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"Hail to thee, Hrothgar! I am Hygelac’s kinsman and war-thane. I have in my youth undertaken many deeds of daring. Grendel’s doings became plainly known to me in my fatherland. Seafarers say that this hall, this most noble building, stands empty and useless to every man after the evening light has become hidden under the vault of heaven. Then my people, the best folk, wise men, advised me to visit thee, because they knew the greatness of my power. They had themselves observed how I bound five of my foes, laid low a brood of giants, and slew by night sea-monsters on the waves; I suffered dire extremity, and avenged the attacks upon the Geatas — disasters had befallen them — I ground down their oppressors. And now I will decide the matter alone against the wretch, the giant Grendel!

"Now therefore I will beg of thee one boon, thou ruler of the glorious Danes. Do not refuse me this, now I am come so far — that I alone, with my band of noble warriors, this troop of hardy men, may purge Heorot. Moreover, I have learned that in his rashness the monster recks not of weapons. Hence I shall not carry to the fray a sword, a shield, or a buckler, but with the fiend I shall close with grip of hand and fight to the death, foe against foe.

"He whom death carries off shall rest assured it is God’s will. I doubt not that if Grendel wins the combat he will eat fearlessly the Geatish folk in the war-hall, as he has often eaten the Danes. Thou wilt have no need to cover my head, for he will have me, blood-bespattered, if death seizes me. He will bear off the bloody corpse, will set his mind upon devouring it. The lonely one will feast unpityingly, and stain his swamp-lair; no longer wilt thou need to care about my body’s sustenance. If battle takes me, do thou send Hygelac this best of armor, most excellent of corselets, which protects my breast."

Then came Grendel, advancing from the moor under the misty slopes; God’s anger rested on him. The deadly foe thought to entrap one of the human race in the high hall; he strode beneath the clouds in such wise that he might best discern the wine-building, the gold-chamber of men, plated over with decorations. Nor was that the first time that he had visited Hrothgar’s home. Never in the days of his life, before or since, did he discover a braver warrior and hall-guards. So this creature, deprived of joys, came journeying to the hall. The door, fastened by forged bands, opened straightway, when he touched it with his hands. Thus, bent on destruction, for he was swollen with rage, he burst open the entrance of the building.

Quickly the fiend trod in on the shining floor, advanced in angry mood; out of his eyes there started a weird light, most like a flame. He saw many men in the hall, a troop of kinsmen, a band of warriors, sleeping all together. Then his spirit exulted; he, the cruel monster, resolved that he would sever the soul of every one of them from his body before day came; for the hope of feasting full had come to him. But it was no longer his fortune that he should devour more of the human race after that night. The mighty Beowulf kept watching how the murderous foe would set to work with his sudden snatchings. The monster was not minded to delay, but quickly grasped a sleeping warrior as a first start, rent him undisturbed, bit his bony frame, drank blood in streams, swallowed bite after bite, and soon he had eaten up all of the dead man, even his feet and hands.

Forward and nearer he advanced, and then seized with his hands the doughty warrior — the fiend reached out toward him with his claw. Beowulf at once took in his evil plans, and came down on Grendel’s arm. Instantly the master of crimes realized that never had he met with a mightier hand-grip in any other man. He became affrighted in soul and spirit, but he could get away no faster for all that. His mind was bent on getting off, he wished to flee into the darkness and go back to the herd of devils. His case was unlike anything he had met with in his lifetime there before. Then Hygelac’s brave kinsman was mindful of his evening speech; he stood erect and grasped Grendel tight, so that his fingers cracked. The monster was moving out; Beowulf stepped forward, too. The infamous creature thought to slip farther off, wheresoever he could, and to flee away thence to his fen-refuge; he knew the power of his fingers was in the foeman’s grip. That was a dire journey which the baleful fiend had made to Heorot!

