunder 

Heading back slaughter-full to seek his shelter.


Then in the dark of dawn before the day

Grendel's gúðcræft was revealed to the men;

so after their evening joy they raised up lament

a great cry in the morning. The mighty chieftain,

the prince, old and good, sat in sorrow.


The great mighty one suffered, felt sorrow for his thanes;    

when they beheld the tracks of the foe, 

of the wicked ghoul; that hardship was too strong,

láð ond longsum.  Nor was it a longer time

but after a single night that Grendel did greater slaughter violence and viciousness, 

and it grieved him not, he was too intent on it.


Then it was easy to find the man who would seek rest somewhere else, further away, a bed among the outbuildings, when it was made clear to him, told by clear proof, the enmity of he who controlled the hall.  A man kept himself further and safer, he who shunned that fiend.


(Grendel theme x2, under)


Thus Grendel ruled and fought against right,

one against all, until that finest of houses stood empty. 


Mournful ballads made it known to men of many kingdoms of Grendel’s long persecution of King Hrothgar.


Transition to Hero (Beowulf vamp and theme)


A hero among the Geatish people heard of Grendel’s crimes

He was at that time the strongest man on earth--

noble and mighty; 

he ordered a wave-crosser be prepared

--a good one--; 

He said he wished to seek King Hrothgar

that mighty clan-chief, over the swan-road 

Urged by the wind it flew like a bird.

The worthy one had, chosen champions from the Geatish peoples, the boldest he could find; fifteen together, the men bore into the bosom of boat 

bright arms and armour,

the fellows shoved off,  in a well-braced ship.


They came marching straight to Heorot hall 

in their grim gear, sea-weary; 

Then the renowned one, that proud prince of the Geatish nation, spoke


“We are King Hygelac's table companions

Beowulf  is my name and now against Grendel I am bound, to settle the affair with the troll, with that terrible creature.


I request one favor that you do not refuse me, king of the Danes

That I alone, with my company of heroes, cleanse Heorot.


Beowulf theme, no vamp 


Then treasure-giving king with wizened hair was joyful  the guardian of the folk, heard in Beowulf firmly-resolved intent;

he accepted Beowulf’s offer. There was the laughter of heroes, the noise made melody, words were joyful.


'Since I was able to raise hand and shield 

I never before entrusted, to any man

this best of houses,  Keep it now and hold it. 

Focus on glory,  show great valour,

keep watch against the enemy; 

If you survive this bold task with your life.

your desires will lack nothing.

Then Hrothgar the protector of the Scyldings,

went with his band of heroes, out of the hall;

The glorious king had appointed a special hall guardian,

eotonweard' ábéad. Beowulf kept the ogre-watch. 


Indeed the prince of the Geats  keenly trusted

in his prodigious power, his Maker's favour,

when he took from himself burnished-corslet,

helm from head,  gave his adorned sword,

the choicest of irons, to his retainer,

and commanded him to guard his battle-gear;

the good man then spoke  words of oath.


Nó ic mé an herewæsmun  hnágran talige

gúþgeweorca  þonne Grendel hine·


'I don’t count myself poorer

in works of war  then Grendel himself;

He knows not the fine art of armed combat that he may strike me back, hew my rimmed-shield, although he is renowned for malicious works.


Therefore I  shall not slay him with my sword

deprive of life,  though I am fully able.

The holy Lord will allot glory, as seems fitting to Him.'


The war-bold one then bent himself down

The bolster received the earl’s cheek and round him many brave seaman  sank down in hall-slumber;


Grendel theme


Ðá cóm of móre  under misthleoþum

Grendel gongan·  godes yrre bær·


Then from the moor      under the misty cliffs
Grendel came,      Bearing God's ire.

The vile ravager meant to snare a sample 

of mankind in the high hall;

Wód under wolcnum


He waded under the clouds until he saw it shining,

 --the gold-hall of men--    

It was not the first time that 

he had sought Hrothgar's home;
But never in his life, before or after,
Did he find harder luck, hardier hall thanes.


He came then to the hall who had been barred from its merriment; 

Now the iron-banded door rushed open at a tap of his hands;

Enraged he ripped open the mouth of that building

advancing angrily on the patterned floor;      


From his eyes issued, léoht unfaéger

an unlovely light; more like a flame,      

he saw many warriors in the hall     
a sleeping company of kinsmen  

a great host of warriors gathered together.      

