Beowulf & Beyond

Dan Veach


Copyright 2012 by Daniel Veach

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Beowulf: the fight with Grendel

…Then from the moors and the misty crags

Grendel came stalking. God’s wrath was upon him.

The man-eater meant to waylay some warrior

in the high hall. He crept through the clouds

to that place of wine and treasure

sheathed in beaten gold. He knew it well—

it was not the first time

he had sought out Hrothgar’s home.

In a rage, he tore through the iron-bound door,

ripped open the building’s mouth.

Now his tread fell on the decorated floor.

Heart filled with anger, from his eyes there gleamed,

like fire, an unlovely light.

Without delay, the monster seized

on a sleeping man, ripped him open

without resistance, bit through his joints,

drank the blood from his veins, and bolted

his flesh in huge, horrible chunks.

Before long the dead man had disappeared

right down to his hands and feet.

Now the creature began to creep closer,

reaching out with his claw.

Suddenly he clutched

at the stout-hearted warrior

lying still on his bed.

Beowulf sat bolt upright

quickly grabbed hold of the evil thing

and set his weight against its arm.

That master of murder now realized

he had never met, on this middle earth,

the grip of a stronger hand.

A mighty uproar broke out in the mead hall—

the brave Danes listened in wonder to the din

of that furious drinking bout. The building

rang out with the rage of the combatants.

It was a wonder the wine hall could withstand

the two terrible warriors, that the beautiful building

did not crumple and fall to the ground—

but it was held fast, inside and out, by iron bands,

the blacksmith’s cunning craftsmanship.

Now a sound rose higher, sending chills of horror

through every Dane around the wall

who heard that wail—it was the enemy of God

singing a terrible song, that Hell-slave

screaming in his pain.

A great, gaping wound tore his shoulder—

the sinews sprang apart

and the bone-lock burst….