LINES 194 – 319 : Beowulf comes to Denmark
In Geatland King Hygelac sits on the throne, and one of his Thanes, Beowulf,
hears of the plight of King Hrothgar of the Danes.
Beowulf decides to cross the sea to help Hrothgar and he selects fifteen men
to accompany him. When he arrives at the Danish harbor, he is met by guards who can see immediately that Beowulf is of noble bearing, and they allow him to pass.
He tells the guards that he is here to help the Danish people get rid of the terrible monster. A guard tells Beowulf that he will take care of his ship and hopes that God will keep him safe on his expedition.
Some of the author’s finest poetry describes Beowulf’s sea voyage as follows:-
“He bade a seaworthy wave-cutter be fitted out for him;
he would seek, he said, over swan’s riding
that Lord of great name, leading men''
time running on, she rode the waves now,
hard in by headland. Harnessed warriors
stepped on her stem; setting tide churned
sea with sand, soldiers carried
bright mail-coats to the mast’s foot,
war-gear well-wrought; willingly they shoved her out,
thorough-braced craft, on the craved voyage.
Away she went over a wavy ocean,
boat like a bird, breaking sees,
till the curved prow had ploughed so far.”
This lyrical passage provides a clear picture in the reader’s mind regarding
the type of voyage in these narrow, open boats. After all these centuries, we can still get a feeling for what life was like on the seas in this area.
The reader will also note the long passages of spoken dialogue between the
guard and Beowulf. This is typical of epic poetry, and provides the audience with a clear picture regarding the character of Beowulf, and also provides easy understanding of the plot.
We already have a feeling that Beowulf is on a religious campaign.
He epitomizes good and he has come to conquer evil.
You also have to realize that Beowulf has many motives for carrying out this
task. He clearly has all the physical attributes to be successful. He is described as a mighty warrior with a crushing grip, and he resolves to grapple with the ogre and crush it, rather than kill it
with his sword. Beowulf also hopes to gain glory from this campaign and no doubt, a reward as well. Finally, he hopes to enhance his reputation both in Denmark, and back home in Geatland.