Beowulf Comparisons

This page allows you to compare four versions side by side, three verse and one prose.

For more information about Beowulf, view our Beowulf Page. Enjoy!



SEAMUS HEANEY (1999)    






J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1926)




Beowulf is Born
Hear the song of spear-Danes from sunken years,
Kings had courage then, the kings of all tribes,
We have heard their heroics, we hold them in memory.
Shield Sheafson was one, scourge of all tribes,
Took a maul to the mead-benches, mangled his enemies.
He rose and in rising, he wrecked all his foes.
A foundling at first, he flourished in might,
A torrent of terror, war tested his mettle.
So he bested and broached the borders of nations;
The whale-road was wide but his warriors still crossed it.
Gold came, and glory... a good king that was!
So Shield had a son, sent as a gift,
A cub for the courtyard, a comfort from God
For the nation had known long gnawing of troubles,
Great trials and tempests, long times of deep suffering.
They were left leaderless so the Lord of all Life,
The great glory-Ruler, gave them a chieftain.
Shield's son he was, and summoned for glory.
Beow was brilliant, a banner of northernness,
The pride of great princes, the pride of his family.
So warriors of warfare must be wise in that way
As ring-givers rise they reach their companions
So later in life they won't be left on the field.
His thanes will stand thick with him, there battle is joined.
Such generous gifts are good for deep loyalty.
So. The Spear-Danes in day gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.

There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
as his powers waxed and his worth was proved.
In the end each clan on the outlying coasts
beyond the whale-road had to yield to him
and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king.

Afterwards a boy-child was born to Shield,
a cub in the yard, a comfort sent
by God to that nation. He knew what they had tholed,
the long times and troubles they'd come through
without a leader; so the Lord of Life,
the glorious Almighty, made this man renowned.
Shield had fathered a famous son:
Beow's name was known through the north.
And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line. Behaviour that's admired
is the path to power amoung people everywhere.
Yes! We have heard    of years long vanished
how Spear-Danes struck    sang victory-songs
raised from a wasteland    walls of glory.
Then Scyld Scefing    startled his neighbors
measured meadhalls    made them his own
since down by the sea-swirl    sent from nowhere
the Danes found him    floating with gifts
a strange king-child.    Scyld grew tall then
roamed the waterways    rode through the land
till every strongman    each warleader
sailed the whalepaths    sought him with gold
there knelt to him.    That was a king!
Time brought to him    birth for his people
a gift to the Danes    who had grieved throne sorrows
cold and kingless—the Keeper of men
softened their longings    with Syld's man-child
sunlight in their hearts.    To this son the Wielder
Life-Lord of men    loaned strength-wisdom
banishing the ache    of a barren meadhall.
Beaw was nimble    his name went traveling
sung wide and far    in the world's kingdom.
So should a prince    show his heartstrength
by his father's side    share gold-treasures
forge friend-warriors    to fight against the darkness
in his last winters.    With love and action
shall a man prevail    in memory and song.
Hear me! We've heard of Danish heroes,
Ancient kings and the glory they cut
For themselves, swinging mighty swords!
How Shild made slaves of soldiers from every
Land, crowds of captives he'd beaten
Into terror; he'd traveled to Denmark alone,
An abandoned child, but changed his own fate,
Lived to be rich and much honored. He ruled
Lands on all sides: wherever the sea
Would take them his soldiers sailed, returned
With tribute and obedience. There was a brave
King! And he gave them more than his glory,
Conceived a son for the Danes, a new leader
Allowed them by the grace of God. They had lived,
Before his coming, kingless and miserable;
Now the Lord of all life, Ruler
Of glory, blessed them with a prince, Beo,
Whose power and fame soon spread through the world.
Shild's strong son was the glory of Denmark;
His father's warriors were wound round his heart,
With goldden rings, bound to their prince
By his father's treasure. So young men build
The future, wisely open-handed in peace,
Protected in war; so warriors earn
Their fame, and wealth is shaped with a sword.
Lo! the glory of the kings of the people of the Spear-Danes in
days of old we have heard tell, how these princes did deeds
of valour. Oft Scyld Scefing robbed the hosts of foemen,
many peoples, of the seats where they drank their mead, laid
fear upon men, he who first was found forlorn; comfort for
that he lived to know, mighty grew under heaven, throve in
honour, until all that dwelt nigh about, over the sea where the
whale rides, must hearken to him and yield him tribute—a
good king was he!
