Shot through with violence and limned with dire prophecies, Beowulf is nevertheless bracing in its unshakable grasp of fundamental realities. The poem confronts horror and catastrophe directly, taking in whole epochs and discerning the most basic patterns of human existence: ineluctable rhythms of rise and fall, flourishing and decay, energy and entropy. Laden with words as serviceable as helmet and mail and launched, like the packed funeral boat of Shield Sheafson, founder of the Spear-Danes, “on out into the ocean’s sway,” the poem would be a boon to a people looking to gird itself for long battle under lowering skies. Like any book, it can be salvaged only by the readers it finds. Yet who, today, could refuse this providential cargo, which survives, against all odds, in a single fire-damaged codex?
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor