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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