Friday, 19 June 2009

A Glossary for Beowulf

To take revenge for somebody else. So to avenge a friend who has been killed would be to kill his killer. Or to extract Wergild (manprice) which was a legal compensation price set for each man/ woman /child and status in society.


A large mound of earth with a grave inside for burying a person and his belongings. A barrow often looks like a small hill. It is by digging in some of these that many Anglo-Saxon objects have been found.

battle standard
A battle standard is the pole and the banner which a lord's army carries into battle.
blood-feud This is a feud started by an act of bloodshed when somebody is killed. Because of this killing, two groups or tribes are at war as more and more killings take place in revenge for those who have died.

Nowadays we might say that boasting is a big-headed thing to do, but to the Anglo-Saxons it meant something quite different. A boast was a kind of promise a warrior made in front of other people. When a warrior had boasted that he would carry out a brave action and everyone had heard it, then he had to do it. If he succeeded (or even if he died trying) his would be talked about and praised. If he did not, he would not be respected any more.

This is another word for skeleton or rib-cage.

Craftsmen are people who are clever at making things. To make the mead-hall Hrothgar has to find people who are skilful at building with wood, and at carving and decorating.
drinking horn A drinking horn was usually made from the horn of a wild ox. It was polished and decorated and used to hold wine, beer or mead. This is what a pair of drinking horns probably looked like The silver parts were found in the ship-grave at Sutton Hoo.

Fame was very important to warrior tribes like the Geats and Danes. Life was short - many died in battle or from disease. What mattered was for the things you had done while you were alive to be spoken about and praised when you were dead. Then you would have created something that lasted longer than a life. You could win fame by brave deeds in battle or by being a wise adviser, for making good decisions or bringing about peace. You could win ill-fame too, of course, for leaving your friends in battle or being a bad lord or murdering your relatives. Fame was the way you were remembered and spoken of, the way your story was told.

A feud is a state of hatred and killing between two groups of people. It is a war by one family or tribe against another. Often a feud can begin when a member of one tribe kills a member of another in a quarrel. The dead person's friends and family kill the killer, or some member of his tribe, and so it goes on. Feuds are very difficult to stop because too many people on each side want revenge for their loved ones who have died.

Finn the Frisian and the Fight at Finnsburgh
This story was well known and liked in Anglo-Saxon times. Finn, the lord of the Frisians, married Hildeburgh, a Dane, to end a feud between their two tribes. But when Hildeburgh's brother came with a group of Danes to visit her, the Frisians attacked them in the night. This was especially wicked, as the Danes were guests in the Frisians' home. Hildeburgh's brother and her son were killed. The rest of the Danes at last managed to get revenge and in the Fight at Finnsburgh, Finn was killed. Hildeburgh was taken home by the Danes.

Franks, Frisians, Swedes and Hetware
The Franks, the Frisians and the Hetware were tribes living in the areas of Europe that are now part of Germany, Holland and Belgium. The Swedes were the neighbouring tribe of the Geats, living in the north of the country we now call Sweden. Later on, the Franks moved south into what is now France. The word France comes from their name.

funeral pyre
This is a huge pile of wood for burning a body at a funeral. The ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons believed the soul left the body when it was burnt, not at the moment when the person died. Sometimes a person's armour and other treasures would be burnt with them.

In Anglo-Saxon times land was measured in hides. One hide of land was supposed to be enough to meet the needs of one family - for them to live on, grow crops and graze animals. So 7000 hides of land is a very large gift of land indeed.

Sutton Hoo Royal Sword


The hilt of a sword is the part you hold it by. The hilts of Anglo-Saxon swords were often beautifully decorated with jewels and complicated patterns.

Ring Sword Showing Hilt

holy places
These are places or buildings especially for worshipping. Anglo-Saxon holy places were often in woods or on hills. When the Anglo-Saxons became Christians they often built churches on the same spot. So many of the churches you can see today actually stand on the holy places of the Anglo-Saxons.

The swords in Anglo-Saxon stories often have names. Beowulf's own sword is called Naegling (you will read about it later).An Anglo-Saxon warrior depended on his sword to save his life and kill enemies. The Anglo-Saxons admired swords for being beautifully decorated and well-made things. A sword often lasted longer than the life of its owner and was handed down from father to son. A sword could see more battles than one person could. So a sword that had been successful many times seemed to have magical powers to protect its owner and destroy his enemies. This is why it had a character and a name of its own.

hunting with his hawk
A hawk is a bird with hooked beak which kills small animals (like rabbits) for food. An eagle is a type of hawk. Hawks can be caught and trained to hunt animals for humans. This sport was popular in Anglo-Saxon times and for hundreds of years after.
This picture shows the Anglo-Saxon King Harold out hunting with his hawk and hounds. It comes from the Bayeux Tapestry which was made by Anglo-Saxons to tell the story of the Norman Conquest.

This is another word for relative. Beowulf is Hygelac's nephew.

mailcoats (also sometimes called mail-shirts in the story).
Anglo-Saxon warriors wore mailcoats to protect their bodies from spears, arrows and swords. They looked like this:

They were made of hundreds of tiny metal rings linked tightly together so that the sharp points of weapons could not easily find a way through.
mail-shirt (also called mailcoat in this story) This is made of tiny metal rings linked tightly together. It covers the body to protect it from spears, swords and arrows.

In Anglo-Saxon society the highest position was that of the lord or king. Then came noblemen (called thanes or eldermen - these were usually warriors or advisers). There were also the farmers (called churls) and slaves. A slave could be bought and sold like a cow or a pig. Some slaves were born the children of slaves. Some became slaves after being taken prisoner in wars. Sometimes people sold themselves into slavery just to have enough to eat. Sometimes when the slave-owner died, their will said that their slaves should be set free.

The word 'mead-hall' means a place for drinking 'mead'. Mead is a drink made from honey. The Anglo-Saxons liked to drink mead, wine and beer. The mead-hall was a building where everyone could meet together.

A mere is another word for a lake or pool. You can still see this word in place-names today - for example, Lake Windemere in the Lake District.

ninth hour of the day
The Anglo-Saxons counted the hours of the day beginning from 6 o'clock in the morning. So the ninth hour is 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

These are gifts that people make to please the gods so that they will answer their prayers. When the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons still lived in Sweden and Denmark they sometimes killed people to give them as offerings to the gods. These offerings - or 'human sacrifices' - were to please the earth-goddess. The bodies of some of these people have been found in large bogs in Sweden and Denmark. The bodies did not decay because the peat in the bogs kept them whole.

olden days of the Giants
This is a story from the Bible, which says that once a race of Giants lived on the earth. They were at war with God. The people grew wicked too, so God sent a great flood to punish and destroy all this wickedness. Noah and his family were saved, along with two animals of every kind, because Noah kept them safe in his Ark while the earth was flooded. Grendel and his mother are supposed to be related to this race of Giants who once ruled the earth.

Your reputation is how you are known among your group (or tribe). You can have a reputation for being a coward, or clever, or funny. It is what people know or say about you. A warrior's reputation must be that he is brave and willing to face danger. Unferth loses his reputation as a brave warrior because he does not dare to face Grendel's Mother. For the Anglo-Saxons, reputation was connected to fame (how a person was talked about after he or she was dead) and was very important.

