Humpday Power Quote: Beowulf (Heaney trans.)
So learn from this and understand true values.
I who tell you this have wintered into wisdom.
It is a great wonder how Almighty God in His
magnificence favors our race with rank and scope
and the gift of wisdom. His sway is wide.
Sometimes he allows the mind of a man of distinguished
birth to follow its bent, grants him fulfillment and felicity
on earth and forts to command in his own country.
He permits him to lord it in many lands until the man
in his unthinkingness forgets that it will ever end
for him. He indulges his desires; illness and old age
mean nothing to him, his mind is untroubled by envy
or malice or the thought of enemies with their hate-honed
swords. The whole world conforms to his will, he is kept
from the worst until an element of overweening enters him
and takes hold while the soul’s guard, its sentry, drowses,
grown to distracted. A killer stalks him, an archer who draws
a deadly bow. And then the man is hit in the heart,
the arrow flies beneath his defences, the devious promptings
of the demon start. His old possessions seem paltry to him now.
He covets and resents, dishonours custom and bestows no
gold. And because of good things that the heavenly powers
gave him in the past he ignores the shape of things to come.
Then finally the end arrives when the body he was lent
collapses and falls prey to its death; ancestral passions and
the goods he has hoarded are inherited by another who lets them
go with a liberal hand.
O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. Choose, dear Beowulf,
the better part — eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride.
For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly,
and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low,
or a sudden fire or surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin
from the air or repellant age. Your piercing eye will dim and
darken, and death will arrive, dear warrior, to sweep you away.
— Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation
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