Actually just quotes.
(transl. credit to Seamus Heaney)
I may have memorized the beginning lines:
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
And the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes’ heroic campaigns.
There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
A wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall-troops had come far.
A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on
The lines about courage and the greatness of times past seriously appeal to my closeted neoreactionary spirit.
(Also, the meter is exquisite.)
So his mind turned
To hall-building: he handed down orders
For men to work on a great mead-hall
Meant to be a wonder of the world forever;
It would be his throne-room and there he would dispense
His God-given goods to young and old—
But not the common land or people’s lives.
Far and wide through the world, I have heard,
Orders for work to adorn that wall stead
Were sent to many peoples. And soon it stood there,
Finished and ready, in full view,
The hall of halls. Heorot was the name
He had settled on it, whose utterance was law.
Nor did he renege, but doled out rings
And torques at the table. The hall towered,
Its gables wide and high and awaiting
A barbarous burning. That doom abided,
But in time it would come: the killer instinct
Unleashed among in-laws, the blood-lust rampant.
Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark,
Nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed him
To hear the din of the loud banquet
Every day in the hall, the harp being struck
And the clear song of a skilled poet
Telling with mastery of man’s beginnings,
How the Almighty had made the earth
A gleaming plain girdled with waters;
In His splendour He set the sun and moon
To be earth’s lamplight, lanterns for men,
And filled the broad lap of the world
With branches and leaves; and quickened life
In every other thing that moved.
“Damn elites listening to the clear songs of skilled poets!”
“On the government ring-dole”
“The presidents will be having a mead hall meeting”
“You didn’t built that mead-hall. The government built that.”
“A shining mead-hall on a hill”
“I’ll build a mead-hall and I’ll make the Danes pay for it.”
Okay, the next few quotes are a bit less lighthearted.
They shouldered him out to the sea’s flood,
The chief they revered who had long ruled them.
A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
Ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
Laid out by the mast, amidships,
The great ring-giver. Far-fetched treasures
Were piled upon him, and precious gear.
I never heard before of a ship so well furbished
With battle tackle, bladed weapons
And coats of mail. The massed treasure
Was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
On out into the ocean’s sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
With offerings than those first ones did
Who cast him away when he was a child
And launched him alone out over the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
High above his head and let him drift
To wind and tide, bewailing him
And mourning their loss. No man can tell,
No wise man in hall or weathered veteran
Knows for certain who salvaged that load.
A ship sailing out to sea, prow glinting,
stacked high with the riches of a nation,
they must have loved him
they must have loved him so,
a jewel-laden ship
drifting beyond the crowded shores.
It was like the misery felt by an old man
Who has lived to see his son’s body
Swing on the gallows. He begins to keen
And weep for his boy, watching the raven
Gloat where he hangs: he can be of no help.
The wisdom of age is worthless to him.
Morning after morning, he wakes to remember
That his child is gone; he has no interest
In living on until another heir
Is born in the hall, now that his first-born
Has entered death’s dominion forever.
He gazes sorrowfully at his son’s dwelling,
The banquet hall bereft of all delight,
The windswept hearthstone; the horsemen are sleeping,
The warriors underground; what was is no more.
No tunes from the harp, no cheer raised in the yard.
Alone with his longing, he lies down on his bed
And sings a lament; everything seems too large,
The steadings and the fields.
Such was the feeling
Of loss endured by the lord of the Geats
After Herebeald’s death. He was hopelessly placed
To set to rights the wrong committed,
Could not punish the killer in accordance of the law
Of the blood-feud, although he felt no love for him.
Heartsore, wearied, he turned away
From life’s joys, chose God’s light
And departed, leaving buildings and lands
To his sons, as a man of substance will.
Then over the wide seas Swedes and Geats
Battled and feuded and fought without quarter.
Hostilities broke out when Hrethel died.
The Geat people built a pyre for Beowulf,
Stacked and decked it until it stood four-square,
Hung with helmets, heavy war-shields
And shining armor, just as he had ordered.
Then his warriors laid him in the middle of it,
Mourning a lord far-famed and beloved.
On a height they kindled the hugest of all
Funeral fires; fumes of wood smoke
Billowed darkly up, the blaze roared
And drowned out their weeping, wind died down
And flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house,
Burning it to the core. They were disconsolate
And wailed aloud for their lord’s decease.
A Geat woman too sang out in grief:
With hair bound up, she unburdened herself
Of her worst fears, a wild litany
Of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
Enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
Slavery and abasement.
Heaven swallowed the smoke.
Death is the last enemy to be destroyed.