To him was an heir afterwards born, a young child in
his courts whom God sent for the comfort of the people:
percieving the dire need which they long while endured
aforetime being without a prince. To him therefore the Lord
of Life who rules in glory granted honour among men: Beow
was renowned—far and wide his glory sprang—the heir
of Scyld in Scedeland. Thus doth a young man bring it to
pass with good deed and gallant gifts, while he dwells in his
father's bosom, that after in his age there cleave to him loyal
knights of his table, and the people stand by him when war
comes. By worthy deeds in every folk is a man ennobled.
"LO! we have the glory of the kings of the Spear-Danes in days gone by, how the chieftains wrought mighty deeds. Often Scyld-Scefing wrested the mead-benches from troops of foes, from many tribes; he made fear fall upon the earls. After he was first found in misery (he received solace for that), he grew up under the heavens, lived in high honour, until each of his neighbors over the whale-road must needs obey him and render tribute. That was a good king! Later a young son was born to him in the court, God send him for a comfort to the people; He had marked the misery of that earlier time when they suffered long space, lacking a leader. Wherefore the Lord of life, the Ruler of glory, gave him honour in the world.
Beowulf, son of Scyld, was renowned in Scandinavian lands—his repute spread far and wide. So shall a young man bring good to pass with splendid gifts in his father's possession, so that when war comes willing comrades shall stand by him again in his old age, the people follow him. In every tribe a man shall prosper by deeds of love.
Beowulf Recounts His Heroic Exploits
That hero, high-minded, held silent and rose,
With thanes powerful and potent, but part of them stayed.
To watch the weapons as their warrior-chief directed.
Their prince led; they proceeded and passed through the door
Into Heorot's haven with a brave-helmet leading.
He strode forward and stood to speak with the king.
Then brave Beowulf spoke, bold in his armor,
Chested in chain-mail, the chosen smith had woven—
"Hail to Hrothgar! May good health not leave you.
I am from Hygelac's hall, a strong help in his battles.
Many mighty young deeds my master received once.
Then news of Grendel to Geatland came, grim were the tidings.
Sailors told stories of your suffering people,
How this great and good hall lies ghostly and empty
To your warriors, once evening comes, once the sun has set
And the light lowers its way below the lip of the world.
All our elders advised me, our wise men gave counsel,
Saying I should sail, cross the sea to your service,
Offer help to you, Hrothgar, give help to the Danes.
They never had known a naked strength greater,
Had sen me bloodied by blows, but battling through it.
I beat down and bound some beasts, five in number,
I took out a troll-nest, I tackled sea monsters
On the water and waves, drove warriors from Geatland,
Who honestly asked for it. I was eager to do it.
Undaunted I drove them, devastating them quickly.
And so against Grendel I give out my challenge,
To settle that score in single combat."
The hero arose, surrounded closely
by his powerful thanes. A party remained
under orders to keep watch on the arms;
the rest proceeded, led by their prince
under Heorot's roof. And standing on the hearth
in webbed links that the smith had woven,
the fine-forged mesh of his gleaming mail-shirt,
resolute in his helmet, Beowulf spoke:
"Greetings to Hrothgar. I am Hygelac's kinsman,
one of his hall-troop. When I was younger,
I had great triumphs. Then news of Grendel,
hard to ignore, reached me at home:
sailors brought stories of the plight you suffer
in this legendary hall, how it lies deserted,
empty and useless once the evening light
hides itself under heaven's dome.
So every elder and experienced councilman
among my people supported my resolve
to come here to you, King Hrothgar,
because all knew of my awesome strength.
They had seen me boltered in the blood of enemies
when I battled and bound five beasts,
raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea
slaughtered sea-brutes. I have suffered extremes
and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it
upon themselves, I devasted them).
Now I mean to be a match for Grendel,
settle the outcome in single combat.
Beowulf spoke then,    burnished mailcoat
work of wonder-smiths    winking in firelight:
"Hail to you, Hrothgar!    I am Hygelac's thane
nephew-kin and friend.    I have known much peril
grim death-dangers.    Grendel's ravages
came to my ears    in my own homeland.
Sailors have said    that this strong meadhall
with high gold-gables    this Hall of the Hart
stands empty and idle    when evening-light fades
when the dark sky lowers    and light thins to gray.