The splendid hall resounded, there was panic among all the Danes, the castle-dwellers, and among the heroes and the nobles. Both the mighty wardens were furious; the building rang again. Then was it a great wonder that the wine-hall was proof against the savage fighters; that the fair earthly dwelling did not fall to the ground; yet it was made firm enough for it, inside and out, by means of iron clamps, forged with curious art. There, where the foemen fought, many a mead-bench adorned with gilding, started from the sill. The wise ones among the Danes never thought that any man could shatter it by strength or loosen it by craft, although the embrace of fire might swallow it in smoke. . . . There many a noble of Beowulf’s company brandished an old ancestral weapon — they wished to protect the life of their lord, if so they might. They did not know, brave men of war, when they took part in the contest, and thought to hew Grendel on every side and hunt out his life, that no battle-bill on earth, no best of swords, could get at the foe, because he used enchantment against conquering weapons, every sort of blades.

Woeful was his last end to be in this life’s day and his out-lawed ghost was to journey far into the power of fiends. Then he who of yore had in wantonness of soul done many outrages to mankind, he, the rebel against God, discovered that his bodily frame was no help to him, but that the bold kinsman of Hygelac had him by the hands. While he lived, each was abhorrent to the other. The horrible wretch suffered deadly hurt, on his shoulder gaped a wound past remedy, the sinews sprang asunder, the fleshy covering burst. Glory in fight was granted to Beowulf; Grendel, sick unto death, must needs flee thence to the fen-fastnesses and seek out his joyless dwelling. He knew too well that the end of his life had come, the measure of his days. After that bloody contest, the desire of all the Danes had come to pass!

In such wise did he who first came from far, the wise and brave, purge Hrothgar’s hall and free it from attack. He rejoiced in his night’s work, in his heroic deeds. The chief of the Geatish men had made good his boast to the Danes, and removed besides all the trouble, the carking care, which erewhile they had endured, and had to undergo from dire compulsion, no small humiliation. That was clear evidence, when the brave warrior deposited by the spacious roof the hand, the arm and shoulder — there was Grendel’s clutching-limb all complete!

In the morning there was many a warrior gathered round the mead-hall, for chiefs of the folk came from far and near along the highways to see the marvel, the traces of the monster. His parting from life did not seem a cause for sorrow to any of the men who saw the trail of the inglorious one, how he, weary in spirit and vanquished in the fight, made tracks for his life, death-doomed and fugitive, to the lake of the water-demons. The water boiled with blood, the frightful surge of the waves welled up, all mingled with hot gore the death-doomed dyed it, and then, deprived of joys, he laid life down, his heathen soul in the fen-refuge; there hell received him!

The wound which the dragon had inflicted on him began to burn and swell; quickly he found out that deadly venom seethed within his breast. But the chieftain went on until he sat, still clear in mind, on a seat by the rampart, and gazed on the work of giants — how the primeval earth dwelling contained within it rocky arches, firm on columns. Then the thane, his follower, bathed the bloody wounds of the famous prince and undid his helmet.

Beowulf, despite his grievous wound, broke forth in speech. He knew full well that he had spent his measured while of earthly joy, then was his count of days all passed away, and death incalculably near: "Now should I have wished to give my son my armor, if it had been so ordained that any heir, belonging to my body, should come after me. I have ruled over this people fifty winters; there was not one of the neighboring kings who dared encounter me with his allies in battle or could weigh me down with fear. In my own home I awaited what the times destined for me, kept well my own, did not pick treacherous quarrels, nor have I sworn unjustly many oaths. In all this may I, sick with deadly wounds, have solace; because the Ruler of men may never charge me with the murder of kinsfolk, when my life parts from my body. . . .

"Bid ye war-veterans raise a conspicuous mound after the funeral fire, on a projection by the sea, which shall tower high as a memorial for my people, so that seafarers who urge their tall ships over the spray of ocean shall thereafter call it Beowulf’s mound."

The brave-souled prince then undid from his neck the golden collar, gave it to the thane, the young warrior, and his gold-mounted helmet, ring and corselet, and bade him use them well. "Thou art the last of our race," he said. "Fate has swept all my kinsfolk off, undaunted nobles, to their doom. I must go after them." That was the last thought of the old king’s heart before the funeral fire was his lot, the hot destructive flames. His soul departed from his body to find the reward of righteous men.

1 , ll. 405–455, 710–852, 2712–2820.

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Chicago: Beowulf in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 436–440. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . Beowulf, Vol. ll, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, pp. 436–440. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , Beowulf. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.436–440. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from