Excerpt from Beowulf
Beowulf, the hero of the Geats has come to Hereot, the hall of the Danish King Hrothgar and killed the monster Grendel. The following night, Grendels mother (a monster in her own right) entered the hall and killed several of the sleeping warriors, including Hrothgars advisor and closest friend, Aeshere. The following excerpt shows Hrothgars grief and Beowulfs reply. His reply encapsulates the heroic code of the Anglo-Saxon warrior.
Then Hrothgar, the Shieldings helmet, spoke:
Rest? What is rest? Sorrow has returned.
Alas for the Danes! Aeschere is dead.
He was Yrmelafs elder brother
And a soul-mate to me, a true mentor,
My right-hand man when the ranks clashed
And our boar-crests had to take a battering
In the line of action. Aeschere was everything
The world admires in a wise man and a friend.
Then this roaming killer came in a fury
And slaughtered him in Heorot.
Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke:
Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
Means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
Win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
That will be his best and only bulwark.
So arise, my lord, and let us immediately
Set forth on the trail of this troll-dam.
I guarantee you: she will not get away,
Not to dens under ground nor upland groves
Nor the ocean floor. She will have nowhere to flee to.
Endure your troubles to-day. Bear up
And be the man I expect you to be.
Excerpt translated by Seamus Heaney