02.  Beowulf

02. Beowulf

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(115) Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel Went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors
Would do in that hall when their drinking was done. He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting
Nothing, their dreams undisturbed. The monster’s
(120) Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws:
He slipped through the door and there in the silence
Snatched up thirty men, smashed them Unknowing in their beds and ran out with their
bodies, The blood dripping behind him, back
(125) To his lair, delighted with his night’s slaughter. At daybreak, with the sun’s first light, they
saw How well he had worked, and in that gray morning
Broke their long feast with tears and laments For the dead. Hrothgar, their lord, sat joyless
(130) In Herot, a mighty prince mourning The fate of his lost friends and companions,
Knowing by its tracks that some demon had torn
His followers apart. He wept, fearing
The beginning might not be the end. And that night
(135) Grendel came again, so set On murder that no crime could ever be enough,
No savage assault quench his lust For evil. Then each warrior tried
To escape him, searched for rest in different (140) Beds, as far from Herot as they could
find, Seeing how Grendel hunted when they slept. Distance was safety; the only survivors
Were those who fled him. Hate had triumphed. So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous,
(145) One against many, and won; so Herot Stood empty, and stayed deserted for years,
Twelve winters of grief for Hrothgar, king Of the Danes, sorrow heaped at his door
By hell-forged hands. His misery leaped
(150) The seas, was told and sung in all Men’s ears: how Grendel’s hatred began,
How the monster relished his savage war On the Danes, keeping the bloody feud
Alive, seeking no peace, offering (155) No truce, accepting no settlement, no
price In gold or land, and paying the living
For one crime only with another. No one
Waited for reparation from his plundering claws:
That shadow of death hunted in the darkness, (160) Stalked Hrothgar’s warriors, old
And young, lying in waiting, hidden In mist, invisibly following them from the
edge Of the marsh, always there, unseen. So mankind’s enemy continued his crimes,
(165) Killing as often as he could, coming Alone, bloodthirsty and horrible. Though he lived
In Herot, when the night hid him, he never Dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious
Throne, protected by God-God, (170) Whose love Grendel could not know. But Hrothgar’s
Heart was bent. The best and most noble
Of his council debated remedies, sat In secret sessions, talking of terror
And wondering what the bravest of warriors could do. (175) And sometimes they sacrificed co the
old scone gods, Made heathen vows, hoping for Hell’s
Support, the Devil’s guidance in driving Their affliction off. That was their way,
And the heathen’s only hope, Hell (180) Always in their hearts, knowing neither
God Nor His passing as He walks through our world,
the Lord
Of Heaven and earth; their ears could not hear
His praise nor know His glory. Let them
Beware, those who are thrust into danger, (185) Clutched at by trouble, yet can carry
no solace In their hearts, cannot hope to be better! Hail
To those who will rise to God, drop off Their dead bodies and seek our Father’s peace!

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