Beowulf

Depths of darkness lie deep in the heart,
Though hale and happy as Heorot it may seem;
A greater foe than Grendel growls dreadfully
Fain to feel the flailing throes.
Like a scop’s song is slashing to him,
Mournful music is his merriment;
Whatever wounds and wails proves wonderful
And Abaddon’s abandon avails him joy.
No steel of sword or spear-point pierces
Through his heavy, horrible hide;
He feeds and flourishes from the futile assaults,
Bloated from the blood of badly schemed sieges.

God has granted a grander warrior,
The Commander of celestial cavalry;
Braver and better is He than even Beowulf,
Heorot’s Heavenly General, leader of the Hosts.
In Grendel’s grip He gladly yielded,
Was slain by his sinister swipe.
He was regally raised to raid in power
And overthrow all the dread Enemy’s force.
The fiend fiercely rages, knowing he’s fallen;
His leaking, wounded limbs now leave proof
That his vaunted victory was vainly claimed
And with Death he is destined to die.

This Better-Beowulf who bested the foe
Is fierce and fiery in the face of any
Who bring blows against His beloved.
He deigns to defend His dearly adopted ones
And lavishes love on them, life without end.
Trains He the hands that hold the sword;
He strengthens their shield-grip to make it sure.
He sweetly shows the saving wounds
And lifts them to look at the limb that’s torn
As promise and payment of entrance to Paradise.
Trust Him, True and Faithful, treading the presses
Of wrath that a wealth of wine to us to serve.

1-23-2015

I’m currently reading Tolkien’s translation and commentary on Beowulf, as well as Douglas Wilson’s new verse rendering. What’s interesting about Wilson’s is that he keeps the alliterative feel of the original Old English. This is my attempt to copy that style.

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