“This grim spirit was called Grendel…”

This weeks poem is a selection from Beowulf, both because I love Beowulf and because yesterday I watched Beowulf & Grendel (you should, too). So, from R. M. Liuzza’s translation for Broadview, here we go:

Then from the moor, in a blanket of mist,
Grendel came stalking — he bore God’s anger;
the evil marauder meant to ensnare
some of human-kind in that high hall.
Under the clouds he came until he clearly knew
he was near the wine-hall, men’s golden house,
finely adorned. It was not the first time
he had sought out the home of Hrothgar,
but never in his life, early or late,
did he find harder luck or hardier hall-thane.
To the hall came that warrior on his journey,
bereft of joys. The door burst open,
fast in its forged bands, when his fingers touched it;
bloody-minded, swollen with rage, he sung open
the hall’s mouth, and immediately afterwards
the fiend strode across the paved floor,
went angrily; in his eyes stood
a light not fair, glowing like fire.
He saw in the hall many a soldier,
a peaceful troop sleeping all together,
a large company of thanes — and he laughed inside;
he meant to divide, before day came,
this loathsome creature, the life of each
man from his body, when there befell him
the hope of a feast. But it was not his fate
to taste any more of the race of mankind
after that night.


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