The Tale of Beowulf, Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats

The Tale of Beowulf, Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats
Author: Poetry
Title: The Tale of Beowulf, Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats
Release Date: 2007-01-23
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Tale of Beowulf, by Anonymous, Translatedby William Morris and Alfred John Wyatt

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Title: The Tale of Beowulf

Sometime King of the Folk of the Weder Geats

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: January 23, 2007 [eBook #20431]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


E-text prepared by Louise Hope, R. Cedron,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team







First printed at the Kelmscott Press,January 1895
Ordinary EditionAugust 1898
ReprintedAugust 1904



(table added by transcriber)
Chapter I.And First of the Kindred of Hrothgar.

Concerning Hrothgar, and How He Built the House Called Hart.Also Grendel Is Told of.


How Grendel Fell Upon Hart and Wasted It.


Now Comes Beowulf Ecgtheow's Son to the Land of the Danes,and the Wall-Warden Speaketh With Him.


Here Beowulf Makes Answer to the Land-Warden,Who Showeth Him the Way to the King's Abode.


Beowulf and the Geats Come Into Hart.


Beowulf Speaketh With Hrothgar, and Telleth How He Will Meet Grendel.


Hrothgar Answereth Beowulf and Biddeth Him Sit to the Feast.


Unferth Contendeth in Words With Beowulf.


Beowulf Makes An End of His Tale of the Swimming.Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's Queen, Greets Him;and Hrothgar Delivers to Him the Warding of the Hall.


Now Is Beowulf Left in the Hall Alone With His Men.


Grendel Cometh Into Hart: of the Strife Betwixt Him and Beowulf.


Beowulf Hath the Victory:Grendel Is Hurt Deadly and Leaveth Hand and Arm in the Hall.


The Danes Rejoice; They Go to Look on the Slot of Grendel,and Come Back to Hart, and on the Way Make Merry With Racingand the Telling of Tales.


King Hrothgar and His Thanes Look on the Arm of Grendel.Converse Betwixt Hrothgar and Beowulf Concerning the Battle.


Hrothgar Giveth Gifts to Beowulf.


They Feast in Hart. The Gleeman Sings of Finn and Hengest.


The Ending of the Tale of Finn.


More Gifts Are Given to Beowulf. The Brising Collar Told of.


Grendel's Dam Breaks Into Hart and Bears Off Aeschere.


Hrothgar Laments the Slaying of Aeschere,and Tells of Grendel's Mother and Her Den.


They Follow Grendel's Dam to Her Lair.


Beowulf Reacheth the Mere-Bottom in A Day's While,and Contends With Grendel's Dam.


Beowulf Slayeth Grendel's Dam, Smiteth Off Grendel's Head,and Cometh Back With His Thanes to Hart.


Converse of Hrothgar With Beowulf.


More Converse of Hrothgar and Beowulf:the Geats Make Them Ready For Departure.


Beowulf Bids Hrothgar Farewell: the Geats Fare to Ship.


Beowulf Comes Back to His Land. of the Tale of Thrytho.


Beowulf Tells Hygelac of Hrothgar:Also of Freawaru His Daughter.


Beowulf Forebodes Ill From the Wedding of Freawaru:He Tells of Grendel and His Dam.


Beowulf Gives Hrothgar's Gifts to Hygelac, and By Him Is Rewarded.of the Death of Hygelac and of Heardred His Son, and How Beowulf Is Kingof the Geats: the Worm Is First Told of.


How the Worm Came to the Howe, and How He Was Robbed of A Cup;and How He Fell on the Folk.


The Worm Burns Beowulf's House,and Beowulf Gets Ready to Go Against Him.Beowulf's Early Deeds in Battle With the Hetware Told of.


Beowulf Goes Against the Worm. He Tells of Herebeald and Hthcyn.


Beowulf Tells of Past Feuds, and Bids Farewell to His Fellows:He Falls on the Worm, and the Battle of Them Begins.


Wiglaf Son of Weohstan Goes to the Help of Beowulf:Ngling, Beowulf's Sword, Is Broken on the Worm.


They Two Slay the Worm. Beowulf Is Wounded Deadly:He Biddeth Wiglaf Bear Out the Treasure.


Beowulf Beholdeth the Treasure and Passeth Away.


Wiglaf Casteth Shame on Those Fleers.


Wiglaf Sendeth Tiding to the Host: the Words of the Messenger.


More Words of the Messenger.How He Fears the Swedes When They Wot of Beowulf Dead.


They Go to Look on the Field of Deed.


Of the Burial of Beowulf.

Persons and Places
The Meaning of Some Words




Hrothgar, king of the Danes, lives happily and peacefully, andbethinks him to build a glorious hall called Hart. But a little after,one Grendel, of the kindred of the evil wights that are come of Cain,hears the merry noise of Hart and cannot abide it; so he entersthereinto by night, and slays and carries off and devours thirty ofHrothgar's thanes. Thereby he makes Hart waste for twelve years, and thetidings of this mishap are borne wide about lands. Then comes to thehelping of Hrothgar Beowulf, the son of Ecgtheow, a thane of KingHygelac of the Geats, with fourteen fellows. They are met on the shoreby the land-warder, and by him shown to Hart and the stead of Hrothgar,who receives them gladly, and to whom Beowulf tells his errand, that hewill help him against Grendel. They feast in the hall, and one Unferth,son of Ecglaf, taunts Beowulf through jealousy that he was outdoneviby Breca in swimming. Beowulf tells the true tale thereof. And a littleafter, at nightfall, Hrothgar and his folk leave the hall Hart, and itis given in charge to Beowulf, who with his Geats abides there thecoming of Grendel.

