Page:Gummere (1909) The Oldest English Epic.djvu/161

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145
BEOWULF

XXXIX

It was heavy hap for that hero young
on his lord beloved to look and find him
lying on earth with life at end,
sorrowful sight. But the slayer too,
2825awful earth-dragon, empty of breath,
lay felled in fight, nor, fain of its treasure,
could the writhing monster rule it more.
For edges of iron had ended its days,
hard and battle-sharp, hammers’ leaving;[1]
2830and that flier-afar had fallen to ground
hushed by its hurt, its hoard all near,
no longer lusty aloft to whirl
at midnight, making its merriment seen,
proud of its prizes: prone it sank
2835by the handiwork of the hero-king.
Forsooth among folk but few[2] achieve,
—though sturdy and strong, as stories tell me,
and never so daring in deed of valor,—
the perilous breath of a poison-foe
2840to brave, and to rush on the ring-hoard hall,
whenever his watch the warden keeps
bold in the barrow. Beowulf paid
the price of death for that precious hoard;
and each of the foes had found the end
2845of this fleeting life.
 Befell erelong
that the laggards in war the wood had left,

  1. What had been left or made by the hammer; well-forged.
  2. As usual, litotes for “none at all.”