As you know from the story, the lord often gave gifts to his warriors at feasts. As well as weapons and armour, he might give rings like these:

or this

Or brooches:
These might have been used for fastening a cloak.

swan's riding-place
The 'swan's riding-place' is the sea. The Anglo-Saxons liked to make word-pictures like this, especially in poetry. For example, the sun is called 'the sky's candle' later in the story. The Anglo-Saxons used at least fifteen different words for the sea - another example is 'whale-road'.

Tapestries are pictures sewn onto cloth or woven out of thread. Large tapestries often hang on the walls in castles.
These ships are part of the Bayeux Tapestry. The tapestry was made soon after William the Conqueror and the Normans conquered the Anglo-Saxons in 1066. It was made by Anglo-Saxons and tells the story of their defeat by the Normans

The group of soldiers on guard against enemies is often called the Watch. Here, the man in charge of these soldiers looking out for raiders from the sea is called the Watchman.

Whale road
The 'whale-road' is the sea. The Anglo-Saxons liked to make word-pictures like this, especially in poetry. For example, the sun is called 'the sky's candle' later in the story. The Anglo-Saxons used at least fifteen different words for the sea - another example is 'swan's riding-place'.

wild boars
A wild boar is a male wild pig. They used to be common in Britain and still live in countries like Poland in Eastern Europe. They are large and hairy and have very sharp tusks. They can be very fierce and dangerous.

Beowulf's helmet is decorated with them to frighten his enemies.

This is an Anglo-Saxon helmet with a boar on top. It was found at a place called Bentley Grange

Finn and Hengest by J.R.R. Tolkien

Finn and Hengest is a study by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Alan Bliss and published posthumously in book form in 1982.
Finn and Hengest are two Anglo-Saxon heroes appearing in the Old English epic poem Beowulf and in the fragment of "The Fight at Finnsburg". Hengest has sometimes been identified with the Jutish king of Kent. He and his brother Horsa (the names meaning "stallion" and "horse") were the legendary leaders of the first Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Britain as mercenaries in the 5th century).
The book is based on an edited series of lectures Tolkien made before and after World War II. In his lectures, Tolkien argued that the Hengest of "The Fight at Finnsburg" and Beowulf was an historical rather than a legendary figure and that these works record episodes from an orally composed and transmitted history of the Hengest named in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." This view has gained acceptance from a number of medieval historians and Anglo-Saxon scholars both since Tolkien's initial lectures and since the publication of this posthumous collection.
Tolkien's lectures describe what he called the "Jutes-on-both-sides theory", which was his explanation for the puzzling occurrence of the word ēotenas in the episode in Beowulf. Tolkien read the word as Jutes, and theorized that the fight was a purely Jutish feud, and Finn and Hnæf were simply caught up by circumstance. Tolkien explained both their presence and their ambiguous loyalty with his interpretation of the story, as follows:
Hnæf, son of Hoc Half-Dane, is the lord of a Danish people who have conquered part of Jutland (probably the northern part of the Cimbrian peninsula) and exiled its former Jutish rulers. Finn, king of Frys-Land (modern-day Friesland in the Netherlands) has allowed dispossessed Jutes to settle in his lands and enter his service. Finn marries Hnæf's older sister Hildeburh, and sends their son (whose name was probably Friðuwulf) to be fostered in Hnæf's household.
Around the year AD 450, Hnæf sails to Frys-Land in the autumn; his purpose is to return Finn's now-grown son and spend the winter in Finn's citadel, celebrating Yule. He brings a retinue of some sixty thanes. Chief among these thanes is a Jute named Hengest, leader of a band of Jutes who have taken service under Hnæf. Unfortunately, and foreseen by no one, when they arrive at Finn's stronghold they find that many of Finn's thanes are also Jutes, particularly one Garulf, who seems to be the rightful heir to the kingdom conquered by Hnæf's people; and these Frisian Jutes are at blood feud with Hengest and his band, because Hengest supports the conquering Danes, if for no other reason. This would explain why Hildeburh "had no cause to praise the fealty of the Jutes," since that fealty led to the re-awakening of the feud , which killed her brother, husband, and son.
Finn (who seems guiltless in Tolkien's interpretation) tries to prevent trouble by separating the parties, and allowing Hnæf and his thanes to occupy the royal hall, while he removes his own thanes to a different building. However, the Frisian Jutes make a pre-dawn attack, hoping to take Hengest and his band by surprise. But the Danes have been expecting trouble, and a watchman sees the light of their approaching torches. He asks rhetorically, "What is this light? Is it the dawn in the East, or is it the flight of a dragon, or are the gables burning?" Hnæf answers, "Neither is this the dawn in the East, nor is it the flight of a dragon, nor are the gables of this hall burning," it is an attack. Prepared, the Danes and Hengest's Jutes barricade the two doors of the hall against attack. Garulf is warned by one Guðhere not to risk his "precious life" in the assault, but he attacks and is the first to fall. Finn's Frisian thanes, who have ties of marriage and friendship to Finn's Jutish thanes, join in the fight against the Danes. The Danes hold the hall for five days without losing a man. On the morning of the fifth day the Frisians force their way into the hall, and in the battle, both Hnæf and Friðiwulf are killed. (It is not clear which side Friðiwulf was fighting on, but Tolkien thinks it likely he was staying in the hall with Hnæf, his foster-father and uncle; this would explain why Beowulf emphasizes that Friðiwulf was laid on the funeral pyre at Hnæf's side.) The surviving Danes and Hengest's Jutes drive the Frisians and Jutes out of the hall and re-barricade the door.
At this point Finn (who may not have joined in the fight personally) intervenes and offers to make a bargain with the survivors. As Tolkien points out, the Danes had several advantages:
1) Finn had lost so many men that he could not force his way into the hall again. 2) The Danes were occupying his royal hall, and he was unwilling to burn it to get them out. 3) Finn must have felt both guilty and ashamed that his feuding thanes had killed Hnæf, who was his brother-in-law and guest. Inside the hall, the survivors are in two groups: Danes, led by a chief thane who is described as Hunlafing ("the son of Hunlaf") and Jutes, led by Hengest. The Jutes are Hengest's own band, and owed loyalty to Hnæf only because Hengest followed him. Finn at first tries to make peace with the Danes only, but the Danes loyally insist that any peace agreement must include Hengest and his men. Finn agrees, and swears an oath of peace: the Danes and Hengest's men will lay down their arms, and since they cannot leave Frys-Land until the winter ends, they will sit at Finn's table and technically accept him as their protector (since he was now their only possible source of food and maintenance, and they had intended to be his guests throughout the winter anyway.) Finn gives the Danes a separate hall to dwell in for the winter, specifying that they shall share it with the sons of the Jutes (meaning Hengest and his band.) He also swears that any one of his own thanes who tries to renew the feud (by taunting the Danes that they now follow the slayer of their lord) will be punished, possibly with death, by Finn himself. The bodies of Hnæf and Friðiwulf are honorably burned.
Over the winter, the Danes and their Jutish allies brood over the fall of Hnæf. Hengest is faced with a conflict of duty: whether to honor the peace-treaty with Finn, or to honor his duty to avenge his fallen lord. Finally the son of Hunlaf takes a sword Hildeleoma ("Battleflame") which was probably Hnæf's sword, and lays it in Hengest's lap. Hengest "does not refuse the world's counsel" (that is, he goes along with what everyone agrees is right) and decides that his loyalty to Hnæf must outweigh his obligation to Finn. (In any case, Tolkien points out that we do not see Hengest swearing any oath to Finn; we only see Finn swearing oaths to Hengest and the Danes.) When the spring comes, the Danes sail home and tell the story of the downfall of Hnæf. They return to Finn's stronghold in force. Hengest, having remained in Frys-Land under the guise of upholding the terms of the peace-treaty, opens the gates to the invaders and the Danes sack Finn's stronghold, kill Finn and all his men, loot and burn the city and return home, taking Hildeburh with them.