Then his heart laughed:  

now that a hope of a full feast had befallen him.


The cruel beast,

intended to deprive, life from body     

from each one ere the day came,

It was not his fate  after that night
to  partake    of mankind again.


Beowulf theme

The kinsman of Hygelac,

that mighty man beheld, how the cruel killer

Would act by means of a sudden attack

that the monster did not think to delay,
but at the first occasion, he quickly grasped,      
a sleeping warrior,    rended him without restraint,

bát bánlocan·  blód édrum dranc·
Bit into the bone-locks,      from the veins drank blood,
swallowed great chunks; soon he had
the unliving one      all devoured,
fét ond folma feet and hands;     


Then he stepped closer,
taking with his hands      the stout-hearted
warrior from his rest,      reached towards him
the foe with his palm;      Beowulf grasped
Grendel’s evil intentions and grabbed Grendel’s arm.


At once that shepherd of atrocities discovered,
that he had not met in middle-earth,
in the expanse of the world,    
a greater hand-grip in another man;  

in his heart grew a fear for his life    

He was eager to leave, to flee into the darkness,

to seek the devils' concourse;  But he couldn’t get away sooner;


 His situation was not
like any he ever met in the days of his life.


The kinsman of Hygelac, that good man, then remembered,      

his vow to the king;      He stood up
and held him fast;      fingers burst;

The troll was striving to get out, but the earl stepped forward.

The infamous one meant to escape anywhere he might,
away from there flee to his secret places in the fen;      


he knew his fingers' might was in his enemy's power,     


 That was a bitter journey the harm-scatha 

had taken to Heorot,      

The noble hall broke into a din;      

enraged were both fierce hall-wards; the hall resounded.

Then it was a great wonder that the wine-hall
withstood the war-fighters, that it did not fall to the ground, the fair hold, but it was so firm
So skilfully smithed; inside and out with iron-bands

Many mead-benches, adorned with gold,

broke away from the floor 

where the enemies struggled;


I heard, it was not thought before, 

by the sages of the Scyldings,
that by any means any men could break it up,
So splendid and bone-adorned,     
cleverly cleave it asunder; 

not unless fire's embrace
swallowed it in inferno.      


A sound rose up,
new, nearby:      

the North-Danes stood
in ghastly horror,      

in each one of
them who heard the weeping, 

the terrible screaming,
a joyless song, 

godes andsacen, Helle hæfton 

bewailing his wound;      


He held him fast,
who was of men in might strongest
in this life on that day.


The protector of earls had no wish for any reason

to release alive the murderous guest  ,

nor allow his life-days counted as advantage 

to any people



There many warriors of Beowulf brandished

their ancestral blades,

and on each side  thought to hew,

to seek the soul:

they wished to defend their lord's life,

that legendary leader's, 

if they could do so;

they did not know,      

when they joined the fray,

the bold-minded, battle-men,

That the troll had cursed victory-weapons

the choicest of irons,

None at all could greet Grendel

the sin-scather had charmed the cutting edge of every blade. 

His life-severing was bound to

be wretched, on that day 

and the strange one would journey far away;

into the administration of fiends 


Then he, miseries in his mind, 

he who before many atrocities committed on mankind  

--he, who fought with God--

Found that his limb would not obey,


but that the daring  kinsman of Hygelac

had him by the hand; 


each was by the other loathed while living; 

body-pain he felt, the awful ogre tormenter; 


on his shoulder a great wound appeared, 


seonowe onsprungon, burston bánlocan

The sinews unsprung , the bone-locks burst;  


To Beowulf was given war-glory.


Grendel had to 

flee from there, sick unto death 

under the hills of the fen,

to seek his joyless abode; 


He knew it more surely

that was his life's end had arrived,

the day-count of his days. 


For the Danes were all wishes come to pass:

after that bloody onslaught. 


He had then cleansed,  

He who had come from afar,

shrewd and strong-minded, 

rescued from ruin the hall of Hrothgar,

he rejoiced in his night's work,


in valour from great deeds;  the Geatmen's leader,

had fulfilled his oath to the East-Danes;


So too anguish   all remedied,

grievous sorrow,  that they had ere endured,

and in hard distress  had to suffer,

no small misery;  It was a clear sign,

when the battle-bold one  placed 

hond, earm ond eaxle, Grendles grápe


the hand, arm and shoulder   

-- Grendel’s grip-- 


under the gaping roof.


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