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Where do MONSTERS lurk?


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Hrothgar (ROTH gar), king of the Danes, has built a wonderful hall
called Herot, where his subjects gather and celebrate. As this selection
opens, a fierce monster named Grendel invades the hall, bringing
death and destruction.

'2%.$%,
A powerful monster, living down
In the darkness, growled in pain, impatient
As day after day the music rang
Loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing
 Call and the poet’s clear songs, sung
Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling
The Almighty making the earth, shaping

ß %,, !$!04%$ ).4%2!#4)6% 2%!$%2


-ONITORß9OURß#OMPREHENSION

These beautiful plains marked off by oceans,


Then proudly setting the sun and moon
 To glow across the land and light it;
The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees
And leaves, made quick with life, with each
Of the nations who now move on its face. And then
As now warriors sang of their pleasure:
 So Hrothgar’s men lived happy in his hall
Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend,
Grendel, who haunted the moors,1 the wild
Marshes, and made his home in a hell
Not hell but earth. He was spawned2 in that slime,
 Conceived by a pair of those monsters born
Of Cain,3 murderous creatures banished
By God, punished forever for the crime
Of Abel’s death. The Almighty drove
Those demons out, and their exile was bitter,
 Shut away from men; they split
Into a thousand forms of evil—spirits
And fiends, goblins, monsters, giants,
ß ß
A %0)#
A brood forever opposing the Lord’s
2EREADßLINES߯ß#IRCLEßTHEß
Will, and again and again defeated. A KINDSßOFßCREATURESßTHATßAREß
LISTEDß5NDERLINEßWHATßHAPPENSß
TOßTHESEßCREATURESßWHENßTHEYß
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SINGINGßOFßHOWßTHEßWORLDßBEGANß4HEßMUSICßDISTURBSß'RENDEL ßAß UNIVERSALßTHEME ßORßIDEA ßCANßYOUß
MONSTERßWHOSEßANCESTORSßWEREßMURDERERS CONCLUDEßABOUTßEVILßBASEDßONß
WHATßHAPPENSßTOßTHEßCREATURESß

 Then, when darkness had dropped, Grendel


Went up to Herot, wondering what the warriors
Would do in that hall when their drinking was done.
He found them sprawled in sleep, suspecting
Nothing, their dreams undisturbed. The monster’s
 Thoughts were as quick as his greed or his claws:
He slipped through the door and there in the silence

ß ß MOORSßMOORZ ßBROAD ßSWAMPYßAREAS


ß ß SPAWNEDßBORN
ß ß #AINßTHEßELDESTßSONßOFß!DAMßANDß%VEß!CCORDINGßTOßTHEß"IBLE ßHEßMURDEREDßHISß
YOUNGERßBROTHERß!BEL

"%/75,& 
-ONITORß9OUR #OMPREHENSION

Snatched up thirty men, smashed them


Unknowing in their beds and ran out with their bodies,
6/#!"5,!29 The blood dripping behind him, back
4HEßWORDßLAIRßISßAßNOUNßTHATß  To his lair, delighted with his night’s slaughter.
MEANSßTHEßRESTINGßPLACEßOFßAßWILDß At daybreak, with the sun’s first light, they saw
ANIMALß
How well he had worked, and in that gray morning
Broke their long feast with tears and laments
For the dead. Hrothgar, their lord, sat joyless
 In Herot, a mighty prince mourning
The fate of his lost friends and companions,
Knowing by its tracks that some demon had torn
His followers apart. He wept, fearing
The beginning might not be the end. And that night
 Grendel came again, so set
On murder that no crime could ever be enough,
No savage assault quench his lust
For evil. Then each warrior tried
To escape him, searched for rest in different
 Beds, as far from Herot as they could find,
Seeing how Grendel hunted when they slept.
Distance was safety; the only survivors
Bß ß %0)# Were those who fled him. Hate had triumphed. Bß
2EREADßLINES߯ß-ARKß
BRACKETSß;ß=ßAROUNDßWORDSßTHATß
REVEALßTHEßFEELINGSßOFß(ROTHGARß ).ß/4(%2ß7/2$3ß 'RENDELßATTACKSß(EROTßATßNIGHTßANDßKILLSßTHIRTYß
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THESEßWORDSßCREATEß%XPLAIN CONTINUESßTOßATTACKßEACHßNIGHTß4HEßONLYßWARRIORSßWHOßSURVIVEßTHEß
ATTACKSßAREßTHEßONESßWHOßLEAVEß(EROT