Tolkien, J. R. R.; Bliss, Alan J. (ed.): Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York (1983). ISBN 0-395-33193-5

The Battle of Finnsburgh


The Battle at Finnsburg is an event with little other historical mentions than the Fragment and Episode from Beowulf. This event is supposed to have taken place around the 5th or 6th century, and most people think that it was in Frisia (although it is unclear if it really happened in Frisia). There, a Danish prince, Hnæf, has come to spend the winter; he is attacked by his enemies and the defenders carry out a magnificent defense of the hall, where Hnæf and his companions were situated. The hall was not Hnæf’s, however, and this is the reason why the owner (the opponents’ leader), Finn, didn’t burn it down. The sixty men survived for some time, but then they fall, one after the other. The ending, however, is unclear. We may assume that the defenders were killed to the last man (except for some that are mentioned in the Beowulf, such as Hengest), for Beowulf refers to it (in some places) as the Frisian Slaughter.

The Finnsburg Fragment

The Fragment is supposedly just a small part of the real piece that told us the story of what happened at Finnsburg. It is thought that the lost parts were the beginning and the ending of the text.

...‘the gables are not burning.

’Then the king, a novice in battle, said:

‘This is no dawn from the east, no dragon

flies here, the gables of the hall are not burning,

but men are making an attack. Birds of battle screech,

the grey wolf howls, spears rattle,

shield answers shaft. The wandering moon gleams

under the clouds; evil deeds will now

be done, bringing grief to this people.

But rouse yourself now, my warriors!

Grasp your shields, steel yourselves,

fight at the front and be brave!

’Then many a thegn, laden in gold, buckled his sword-belt.

Then the stout warriors, Sigeferth and Eaha,

went to one door and unsheathed their swords;

Ordlaf and Guthlaf went to guard the other,

and Hengest himself followed in their footsteps.

When he saw this, Guthere said to Garulf

that he would be unwise to go to the hall doors

in the first rush, risking his precious life,

for fearless Sigeferth was set upon his death.

But that daring man drowned the other voices

and demanded openly who held the door.

‘I am Sigeferth, a prince of the Secgan

and a well-known warrior; I’ve braved many trials,

tough combats. Even now it is decreed

for you what you can expect of me here.

’Then the din of battle broke out in the hall;

the hollow shield called for men’s hands,

helmets burst; the hall floor boomed.

Then Garulf, son of Guthlaf, gave his life

in the fight, first of all the warriors

living in that land, and many heroes fell around him,

the corpses of brave men. The raven wheeled,

dusky, dark brown. The gleaming swords so shone

it seemed as if all Finnesburh were in flames.

I have never heard of sixty warriors

who bore themselves more bravely in the fight

and never did retainers better repay

glowing mead than those men repaid Hnæf.

They fought for five days and not one of the followers

fell, but they held the doors firmly.

Then Guthere withdrew, a wounded man;

he said that his armour was almost useless,

his corselet broken, his helmet burst open.

The guardian of those people asked him at once

how well the warriors had survived their wounds

or which of the young men...

The Finnsburg Episode

The Finnsburg Episode is part of Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon epic poem. This gives a better insight into why the battle took place. Yet, this part presumes that you should know the story of the battle itself quite well. Therefore, it is wise to first read the Fragment and then turn to this Episode. Here, a bard of Hrothgar sings of the fall of the men.

Then hastened those heroes their home to see,

friendless, to find the Frisian land,

houses and high burg. Hengest still

through the death-dyed winter dwelt with Finn,

holding pact, yet of home he minded,

though powerless his ring-decked prow to drive

over the waters, now waves rolled fierce

lashed by the winds, or winter locked them

in icy fetters. Then fared another

year to men’s dwellings, as yet they do,

the sunbright skies, that their season ever

duly await. Far off winter was driven;

fair lay earth’s breast; and fain was the rover,

the guest, to depart, though more gladly he pondered

on wreaking his vengeance than roaming the deep,

and how to hasten the hot encounter

where sons of the Frisians were sure to be.

So he escaped not the common doom,

when Hun with “Lafing,” the light-of-battle,

best of blades, his bosom pierced:

its edge was famed with the Frisian earls.

On fierce-heart Finn there fell likewise,

on himself at home, the horrid sword-death;

for Guthlaf and Oslaf of grim attack

had sorrowing told, from sea-ways landed,

mourning their woes. Finn’s wavering spirit

bode not in breast. The burg was reddened

with blood of foemen, and Finn was slain,

king amid clansmen; the queen was taken.

To their ship the Scylding warriors bore

all the chattels the chieftain owned,

whatever they found in Finn’s domain

of gems and jewels. The gentle wife

o’er paths of the deep to the Danes they bore,

led to her land.

The lay was finished,

the gleeman’s song. Then glad rose the revel;

bench-joy brightened. Bearers draw

from their “wonder-vats” wine. Comes Wealhtheow forth,

under gold-crown goes where the good pair sit,

uncle and nephew, true each to the other one,

kindred in amity. Unferth the spokesman

at the Scylding lord’s feet sat: men had faith in his spirit,

his keenness of courage, though kinsmen had found him

unsure at the sword-play. The Scylding queen spoke:

“Quaff of this cup, my king and lord,

breaker of rings, and blithe be thou,

gold-friend of men; to the Geats here speak

such words of mildness as man should use.

Be glad with thy Geats; of those gifts be mindful,

or near or far, which now thou hast.

Men say to me, as son thou wishest

yon hero to hold. Thy Heorot purged,

jewel-hall brightest, enjoy while thou canst,

with many a largess; and leave to thy kin

folk and realm when forth thou goest

to greet thy doom. For gracious I deem

my Hrothulf, willing to hold and rule

nobly our youths, if thou yield up first,

prince of Scyldings, thy part in the world.

I ween with good he will well requite

offspring of ours, when all he minds

that for him we did in his helpless days

of gift and grace to gain him honor!”

Then she turned to the seat where her sons were placed,

Hrethric and Hrothmund, with heroes’ bairns,

young men together: the Geat, too, sat there,

Beowulf brave, the brothers between.

Additional Information
For people interested in this event, I should suggest to read the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, which gives a better insight into the battle and tries to explain many things.
Tolkien, J. R. R.; Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode

Finnsburg Fragment

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney (pronounced /ˈʃeɪməs ˈhiːni/) (born 13 April 1939 [1]) is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He currently lives in Dublin.[2]

Early life
Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 into a family of nine children at the family farmhouse called Mossbawn, between Castledawson and Toomebridge in Northern Ireland. In 1953, his family moved to Bellaghy, a few miles away, which is now the family home. His father, Patrick Heaney, owned and worked a small farm of fifty acres in County Londonderry[3], but his real commitment was to cattle-dealing, to which he was introduced by the uncles who had cared for him after the early death of his own parents. Seamus' mother came from the McCann family, whose uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill and whose aunt had worked as a maid to the mill owners' family. The poet has commented on the fact that his parentage thus contains both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution; he considers this to have been a significant tension in his background.
Heaney was educated initially at Anahorish Primary School in Toome, County Antrim. When he was twelve-years-old, he won a scholarship to St. Columb's College, a Catholic boarding school situated in the city of Derry. At St. Columb's, he was taught Latin and Irish, and these languages, together with the Anglo-Saxon which he would study while a student of Queen's University, Belfast, were determining factors in many of the developments and retrenchments which have marked his progress as a poet.
Heaney's brother, Christopher, was killed in a road accident at the age of four (while Heaney was studying at St. Columb's). Heaney wrote two poems reflecting on the death of Christopher
"Mid-Term Break" [4] "The Blackbird of Glanmore".

