Beowulf: Translated by William Ellery Leonard

Date: 750 AD


The Scop chants how the Dragon burnt down with his fiery breath the homesteads of men and even the castle of old King Beowulf; and how Beowulf, resolving to do battle with this third Monster, alone as before, caused a shield of iron to be made as protection against the Monster’s spew of fire. The Scop then recalls some of Beowulf’s feats in days gone by: his fight with Grendel, of which we have heard; his escape by swimming in the sea-raid of Hygelac into the land of the Frisians (a raid which, as said, really took place in the sixth century, in which King Hygelac lost his life); and how Beowulf had refused the offer of the throne from the Queen-Widow, Hygd, preferring to act as unofficial adviser to her son Heardred, till young King Heardred was slain by the Swedish King, Onela, for having sheltered Onela’s rebellious and outlawed nephews.

Then began the Stranger One forth his gleeds to spew,

And burn the bright homesteads; the glare ablazing flew,

Frightful to landsfolk. Nothing living there

Would he leave, this loathly One, Flier-in-the-air.

The warfare of the great Worm wide about was clear,

The rancor of this Ravager, afar and anear,-

How this fell Destroyer the folk of Geatish kin

Hated and hounded. He shot to Hoard within,

To his hidden King’s-hall, ere the morning came.

The dwellers in the land he’d lapped about with flame,

With brand and with bale-fire. He trusted in his mound,

His wall and his warfare. His trust in vain he found.

Then was unto Beowulf the horror made known,

Speedily and soothly, that the home his own,

The goodliest of dwellings, the Geat’s gift-throne,

In fiery surge had melted. That to this good King

Was a grief in bosom, the worst of sorrowing.

The Wise One he weened that he the Wielder might

Bitterly have angered, breaking olden right

Of the Lord eternal. Welled his bosom sore

With thoughts of black foreboding, as ne’er his wont before.

From beyond the water-land, the Fire-Drake with gleeds

Now had laid in ashes the fastness of the ledes,

The stronghold of Geatmen. The Warrior-King for this,

The Sovran of the Weders, planned how vengeance should be his.

He, the clansmen’s Bulwark, Lord of jarlmen, he,

Bade them work a wondrous shield, all of iron firm-

For well he wist that linden, wood of forest tree,

Could help him not against the flames of that great Worm.

He needs must now be meeting, this King of passing worth,

His end of days, the fleeting, and his life on earth-

And the Dragon with him, though long he held the Hoard.

Yet there he scorned, did Beowulf, the Geats’ Ring-Lord,

To follow the Far-Flier with troops of spear and sword.

He dreaded not the contest, despised the Dragon’s war,

His vigor and his valor; because so oft before,

He’d passed so many perils, clashes in the van,

Hazarded so many straits, since as victor-man,

He’d cleansed the hall of Hrothgar, and at the grapple erst

Battling crushed the Grendel-kin- that breed accurst.

Nor least of fights was that fight where Hygelac was slain,

When the King of Geatmen, upon the Frisian plain,

The Lord-Friend of clansmen, amid the battle-raid,

The offspring of Hrethel, beaten down by blade,

Perished by the sword-drink. Beowulf made shift,

’Scaping by a power his own, his goodly swimming-gift.

He had upon his arms then, though alone was he,

Thirty coats of armor, as he plunged to sea.

O never the Hetwaras boasted of that field

Who onward and before them bore the linden-shield,

For few escaped the War-Wolf to see again their home.

Then the son of Ecgtheow o’erswam the tracts of foam,

A hapless man and lonely, unto his folk again.

There Hygd to him did offer the riches and the reign,

The rings and the King’s seat. Her bairn she did not trow

Fit to fend the Fatherland from a foreign foe,

Now Hygelac had fallen. Yet not for this could they,

The stricken, move the Aetheling in purpose any way

To be the Lord of Heardred and hold the kingdom’s sway.

However, he upheld him among the folk with lore,

With kindnesses of honor, until, a lad no more,

Heardred wielded Weder-Geats. Him o’er sea there sought

The outlaws, sons of Ohthere. These had set at naught

The Helmet of the Scylfings, the best of all sea-kings

Who ever there in Sweden dealt the treasure-rings-

Onela, the high prince. Heardred’s end was that!

For sheltering the rebels a mortal wound he gat

By swinges of the sword-blade. And Bairn of Ongentheow

Departed for to seek his home, at Heardred’s overthrow,

Leaving unto Beowulf the seat of ring-giving

And lordship over Geatmen- that was a goodly King!


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Chicago: "Chapter XXXIII," Beowulf: Translated by William Ellery Leonard in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed March 22, 2019,

MLA: . "Chapter XXXIII." Beowulf: Translated by William Ellery Leonard, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 22 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: , 'Chapter XXXIII' in Beowulf: Translated by William Ellery Leonard. cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 22 March 2019, from