So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous,


 One against many, and won; so Herot
Stood empty, and stayed deserted for years,
Twelve winters of grief for Hrothgar, king
Of the Danes, sorrow heaped at his door
By hell-forged hands. His misery leaped
 The seas, was told and sung in all

ß %,, !$!04%$ ).4%2!#4)6% 2%!$%2


-ONITORß9OURß#OMPREHENSION

Men’s ears: how Grendel’s hatred began,


How the monster relished his savage war
On the Danes, keeping the bloody feud
Alive, seeking no peace, offering
 No truce, accepting no settlement, no price
In gold or land, and paying the living
For one crime only with another. No one
Waited for reparation4 from his plundering claws:
That shadow of death hunted in the darkness,
 Stalked Hrothgar’s warriors, old
And young, lying in waiting, hidden
In mist, invisibly following them from the edge
Of the marsh, always there, unseen. Cß Cß ß /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429
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CANßTAKEßTHEßPLACEßOFßAßNAMEß
'RENDELßKILLSßANYßWARRIORßWHOßSTANDSßAGAINSTßHIMß'RENDELßCONTINUESß 2EREADßLINES߯ßANDßCIRCLEß
HISßWARßAGAINSTß(ROTHGAR´SßMENßANDßWILLßNOTßACCEPTßANYßPEACEßOFFERINGSß THEßKENNINGßFORß'RENDEL´SßNAMEß
TOßSTOPßTHEßKILLINGß4HEßTALEßOFß'RENDEL´SßTERRIBLEßCRIMESßSPREADSßTOßOTHERß 7HATßISß'RENDELßCOMPAREDßTOßINß
LANDS THISßKENNING

ß
So mankind’s enemy continued his crimes,
 Killing as often as he could, coming ß
Alone, bloodthirsty and horrible. Though he lived
In Herot, when the night hid him, he never
Dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious
Throne, protected by God—God,
 Whose love Grendel could not know. But Hrothgar’s
Heart was bent. The best and most noble
Of his council debated remedies, sat
In secret sessions, talking of terror
And wondering what the bravest of warriors could do.
 And sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone gods,
Made heathen vows, hoping for Hell’s
Support, the Devil’s guidance in driving 6/#!"5,!29
Their affliction off. That was their way, 4HEßWORDßAFFLICTIONßUHß&,)+ß
SHUHN ßISßAßNOUNßTHATßMEANSßAß
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GENERALLYßEXPECTEDßTOßMAKEßAßPAYMENTßTOßTHEßVICTIM´SßFAMILYßASßAßWAYßOFß
RESTORINGßPEACE

"%/75,& 
-ONITORß9OUR #OMPREHENSION

And the heathen’s5 only hope, Hell


 Always in their hearts, knowing neither God
Nor His passing as He walks through our world, the Lord
Of Heaven and earth; their ears could not hear
His praise nor know His glory. Let them
Beware, those who are thrust into danger,
 Clutched at by trouble, yet can carry no solace
In their hearts, cannot hope to be better! Hail
To those who will rise to God, drop off
Their dead bodies and seek our Father’s peace!
#ONTRASTßLIFEßATß(EROTßBEFOREßANDß
AFTERß'RENDEL´SßNIGHTLYßATTACKSß
BEGINß(OWßMIGHTßTHEß$ANESß
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WITHßAßPARTNERß

