Home to Hygelac

(Beowulf, lines 1880-1924, translation by Allan Sullivan and Timothy Murphy, now in the Longmans Anthology of British Literature. This excerpt was published on this site in 1999 by permission of the authors)

Beowulf walked   away with his wealth;
proud of his prizes,    he trod on the turf.
Standing at anchor,    his sea-courser
chafed for its captain.    All the way home
Hrothgar's gifts   were often honored.
That was a king   accorded respect
until age unmanned him   like many another.

High-hearted,    the band of young braves
strode to the sea,    wrapped in their ring-mesh,
linked and locked shirts.    The land-watcher spied
the fighters faring,    just as before.
He called no taunts   from the top of the cliff
but galloped to greet them    and tell them the Geats
would always be welcome,    armored warriors
borne on their ship.    The broad longboat
lay on the beach,    laden with chain-mail;
chargers were tethered   behind its tall prow,
and gifts gathered   beneath the great mast.
The boat-guard was given   a gold-hilted sword;
thereafter that man   had honor enhanced,
bearing an heirloom   to Heorot's mead-bench.
They boarded their vessel,    breasted the deep,
left Denmark behind.    A halyard hoisted
the main up the mast,    and timbers moaned
as a fair wind wafted   the wave-rider forward.
Foamy-throated,    the longboat bounded,
swept on the swells   of the swift sea-stream
until welcoming capes   were sighted ahead,
the cliffs of Geatland.    The keel grounded
as wind-lift thrust it   straight onto sand.

The harbor-guard hastened   hence from his post.
He had looked long   on empty ocean
and waited to meet   the much-missed men.
He moored the broad-beamed   bow to the beach
with woven lines   lest the backwash of waves
bear off the boat.    Then Beowulf ordered
treasures unloaded,    the lordly trappings,
gold that was going   to Hygelac's hall,
close to the cliff-edge,    where the ring-giver kept
his comrades about him.

Translated by Alan Sullivan & Timothy Murphy
Copyright © Alan Sullivan and Timothy Murphy, 1999