In 1957, Heaney travelled to Belfast to study English Language and Literature at the Queen's University of Belfast. During his time in Belfast he found a copy of Ted Hughes' Lupercal, which spurred him to write poetry. "Suddenly, the matter of contemporary poetry was the material of my own life," he has said.[5] He graduated in 1961 with a First Class Honours degree. During teacher training at St Joseph's Teacher Training College in Belfast, he went on a placement to St Thomas' secondary Intermediate School in west Belfast. The headmaster of this school was the writer Michael MacLaverty from County Monaghan, who introduced Heaney to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh. It was at this time that he first started to publish poetry, beginning in 1962. In 1963 he became a lecturer at St Joseph's. In the spring of 1963, after contributing various articles to local magazines, he came to the attention of Philip Hobsbaum, then an English lecturer at Queen's University. Hobsbaum was to set up a Belfast Group of local young poets (to mirror the success he had with the London group) and this would bring Heaney into contact with other Belfast poets such as Derek Mahon and Michael Longley.
In August 1965 he married Marie Devlin, a school teacher and native of Ardboe, County Tyrone. (Devlin is a writer herself and, in 1994, published Over Nine Waves, a collection of traditional Irish myths and legends.) Seamus Heaney's first book, Eleven Poems, was published in November 1965 for the Queen's University Festival. In 1966, Faber and Faber published his first major volume, called Death of a Naturalist. This collection met with much critical acclaim and went on to win several awards. Also in 1966, he was appointed as a lecturer in Modern English Literature at Queen's University Belfast and his first son, Michael, was born. A second son, Christopher, was born in 1968. In 1968, with Michael Longley, Heaney took part in a reading tour called Room to Rhyme, which led to much exposure for the poet's work. In 1969, his second major volume, Door into the Dark, was published.

Seamus Heaney in 1970
After a spell as guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, he returned to Queen's University in 1971. In 1972, Heaney left his lectureship at Belfast and moved to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, working as a teacher at Carysfort College. In 1972, Wintering Out was published, and over the next few years Heaney began to give readings throughout Ireland, Britain, and the United States. He was appointed to the Arts Council in the Republic of Ireland in 1974. He became an elected Saoi of Aosdána. In 1975, Heaney published his fourth volume, North. He became Head of English at Carysfort College in Dublin in 1976, and moved his family to Dublin the same year. His next volume, Field Work, was published in 1979.
Selected Poems 1965-1975 and Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 were published in 1980. In 1981, he left Carysfort to become visiting professor at Harvard University. He was awarded two honorary doctorates, from Queen's University and from Fordham University in New York City, in 1982. At the Fordham commencement ceremony in 1982, Heaney delivered the commencement address in a 46-stanza poem entitled "Verses for a Fordham Commencement".
As he was born and educated in Northern Ireland, Heaney has felt the need to emphasise that he is Irish and not British. For example, he objected to his inclusion in the 1982 Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry by writing: "Be advised, my passport's green / No glass of ours was ever raised / To toast the Queen."
Following the success of the Field Day Theatre Company's production of Brian Friel's Translations, Heaney joined the company's expanded Board of Directors in 1981, when the company's founders Brian Friel and Stephen Rea decided to make the company a permanent group. In 1984, Heaney was elected to the Boylston Chair of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard. Later that year, his mother, Margaret Kathleen Heaney, died. His father, Patrick, died soon after publication of the 1987 volume, The Haw Lantern. In 1988, a collection of critical essays called The Government of the Tongue was published.
In 1989, he was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, which he held for a five-year term to 1994. The chair does not require residence in Oxford, and throughout this period he was dividing his time between Ireland and America. He also continued to give very popular public readings. In 1986, Heaney received a Litt.D. from Bates College. So well attended and keenly anticipated were these events that those who queued for tickets with such enthusiasm have sometimes been dubbed "Heaneyboppers", suggesting an almost pop-music fanaticism on the part of his supporters.[6]
In 1990, The Cure at Troy, a play based on Sophocles' Philoctetes,[7] was published to much acclaim. In 1991, Seeing Things was published. Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 for what the Nobel committee described as "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past". In 1996, his collection The Spirit Level was published and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. He repeated that success with the release of Beowulf: A New Translation.[8]
In 1998, Heaney officially opened the library of Saint Catherine's College, Armagh.
In 2002, Heaney was awarded an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University and delivered a public lecture on “The Guttural Muse”.[9]
In 2003, the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry was opened at Queens University, Belfast. It houses the Heaney Media Archive, a unique record of Heaney's entire oeuvre, along with a full catalogue of his radio and television presentations.[10] That same year Heaney decided to lodge a substantial portion of his literary archive at Emory University.[11] He also composed a poem called Beacons of Bealtaine for the 2004 EU Enlargement. The poem was read by Heaney at a ceremony for the twenty-five leaders of the enlarged European Union arranged by the Irish EU presidency.
In 2003, when asked if there was any figure in popular culture who aroused interest in poetry and lyrics, Heaney praised controversy-ridden rap artist Eminem for his verbal energy.[12][13]
There is this guy Eminem. He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.
Heaney suffered a stroke from which he recovered in August 2006, but cancelled all public engagements for several months. [14] Heaney's latest volume of poetry, District and Circle, won the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize.[15]
In 2008 Heaney became artist of honour in Østermarie, Denmark. Seamus Heaney Stræde was therefore named after him in the center of Bornholm, another green island. In February 2009, Heaney was presented with an Honorary-Life Membership award from the UCD Law Society, in recognition of his remarkable role as a literary figure. In 2009 he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature.