Beowulf hears of how Grendel attacks the Danes. Beowulf and his
men sail to the land of the Danes to offer help to Hrothgar. They are
taken by a Danish guard to Herot, where Wulfgar, one of Hrothgar’s
soldiers, tells the king of their arrival. Hrothgar knows Beowulf and
welcomes the prince and his men. Beowulf tells of his deeds and offers
his help to Hrothgar. He says he will fight Grendel using his hands
ß ß
D /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429
alone because Grendel needs no weapons. Hrothgar accepts Beowulf ’s
2EREADßLINES߯ß#IRCLEßEACHß
COMMAßINßTHEßMIDDLEßOFßAßLINEß offer and holds a feast in his honor. After the banquet, Hrothgar and
7HATßEFFECTßDOßTHESEßCAESURAS his followers leave Herot, and Beowulf and his warriors remain to
ORßMIDLINEßPAUSES ßHAVEßONßTHEß
PACEßOFßYOURßREADINGßASß'RENDELß
spend the night. Beowulf restates his intent to fight Grendel without a
APPROACHESß(EROT sword and, while his followers sleep, lies waiting, eager for Grendel to
appear.

4(%ß"!44,%ß7)4(ß'2%.$%,
Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty
 Hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred,
Grendel came, hoping to kill
Anyone he could trap on this trip to high Herot. D
ß

ß ß HEATHENß(%%ßTHUHN ßPAGANßNON #HRISTIANß4HOUGHßTHEß"EOWULFß0OETßWASßAß


#HRISTIAN ßHEßKNEWßTHATßTHEßCHARACTERSßINßTHEßPOEMßLIVEDßBEFOREßTHEß'ERMANICß
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STONEßGODS²

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-ONITORß9OURß#OMPREHENSION

He moved quickly through the cloudy night,


Up from his swampland, sliding silently
 Toward that gold-shining hall. He had visited Hrothgar’s
Home before, knew the way—
But never, before nor after that night,
Found Herot defended so firmly, his reception
So harsh. He journeyed, forever joyless,
 Straight to the door, then snapped it open,
Tore its iron fasteners with a touch
And rushed angrily over the threshold.6
He strode quickly across the inlaid
Floor, snarling and fierce: his eyes
 Gleamed in the darkness, burned with a gruesome
Light. Then he stopped, seeing the hall
Crowded with sleeping warriors, stuffed
With rows of young soldiers resting together.
And his heart laughed, he relished the sight,
 Intended to tear the life from those bodies
By morning; the monster’s mind was hot
With the thought of food and the feasting his belly
Would soon know. But fate, that night, intended
Grendel to gnaw the broken bones
 Of his last human supper. Human
Eyes were watching his evil steps,
Waiting to see his swift hard claws. Eß Eß ß /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429
Grendel snatched at the first Geat #OMPLETEßTHEßCHARTßBELOWß
BYßRECORDINGßTWOßEXAMPLESß
He came to, ripped him apart, cut OFßALLITERATIONßYOUßFINDßINß
 His body to bits with powerful jaws, LINES߯ß
Drank the blood from his veins and bolted !LLITERATION
Him down, hands and feet; death
And Grendel’s great teeth came together, 1.
Snapping life shut. Then he stepped to another
 Still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws,
Grasped at a strong-hearted wakeful sleeper 2.

ß ß THRESHOLDßTHEßSTRIPßOFßWOODßORßSTONEßATßTHEßBOTTOMßOFßAßDOORWAY

"%/75,& 
-ONITORß9OUR #OMPREHENSION

—And was instantly seized himself, claws


Bent back as Beowulf leaned up on one arm.

