Сборники Художественной, Технической, Справочной, Английской, Нормативной, Исторической, и др. литературы.



    Hear me! We've heard of Danish heroes, ancient kings  and  the  glory
they cut for themselves, swinging mighty swords!
    How Shild made slaves of soldiers from every land, crowds of captives
he'd beaten into terror; he'd travelled to  Denmark  alone,  an  abandoned
child, but changed his own fate, lived to be rich  and  much  honored.  He
ruled lands on all sides: wherever the sea would take  them  his  soldiers
sailed, returned with tribute and obedience. There was a brave  King!  And
he gave them more than his glory, conceived a son for  the  Danes,  a  new
leader allowed them by the grace of the God. They had  lived,  before  his
coming, kingless and miserable; now the Lord of all life, Ruler of  glory,
blessed them with a prince, Beo, whose power and fame soon spread  through
the world. Shild's strong son was  the  glory  of  Denmark;  his  father's
warriors were wound round his heart with  golden  rings,  bound  to  their
prince by his father's treasure. So young man  build  the  future,  wisely
open-handed in peace, protected in war; so warriors earn their  fame,  and
wealth is shaped with a sword.
    When his time was come the old king died, still strong but called  to
the Lord's hands. His comrades carried him down to the shore, bore him  as
their leader had asked, their lord and companion, while words  could  move
on his tongue. Shild's reign had been long; he'd ruled them well. There in
the harbor was a ring-prowed fighting ship, its timbers icy, waiting,  and
there they brought the beloved body of their ring-giving  lord,  and  laid
him near the mast. Next to that noble corpse  they  heaped  up  treasures,
jeweled helmets, hooked swords and coats of mail, armor carried  from  the
ends of the earth: no ship had ever sailed so  brightly  fitted,  no  king
sent forth more deeply mourned. Forced to set him adrift, floating as  far
as the tide mught run, they refused to give him less from their hoards  of
gold than those who'd shipped him away, an orphan and a beggar,  to  cross
the waves alone. High up over his head they flew his shining banner,  then
sadly let the water pull at the ship, watched it slowly sliding  to  where
neither rulers nor heroes nor anyone can say whose hands  opened  to  take
that motionless cargo.


    Then Beo was king in that Danish castle, Shild's son ruling  as  long
as his father and as loved, a famous lord of men.  And  he  in  turn  gave
people a son, the great Healfdane, a fierce fighter who led the  Danes  to
the end of his long life and left them four  children,  three  princes  to
guide them in battle, Hergar and Hrothgar and  Halga  the  Good,  and  one
daughter, Yrs, who was given to Onela, king of the Swedes, and became  his
wife and their queen.
    Then Hrothgar, taking the throne, led the Danes to  such  glory  that
comrades and kinsmen swore by his sword, and young men swelled his armies,
and he thought of greatness and resolved to build a hall that  would  hold
his mighty band and reach higher toward Heaven than anything that had ever
been known to the sons of men. And in that hall he'd divide the spoils  of
their victories, to old and  young  what  they'd  earned  in  battle,  but
leaving the common pastures untouched, and taking no lives. The  work  was
odered, the timbers tied and shaped by the hosts that Hrothgar  ruled.  It
was quickly ready, that most beautiful of dwellings, built as he'd wanted,
and then he whose word was obeyed all over the earth named it  Herot.  His
boast come true he commanded  a  banquet,  opened  out  his  treasure-full
hands. That towering place, gabled and huge, stood  waiting  for  time  to
pass, for war to begin, for flames to leap as high as the feud that  would
light them, and for Herot to burn.
    A powerful monster, living down in the  darkness,  growled  in  pain,
impatient as day after day the music rang loud in that  hall,  the  harp's
rejoicing call and the poet's clear song, sung of the  ancient  beginnings
of us  all,  recalling  the  Almighty  making  the  earth,  shaping  these
beautiful plains marked off by oceans, then proudly setting  the  sun  and
moon to glow across the land and light it; the corners of the  earth  were
made lovely with trees and leaves, made quick with life, with each of  the
nations who now move on its face. And then as now warriors sang  of  their
pleasure: so Hrothgar's men lived happy  in  his  hall  till  the  monster
stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors, the  wild
marshes, and made his home in a hell not hell but earth. He  was  sprawned
with slime, conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain,  murderous
creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel's death.
The Almighty drove those demons out, and their exile was bitter, shut away
from men: they split into a thousand forms of evel - spirits  and  fiends,
goblins, monsters, giants, a brood forever opposing the Lord's  will,  and
again and again defeated.


    Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel went up to Herot,  wondering
what the warriors would do in that hall when their drinking was  done.  He
found  them  sprawled  in  sleep,   suspecting   nothing,   their   dreams
undisturbed. The monster's thoughts were as quick  as  his  greed  or  his
claws: he slipped through the door and there in silence snatched up thirty
men, smashed them unknowing in their beds and ran out with  their  bodies,
the blood dripping behind him,  back  to  his  lair,  delighted  with  his
night's slaughter.
    At daybreak, with the sun's first light, they saw  how  well  he  had
worked, and in that gray morning broke their long  feast  with  tears  and
laments for the dead. Hrothgar, their lord, sat joyless in Herot, a mighty
prince mourning the fate of his lost friends and  companions,  knowing  by
its tracks that some demon had torn his followers apart. He wept,  fearing
the beginning might not be the end. And that night Grendel come again,  so
set on murder that no crime could ever be enough, no savage assault quench
his lust for evil. Then each warrior tried to  escape  him,  searched  for
rest in different beds, as far from Herot as they could find,  seeing  how
Grendel hunted when they slept. Distance was safety;  the  only  survivors
were those who fled him. Hate had triumphed.
    So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous, one  against  many,  and
won; so Herot stood empty, and stayed deserted for years,  twelve  winters
of grief for Hrothgar, king of the Danes, sorrow heaped  at  his  door  by
hell-forged hands. His misery leaped the seas, was told and  sung  in  all
men's ears: how Grendel's hatred  began,  how  the  monster  relished  his
savage war on the Danes, keeping bloody  feud  alive,  seeking  no  peace,
offering no truce, accepting no settlement, no price in gold or land,  and
paying the living for one crime only  with  another.  No  one  waited  for
reparation from his plundering claws: that shadow of death hunted  in  the
darkness, stalked Hrothgar's warriors, old and young,  lying  in  waiting,
hidden in mist, invisibly following them  from  the  edge  of  the  marsh,
always there, unseen.
    So mankind's enemy continued his  crimes,  killing  as  often  as  he
could, coming alone, bloodthirsty and horrible. Though he lived in  Herot,
when the night hid him, he never dared to touch king  Hrothgar's  glorious
throne, protected by the God - God, whose love Grendel could not know. But
Hrothgar's heart was bent. The best and most noble of his council  debated
remedies, sat in secret sessions, talking of terror and wondering what the
bravest of warriors could do. And sometime  they  sacrificed  to  the  old
stone gods, made heathen vows, hoping  for  Hell's  support,  the  Devil's
guidance in driving their affliction off. That  was  their  way,  and  the
heathen's only hope, Hell always in their hearts, knowing neither God  nor
His passing as He walks through our world, the Lord of Heaven  and  earth;
their ears could not hear His prase nor know His glory. Let  them  beware,
those who are thrust into danger, clutched at by trouble, yet can carry no
solace in their hearts, cannot hope to be better! Hail to those  who  will
rise to God, drop off their dead bodies and seek our Father's peace!

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