Tuesday, 27 December 2016

More from Beowulf

Beowulf is the most important Old English poem and perhaps the most significant single survival from the Anglo-Saxon period.

It was with pain that the powerful spirit 
dwelling in darkness endured that time,
hearing daily the hall filled
with loud amusement; there was the music of the harp,
the clear song of the poet, perfect in his telling
of the remote first making of man's race.
He told how, long ago, the Lord formed Earth,
a plain bright to look on, locked in ocean, 
exulting established the sun and the moon
as lights to illumine the land-dwellers
and furnished forth the face of the Earth
with limbs and leaves. Life He then granted 
to each kind of creature that creeps and moves. 

So the company of men led a careless life, 
all was well with them; until One began
to encompass evil, an enemy from hell. 
Grendel they called this cruel spirit, 
the fell and fen his vastness was, 
the march his haunt. This unhappy being 
had long lived in the land of monsters
since the Creator cast them out
as kindred of Cain. For that killing of Abel 
the eternal Lord took vengeance. 
There was no joy of that feud; far from mankind 
God drove him out for his deed of shame!
From Cain came down all kinds misbegotten
- ogres and elves and evil shades -
and also the Giants, who joined in the long 
wars with God. He gave them their reward. 


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