My people have urged me,    elders and youth
best of Weather-Geats    brothers of my heart,
to cross the gulfway    come straight to you
offer you my strength    stand by your side.
They saw for themselves    as I surfaced from ambush
broke through the waves    to the winds of sunrise
how I crushed water-sprites    cracked their blood-teeth
shoved them deathwards    down by the sea-floor
fought them by night    in narrow-dark waters
on the sandy ground.    Grendel is next—
I will settle alone    this sorrowful feud
this baleful business...
Standing on that prince's own hearth,
Helmeted, the silvery metal of his mail shirt
Gleaming with a smith's high art, he greeted
The Dane's great lord: "Hail,Hrothgar!
Higlac is my cousin and my king; the days
Of my youth have been filled with glory. Now
Grendel's Name has echoed in our land: sailors
Have brought us stories of Herot, the best
Of all mead-halls, deserted and useless when the moon
Hangs in skies the sun had lit
Light and life fleeing together.
My people have said, the wisest, most knowing
And best of them, that my duty was to go to the Dane's
Great king. They have seen my strength for themselves,
Have watched me rise from the darkeness of war,
Dripping with my enemies's blood. I drove
Five great giants into chains, chased
All of that race from the earth. I swam
In the blackness of night, hunting monsters
Out of the ocean, and killing them one
By one; death was my errand and the fate
They had earned. Now Grendel and I are called
Together, and I've come...
...Then that lordly man arose, and about him
many a warrior, a valiant company of knights. Some remained
behind guarding their gear of war, even as the bold captain
commanded. They went with speed together, the knight guid-
ing them, beneath the roof of Heorot. Stern beneath his helm
[strode Beowulf] until he stood upon the hearth. Words he
spake--his mail gleamed upon him, woven like stuff in crafty
web by the cunning of smiths: 'Hail to thee Hrothgar! I am
Hygelac's kinsman and vassal; on many a renowned deed I
ventured in my youth. To me on my native soil the matter of
Grendel became known and revealed; travellers upon the sea
report that this hall, fairest of houses, stands empty and to
all men useless, as soon as the light of evening is hid beneath
heaven's pale. Thereupon the worthiest of my people and
wise men counselled me to come to thee, King Hrothgar, for
they had learned the power of my body's strength; they had
themselves observed it, when I returned from the toils of my
foes, earning their enmity, where five I bound, making deso-
late the race of monsters, and when I slew amid the waves by
night the water-demons, enduring bitter need, avenging the
afflications of the windloving Geats, destroying those hos-
tile things--woe they had asked for. And now I shall deal with
Grendel, with that fierce slayer, hold debate alone with the
Beowulf spoke—on him his corslet shone, the shirt of mail sewn by the art of the smith: "Hail to thee Hrothgar; I am Hygelac's kinsman and thane. I have in my youth undertaken many heroic deeds. The ravages of Grendel were made known to me in my native land. Seafarers say that this hall, the noblest building, stands unpeopled and profitless to all warriors, after the light of evening is hidden under cover of heaven. Then my people counselled me, the best of men in their wisdom, that I should seek thee, Prince Hrothgar, because they knew the power of my strength, they saw it themselves, when I came out of battles, blood stained from my foes, where I bound five, ruined the race of the monsters and slew by night the sea beasts mid the waves, suffered sore need, avenged the wrong of the Weders, killed the foes—they embarked on an unlucky venture. And now alone I shall achieve the exploit against Grendel, the monster, the giant.
Beowulf Fights Grendel
He who had harried men and hated their joys,
Hostile to holiness, his heart feuding with God,
He had murdered many and men greatly feared him,
But his frame failed him, this fiend lost his grip.
Hygelac's hero, that high-hearted warrior,
Held death in his hand grip, his hold was tremendous.
Each one of them hated that the other one lived.
That creature then cracked, his cruelty rewarded,
His broad shoulder burst, and bloody sinews popped.
Those bones were broken. To Beowulf belonged
The glory that was given, and Grendel was driven
To his den, to his death, in the dark marshes waiting,
In the fens' filthiness he was fleeing in sorrow
To the end of his ugliness, to the end of his life.
The desire of the Danes, their dearest wishes,
Were fulfilled in fierce battle, by the finest of warriors.