Heaney's work often deals with the local—that is, his surroundings in Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland, where he was born. Allusions to sectarian difference, widespread in Northern Ireland, can be found in his poems, but these are never predominant or strident. His poetry is not often overtly political or militant, and is far more concerned with profound observations of the small details of the everyday, far beyond contingent political concerns. Some of his work is concerned with the lessons of history, and indeed prehistory and the very ancient. Other works concern his personal family history, focusing on characters in his family and as he has acknowledged, these poems can be read as elegies for those family members. But primarily, his concern as a poet is with the English language, partly as it is spoken in Ireland but also as spoken elsewhere and in other times; the Anglo-Saxon influences in his work are noteworthy, and his academic studies of that language have had a profound effect on his work. Thanks to Heaney, there has been a minor revival of interest in the verse forms of Anglo-Saxon poetry amongst a number of poets influenced by him. He has also written critically well-regarded essays and two plays. His essays, among other things, have been credited with beginning the critical re-examination of Thomas Hardy. His anthologies (edited with friend Ted Hughes), The Rattle Bag and The School Bag, are used extensively in schools in the U.K. and elsewhere. In the UK many of his works are studied in the GCSE English Literature exam (AQA board).
But despite the inherently Irish flavour of his language, Heaney is a universal poet, admired in every country and every other linguistic tradition. His influence on contemporary poetry is immense. Robert Lowell called him "the most important Irish poet since Yeats." A good many others have echoed the sentiment. His books make up two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the UK.[16]
Seamus and Marie Heaney at the Dominican Church, Kraków, Poland, 4 October 1996

Political View
In each of Heaney’s poems is an underlying implication of Heaney’s political views. In ‘Requiem for the Croppies’ Heaney refers to the ‘barley grew up out of the grave’ and in doing so reflects on how little nationalists in Ulster appreciate the martyrs who died for the cause. In the poems throughout ‘Wintering Out’ Heaney embellishes this, particularly in ‘Gifts of Rain’. At first read the poem regards a simple river akin to the poem ‘Broagh’. However, in the line ‘I cock my ear / at an absence’ Heaney refers to those who have died and have worked to uniting Ireland without violence. He asks for help to go back in time to hear advice from those who have made a difference in uniting Ireland ‘Soft voices of the dead are whispering by the shore’. The use of the central imagery throughout the poem of water reflects the nature of being purged, to come out clean with a fresh beginning. Heaney’s ability to be ‘firmly rooted in reality’ is most clearly shown in each poem through his ability to connect everyday landscapes such as the ‘River Moyola’ to the political situation in Ireland.


Poetry, Main Collections

1966: Death of a Naturalist, Faber & Faber

1969: Door into the Dark, Faber & Faber

1972: Wintering Out, Faber & Faber

1975: North, Faber & Faber

1979: Field Work, Faber & Faber

1984: Station Island, Faber & Faber

1987: The Haw Lantern, Faber & Faber

1991: Seeing Things, Faber & Faber

1996: The Spirit Level, Faber & Faber

2001: Electric Light, Faber & Faber

2006: District and Circle, Faber & Faber

Poetry, Collected Editions

1980: Selected Poems

1965-1975, Faber & Faber

1990: New Selected Poems

1966-1987, Faber & Faber

1998: Opened Ground: Poems

1966-1996, Faber & Faber

Prose, Main collections

1980: Preoccupations: Selected Prose

1968-1978, Faber & Faber

1988: The Government of the Tongue, Faber & Faber

1995: The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures, Faber & Faber

2002: Finders Keepers: Selected Prose

1971-2001, Faber & Faber


1990: The Cure at Troy A version of Sophocles' Philoctetes, Field Day

2004: The Burial at Thebes A version of Sophocles' Antigone, Faber & Faber


1983: Sweeney Astray: A version from the Irish, Field Day

1992: Sweeney's Flight (with Rachel Giese, photographer), Faber & Faber

1993: The Midnight Verdict: Translations from the Irish of Brian Merriman and from the Metamorphoses of Ovid, Gallery Press

1995: Laments, a cycle of Polish Renaissance elegies by Jan Kochanowski, translated with Stanisław Barańczak, Faber & Faber

1999: Beowulf, Faber & Faber

1999: Diary of One Who Vanished, a song cycle by Leoš Janáček of poems by Ozef Kalda, Faber & Faber

2002: Hallaig, Sorley MacLean Trust

2002: Arion, a poem by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian, with a note by Olga Carlisle, Arion Press

2004: The Testament at Cresseid, Enitharmon Press

2004: Columcille The Scribe, The Royal Irish Academy

Limited Editions and Booklets (Poetry & Prose)

1965: Eleven Poems, Queen's University

1968: The Island People, BBC 1968: Room to Rhyme, Arts Council N.I.

1969: A Lough Neagh Sequence, Phoenix

1970: Night Drive, Gilbertson

1970: A Boy Driving His Father to Confession, Sceptre Press

1973: Explorations, BBC 1975: Stations, Ulsterman Publications

1975: Bog Poems, Rainbow Press

1975: The Fire i' the Flint, Oxford University Press

1976: Four Poems, Crannog Press 1977: Glanmore Sonnets, Editions Monika Beck

1977: In Their Element, Arts Council N.I.

1978: Robert Lowell: A Memorial Address and an Elegy, Faber & Faber

1978: The Makings of a Music, University of Liverpool

1978: After Summer, Gallery Press 1979: Hedge School, Janus Press

1979: Ugolino, Carpenter Press

1979: Gravities, Charlotte Press

1979: A Family Album, Byron Press

1980: Toome, National College of Art and Design

1981: Sweeney Praises the Trees, Henry Pearson

1982: A Personal Selection, Ulster Museum

1982: Poems and a Memoir, Limited Editions Club

1983: An Open Letter, Field Day Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University, Belfast

1983: Among Schoolchildren, Queen's University

1984: Verses for a Fordham Commencement, Nadja Press

1984: Hailstones, Gallery Press

1985: From the Republic of Conscience, Amnesty International

1985: Place and Displacement, Dove Cottage

1985: Towards a Collaboration, Arts Council N.I.

1986: Clearances, Cornamona Press

1988: Readings in Contemporary Poetry, DIA Art Foundation

1988: The Sounds of Rain, Emory University

1989: An Upstairs Outlook, Linen Hall Library

1989: The Place of Writing, Emory University

1990: The Tree Clock, Linen Hall Library

1991: Squarings, Hieroglyph Editions

1992: Dylan the Durable, Bennington College

1992: The Gravel Walks, Lenoir Rhyne College

1992: The Golden Bough, Bonnefant Press

1993: Keeping Going, Bow and Arrow Press

1993: Joy or Night, University of Swansea

1994: Extending the Alphabet, Memorial University of Newfoundland

1994: Speranza in Reading, University of Tasmania

1995: Oscar Wilde Dedication, Westminster Abbey

1995: Charles Montgomery Monteith, All Souls College

1995: Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture, Gallery Press

1997: Poet to Blacksmith, Pim Witteveen

1998: Commencement Address, UNC Chapel Hill

1998: Audenesque, Maeght

1999: The Light of the Leaves, Bonnefant Press

2001: Something to Write Home About, Flying Fox

2002: Hope and History, Rhodes University

2002: Ecologues in Extremis, Royal Irish Academy

2002: A Keen for the Coins, Lenoir Rhyne College

2003: Squarings, Arion Press

2004: Anything can Happen, Town House Publishers

2005: The Door Stands Open, Irish Writers Centre

2005: A Shiver, Clutag Press 2007: The Riverbank Field, Gallery Press

2008: Articulations, Royal Irish Academy

2008: One on a Side, Robert Frost Foundation

About Heaney and his work

1993: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney ed. by Elmer Andrews, ISBN 0-231-11926-7

1993: Seamus Heaney: The Making of the Poet by Michael Parker, ISBN 0-333-47181-4

1995: Critical essays on Seamus Heaney ed. by Robert F. Garratt, ISBN 0-7838-0004-5

1998: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney: A Critical Study by Neil Corcoran, ISBN 0-571-17747-6 2000: Seamus Heaney by Helen Vendler, ISBN 0-674-00205-9, Harvard University Press 2007: Seamus Heaney and the Emblems of Hope by Karen Marguerite Moloney, ISBN 978-0-8262-1744-8


2003 The Poet & The Piper - Seamus Heaney & Liam O'Flynn


1. "April 13, 2009". 2009-04-13. Retrieved on 2009-03-17. "Seamus Heaney was born in Ireland on April 14, 1939."

