+0
Hello

Yesterday I read an e-text [url=http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=marshall&book=beowulf&story=_contents&PHPSESSID=6b3a... ]"Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children by H. E. Marshall"[/url]. Here I come across queer uses of 'who'. Two examples are given below. Could someone explain to me these uses of 'who'?

[1] Then wheeling his horse he galloped swiftly away, while the Goths marched onward until they reached the Hart Hall. There, weary of the long way that they had come, they laid down their shields, and leaning their spears against the walls, sat upon the bench before the great door. And as they sat there resting, there came to them a proud warrior. "Whence come ye with these great shields," he asked, "whence with these grey shirts of mail, these jeweled helmets and mighty spears? I am Hrothgar's messenger and servant, I who ask. Never saw I prouder strangers, never more seemly men. I ween it is not from some foe ye flee in fear and trouble. Rather in pride and daring it would seem ye come to visit Hrothgar."

[2] "I have never heard it said that thou, Hunferth, didst make such play of sword, no nor Breca, nor any of you. Ye have not done such deeds. But in sooth I would not boast myself. Yet I say unto thee, Hunferth, that Grendel, the evil monster, had never done so many horrors against thy king, that he had never brought such shame upon this fair Hall, hadst thou been so battle-fierce as thou vauntest that thou art. Yea, he hath seen that he hath no need to fear the boasted courage of the Dane folk. So he warreth, and slayeth, and feasteth as he pleaseth. He looketh not for battle at the hands of the Danes. But I, a Goth, shall offer him war, war fierce and long. And after that, he who will may go proudly to Hart Hall."
paco
1 2
Comments  
Hi Paco! In your first example, it means "I (the person who is asking you all these questions) am Hrothgars's messenger and servant."

In the second paragraph, "he who will" means "whoever wants to."

Does this help?
Paco,
I don't see either of these as departures from the usual use of the relative pronoun "who", although a relative clause after "I" is certainly poetic, as is the use of "will" (meaning "want") as a main verb.
Jim
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Hello Khoff and CJ

Thank you for the answers, but frankly I feel I am still in mist.

As for #1, the meaning of the sentence would be 'I am Hrothgar's messenger and servant, and therefore I ask you', but I still didn't get why 'who' is inserted in the phrase 'I who ask'. As for #2, I can't agree to the interpretation that 'he who will' is 'whoever wants', because as far as I understand this 'he' must be Grendel. This 'he who will may go' should be semantically like 'Grendel, if he will, may go'. It's my humble opinion and probably I am wrong.
paco
Hello, Paco!

Here's my (very humble too) opinion on that matter: I also understand "he, who will, ..." as "the one who will...", hence " whoever wants to ...".
Hello Pieanne

<quote>Yea, he (=Grendel) hath seen that he(=Grendel) hath no need to fear the boasted courage of the Dane folk. So he(=Grendel) warreth, and slayeth, and feasteth as he(=Grendel) pleaseth. He(=Grendel) looketh not for battle at the hands of the Danes. But I, a Goth, shall offer him (=Grendel) war, war fierce and long. And after that, he who will may go proudly to Hart Hall.</quote>

All 'he's and 'him's in precedent sentences refer to Grendel. So why can one interpret only the 'he' in 'he who will may' does not refer to Grendel?

paco
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Yes, of course, now that I re-read the text and your comments, that's possible! Emotion: smile
Paco,

I see now that your question was a little broader than I thought at first. In view of that, I offer the following paraphrases, even though I feel no certainty in the second example that I have paraphrased correctly.

"Whence come ye with these great shields," he asked, "whence with these grey shirts of mail, these jeweled helmets and mighty spears? I am Hrothgar's messenger and servant, I who ask.

“Who in the world are you people with your armor, helmets, and spears and where do you come from?” he asked. [By way of explanation of his daring to approach and ask, he added, ] “I who am asking these questions am Hrothgar’s messenger and servant.” [or, “The one you see standing before you asking these questions is Hrothgar’s messenger and servant.”] [or “I am Hrothgar’s messenger and servant, in case you want to know who is asking.”]

He looketh not for battle at the hands of the Danes. But I, a Goth, shall offer him war, war fierce and long. And after that, he who will may go proudly to Hart Hall."

Grendel does not intend to provoke battle with the Danes, but I am not a Dane, but a Goth, and I will wage a fierce and long war upon him. And after that war, whoever wins (whether Grendel or I) will have earned the right to go proudly to Hart Hall. [May the best man win.]

CJ
Hello CJ

Thank you a lot for the kind answer. But I'm sorry to say I still can't understand the author's uses of the relatives. I can understand the round senses of those sentences. What I am asking is whether you English speakers really use 'I who ask' as an additional isolated phrase even in poems. I googled the phrase and got some 800 hits for 'I who ask' but almost all of them are used in 'It is I who ask' and no hit for the isolated use of 'I who ask'. Furthermore what puzzles me is that this phrase does not exist either in the original text of Beowulf or in any translations. So I'm wondering for what purpose the author put the phrase in her version for children.

The phrase "he who will may proudly go to the Hart Hall" is also a bit away from the original text. Probably this phrase corresponds to the second sentence of "Ac ic him Geata sceal eafoð ond ellen ungeara nu guðe gebeodan [But I shall offer to him a Goth's power and courage not-long-from now in fight]. Gaeð eft, se ðe mot to medo modig siððan morgenleoht [Goes after, he who may(=is allowed) to mead (=honey wine, i.e., the Hart Hall) bravely after the morn light]". However, there is no word corresponding to "will" in the original. The author of the child version uses pseudoclassic styles but maybe her translation is not accurate. And, I think, it would be the cause I cannot attain to full understanding of her uses of the relatives. Anyway, I'll close this thread with this post. I'd like to say to you 'thank you' again.
paco
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more