Their rescue from ravages was wrested in freedom
For Hrothgar's hall. The heroic wise warrior
Had purged its pollutions. He was pleased by his work,
His devotion and deed. To the Danes of the east
His boast was believed, his bravery delivered
Them from sadness and sorrows, their sickness in envy,
The bane of this battle they had borne for too long,
The pain and pollution, the passions of hatred.
The proof of proud victory, presented in gladness,
When the hard warrior's hand held the grim trophy,
The talon he tore off, with the torn arm and shoulder,
And Grendels' long grip to the gable was nailed.
Then he who had harrowed the hearts of men
with pain and affliction in former times
and had given offence also to God
found that his bodily powers failed him.
Hygelac's kinsman kept him helplessly
locked in a handgrip. As long as either lived,
he was hateful to the other. The monster's
whole body was in pain, a tremendous wound
appeared on his shoulder. Sinews split
and the bone-lappings burst. Beowulf was granted
the glory of winning; Grendel was driven
under the fen-banks, fatally hurt,
to his desolate lair. His days were numbered,
the end of his life was coming over him,
he knew it for certain; and one bloody clash
had fulfilled the dearest wishes of the Danes.
The man who had lately landed among them,
Proud and sure, had purged the hall,
kept it from harm; he was happy with his nightwork
and the courage he had shown. The Great captain
had boldly fulfilled his boast to the Danes:
he had healed and relieved a huge distress,
unremitting humiliations,
the hard fate they'd been forced to undergo,
no small affliction. Clear proof of this
could be seen in the hand the hero displayed
high up near the roof: the whole of Grendel's
shoulder and arm, his awesome grasp.
Then that giant ravager    rejected by God
marked with murder    measured by his sins
finally conceived    in his fiend's mindthoughts
that his loathsome body    would bear no more.
Hygelac's thane    held fast to him
tightened his grip—Grendel yearned away
his arm stretched thin    thronging with pain—
a great death-wound    gaped in his shoulder
sinew-bonds weakened    snapped viciously
bonelockings burst.    To Beowulf there
victory was granted.    Grendel feld then
sickened with death    slouched under fen-slopes
to his joyless home    no hope for his life—
he knew at last    the number of his days.
To the Danes' misery    a dawning of mercy
rose from that battle    bright deliverance.
Heorot was cleansed    healed of thane-sorrow
aching morning-grief    emptied of murder
by that tall visitor—victory was bright
joy to his heart.     He held to his promise,
evening boastwords,    banished from that hall
dark sorrow-songs    consoled the Danes
for long torture years    terror in the night
an empty meadhall    from evening till dawn.
He hailed the sunrise    hoisted a signal
a clear token-sign    that terror was dead
nailed Grendel's arm    that great handgrip
near the high gable-point    of Heorot's roof.
By morning's light    many of a warrior
gathered watchfully    by the gift-hall's door.
Chieftains and followers    from far and from near
gazed at that wonder    grisly monster-arm
hand and knife-claws    high death-trophy.
Now he discovered—once the aflictor
Of men, tormentor of their days—what it meant
To feud with Almighty God: Grendel
Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws
Bound fast, Higlac's brave follower tearing at
His hands. The monster's hatred rose higher,
But his power had gone. He twisted in pain,
And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder
Snapped, muscle and bone split
And broke. The battle was over, Beowulf
Had been granted new glory: Grendel escaped,
But wounded as he was could flee to his den,
His miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh,
Only to to die, to wait for the end
Of all his Days. And after that bloody
Combat the Danes laughed with delight.
He who had come to them from across the sea,
Bold and strong minded, had driven affliction
Off, purged Herot clean. He was happy,
Now, with that night's fierce work; the Danes
Had been served as he'd boasted he'd serve them;
A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel,
Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering
Forced on Hrothgar's helpless people
By a bloodthirsty fiend, No Dane doubted
The victory, for the proof hanging high
From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was
The monster's arm, claw and shoulder and all.
...Now did he per-
cieve who aforetime had wrought the race of men many a
grief of heart and wrong--he had a feud with God--that his
body's might would not avail him, but the valiant kinsman of
Hygelac had him by the arm--hateful to each was the other's
life. A grievous hurt of body that fierce slayer and dire now
endured; a mighty wound was seen upon his shoulder; the
sinews sprang apart, the joints of his bones burst. To Beowulf
was vouchsafed triumph in battle; thence now must Grendel
flee stricken to death to hide beneath the slopes of the fens,
seeking his joyless haunts. Thereby the more surely did he
know that the end of his life was come to pass and the hours
of his days were numbered. That deadly contest was over
and achieved was the desire of all the Danes; in that hour had
one come from afar, wise and stout of heart, purged the hall
of Hrothgar and redeemed it from the malice of Grendel.