).ß/4(%2ß7/2$3ß 'RENDELßCOMESßUPßFROMßHISßSWAMPßATßNIGHT ßTHIRSTYß


FORßHUMANßBLOODß2EACHINGß(EROT ßHEßRIPSßTHEßDOORßFROMßITSßHINGESßANDß
ENTERSßTHEßHALL ßWHICHßISßFILLEDßWITHß"EOWULF´SßMENß'RENDELßGRABSßTHEß
FIRSTßSOLDIERßHEßSEESßANDßGOBBLESßHIMßDOWNß4HEN ßTHEßMONSTER´SßCLAWSß
REACHßOUTßFORßANOTHERßWARRIOR°BUTßTHISßWARRIORßISß"EOWULF ßANDßHEßISß
READYßFORß'RENDEL´SßATTACK

That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime,


 Knew at once that nowhere on earth
Had he met a man whose hands were harder;
6/#!"5,!29 His mind was flooded with fear—but nothing
4HEßWORDßTALONß4!,ßUHN ßISßAß Could take his talons and himself from that tight
NOUNßTHATßMEANSßAßCLAWß
Hard grip. Grendel’s one thought was to run
 From Beowulf, flee back to his marsh and hide there:
This was a different Herot than the hall he had emptied.
But Higlac’s7 follower remembered his final
Boast and, standing erect, stopped
The monster’s flight, fastened those claws
6/#!"5,!29  In his fists till they cracked, clutched Grendel
4HEßWORDßINFAMOUSß).ßFUHß Closer. The infamous killer fought
MUHS ßISßANßADJECTIVEßTHATßMEANSß
For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat,
HAVINGßAßVERYßBADßREPUTATIONß
Desiring nothing but escape; his claws
Had been caught, he was trapped. That trip to Herot
Fß ß /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429  Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster!
2EREADßLINES߯ß5NDERLINEß The high hall rang, its roof boards swayed,
THEßALLITERATIONßTHATßISßCREATEDß
USINGßHARDßBßSOUNDSß(OWßDOESß
And Danes shook with terror. Down
THEßALLITERATIONßOFßTHEßBßSOUNDSß The aisles the battle swept, angry
RELATEßTOßTHEßBATTLE And wild. Herot trembled, wonderfully
 Built to withstand the blows, the struggling
Great bodies beating at its beautiful walls; Fß
Shaped and fastened with iron, inside
And out, artfully worked, the building

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Stood firm. Its benches rattled, fell


 To the floor, gold-covered boards grating
As Grendel and Beowulf battled across them.
Hrothgar’s wise men had fashioned Herot
To stand forever; only fire,
They had planned, could shatter what such skill had put
 Together, swallow in hot flames such splendor
Of ivory and iron and wood. Suddenly
The sounds changed, the Danes started
In new terror, cowering in their beds as the terrible
Screams of the Almighty’s enemy sang
 In the darkness, the horrible shrieks of pain
And defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel’s
Taut throat, hell’s captive caught in the arms
Of him who of all the men on earth
Was the strongest.

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ANDßTHEßMONSTERßISßTERRIFIEDß'RENDELßHADßEXPECTEDßANßEASYßMEALß.OW ß
ALLßHEßWANTSßTOßDOßISßRUNßAWAYßANDßHIDEß"EOWULFßHASßSWORNßTOßKILLß
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STRUGGLEßSHAKESßTHEßSTRONGßWALLSßOFß(EROTß"EOWULF´SßMENßTREMBLEßWITHß
FEARß4HEN ßAßHORRIBLEßSCREAMßRIPSßTHROUGHßTHEßNIGHTß)TßISß'RENDEL

That mighty protector of men


 Meant to hold the monster till its life
Leaped out, knowing the fiend was no use
To anyone in Denmark. G All of Beowulf’s Gß /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429ß
Band had jumped from their beds, ancestral 2EREADßLINES߯ß-ARKß
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Swords raised and ready, determined KENNINGS ßMETAPHORICALßPHRASESß
 To protect their prince if they could. Their courage THATßCANßTAKEßTHEßPLACEßOFßNAMES ß
THATßAREßUSEDßFORß'RENDELß
Was great but all wasted: they could hack at Grendel 4HENßCIRCLEßONEßTHATßISßUSEDßFORß
From every side, trying to open "EOWULF
A path for his evil soul, but their points
Could not hurt him, the sharpest and hardest iron

