Grendel's Approach to Heorot (702b-745a)

Seamus Heaney's Translation Grendel's Approach; the Fight with Beowulf - lines 688-789 (audio)

                                        Then out of the night
came the shadow-stalker,   stealthy and swift;
the hall-guards were slack,   asleep at their posts,
all except one;   it was widely understood
that as long    as God disallowed it,
the fiend could not bear them   to his shadow-bourne.
One man, however,   was in fighting mood,
awake and on edge,   spoiling for action.

In off the moors,   down through the mist bands
God-cursed Grendel   came greedily loping.
The bane of the race of men   roamed forth,
hunting for a prey   in the high hall.
Under the cloud-murk   he moved towards it
until it shone above him,   a sheer keep
of fortified gold.

                                     Nor was that the first time
he had scouted the grounds   of Hrothgar's dwelling--
although never in his life,   before or since,
did he find harder fortune   or hall-defenders.
Spurned and joyless,   he journeyed on ahead
and arrived at the bawn.

                                The iron-braced door
turned on its hinge    when his hands touched it.
Then his rage boiled over,   he ripped open
the mouth of the building,   maddening for blood,
pacing the length   of the patterned floor
with his loathsome tread,   while a baleful light,
flame more than light,   flared from his eyes.

He saw many men   in the mansion, sleeping,
a ranked company   of kinsmen and warriors
quartered together.   And his glee was demonic,
picturing the mayhem:   before morning
he would rip life from limb   and devour them,
feed on their flesh;   but his fate that night
was due to change,   his days of ravening
had come to an end.

                                     Mighty and canny,
Hygelac's kinsman   was keenly watching
for the first move   the monster would make.
Nor did the creature   keep him waiting
but struck suddenly   and started in;
he grabbed and mauled   a man on his bench,
bit into his bone-lappings,   bolted down his blood
and gorged on him in lumps,   leaving the body
utterly lifeless,   eaten up
hand and foot.