He rejoiced in his deeds that night and in the glory of his
prowess. The chief of those Geatish men had accomplished
all his proud vaunt before the East Danes, and had healed,
moreover, all the woe and the tormenting sorrow that they
had erewhile suffered and must of necessity endure, no little
bitterness. Of this a clear token it was when that warrior bold
had set the hand, the arm and shoulder, beneath the wide-
spread roof--there was all Grendel's clutching limb entire.
Then he who before in the joy of his heart had wrought much malice on mankind—he was hostile to God—found that his body would not follow him, for the brave kinsman of Hygelac held him by the hand. Each was hateful to the other while he lived. The foul monster suffered pain in his body. A great wound was seen in his shoulder, the sinews sprang apart, the body burst open. Fame in war was granted to Beouwulf. Grendel must needs flee thence under the fen-cliffs mortally wounded, seek out his joyless dwelling. He knew but too well the end of his life was come, the full count of his days. The desire of all Danes was fulfilled after the storm of battle.
Then he who erstwhile came from afar, shrewd and staunch, had cleansed the hall of Hrothgar, freed it from battle. He rejoiced in the night-work, in heroic deeds. The prince of the Geat warriors had fulfilled his boast to the East-Danes; likewise he cured all their sorrows, sufferings from malicious foes, which they endured before and were forced to bear in distress, no slight wrong. That was a clear token when the bold warrior laid down the hand, the arm and shoulder under the wide roof—it was all there together—the claw of Grendel.
Beowulf Fights Grendel's Mother
But brave Beowulf stood, not buckling in fear,
That high-hearted one, Hygelac's kinsman,
Rejected that wretched sword, though richly embellished—
That thane threw it down, thought to leave it there,
Though strong, made of steel. His own strength he trusted,
His hand-grip of hard might. So high-hearted men should do
When they want to win the warfare brought to them,
Not tangled by troubles, or tension or fears.
He grabbed the great shoulder of Grendel's foul mother.
The great Geat war-lord grasped combat fully.
Filled with great fury, he flung down that monster,
And that deadly demon was brought down to the ground.
She twisted and turned and took him down too,
With her ghastly grasping, she grappled with Beowulf.
Spent with the struggle, he staggered and fell,
Though fierce among fighters, he fell nonetheless.
She chose his great chest as a death chair; she sat,
Drew her great dagger, and down it plunged,
To avenge his last victory, the victim, her son.
The braids linked on his breast bested death that day,
Turning the bitter blade, barring death's entrance.
The heir of Ecgtheow would have accepted death,
Under the wide world, that warrior of Geatland,
Had not that hauberk well-hardened helped turn the blow
But the blessed God of battles brought him deliverance,
The high king of Heaven, the holiest Maker,
The God of goodness gave him this gift;
The great warrior got up, regaining his stance.
Hygelac's kinsman kept thinking about
his name and fame: he never lost heart.
Then, in a fury, he flung his sword away.
The keen, inlaid, worm-loop-patterned steel
was hurled to the ground; he would have to rely
on the might of his arm. So must a man do
who intends to gain enduring glory
in a combat. Life doesn't cost him a thought.
Then the prince of War-Geats, warming to this fight
with Grnedel's mother, gripped her shoulder
and laid about him in a battle frenzy:
he pitched his killer opponent to the floor
but she rose quickly and retaliated,
grappled him tightly in her grim embrace.
The sure-footed fighter felt daunted,
the strongest of warriors stumbled and fell.
So she pounced upon him and pulled out
a broad, whetted knife: now she would avenge
her only child. But the mash mesh of chain-mail
on Beowulf's shoulder shielded his life,
turned the edge and tip of the blade.
Beowulf remembered    boastwords in Heorot
Hygelac's hearth-thane    held to his promise—
he flung the sword then    far across the cave
flushed with anger    no failure in his heart—
he remembered his handgrasp    mindful of Grendel
his great gripstrength.    A good war-thane
fighting for fame    following name-glory
will trust his courage    no care for his life.
