Beowulf Slays the Dragon (excerpt)

Beowulf Slays the Dragon
Then Wiglaf advanced
through the death-fumes,
wore his helmet
to help his lord.
He spoke these words:
"Dear Beowulf, may you
accomplish all well,
as you did in youth,
as I have heard tell.
Don't surrender the glory
of your life. Defend now,
with all your strength,
your brave deeds.
I will help."
After these words
the dragon angrily came;
the terrible spirit
another time attacked
with surging fire.
Fire waves burned
Wiglaf's shield
down to the handle,
his mail could not
protect the young
He ducked behind
his kinsman's shield.
Then the war-king
remembered past deeds,
struck mightily with his sword
so that it stuck
in the dragon's head;
Naegling, the great sword of Beowulf,
ancient and shining,
broke, failed in battle.
Fate had not granted that
the iron sword would help.
(I've heard that Beowulf's
swing was too strong
for any sword,
overstrained any blade,
anytime he carried
a blood-hardened sword
into battle.)
Then the terrible dragon
a third time rushed,
hot and battle-grim.
He bit Beowulf's neck
with sharp tusks--Beowulf
was wet with life's blood;
blood gushed in waves.
Then, I've heard,
Wiglaf showed courage,
craft and bravery,
as was his nature--he went
not for the thought-seat,
but struck a little lower,
helped his kinsman
though his hand was burned.
The sword, shining
and ornamented,
drove in so that
the fire abated.
Then the king controlled
his senses, drew his
battle knife, bitter
and battle sharp, which
he carried on his mail,
and cut the dragon
through the middle.
The enemy fell--strength
had driven out life;
the two kinsmen, together,
had cut down the enemy.
So should a warrior do.
That was Beowulf's last victory;
his last work in this world.
Related flashcards
Create flashcards