Beowulf for beginners

The Dragon Fight Goes On

higlaf has never been in battle before, but he finds bravery enough, and speaks many true words to his companions:

'Now the day has come when our lord needs our strength. Let us go and help him. Do you not remember the many times we sat at the mead-benches and boasted that we would repay our lord for all the gifts he had given us - for the spears and battle-armour, for the well-made swords - with our deeds in battle? Because of this he picked us to come with him today. We cannot bring our swords and shields back home unless we have tried to bring down the enemy and defend our lord's life. It is better to be burnt alive beside our lord by the dragon's flame. Beowulf has been a great leader of the Geatish people. He should not be suffering alone while we are here to help him.' Beowulf is captured but Wiglaf helps out

Wearing his helmet, Wiglaf strides out through the stinking smoke to Beowulf's side. His friends are too scared to follow him.

'Dear Beowulf', he cries, 'you must finish what you have started. Long ago when you were young, you boasted you would never let your reputation fail as long as you lived. Now, brave lord, famous for your deeds, you must defend your life with all your might. I will help you.'

After these words, the dragon attacks for the third time. Waves of flame come forward, burning Wiglaf's wooden shield - but the young warrior ducks under the cover of Beowulf's iron shield and carries on fighting bravely. Then Beowulf remembers his many famous deeds and strikes with his full strength once more. His sword sticks fast in the scaly skin, and snaps in half. The terrible fire-breather sees its chance. It seizes Beowulf by the neck in its poisonous fangs. Beowulf's life-blood runs down like a river.

In the time of his lord's need, Wiglaf shows great skill and courage. He does not try to touch the dragon's head but shoves his sword in lower down, burning his hand. At once the flames from its mouth grow less. Beowulf pulls out his knife and slits the dragon down the middle. The dragon falls sideways. The two together have defeated the dreadful foe.

Home nextDragon in Runes
These letters spell DRAGON.
They are written in an old kind of Anglo-Saxon writing called RUNES.