The Beowulf poem
tells us lots of things about Anglo-Saxon
England. The poet described:
the haven rocked a well equipped vessel,
ice-streaked, outward bound, a prince’s barge.
There they laid down their beloved lord
on the breast of the boat, the giver of gold rings,
by the mast, the mighty one.
Many a treasure fetched from afar
was transported with him.
No ship have I known so nobly equipped
with weapons of war and clothing for battle,
with breastplate and blade.
On his chest lay heaped a hoard that will go
far over the flood with him floating away…
High over head they hoist his standard,
a gold-woven banner, let the sea take him
and give him to the ocean.”
dressed him Beowulf in military chain mail…
His breastplate broad and bright of colours, woven by hand…
well could it guard the warrior's body
that battle should break on his breast in vain
nor harm his heart by the hand of a foe.
And the helmet white that his head it protected
… it was wrapped in lordly chains, decorated with gold,
as in days of yore the weapon-smith wrought it most wondrously,
beset with boar sculptures,
so that swords brandished in battle
in no way could bite into it.”
sword, hard bound, hammer beaten,
and blood stained, through boar of the helmet crest,
with keen blade violently sheareth."
was ordered that eight of the horses
with cheek-plates adorned be led down the aisle within the walls.
On one sat a saddle all craft-decorated, all shining and set with
It was the battle-seat of the best of kings.”
came into his mind
to bid his men a hall to build up,
a master mead-hall, mightier than the children of ages
had ever heard tell of…
No reckless promise maker,
he gave out rings, treasure at the banquet.
There towered the hall, high and gabled wide.
Hot surges it hid of furious flame…
…the din of revelry, high in the hall.
There, harps rang out, clear song of the singer."
Heorot came she,
where helmeted Danes slept in the great hall….
Therewith in the hall were laid out hard blades,
the swords on the benches,
and wide shields a-many held firm in the hand…
Not was Beowulf there. Another house had been set apart,
after the giving of gold, for the Geat renowned…
To his [Hrothgar’s] bower full swiftly was Beowulf brought now."
time to time, the battle experienced men,
their grey horses set to gallop violently,
and ran a race when the road seemed good enough.
From time to time, a thane of the king,
who had made many boasts, and remembered verses,
stored with sagas and songs of old,
bound words together in well-knit rhyme,
forged his poem."