He grabbed her then    Grendel's hell-mother
grappled her shoulders    in his great handvice
tugged at her arms    with angry heartstrength
twisted her backwards    bent her to the floor.
She clamped his arms    in her cold fiendgrip
returned his tugging    with tight claw-fingers—
she toppled him over    with towering strength
raging with fire-eyes    felled him to the floor
leapt on his chest    lifted her shortsword
braod murder-knife    burning to avenge
her only offspring.    Over his breastcage
a hand-locked mailcoat    harbored his life
countered the piercing    of point and edge.
He would soon have died there    deep under the earth
Ecgtheow's son    strong Geat-champion
but his hard battle-coat    held against that thrust—
close-woven steelmesh    clenched against swordbite
kept him from death—the Deemer of this world
decided that contest     the Shaper of mankind
strengthened that warrior    as he stood to his feet.
But Beowulf longed only for fame, leaped back
Into battle. He tossed his sword aside,
Angry; the steel-edged blade lay where
He'd dropped it. If weapons were useless he'd use
His hands, the strength in his fingers. So fame
Comes to the men who mean to win it,
And care about nothing else! He raised
His arms and seized her by the shoulder; anger
Doubled his strength, he threw her to the floor.
She fell, Grendel's fierce mother, and the Geats'
Proud prince was read to leap on her. But she rose
At once and repaid him with her clutching claws,
Wildly tearing at him. He was weary, that best
And strongest of soldiers; his feet stumbled
And in an instant she had him down, held helpless.
Squatting with her weight on his stomach, she drew
A dagger, brown with dried blood, and prepared
To avenger her only son. But he was stretched
On his back, and her stabbing blade was blunted
By the woven mail shirt he wore on his chest.
The hammered links held; the point
Could not touch him. He'd have traveled to the
bottom of the earth,
Edgetho's son, and died there, if that shining
Woven metal had not helped—and Holy
God, who sent him victory, gave judgment...
Again he made on, no laggard in valour, remembering his
renowned deeds, that kinsman of Hygelac. As he fought in
ire he cast away that blade with twisted ornament and curi-
ously bound, and upon the earth it lay steeledged and strong.
He trusted in his strength and the grasp of his own mighty
hands. Such shall a man's faith be, when he thinks to win
enduring fame in war: no care for his life will trouble him.
Then siezed the price of Geatish warriors Grendel's mother
by her locks, ruing not the cruel deed, and his mortal foe he
threw, for now he grim in war was filled with wrath, and she
was bowed unto the floor. Again she swiftly answered him
with like, and grappling cruelly she clutched at him. Then
stumbled, desparate at heart, that warrior most strong, that
champion of the host, and he in turn was thrown. Then did
she bestride the invader of her hall, and drew her knife with
broad and burnished blade: she thought to avenge her son
and only child. Upon his shoulders hung the woven net of
mail about his breast; this now his life defended, and with-
stood the entry of both point and edge. In that hour had the
son of Ecgtheow, champion of the Geats, come to ill end
beneath the widespread earth, had not his corslet, the stout
net of rings, furnished him help in fight and fray--there Holy
God did rule the victory in battle. The allseeing Lord who
governeth the heavens on high with ease did give decision to
the right, when Beowulf again sprang up.
Once again the kinsman of Hygelac was resolute, mindful of heroic deeds, no whit lax in courage. Then the angry warrior cast down the sword with its twisted ornaments, set round with decorations, so that it lay on the ground, strong and steel edged. He trusted in his strength, his mighty hand-grip. Thus a man must needs do when he is minded to gain lasting praise in war, nor cares for his life.
Then the prince of the War-Geats seized Grendel's mother by the hair; he feared not the fight. Then stern in strifehe swung the monster in his wrath so that she bent to the ground. She quickly gave him requital again with savage grips, and grasped out towards him. Weary in mood then she overthrew the strongest of fighters, the foot-warrior, so that he fell down. Then she sat on the visitor to her hall, and drew her knife, broad and bright-edged; she was minded to avenge her child, her only son. The woven breast-net lay on his shoulder; that guarded his life; it opposed the entrance of point and edge. Then the son of Ecgtheow, the hero of the Geats, would have found death under the wide waters if the war-corslet, the stout battle net, had not afforded him help, and if holy God, the wise Lord, had not achieved victory in war; the Ruler of the heavens brought about a right issue, when once more he stood up with ease.