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 Could not scratch at his skin, for that sin-stained demon
Had bewitched all men’s weapons, laid spells
That blunted every mortal man’s blade.
And yet his time had come, his days
Were over, his death near; down
 To hell he would go, swept groaning and helpless
To the waiting hands of still worse fiends.
Now he discovered—once the afflictor
Of men, tormentor of their days—what it meant
To feud with Almighty God: Grendel
 Saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws
Bound fast, Higlac’s brave follower tearing at
His hands. The monster’s hatred rose higher,
But his power had gone. He twisted in pain,
And the bleeding sinews8 deep in his shoulder
 Snapped, muscle and bone split
And broke. The battle was over, Beowulf
Had been granted new glory: Grendel escaped,
But wounded as he was could flee to his den,
His miserable hole at the bottom of the marsh,
 Only to die, to wait for the end
Of all his days. And after that bloody
Hß %0)#ß Combat the Danes laughed with delight. Hß
2EREADßLINES߯ß5NDERLINEß He who had come to them from across the sea,
WORDSßTHATßDESCRIBEß'RENDEL´Sß
DEFEATß#IRCLEßWORDSßTHATßTELLßYOUß Bold and strong-minded, had driven affliction
"EOWULFßISßAßHERO  Off, purged Herot clean. He was happy,
Now, with that night’s fierce work; the Danes
Had been served as he’d boasted he’d serve them; Beowulf,
A prince of the Geats, had killed Grendel,
Ended the grief, the sorrow, the suffering
 Forced on Hrothgar’s helpless people
By a bloodthirsty fiend. No Dane doubted
The victory, for the proof, hanging high
From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s
Arm, claw and shoulder and all.

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 And then, in the morning, crowds surrounded


Herot, warriors coming to that hall
From faraway lands, princes and leaders
Of men hurrying to behold the monster’s
Great staggering tracks. They gaped with no sense
 Of sorrow, felt no regret for his suffering,
Went tracing his bloody footprints, his beaten
And lonely flight, to the edge of the lake
Where he’d dragged his corpselike way, doomed
And already weary of his vanishing life.
 The water was bloody, steaming and boiling Iß ß ,!.'5!'%ß#/!#(
In horrible pounding waves, heat #ONNOTATIONSßAREßTHEßEMOTIONSß
ORßIDEASßBROUGHTßTOßMINDßBYßAß
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Deep in murky darkness his miserable THATßSTIRßNEGATIVEßEMOTIONSß7HYß
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Then old and young rejoiced, turned back CONNOTATIONSß$ISCUSSßYOURßIDEASß
WITHßAßPARTNER
From that happy pilgrimage, mounted their hard-hooved
Horses, high-spirited stallions, and rode them
Slowly toward Herot again, retelling
 Beowulf’s bravery as they jogged along.
And over and over they swore that nowhere J ß %0)#ß
2EREADßLINES߯ß5NDERLINEß
On earth or under the spreading sky
TRAITSßOFß"EOWULF ßANDßBRACKETß;ß=ß
Or between the seas, neither south nor north, TRAITSßOFß(ROTHGARß(OWßWOULDß
Was there a warrior worthier to rule over men. YOUßCOMPAREßTHEßTRAITSßOFßTHEß
TWOßMENß7HYßWOULDßTHEß
 (But no one meant Beowulf’s praise to belittle NARRATORßSAYßTHATßPEOPLEßDIDß
Hrothgar, their kind and gracious king!) Jß NOTßWANTßTHEßKINGßTOßSEEMßLESSß
IMPORTANTßTHANß"EOWULFß$ISCUSSß
And sometimes, when the path ran straight and clear, YOURßIDEASßWITHßAßPARTNER
They would let their horses race, red

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And brown and pale yellow backs streaming


 Down the road. And sometimes a proud old soldier
Who had heard songs of the ancient heroes
And could sing them all through, story after story,
Would weave a net of words for Beowulf’s
Victory, tying the knot of his verses
 Smoothly, swiftly, into place with a poet’s
Quick skill, singing his new song aloud
Kß /,$ß%.',)3(ß0/%429 While he shaped it, and the old songs as well. . . . Kß
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POSITION the Geats.

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