2. Heaney, Seamus (1998). Opened Ground. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0374526788.

3. "A Note on Seamus Heaney". Retrieved on 2009-04-20. "Seamus Heaney was born on April 13th, 1939, the first child of Patrick and Margaret Kathleen Heaney (nee McCann), who then lived on a fifty-acre farm called Mossbawn, in the townland of Tamniarn, County Derry, Northern Ireland."

4. Heaney, Seamus : Mid-Term Break

7. "Play Listing". Irish Playography. Irish Theatre Institute. Retrieved on 2007-08-24.

8. Beowulf: A New Translation

9. Rhodes Department of English Annual Report 2002-2003

12. Eminem - The Way I Am, autobiography, cover sheet

14. Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 16 January 2007.

15. BBC News "Heaney wins TS Eliot poetry prize", 15 January 2007.

16. BBC News Magazine "Faces of the week", 19 January 2007.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Beowulf: Chapter 3

So the son of *Healfdene suffered in his days.
*Hygelac of the *Geats heard of the wrath of *Grendel, and his mightiest warrior set sail for *Heorot with fourteen brave warriors to the land of the *Danes.
By the second day at sea, the seafarers approached the cliffs of the headlands. They landed and thanked God for their safe journey. A *Scylding watchman stopped them where they landed and demanded of the armed seafarers where they had come from and why they were there.
Strangers in Anglo Saxon Times:Strangers were a potential for danger in Anglo-Saxon times. They may have affiliations with other clans: harboring a criminal pursued by a powerful clan may place you under their wrath as well. As a result, a full accounting of origins and intentions was very important or else the stranger is a potential threat to peace..
*Hrothgar remembers *Beowulf and his father *Ecgtheow, and because there is recognition, or proof of identity, that *Beowulf and his party are welcome in *Heorot.

Old English Text - Chapter III
Swa ða mælceare maga Healfdenes
190 singala seað, ne mihte snotor hæleð wean onwendan; wæs þæt gewin to swyð, laþ ond longsum, þe on ða leode becom, nydwracu niþgrim, nihtbealwa mæst. þæt fram ham gefrægn Higelaces þegn,
195 god mid Geatum, Grendles dæda; se wæs moncynnes mægenes strengest on þæm dæge þysses lifes, æþele ond eacen. Het him yðlidan godne gegyrwan, cwæð, he guðcyning
200 ofer swanrade secean wolde, mærne þeoden, þa him wæs manna þearf. ðone siðfæt him snotere ceorlas lythwon logon, þeah he him leof wære; hwetton higerofne, hæl sceawedon.
205 Hæfde se goda Geata leoda cempan gecorone þara þe he cenoste findan mihte; XVna sum sundwudu sohte; secg wisade, lagucræftig mon, landgemyrcu.
210 Fyrst forð gewat. Flota wæs on yðum, bat under beorge. Beornas gearwe on stefn stigon; streamas wundon, sund wið sande; secgas bæron on bearm nacan beorhte frætwe,
215 guðsearo geatolic; guman ut scufon, weras on wilsið, wudu bundenne. Gewat þa ofer wægholm, winde gefysed, flota famiheals fugle gelicost, oðþæt ymb antid oþres dogores
220 wundenstefna gewaden hæfde þæt ða liðende land gesawon, brimclifu blican, beorgas steape, side sænæssas; þa wæs sund liden, eoletes æt ende. þanon up hraðe
225 Wedera leode on wang stigon, sæwudu sældon (syrcan hrysedon, guðgewædo), gode þancedon þæs þe him yþlade eaðe wurdon. þa of wealle geseah weard Scildinga,
230 se þe holmclifu healdan scolde, beran ofer bolcan beorhte randas, fyrdsearu fuslicu; hine fyrwyt bræc modgehygdum, hwæt þa men wæron. Gewat him þa to waroðe wicge ridan
235 þegn Hroðgares, þrymmum cwehte mægenwudu mundum, meþelwordum frægn: "Hwæt syndon ge searohæbbendra, byrnum werede, þe þus brontne ceol ofer lagustræte lædan cwomon,
240 hider ofer holmas? ...le wæs endesæta, ægwearde heold, þe on land Dena laðra nænig mid scipherge sceðþan ne meahte. No her cuðlicor cuman ongunnon
245 lindhæbbende; ne ge leafnesword guðfremmendra gearwe ne wisson, maga gemedu. Næfre ic maran geseah eorla ofer eorþan ðonne is eower sum, secg on searwum; nis þæt seldguma,
250 wæpnum geweorðad, næfne him his wlite leoge, ænlic ansyn. Nu ic eower sceal frumcyn witan, ær ge fyr heonan, leassceaweras, on land Dena furþur feran. Nu ge feorbuend,
255 mereliðende, minne gehyrað anfealdne geþoht: Ofost is selest to gecyðanne hwanan eowre cyme syndon."

Modern Text - Chapter III
THUS seethed unceasing the son of Healfdenewith the woe of these days; not wisest menassuaged his sorrow; too sore the anguish,loathly and long, that lay on his folk,most baneful of burdens and bales of the night.
This heard in his home Hygelac's thane,great among Geats, of Grendel's doings.He was the mightiest man of valorin that same day of this our life,stalwart and stately. A stout wave-walkerhe bade make ready. Yon battle-king, said he,far o'er the swan-road he fain would seek,the noble monarch who needed men!The prince's journey by prudent folkwas little blamed, though they loved him dear;they whetted the hero, and hailed good omens.And now the bold one from bands of Geatscomrades chose, the keenest of warriorse'er he could find; with fourteen menthe sea-wood1 he sought, and, sailor proved,led them on to the land's confines.Time had now flown;2 afloat was the ship,boat under bluff. On board they climbed,warriors ready; waves were churningsea with sand; the sailors boreon the breast of the bark their bright array,their mail and weapons: the men pushed off,on its willing way, the well-braced craft.Then moved o'er the waters by might of the windthat bark like a bird with breast of foam,till in season due, on the second day,the curved prow such course had runthat sailors now could see the land,sea-cliffs shining, steep high hills,headlands broad. Their haven was found,their journey ended. Up then quicklythe Weders'3 clansmen climbed ashore,anchored their sea-wood, with armor clashingand gear of battle: God they thankedfor passing in peace o'er the paths of the sea.Now saw from the cliff a Scylding clansman,a warden that watched the water-side,how they bore o'er the gangway glittering shields,war-gear in readiness; wonder seized himto know what manner of men they were.Straight to the strand his steed he rode,Hrothgar's henchman; with hand of mighthe shook his spear, and spake in parley."Who are ye, then, ye armed men,mailed folk, that yon mighty vesselhave urged thus over the ocean ways,here o'er the waters? A warden I,sentinel set o'er the sea-march here,lest any foe to the folk of Daneswith harrying fleet should harm the land.No aliens ever at ease thus bore them,linden-wielders:4 yet word-of-leaveclearly ye lack from clansmen here,my folk's agreement. -- A greater ne'er saw Iof warriors in world than is one of you, --yon hero in harness! No henchman heworthied by weapons, if witness his features,his peerless presence! I pray you, though, tellyour folk and home, lest hence ye faresuspect to wander your way as spiesin Danish land. Now, dwellers afar,ocean-travellers, take from mesimple advice: the sooner the betterI hear of the country whence ye came."
Notes : Chapter 3
1 Ship.

