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ANONYMOUS – Beowulf

Beowulf

--- The fire advanced in waves, burned the shield right up the boss; coat of mail could afford the young spear-fighter no help; but the young man courageously went behind his kinsman's shield when his own was destroyed by coals of fire. Then the war-king was again mindful of glorious deeds, struck with the war-sword in great strength so that, driven by violence, it stuck in the head. Nægling shattered; Beowulf's sword, old and patterned grey, failed in combat. It was not granted him that edges of iron might help him in the battle; the hand was too strong which, as I heard, over-taxed every blade with its stroke, when he carried into combat a weapon hardened with wounds; it was none the better for him.

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Then a third time, when it had opportunity, the scourge of the nation, the dangerous fire-dragon, was mindful of feuds, rushed upon the brave man, hot and battle-grim, clenched his entire neck between sharp tusks; he became ensanguined with life-blood; gore welled up in waves.

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Then, as I have heard, at the need of the nation's king the warrior by his side displayed courage, skill and daring, as was natural to him. He did not bother about the head, so the hand of the brave man, warrior in armour, was burned as he helped his kinsman by striking the spiteful creature somewhat lower down, so that the sword, shining and plated, sank in, so that thereupon the fire began to abate. Then the king himself, again in control of his senses, drew the deadly knife, keen and battle-sharp, that he wore on his mail; the protector of the Weders cut the serpent open in the middle. They felled the foe-- courage had driven out its life-- and they had cut it down together, kindred noblemen.---

Translation: Michael SWANTON