Follow this link to view the complete Old English text of Beowulf

180px-Beowulf.firstpage.jpgFirst page of the original Beowulf manuscript

The following is a small section of the text from the begining of the poem shown side by side with Gummere's English translation.
Old English
Modern English
HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,

þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,

hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!

oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,

monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,

egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð

feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,

weox under wolcnum weorðmyndum þah,

oð þæt him æghwylc ymbsittendra

ofer hronrade hyran scolde,

gomban gyldan; þæt wæs god cyning!

Ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned

geong in geardum, þone God sende

folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat,

þe hie ær drugon aldorlease

lange hwile; him þæs Liffrea,

wuldres Wealdend woroldare forgeaf,

Beowulf wæs breme --- blæd wide sprang---

Scyldes eafera Scedelandum in.

Swa sceal geong guma gode gewyrcean,

fromum feohgiftumon fæder bearme,

þæt hine on ylde eft gewunigen

wilgesiþas, þonne wig cume,

leode gelæsten; lofdædum sceal

in mægþa gehwære man geþeon.
LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings

of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,

we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!

Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,

from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,

awing the earls. Since erst he lay

friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:

for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,

till before him the folk, both far and near,

who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,

gave him gifts: a good king he!

To him an heir was afterward born,

a son in his halls, whom heaven sent

to favor the folk, feeling their woe

that erst they had lacked an earl for leader

so long a while; the Lord endowed him,

the Wielder of Wonder, with world's renown.

Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him,

son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.

So becomes it a youth to quit him well

with his father's friends, by fee and gift,

that to aid him, aged, in after days,

come warriors willing, should war draw nigh,

liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds

shall an earl have honor in every clan.