Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery


We have heard tell3f1b of the high doings2c1b of Danish kings3b1a in days gone by,2b1a how the great war‐chiefs2c1b gained their renown,2b2‐ how Scyld Scefing2c1a shattered his foes,2e1a mastered the meadhalls1a*1a(i) 10of many peoples,+2a1a(i) conquered their kings.2e1a He came to Denmark+1a1a(i) as a lone foundling,2c1b but later he thrived;3b*1a his name was renowned2b2a beneath the skies2b1a and kings and kingdoms+1a1a(i) across the whale‐road,+1a1a(i) the surging sea,3b1a 20swore him allegiance,1a*1a(i) paid him tribute.2a1a(i) He was a peerless king!3b1c Later the Lord2e1a of life gave him2c1a a son who would someday+1a1b(i) succeed him in Denmark,+1a*1a(i) a pledge to its people:+1a1b(i) their plight had moved him,+1a1a(i) their time of trial+1a1a(i) 30and terrible grief+3e1 lacking a leader.1a*1a(i) The Lord bestowed2b1a success and honor+1a1a(i) on this son of Scyld,2b1b and Beowulf the Dane+3e*1 could boast a name2b1a known everywhere1d1 in Scandinavia.d1c In just such a manner,+1a1b(i) 40with generous gifts+3e1 from his father’s hoard,3b1b a future king3b1a insures that one day+1a1a(i) unshrinking friends3b1a will stand by his side2b2a if strife should come,2b1a will support their prince:2b1b it is praiseworthy deeds3b2b that win warriors’+1d1 50willing allegiance.1a*1a(i) At his foreshaped hour3f1c Scyld departed,1a1a(i) grey‐haired, vigorous,2a1a(ii) into God’s keeping.2c1b Care‐stricken comrades2a1a(iii) carried his body1a*1a(i) to the edge of the sea,2b2b honoring the wish3e*1 he had made when still2b1b 60master of his speech,2e1b he who had so long1a1b(i) held the kingdom.1a1a(i) His ring‐beaked ship3b1a was ready to sail,3b*1a ice‐clad, impatient,1a*1a(i) eager for the voyage.1a*1b They laid their beloved+1a1b(i) lord in its hold,2b2‐ rested their ring‐giver1a*2a(ii) 70in its roomy hull3b1b near the heel of the mast.2b2b They heaped beside him+1a1a(i) fabulous wealth3e1 from far‐off lands;3b1a I have never heard3b1b of such magnificent things,3b2c mailcoats and swords2e1a and mask‐helmetsd1a and bright war‐shields;2c1a 80on his breast lay many++1a1a(i) dazzling jewels2a1a(i) destined to travel1a*1a(i) to the far reaches2c1b of the flood’s domain.2b1b His men equipped him+1a1a(i) with much more treasure+2a1a(i) than the warriorsd1b who had once sent him2c1b wandering the wastes3e*1 90of the wide ocean,2c1b alone and friendless,+1a1a(i) a little child.3b1a Finally the Danes3e*1 affixed a golden+1a1a(i) standard above him,1a*1a(i) let the stream have him,2c1b the sea‐surge take him.+2a1a(i) Their souls were troubled,+1a1a(i) numb with mourning.1a1a(i) 100No man on earth,2e1a not even the wisest,+1a*1a(i) can ever know3b1a or say for certain+1a1a(i) who received that cargo.++1a1a(i)