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In the Manner of the South of the River

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Another additional fragment of the poem Beowulf has been discovered bound in a book of maps held by the library of Wittenburg University in Ohio. There is much debate over the authenticity of this fragment, its position in the poem, and the exact location visited by the men of Geatland. But if genuine, it suggests more extensive sea travel during medieval times than was previously considered possible. A translation follows.

Far to the west / we sailed our ship
Through ice, through snow / into perils uncounted
Till at last God brought us in safety / to an unknown land.
We came upon a great castle / a tall castle, with great stables
With countless stalls and fine horses./ On sandy sward before it
On shining white couch / rested the castle’s lord.
A strong man, a stout man / garbed in finest cloth
Fanned by a lovely handmaid, / served by a nimble page,
The dark-haired warrior / eyes shielded by black glass
Welcomed us to his realm / his towers, halls, and fields.
And he spoke strange words / strange and wise words:
"A maiden kind and gentle / when sun lights the earth
A noble maiden / who drinks the brew of crushed beans
A maiden fire-hearted / burning at nightfall:
I crush seeds in hot water / in one quaff I drink it
I bear heat by day / and break into fire by night
I am that man / for that maid of such winding.”
Forward came maidens / young women of strength and courage.
They brought us succor / food and drink they brought unbounded.
They brought forth fine colewort / fire-brined, cheese-smelling
They filled our tankards / with ale of ancient kings;
Then came the word-wary lord / accompanied by white-clad maids
Forth came he through falling flakes / snow-white, thin as wood shavings.
To a great room he brought us / for the cleansing of our skins
A room hot and mist-full / where men of strength rested.
Thus made hale and warm / we followed him to a field
Where maidens stretched their limbs / striking balls with paddles.
Two elders came forth then / and played a game of skill.
Such cunning, such learning / Then spoke again the glass-browed lord:
“Hail! You, comely, light-mooded! / We will go to the last heartbeat.
You fair ones, you earners of love / Until the end we shall go together."
A burst of flame! As dragon's breath / flinging aside the aged men
Fire and force! / Yet unscathed he walked.
The dark-haired warrior / he raised his hand and spoke:
"Hail, you eye-snaring women / whose beauty stirs men's loins
Your elder brother lives / in the manner of the south of the river.
Hail, shining women of valor / who bring lust to the hearts of men
Your elder brother lives / in the manner of the south of the river.”
Then came forth a warrior / a warrior of his people
Arrayed in bright gold / on a red horse mounted
They met in combat. / Great was his skill
Yet greater still our new companion / the glass-browed word-wary lord,
A man who bears much wisdom / rather than strong thews;
The golden warrior yielded / they bowed and parted friends.
Forward came a fire-haired maid / garbed in gown adorned with runes
She embraced her lord / they stood together
Leading their people / in a dance of triumph.
Too soon the time of parting! / One last time together
In a great pool we bathed / the scented steam rising
Like a great fish / rose our host from the depths
And as we made ready for our leaving / as we gathered our goods and gear
We looked down into a chamber / and saw a small room
That small room / where men empty their bowels.
The dark-haired warrior / he sat on the seat
One last time he spoke / he shared his hard-gained knowledge:
"Hail, you eye-snaring women / whose beauty stirs men's loins
Your elder brother lives / in the manner of the south of the river.
Hail, shining women of valor / who bring lust to the hearts of men
Your elder brother lives / in the manner of the south of the river.”
Farewell, wise warrior! / Farewell to the glass-browed lord!
We shall carry your words / through all the lands and seas!