Beowulf for beginners

In The Hall

lord Hrothgar sent one of his most trusted men to greet them. Wulfgar was his name, a man both brave and wise. He soon brought Beowulf before Hrothgar. Beowulf looked stern in his helmet. His mailcoat shone as he marched quickly under Heorot's roof to where the white-haired lord was sitting. Lord Hrothgar and Beowulf

'Hail to you, Hrothgar. My name is Beowulf, son of Edgetheow. I am Hygelac's warrior and his kinsman. I have heard that this hall becomes useless to your people after the sun falls below the edge of the sky at evening. Tales of Grendel's attacks have reached me at home in the land of the Geats.

I have often struggled against my people's enemies in battle. A whole family of giants I once trapped and destroyed. By night, far out at sea, I killed water-monsters and put up with great difficulties among the dark waves.

Now it is for me alone to sort out the monster Grendel. People say that Grendel does not bother with weapons, and neither shall I. I will beat him with my bare hands and my body's strength.'

Hrothgar was full of joy.

'Beowulf my friend, you have come to us out of loving kindness. Your father began a terrible feud by killing one of the tribe of the Wylfings. Your father's people, the Geats, could not protect him. I was a young man then, and I brought Danish warriors to help the Geats to end the feud. I payed the Wylfings with treasure for the loss of the man's life. Now you can repay me.

See how many warriors I have lost. See how my people live in fear. Grendel has brought such terror to our lives. Now sit down to the feast with your men and tell us what you plan to do.'

Do you think everyone in the hall is as pleased as Hrothgar to see Beowulf,
or might some be suspicious or jealous?

Hrothgar's wife Wealtheow and Hrothgar The Danish warriors made way on the mead benches for Beowulf's men. They sat grouped together while the glowing mead was poured out for them to drink.

Then Hrothgar's wife Wealtheow came forward. She was well known for the wisdom of her mind. She gave the jewelled cup first to her husband and wished him joy at the beer-drinking. Then she took the precious goblet to each group of warriors in turn, the old and the young. Then her hands, flashing with rings, held out the cup to Beowulf. She greeted the Geatish leader and gave thanks to God that now a noble warrior had come as she had hoped for so long. She knew she could trust him.

Beowulf spoke:

'I decided as I set out to sea, that I would rid the Danes of this monster for ever, or else die in the mead-hall held fast in his grip. Before you all now, I make this boast, that alone, without weapons of any kind, I will defeat Grendel. I am sure I am as good a fighter as Grendel. Let God decide the winner.'

Wealtheow liked this speech well.

'Never before has Heorot been trusted to any other man', she told Beowulf. Tonight you must have and hold the great hall of the Danes. Keep watch, be brave, and think of the glory you must gain.'

Then again there was laughter in the hall, the happiness of heroes. The Geats and the Danes sat together. Words of courage and sounds of joy were heard once more in Heorot. The clear voice of the poet rose in the hall.

At last everyone got up to go to bed. Hrothgar and Wealtheow with their people left the hall. Only the Geats stayed behind.

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