Grendel’s Haunting March on Heorot Beowulf

Monster from the Nowell Codex’s ‘Wonders of the East’, British Library, Cotton Vittelius a.xv, f101v.

Beowulf, 702-727:

Com on wanre niht
scriðan sceadugenga.    Sceotend swæfon,
þa þæt hornreced    healdan scoldon,
ealle buton anum.    Þæt wæs yldum cuþ
þæt hie ne moste,    þa metod nolde,
se synscaþa    under sceadu bregdan,
ac he wæccende    wraþum on andan
bad bolgenmod    beadwa geþinges.

Ða com of more    under misthleoþum
Grendel gongan,    godes yrre bær.
Mynte se manscaða    manna cynnes
sumne besyrwan    in sele þam hean.
Wod under wolcnum to þæs þe he winreced,
goldsele gumena,    gearwost wisse,
fættum fahne.    Ne wæs þæt forma sið
þæt he Hroþgares    ham gesohte;
næfre he on aldordagum    ær ne siþðan
heardran hæle,    healðegnas fand.

Com þa to recede    rinc siðian,
dreamum bedæled.    Duru sona onarn,
fyrbendum fæst, syþðan he hire folmum æthran;
onbræd þa bealohydig,  ða he gebolgen wæs,
recedes muþan.    Raþe æfter þon
on fagne flor    feond treddode,
eode yrremod.    Him of eagum stod
ligge gelicost    leoht unfæger.

Grendel’s Haunting Approach”: A Modern English Translation by Richard Fahey
For discussion of the passage, see the translator’s preface.

“He CAME in the dark night, the shadow-walker slithered. The warriors slept, those that should have held that horned-hall, all but one. It was known to men that the relentless, sinful ravager could not drag men under shadow, when the Ruler did not will it, but he (Beowulf) waited, watching in wrathful anger, swollen-minded with the thought of battles.

Then he CAME from the marsh, Grendel went under misty slopes; he bore the anger of God. The mean, man-shaped ravager of men intended to seize one of mankind in that high hall. He went under the clouds to there, where he knew the wine-house was, the golden hall of men, most clearly coated with adornments. That was not the first time that he sought the home of Hroðgar. Never had he, before or after, in the days of his life found the hall-thanes with such hard luck.

He then CAME to the hall, the man journeyed, bereft of joys. The doors, fastened with fire-forged bolts, immediately sprung open after he touched it with his hands; then he (Grendel) was swollen (with rage), when the evil-minded one tore open the mouth of the hall. Quickly after that, the enemy trod on the decorated floor, he went angry-minded. An unfair light shown from his eyes, most like a flame.”