Beowulf for beginners

Beowulf's Last Words

then the wound from the dragon's teeth began to worsen. The poison was getting nearer to Beowulf's heart. Thinking hard, the weary man sat down by a small stream. Wiglaf bathed his lord with water with his own hands. He took off Beowulf's helmet to let him breathe. Beowulf was bloody from the battle, worn out with warfare.

Wiglaf showing Beowulf the goldBeowulf spoke. He knew his death was near.

'I have no son to give my battle-armour to, but I have guarded my people well for fifty years. No other tribes have dared to attack. I have not gone looking for feuds to fight in or made false promises I did not keep. There has been no killing of kinsmen by me. I can be glad about this even though I am dying.

Now, Wiglaf, let me look on the gold I have bought with my life. I will leave life more calmly if I can see the clear jewels and the long-lasting gold-work I will leave to my people.'

So Wiglaf darted down the dark passage into the heart of the barrow and brought out dishes and helmets and other treasure, as much as he could carry, to show his lord.

Beowulf spoke. The old man was full of pain:

'I thank God that I can give my people these gifts of gold. But you must see to the people's needs now, Wiglaf. I cannot be here any more.

After they burn my body, tell my warriors to build a great burial mound on the cliffs that stick out into the sea. The sailors steering their ships on the gloomy waters will see it and call it Beowulf's Barrow, and my people will remember me.

You are the last of our family, Wiglaf. All the others fell when Fate decided they must. Now I must follow them.'

These were the last words from the thoughts of the old man's heart. It was hard for Wiglaf when he saw his lord was dead. He shook him and spoke to him and tried to wake him, but it was no use, and he wept. The dragon too lay without moving. Each had met the end that was meant for it.

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