Soon comes Grendel to the hall, and slays a man of the Geats, hightHandshoe, and then grapples with Beowulf, who will use no weapon againsthim: Grendel feels himself over-mastered and makes for the door, andgets out, but leaves his hand and arm behind him with Beowulf: men onthe wall hear the great noise of this battle and the wailing of Grendel.In the morning the Danes rejoice, and follow the bloody slot of Grendel,and return to Hart racing and telling old tales, as of Sigemund and theWorm. Then come the king and his thanes to look on the token of victory,Grendel's hand and arm, which Beowulf has let fasten: to thehall-gable.

The king praises Beowulf and rewards him, and they feast in Hart, andthe tale of Finn and Hengest is told. Then Hrothgar leaves Hart, and sodoes Beowulf also with his Geats, but the Danes keep guard there.

In the night comes in Grendel's Mother, and catches up Aeschere,a thane of Hrothgar, and carries him off to her lair. In themorning isviiBeowulf fetched to Hrothgar, who tells him of this new grief and craveshis help.

Then they follow up the slot and come to a great water-side, and findthereby Aeschere's head, and the place is known for the lair of thosetwo: monsters are playing in the deep, and Beowulf shoots one of them todeath. Then Beowulf dights him and leaps into the water, and is a day'swhile reaching the bottom. There he is straightway caught hold of byGrendel's Mother, who bears him into her hall. When he gets free hefalls on her, but the edge of the sword Hrunting (lent to him byUnferth) fails him, and she casts him to the ground and draws her sax toslay him; but he rises up, and sees an old sword of the giants hangingon the wall; he takes it and smites off her head therewith. He seesGrendel lying dead, and his head also he strikes off; but the blade ofthe sword is molten in his venomous blood. Then Beowulf strikes upward,taking with him the head of Grendel and the hilts of the sword. When hecomes to the shore he finds his Geats there alone; for the Danes fledwhen they saw the blood floating in the water.

They go up to Hrothgar's stead, and four men must needs bear thehead. They come to Hrothgar, and Beowulf gives him the hilts andviiitells him what he has done. Much praise is given to Beowulf; and theyfeast together.

On the morrow Beowulf bids farewell to Hrothgar, more gifts aregiven, and messages are sent to Hygelac: Beowulf departs with the fulllove of Hrothgar. The Geats come to their ship and reward theship-warder, and put off and sail to their own land. Beowulf comes toHygelac's house. Hygelac is told of, and his wife Hygd, and her goodconditions, against whom is set as a warning the evil Queen Thrytho.

Beowulf tells all the tale of his doings in full to Hygelac, andgives him his gifts, and the precious-gemmed collar to Hygd. Here istold of Beowulf, and how he was contemned in his youth, and is now grownso renowned.

Time wears; Hygelac is slain in battle; Heardred, his son, reigns inhis stead, he is slain by the Swedes, and Beowulf is made king. When heis grown old, and has been king for fifty years, come new tidings.A great dragon finds on the sea-shore a mound wherein is stored thetreasure of ancient folk departed. The said dragon abides there, andbroods the gold for 300 years.

Now a certain thrall, who had misdone against his lord and wasfleeing from his wrath, haps on the said treasure and takes a cupthence, whichixhe brings to his lord to appease his wrath. The Worm waketh, and findethhis treasure lessened, but can find no man who hath done the deed.Therefore he turns on the folk, and wars on them, and burns Beowulf'shouse.

Now Beowulf will go and meet the Worm. He has an iron shield made,and sets forth with eleven men and the thrall the thirteenth. He comesto the ness, and speaks to his men, telling them of his past days, andgives them his last greeting: then he cries out a challenge to the Worm,who comes forth, and the battle begins: Beowulf's sword will not bite onthe Worm. Wiglaf eggs on the others to come to Beowulf's help, and goeshimself straightway, and offers himself to Beowulf; the Worm comes onagain, and Beowulf breaks his sword Ngling on him, and the Worm woundsBeowulf. Wiglaf smites the Worm in the belly; Beowulf draws his ax, andbetween them they slay the Worm.

Beowulf now feels his wounds, and knows that he is hurt deadly; hesits down by the wall, and Wiglaf bathes his wounds. Beowulf speaks,tells how he would give his armour to his son if he had one; thanks Godthat he has not sworn falsely or done guilefully; and prays Wiglaf tobear out the treasure that he may see it before he dies.

xWiglaf fetches out the treasure, and again bathes Beowulf's wounds;Beowulf speaks again, rejoices over the sight of the treasure; gives toWiglaf his ring and his armour, and bids the manner of

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