Beowulf

by Seamus Heaney

"Here is heat and light, rank and ceremony, human solidarity and culture; the duguð share the mead-benches with the geogoð, the veterans with their tales of warrior kings and hero-saviours from the past rub shoulders with young braves - þegnas, eorlas, thanes, retainers - keen to win such renown in the future." page xv

"Gold is a constant element, gleaming solidly in underground vaults, on the breasts of queens or the arms and regalia of warriors on the mead-benches." page xvii

"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." line 67

"But when dawn broke and day crept in over each empty, blood-spattered bench, the floor of the mead-hall where they had feasted would be slick with slaughter." line 484

"An attendant stood by with a decorated pitcher, pouring bright helpings of mead." line 494

"Then whoever wants to may go bravely to mead, when morning light, scarfed in sun-dazzle, shines forth from the south and brings another daybreak to the world." line 603

"And I shall fulfil that purpose, prove myself with a proud deed or meet my death here in the mead-hall." line 636

"The lord of the Shieldings, their shelter in war, left the mead-hall to lie with Wealhtheow, his queen and bedmate." line 663

"They knew too well the way it was before, how often the Danes had fallen prey to death in the mead-hall." line 694

"The story goes that as the pair struggled, mead-benches were smashed and sprung off the floor, gold fittings and all." line 774

"Bands of retainers galloped in excitement to the gabled hall to see the marvel; and the king himself, guardian of the ring-hoard, goodness in person, walked in majesty from the women's quarters with a numerous train, attended by his queen and her crowd of maidens, across to the mead-hall." line 917

"The benches filled with famous men who fell to with relish; round upon round of mead was passed; those powerful kinsmen, Hrothgar and Hrothulf, were in high spirits in the raftered hall." line 1012

"The guard who had watched the boat was given a sword with gold fittings and in future days that present would make him a respected man at his place on the mead-bench." line 1900

"Haereth's daughter moved about with the mead-jug in her hand, taking care of the company, filling the cups that warriors held out." line 1980

"I have never seen mead enjoyed more in any hall on earth." line 2015

"He had been poorly regarded for a long time, was taken by the Geats for less than he was worth: and their lord too had never much esteemed him in the mead-hall." line 2183

"They had rebelled against the best of all the sea-kings in Sweden, the one who held sway in the Shylfing nation, their renowned prince, lord of the mead-hall." line 2381

"Sad at heart, addressing his companions, Wiglaf spoke wise and fluent words: 'I remember that time when mead was flowing, how we pledged loyalty to our lord in the hall, promised our ring-giver we would be worth our price, make good the gift of the war-gear, those swords and helmets, as and when his need required it.'" line 2631

"Anyone ready to admit the truth will surely realize that the lord of men who showered you with gifts and gave you the armour you are standing in - when he would distribute helmets and mail-shirts to men on the mead-benches, a prince treating his thanes in hall to the best he could find, far or near - was throwing weapons uselessly away." line 2864

"Famous for his deeds a warrior may be, but it remains a mystery where his life will end, when he may no longer dwell in the mead-hall among his own." line 3062