From Beowulf: 2200-2267

Eft þæt geiode    ufaran dogrum
hildehlæmmum,    syððan Hygelac læg,
ond Heardrede    hildemeceas
under bordhreoðan    to bonan wurdon,
ða hyne gesohtan    on sigeþeode
hearde hildfrecan,    Heaðo-Scilfingas,
niða genægdan    nefan Hererices:
syððan Beowulfe    brade rice
on hand gehwearf;    he geheold tela
fiftig wintra    -wæs ða frod cyning,
eald eþelweard-    oð ðæt an ongan
deorcum nihtum    draca ricsian,
se ðe on heaum hofe    hord beweotode,
stanbeorh stearcne;    stig under læg
eldum uncuð.    Þær on innan giong
niðða nathwylc,    se ðe neh geþrong
hæðnum horde;    hond eðe gefeng,
searo since fah.    Ne he þæt syððan bemað,
þeah ðe he slæpende    besyred wurde
þeofes cræfte:    þæt sie ðiod onfand,
bufolc biorna,    þæt he gebolgen wæs.

Nealles mid gewealdum    wyrmhord cræft,
sylfes willum,    se ðe him sare gesceod,
ac for þreanedlan    þeo nathwylces
hæleða bearna    heteswengeas fleah,
ærnes þearfa,    ond ðær inne fealh,
secg synbysig    sona in þa tide,
þæt þær ðam gyste    gryrebroga stod;
hwæðre earmsceapen    ealdre neþde,
forht on ferhðe    þa hyne se fær begeat
sincfæt sohte.    Þær wæs swylcra fela
in ðam eorðsele     ærgestreona,
swa hy on geardagum    gumena nathwylc,
eormenlafe    æþelan cynnes,
þanchycgende    þær gehydde,
deore maðmas.    Ealle hie deað fornam
ærran mælum,    ond se an ða gen
leoda duguðe,    se ðær lengest hwearf,
weard winegeomor,    wende þæs ylcan,
þæt he lytel fæc    longgestreona
brucan moste.    Beorh eallgearo
wunode on wonge    wæteryðum neah,
niwe be næsse,    nearocræftum fæst;
þær on innan bær    eorlgestreona
hringa hyrde    hordwyrðne dæl,
fættan goldes,    fea worda cwæð:

“Heald þu nu hruse ,    nu hæleð ne mostan,
eorla æhte!    Hwæt, hyt ær on ðe
gode begeaton;    guðdeað fornam,
feorhbealo frecne,    fyra gehwylcne
leoda minra,    þone ðe þis lif ofgeaf;
gesawon seledreamas.    Nah, hwa sweord wege
oððe forð bere    fæted wæge,
dryncfæt deore;    duguð ellor sceoc.
Sceal se hearda helm    hyrstedgolde,
fætum befeallen;     feormynd swefað,
þa ðe beadogriman    bywan sceoldon;
ge swylce seo herepad,    sio æt hilde gebad
ofer borda gebræc    bite irena,
brosnað æfter beorne.    Ne mæg byrnan hring
æfter wigfruman    wide feran,
hæleðum be healfe.    Næs hearpan wyn,
gomen gleobeames,    ne god hafoc
geond sæl swingeð,     ne se swifta mearh
burhstede beateð.    Bealocwealm hafað
fela feorhcynna    forð onsended!”

Theodred's Barrow from Lord of the Rings

After it happened in later days,
when Hygelac lay dead among the crash of battle,
and for Heardred the battle-swords
became his bane under the shield-wall,
when those hard bold-ones, the Heatho-Scilfings,
sought him in the victory-nation,
assailed him with violence, nephew of Hereric:
afterward to Beowulf came the broad kingdom,
into his hands; he held it well
for fifty winters -he was then a wise king,
old nation-ward- until a dragon began
to hold sway in the dark nights,
he who watched his hoard in the high house,
in the strong stone-barrow; the path below
unknown to men. There inside went
a certain man, he then pressed close
to the heathen hoard; hand easily seized
by skill a decorated treasure. He was not concealed
though he may have been ensared while sleeping
by the thief’s craft: the people discovered that,
the local folk of men, that he was enraged.

Not at all by his own accord, by his own will,
did he who sorely injured him creep into the wyrm-hoard,
but for sore-need a certain slave
of a warrior’s son fled the hate-swings,
the difficulty of a house, and reached into there,
a man busy with sin. Soon in the time
that the guest stood there in horrible fright,.
yet the older one ventured,
afraid in heart- when the terror overtook him,
he sought a precious cup. There were many of such
ancient wealth in that earth-hall,
as in elder days an unknown man
resolved to hide them there,
immense legacy of a noble people,
precious treasures. Death carried them all away
in former times, and the one who yet
lingered there longest of the people’s warriors,
a mournful guardian, expected the same,
that he be allowed to enjoy those long-acquired
treasures a little space of time. A barrow, fully prepared,
resided on a plain near the water-waves,
new on the headland, secure with narrow entrances;
there he bore within the warrior-treasures,
the keeper of rings, a portion hoard-worthy,
the ornamented gold, spoke a few words:

“Now hold, O you earth, for now warriors cannot,
the wealth of men. Truly- from you long ago
the good ones obtained it; war-death,
terrible deadly attack, took away every one of men,
of my people, who left this life,
left the joy-hall. I have none who may carry the sword
or bear forth the ornamented cup,
the dear chalice; the host has fled elsewhere.
The hard helm of ornate gold must
be bereft of decoration; the stewards sleep,
who must prepare the battle-mask;
so too the mailcoat, which endured in battle
the bite of iron over the clash of shields,
decays akin to man. The ring-mail cannot
travel far with the war-chief,
by the side of warriors. There is no harp-joy;
play on the harp; nor does the good hawk
swoop through the hall; nor does the swift horse
canter in the city-street. Baleful death has
sent forth many of the human race!”

Beowulf ought to need no introduction. Those of you unfortunate enough to have never read Liuzza or Heaney’s translations will at least have been inundated with imagery from the terrible movie with Angelina Jolie. These lines (2200-2267) are famous in their own right, being a part of the elegaic tradition which forms a good part of surviving Anglo-Saxon verse. The ubi sunt (where are they?) sentiment  of these lines is made particularly famous by Tolkein, who borrows them for a Rohirric lament in The Two Towers.

Aside from the line breaks, which are mine, this is the text as presented in the fourth edition of Klaeber’s Beowulf. I have removed the brackets and paranthesis indicating editiorial fiat, as they distract somewhat from the text itself. If anyone is terribly curious about the original edition, feel free to ask me. This section of the manuscript is actually severely fire-damaged, and as such many of the words have been reconstructed. This is a fancy academic way to say ‘made up.’

One of my assignments this semester is to translate these lines, and offer a syntactical and editorial commentary.  While I have no intention on posting my thoughts online regarding the editorial decisions taken by Fulk et al in this edition of Klaeber’s work, my weekly poetry translation is a perfect opportunity to test out a draft of the transaltion.

As such, this should be absolutely read as a draft- and a first draft at that. There are a number of passages about which I am uncertain.