2 That is, since Beowulf selected his ship and led his men to the harbor.

3 One of the auxiliary names of the Geats.

4 Or: Not thus openly ever came warriors hither; yet...

Select Bibliography :

Anonymous. Beowulf - Verse Intermediate Saxon. Transcribed by Altman, R.I. Public Domain etext obtained via the Online Book Initiative.

Anonymous. Beowulf Gummere, F.B. trans., Eliot, C.W. ed.. Harvard Classics, Vol. 49.: PF Collier & Sons, New York. 1910. Public Domain etext obtained via the Online Book Initiative.

Beowulf: Chapter 2

When night fell, he went to *Heorot, took thirty thanes who were sleeping off the reveling and brought them to his lair.
When morning came, the thanes then knew the might of *Grendel. *Hrothgar was saddened for this foe was not like any other feud or crime. The thanes soon made their beds elsewhere for fear of *Grendel's wrath. For twelve years he harassed *Hrothgar; refusing tribute or any agreement for peace. Hiding among the moors, he ambushed old and young relentlessly.
The evil one ruled over *Heorot such that *Hrothgar could no longer rule upon his throne for none would approach the hall for fear of the creature.
Living in misery, they may have thought to worship at heathen temples; without faith in God, men such as the *Scyldings would suffer without hope.

Old English Text - Chapter II
115 Gewat ða neosian, syþðan niht becom, hean huses, hu hit Hringdene æfter beorþege gebun hæfdon. Fand þa ðær inne æþelinga gedriht swefan æfter symble; sorge ne cuðon,
120 wonsceaft wera. Wiht unhælo, grim ond grædig, gearo sona wæs, reoc ond reþe, ond on ræste genam þritig þegna, þanon eft gewat huðe hremig to ham faran,
125 mid þære wælfylle wica neosan. ða wæs on uhtan mid ærdæge Grendles guðcræft gumum undyrne; þa wæs æfter wiste wop up ahafen, micel morgensweg. Mære þeoden,
130 æþeling ærgod, unbliðe sæt, þolode ðryðswyð, þegnsorge dreah, syðþan hie þæs laðan last sceawedon, wergan gastes; wæs þæt gewin to strang, lað ond longsum. Næs hit lengra fyrst,
135 ac ymb ane niht eft gefremede morðbeala mare ond no mearn fore, fæhðe ond fyrene; wæs to fæst on þam. þa wæs eaðfynde þe him elles hwær gerumlicor ræste sohte,
140 bed æfter burum, ða him gebeacnod wæs, gesægd soðlice sweotolan tacne healðegnes hete; heold hyne syðþan fyr ond fæstor se þæm feonde ætwand. Swa rixode ond wið rihte wan,
145 ana wið eallum, oðþæt idel stod husa selest. Wæs seo hwil micel; XII wintra tid torn geþolode wine Scyldinga, weana gehwelcne, sidra sorga. Forðam secgum wearð,
150 ylda bearnum, undyrne cuð, gyddum geomore, þætte Grendel wan hwile wið Hroþgar, heteniðas wæg, fyrene ond fæhðe fela missera, singale sæce, sibbe ne wolde
155 wið manna hwone mægenes Deniga, feorhbealo feorran, fea þingian, ne þær nænig witena wenan þorfte beorhtre bote to banan folmum, ac se æglæca ehtende wæs,
160 deorc deaþscua, duguþe ond geogoþe, seomade ond syrede, sinnihte heold mistige moras; men ne cunnon hwyder helrunan hwyrftum scriþað. Swa fela fyrena feond mancynnes,
165 atol angengea, oft gefremede, heardra hynða. Heorot eardode, sincfage sel sweartum nihtum; no he þone gifstol gretan moste, maþðum for metode, ne his myne wisse.
170 þæt wæs wræc micel wine Scyldinga, modes brecða. Monig oft gesæt rice to rune; ræd eahtedon hwæt swiðferhðum selest wære wið færgryrum to gefremmanne.
175 Hwilum hie geheton æt hærgtrafum wigweorþunga, wordum bædon þæt him gastbona geoce gefremede wið þeodþreaum. Swylc wæs þeaw hyra, hæþenra hyht; helle gemundon
180 in modsefan, metod hie ne cuþon, dæda demend, ne wiston hie drihten god, ne hie huru heofena helm herian ne cuþon, wuldres waldend. Wa bið þæm ðe sceal þurh sliðne nið sawle bescufan
185 in fyres fæþm, frofre ne wenan, wihte gewendan; wel bið þæm þe mot æfter deaðdæge drihten secean ond to fæder fæþmum freoðo wilnian.

Modern Text - Chapter II
WENT he forth to find at fall of night
that haughty house, and heed wherever
the Ring-Danes, outrevelled, to rest had gone.
Found within it the atheling band
asleep after feasting and fearless of sorrow,of human hardship.
Unhallowed wight,grim and greedy,
he grasped betimes,wrathful, reckless, from resting-places,
thirty of the thanes, and thence he rushed
fain of his fell spoil, faring homeward,laden with slaughter, his lair to seek.
Then at the dawning, as day was breaking,
the might of Grendel to men was known;
then after wassail was wail uplifted,loud moan in the morn.
The mighty chief,atheling excellent, unblithe sat,
labored in woe for the loss of his thanes,
when once had been traced the trail of the fiend,
spirit accurst: too cruel that sorrow,too long, too loathsome.
Not late the respite;with night returning,
anew began ruthless murder;
he recked no whit,firm in his guilt, of the feud and crime.
They were easy to find who elsewhere soughtin room remote
their rest at night,bed in the bowers,(1)
when that bale was shown,was seen in sooth, with surest token,
--the hall-thane's (2) hate.
Such held themselves far and fast who the fiend outran!
Thus ruled unrighteous and raged his fill
one against all; until empty stood that lordly building,
and long it bode so.
Twelve years' tide the trouble he bore,
sovran of Scyldings, sorrows in plenty,boundless cares.
There came unhidden tidings true to the tribes of men,
in sorrowful songs, how ceaselessly Grendel harassed Hrothgar,
what hate he bore him,what murder and massacre,
many a year,feud unfading, -- refused consent
to deal with any of Daneland's earls,
make pact of peace, or compound for gold:still
less did the wise men ween to get great fee for the feud from his fiendish hands.
But the evil one ambushed old and young
death-shadow dark, and dogged them still,
lured, or lurked in the livelong night
of misty moorlands: men may say not
where the haunts of these Hell-Runes(3) be.
Such heaping of horrors the hater of men,
lonely roamer, wrought unceasing,harassings heavy.
O'er Heorot he lorded,
gold-bright hall, in gloomy nights;
and ne'er could the prince(4) approach his throne,
-- 'twas judgment of God,
-- or have joy in his hall.
Sore was the sorrow to Scyldings'-friend,
heart-rending misery.
Many noblessat assembled, and searched out counsel
how it were best for bold-hearted men
against harassing terror to try their hand.
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanesaltar-offerings,
asked with words(5)
that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them
for the pain of their people. Their practice this,
their heathen hope;
'twas Hell they thought ofin mood of their mind.
Almighty they knew not,
Doomsman of Deeds and dreadful Lord,
nor Heaven's-Helmet heeded they ever,
Wielder-of-Wonder. --
Woe for that man who in harm and hatred hales his soul
to fiery embraces; -- nor favor nor change awaits
he ever. But well for him
that after death-day may draw to his Lord,
and friendship find in the Father's arms!