The Dragon
...The brave king again.
Called to mind and memory the might of his glory,
Thrust his striking sword at the serpent's head,
A blow of blunt hatred. But the blade, Naegling, shattered,
Beowulf's sword broke, in battle it staggered,
Old and gray-ancient. The edge of the sword
Was fated to fail him; faltering at great moments
Of struggle and strife. So strong was his hand,
As the tale was told me, he tested them hard,
And with the strength of each stroke he struck them to pieces—
All the blades he would break, and was no better off.
Then the dread fire-dragon determined to end it
And rushed in his rage to wreak final vengeance.
He found an opening finally and furiously bit
With his fangs in a fury, and fastened them deep
In the neck of that noble, in the neck of the hero—
In waves his blood welled, and he weltered in crimson.
Inspired again
by the thought of glory, the war king threw
his whole strength behind a sword-stroke
and connected with the skull. And Naegling snapped.
Beowulf's ancient iron-grey sword
let him down in the fight. It was never his fortune
to be helped in combat by the cutting edge
of weapons made of iron. When he wielded a sword,
no matter how blooded and hard-edged the blade
his hand was too strong, the stroke he dealt
(I have heard) would ruin it. He could reap no advantage.

Then the bane of that people, the fire-breathing dragon,
was mad to attack for a third time.
When a chance came, he caught the hero
in a rush of flame and clamped sharp fangs
into his neck. Beowulf's body
ran wet with his life-blood: it came welling out.
...The old battle-king
remembered his glory name    mightily struck then
with his sharp blade-edge    borne so strongly
that it stuck in that neck.    Naegling burst then
broke upon that bone    Beowulf's trophy sword
old and battle-hard.    That best of honor-blades
failed him at need    finest of smith-steel
could give him no help.    His hand was too strong
overswung each sword    as stories have told me
struck too forcefully    when he stepped to battle—
wonder-hard weapons    did not work for him.
For the third time then    twisting in hate-coils
that monstrous fire-dragon    mindful of his feud
struck pas that shield    with his searing bellows-breath
went straight to Beowulf    bit round his neck
with bitter venom-teeth.    Beowulf stopped then
his life-force draining    in dark blood-welling.
Then the famous old hero, remembering
Days of glory, lifted what was left
Of Nagling, his ancient sword, and swung it
With all his strength, smashed the gray
Blade into the beast's head. But then Nagling
Broke to pieces, as iron always
Had in Beowulf's hands. His arms
Were too strong, the hardest blade could not help him,
The most wonderful worked. He carried them to war
But fate had decreed that the Geats' great king
Would be no better for any weapon.
Then the monster charged again, vomiting
Fire, wild with pain, rushed out
Fierce and dreadful, it's fear forgotten.
Watching for its chance it drove its tusks
Into Beowulf's neck; he staggered, the blood
Came flooding forth, fell like rain.
...Now once more the king of battles recalled his
renowned deeds, with mighty strength he smote with his
warlike sword, and fast in the head it stood driven by fierce
hate. Naegling burst asunder! Beowulf's sword, old, grey-
bladed, had failed him in the fight. It was not vouchsafed to
him that blades of iron might be his aid in war: too strong
that hand, that as I have heard with its swing overtaxed each
sword, when he to the battle bore weapons marvellously
hard; no whit did it profit him.
Then for the third time the destroyer of the folk, the fell
fire-dragon, bethought him of deeds of enmity, and rushed
upon that valiant man, now that a clear field was given him,
burning and fierce in battle. His neck with his sharp bony
teeth he siezed now all about, and Beowulf was reddened
with his own life-blood; it welled forth in gushing streams...
Then again the warlike king was mindful of fame; he struck with his battle sword with mighty strength, so that, urged by the force of hate, it stuck in his head. Naegling burst apart; Beowulf's sword, ancient and grey, failed in fight. It was not granted to him that the edges of swords might aid him in the struggle, when he bore to battle the weapon hardened by blood of wounds; his hand was too strong, he who, as I have heard, tried every sword beyond its strength. He was in evil plight.
Then for the third time the enemy of the people, the bold fire-dragon, was mindful of fighting; he rushed on the mighty man, when a chance offered, hot and fierce in fight; he clutched his whole neck with sharp teeth; Beowulf grew stained with his life-blood; the gore welled out in surges.