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The selection opens during an evening of celebration at Herot, the banquet hall of the Danish king Hrothgar. Outside in the darkness, however, lurks the monster Grendel, a murderous creature who poses a great danger to the people inside the banquet hall.
The Wrath of Grendel
A powerful monster, living down In the darkness, growled in pain, impatient As day after day the music rang Loud in that hall,' the harp's rejoicing Call and the poet's clear songs, sung Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling The Almighty making the earth, shaping These beautiful plains marked off by oceans, Then proudly setting the sun and moon To glow across the land and light it; The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees And leaves, made quick with life, with each Of the nations who now move on its face. And then As now warriors sang of their pleasure: So Hrothgar's men lived happy in his hall Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in a hell Not hell but earth. He was spawned in that slime, Conceived by a pair of those monsters born Of Cain, murderous creatures banished By God, punished forever for the crime Of Abel's death. The Almighty drove Those demons out, and their exile was bitter, Shut away from men; they split Into a thousand forms of evil--spirits And fiends, goblins, monsters, giants, A brood forever opposing the Lord's Will, and again and again defeated.
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 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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, 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,
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, 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. And sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone 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 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, 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!
Grendel- a face only a mother could love.
The Coming of Beowulf
So the living sorrow of Healfdane's son Simmered, bitter and fresh, and no wisdom Or strength could break it: that agony hung On king and people alike, harsh And unending, violent and cruel, and evil.
In his far-off home Beowulf, Higlac's Follower and the strongest of the Geats--greater And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world-- Heard how Grendel filled nights with horror And quickly commanded a boat fitted out, Proclaiming that he'd go to that famous king, Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, Now when help was needed. None Of the wise ones regretted his going, much As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good, And they urged the adventure on. So Beowulf Chose the mightiest men he could find, The bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen In all, and led them down to their boat; He knew the sea, would point the prow Straight to that distant Danish shore.
Then they sailed, set their ship Out on the waves, under the cliffs. Ready for what came they wound through the currents, The seas beating at the sand, and were borne In the lap of their shining ship, lined With gleaming armor, going safely In that oak-hard boat to where their hearts took them. The wind hurried them over the waves, The ship foamed through the sea like a bird Until, in the time they had known it would take, Standing in the round-curled prow they could see Sparkling hills, high and green, Jutting up over the shore, and rejoicing In those rock-steep cliffs they quietly ended Their voyage. Jumping to the ground, the Geats Pushed their boat to the sand and tied it In place, mail shirts and armor rattling As they swiftly moored their ship. And then They gave thanks to God for their easy crossing.
High on a wall a Danish watcher Patrolling along the cliffs saw The travelers crossing to the shore, their shields Raised and shining; he came riding down, Hrothgar's lieutenant, spurring his horse,
Needing to know why they'd landed, these men In armor. Shaking his heavy spear In their faces he spoke:
"Whose soldiers are you, You who've been carried in your deep-keeled ship Across the sea-road to this country of mine? Listen! I've stood on these cliffs longer Than you know, keeping our coast free Of pirates, raiders sneaking ashore From their ships, seeking our lives and our gold. None have ever come more openly And yet you've offered no password, no sign From my prince, no permission from my people for your landing Here. Nor have I ever seen, Out of all the men on earth, one greater Than has come with you; no commoner carries Such weapons, unless his appearance, and his beauty, Are both lies. You! Tell me your name, And your father's; no spies go further onto Danish Soil than you've come already. Strangers, From wherever it was you sailed, tell it, And tell it quickly, the quicker the better, I say, for us all. Speak, say Exactly who you are, and from where, and why." Their leader answered him, Beowulf unlocking Words from deep in his breast:
"We are Geats, Men who follow Higlac. My father Was a famous soldier, known far and wide As a leader of men. His name was Edgetho. His life lasted many winters; Wise men all over the earth surely Remember him still. And we have come seeking Your prince, Healfdane's son, protector Of this people, only in friendship: instruct us, Watchman, help us with your words! Our errand Is a great one, our business with the' glorious king Of the Danes no secret; there's nothing dark Or hidden in our coming. You know (if we've heard The truth, and been told honestly) that your country Is cursed with some strange, vicious creature That hunts only at night and that no one Has seen. It's said, watchman, that he has slaughtered Your people, brought terror to the darkness. Perhaps Hrothgar can hunt, here in my heart, For some way to drive this devil out-- If anything will ever end the evils
Afflicting your wise and famous lord. Here he can cool his burning sorrow. Or else he may see his suffering go on Forever, for as long as Herot towers High on your hills."
The mounted officer Answered him bluntly, the brave watchman:
"A soldier should know the difference between words And deeds, and keep that knowledge clear In his brain. I believe your words, I trust in Your friendship. Go forward, weapons and armor And all, on into Denmark. I'll guide you Myself--and my men will guard your ship, Keep it safe here on our shores, Your fresh-tarred boat, watch it well, Until that curving prow carries Across the sea to Geatland a chosen Warrior who bravely does battle with the creature Haunting our people, who survives that horror Unhurt, and goes home bearing our love." Then they moved on. Their boat lay moored, Tied tight to its anchor. Glittering at the top Of their golden helmets wild boar heads gleamed, Shining decorations, swinging as they marched, Erect like guards, like sentinels, as though ready To fight. They marched, Beowulf and his men And their guide, until they could see the gables Of Herot, covered with hammered gold And glowing in the sun--that most famous of all dwellings, Towering majestic, its glittering roofs Visible far across the land. Their guide reined in his horse, pointing To that hall, built by Hrothgar for the best And bravest of his men; the path was plain, They could see their way...
Beowulf and his men arrive at Herot and are about to be escorted in to see King Hrothgar.
Beowulf arose, with his men Around him, ordering a few to remain With their weapons, leading the others quickly Along under Herot's steep roof into Hrothgar's Presence. 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 Danes' great lord:
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