Notes : chapter 2
1 The smaller buildings within the main enclosure but separate from the hall.
2 Grendel.
3 "Sorcerers-of-hell."
4 Hrothgar, who is the "Scyldings'-friend" of 170.
5 That is, in formal or prescribed phrase.

Beowulf: Chapter 1

The kingdom was left to *Healfdene who upheld the reputation of the *Scyldings. And born to him were *Heorogar, *Hrothgar, and *Halga, as well as a daughter whose name is missing.
Now *Hrothgar was renowned in battle and generosity; he builds a great mead-hall covered with gold, *Heorot, in honour of the prosperity of his rule, and to celebrate gift giving.
But a creature heard the reveling, the music, and the happiness of the hall.
This creature from the moor-land was *Grendel, descended from *Cain--one of the giant race who had survived God's flood.

Old English Text - Chapter I
Ða wæs on burgum Beowulf Scyldinga, leof leodcyning, longe þrage
55 folcum gefræge (fæder ellor hwearf, aldor of earde), oþþæt him eft onwoc heah Healfdene; heold þenden lifde, gamol ond guðreouw, glæde Scyldingas. ðæm feower bearn forð gerimed
60 in worold wocun, weoroda ræswan, Heorogar ond Hroðgar ond Halga til; hyrde ic þæt wæs Onelan cwen, Heaðoscilfingas healsgebedda. þa wæs Hroðgare heresped gyfen,
65 wiges weorðmynd, þæt him his winemagas georne hyrdon, oðð þæt seo geogoð geweox, magodriht micel. Him on mod bearn þæt healreced hatan wolde, medoærn micel, men gewyrcean
70 þonne yldo bearn æfre gefrunon, ond þær on innan eall gedælan geongum ond ealdum, swylc him god sealde, buton folcscare ond feorum gumena. ða ic wide gefrægn weorc gebannan
75 manigre mægþe geond þisne middangeard, folcstede frætwan. Him on fyrste gelomp, ædre mid yldum, þæt hit wearð ealgearo, healærna mæst; scop him Heort naman se þe his wordes geweald wide hæfde.
80 He beot ne aleh, beagas dælde, sinc æt symle. Sele hlifade, heah ond horngeap, heaðowylma bad, laðan liges; ne wæs hit lenge þa gen þæt se ecghete aþumsweorum
85 æfter wælniðe wæcnan scolde. ða se ellengæst earfoðlice þrage geþolode, se þe in þystrum bad, þæt he dogora gehwam dream gehyrde hludne in healle; þær wæs hearpan sweg,
90 swutol sang scopes. Sægde se þe cuþe frumsceaft fira feorran reccan, cwæð þæt se ælmihtiga eorðan worhte, wlitebeorhtne wang, swa wæter bebugeð, gesette sigehreþig sunnan ond monan
95 leoman to leohte landbuendum ond gefrætwade foldan sceatas leomum ond leafum, lif eac gesceop cynna gehwylcum þara ðe cwice hwyrfaþ. Swa ða drihtguman dreamum lifdon
100 eadiglice, oððæt an ongan fyrene fremman feond on helle. Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten, mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold, fen ond fæsten; fifelcynnes eard
105 wonsæli wer weardode hwile, siþðan him scyppend forscrifen hæfde in Caines cynne. þone cwealm gewræc ece drihten, þæs þe he Abel slog; ne gefeah he þære fæhðe, ac he hine feor forwræc,
110 metod for þy mane, mancynne fram. þanon untydras ealle onwocon, eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas, swylce gigantas, þa wið gode wunnon lange þrage; he him ðæs lean forgeald.

Modern Text - Chapter I
NOW Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,

leader beloved, and long he ruled

in fame with all folk, since his father had gone

away from the world, till awoke an heir,

haughty Healfdene, who held through life,

sage and sturdy, the Scyldings glad.

Then, one after one, there woke to him,

to the chieftain of clansmen, children four:

Heorogar, then Hrothgar, then Halga brave;

and I heard that -- was --'s queen,

the Heathoscylfing's helpmate dear.

To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,

such honor of combat, that all his kin

obeyed him gladly till great grew his band

of youthful comrades. It came in his mind

to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,

a master mead-house, mightier far

than ever was seen by the sons of earth,

and within it, then, to old and young

he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,

save only the land and the lives of his men.

Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,

for many a tribe this mid-earth round,

to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,

in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,

of halls the noblest: Heorot1 he named it

whose message had might in many a land.

Not reckless of promise, the rings he dealt,

treasure at banquet: there towered the hall,

high, gabled wide, the hot surge waiting

of furious flame.2 Nor far was that day

when father and son-in-law stood in feud

for warfare and hatred that woke again.3

With envy and anger an evil spirit

endured the dole in his dark abode,

that he heard each day the din of revel

high in the hall: there harps rang out,

clear song of the singer. He sang who knew4

tales of the early time of man,

how the Almighty made the earth,

fairest fields enfolded by water,

set, triumphant, sun and moon

for a light to lighten the land-dwellers,

and braided bright the breast of earth

with limbs and leaves, made life for all

of mortal beings that breathe and move.

So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel

a winsome life, till one began

to fashion evils, that field of hell.

Grendel this monster grim was called,

march-riever5 mighty,

in moorland living,in fen and fastness; fief of the giants

the hapless wight a while had kept

since the Creator his exile doomed.

On kin of Cain was the killing avenged

by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.

Ill fared his feud,6 and far was he driven,

for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men.

Of Cain awoke all that woful breed,

Ettins7 and elves and evil-spirits,

as well as the giants that warred with God

weary while: but their wage was paid them!

Notes :
1 That is, "The Hart," or "Stag," so called from decorations in the gables that resembled the antlers of a deer. This hall has been carefully described in a pamphlet by Heyne. The building was rectangular, with opposite doors -- mainly west and east -- and a hearth in the middle of the single room. A row of pillars down each side, at some distance from the walls, made a space which was raised a little above the main floor, and was furnished with two rows of seats. On one side, usually south, was the high-seat midway between the doors. Opposite this, on the other raised space, was another seat of honor. At the banquet soon to be described, Hrothgar sat in the south or chief high-seat, and Beowulf oppo- site to him. The scene for a flying (see below, v.499) was thus very effectively set. Planks on trestles -- the "board" of later English litera- ture -- formed the tables just in front of the long rows of seats, and were taken away after banquets, when the retainers were ready to stretch them- selves out for sleep on the benches.

2 Fire was the usual end of these halls. See v. 781 below. One thinks of the splendid scene at the end of the Nibelungen, of the Nialssaga, of Saxo's story of Amlethus, and many a less famous instance.

3 It is to be supposed that all hearers of this poem knew how Hrothgar's hall was burnt, -- perhaps in the unsuccessful attack made on him by his son-in-law Ingeld.

4 A skilled minstrel. The Danes are heathens, as one is told presently; but this lay of beginnings is taken from Genesis.

5 A disturber of the border, one who sallies from his haunt in the fen and roams over the country near by. This probably pagan nuisance is now furnished with biblical credentials as a fiend or devil in good standing, so that all Christian Englishmen might read about him. "Grendel" may mean one who grinds and crushes.

6 Cain's.

7 Giants.