Beowulf: A Dramatic Translation
Excerpt: The Geats approach Heorot


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Beowulf: A Dramatic Translation

Beowulf’s long advance on Heorot
emphasizes the shining strength
of Geatish armor.
Yet this glorification of weapons
eventually bites back:
Despite heroic faith in “hard swords,”
weapons will repeatedly fail the hero.

V.
The road to Heorot was straight,
coated with stone.
The Geats filed together,
glittering, hard
in hand-locked shirts,
each iron-ring
shirred out a battle-song in steel
as they marched to the hall
in their death-grim gear.

Against the wall, the sea-weary men
stacked broad bronze boards,
hard-hammered
by a rain of blows,
then bent down to the bench
in a ring and clash of war-coats.
Spear shafts stood together:
a sea-troop’s trappings,
a grove of ash trees
edged with steel.

Those men were iron-hard,
like the weapons they bore!


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