A snippet from my take on Beowulf


Fiercest foe, product of envy, a gut-fire flared
at the sight of treasures it sought but could never secure.
Music, wealth, gilt halls were agony
to the scaled creature, Cain’s child,
which lopped from its home in the mire of the mine.

The iron-latticed doors were nothing to Grendel.
Gold-edged copper hinges bent beneath claws.
In shadowy silence, he entered the court-hall,
the satchel of immutable dragon-hide flapped empty,
hungry for meat, beside his long thigh.

In the darkness his heart sought Hrothgar,
like calling like, as Cain called Abel to the kill-stone.

His terrible claw closed around a Geat’s tough side,
clamped down hard, splintering the bone-cage
of a mail-clad man who perished without a lone escaping cry.

Beowulf’s eyes were sharp in the darkness.
He sprung awake at the sound of splintering as shards
and gobbets gorged the throbbing throat of Grendel,
sinking flesh to the gullet that never felt fed.

The greatest of men slunk to the slick side
of the gibbering monster.
The strongest of Geats, mother-naked,
gripped the ravening claw with hands that were tough,
but terribly human.

He caught the claw in an armlock, drawing it back
so that the bones cracked, his thighs tight round the waist
of the thrashing tyrant that shuddered and thrust
around the hall against the hard hold of the man.

Locked together in struggle so great
that the mead-benches broke free from the floor,
scattering lamps, food scraps, lovely wrought platters
and the spent carpet of rushes flit their filth to the air.

Cain’s son, the shadow of Hrothgar,
shunted his own breaking body into the wall
in an effort to slake his enemies endless
thirst for combat or at the least leave the brains
of the Geat smeared on the oak beams,
scattering skull shards
at the talons that tipped his horned feet.
A fatty feast to fill his bowels.

But Beowulf held on, and his armed men were up now,
seeking to prod the pale bestial belly
with the etched blades of their swords,
spilling guts everywhere.

They could not strike clearly without risking their captain,
but their distraction served long enough
for the undaunted noble to strengthen his hold.

Beowulf sunk his bright beard between
the beasts broad shoulders, straining,
he focused his strength so that the room was filled
with a terrible shrieking, the sound of torn muscles
and air meeting the bright knob
which once fit into its matched socket of bone.

Blood shower, bone flecks, the red meat of the shoulder,
rained down on the man who clutched detached claw in his arms.
The Great Geat held his trophy up
as his triumph rang around the hall,
it was the treasure he was seeking.

Pouring blood, gore-socket weeping his life
into the dog-licked rushes, Grendel slunk out,
reeling, to die in his hole.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope is an award winning author of the LBA, and a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Awards. Her work was listed for the Cinnamon Press Novel Competition. She received her PhD from Aberystwyth University’s Creative Writing program. Her first poetry collection, A Radiance was published by Cultured Llama Press in June. Her second collection, Persephone in the Underworld has been accepted by Rufus Books and shall be released in 2016. Her work has appeared in: Anon, Art Times, Ampersand, Blue Tattoo, Sentinel Quarterly, The Delinquent, De/Tached (an anthology released by Parthian), The Writer’s Hub, New Welsh Review, Every Day Poems, And Other Poems, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Magma, Words & Music, The Quarterly Conversation, Tears in the Fence, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Planet. Her work is due to appear in the next issues of Poetry Review Salzburg, Acumen, Pacific Poetry , Music& Literature, Anon, and The Screech Owl.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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