Beowulf for beginners

Scyld Scefing's Funeral

A Burial tall ship stands in the harbour, a boat with a ringed neck, rocking on the icy waves, eager to sail. Along the shore people stand. They look at the ship with sad faces, their hearts heavy because of their King. His days are over. He must cross into the keeping of the Lord.

Many years ago he came to them, the Danish people. They found him on the beach in a boat no bigger than a shield, a child without clothing, surrounded by presents. No one knew who had sent him across the sea, but he lived and grew and gained respect until they made him their King, and all the tribes living nearby had to obey him. No enemy dared to attack , and he gave gifts gladly to his followers. His name was Scyld Scefing. He was a good King.

Now the hour has come. The men who have been his sword-companions carry him to the water's edge - as he told them to do while he could still speak. In the ship's middle, by the mast, they lay down their lord and master, and round him they make a mound of treasure, shining shields, weapons and warrior's armour.

The men leave the ship full of sorrow, leave the old king to his far journey. They let the seas take him as the ship sails. However wise they may be, no-one can say for sure who received that ship's load in the end.

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