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Archive for August, 2014

Grendel is introduced without much ado, just an accumulation of negatives – darkness, impatient, endure – followed by a contrast with the bright Hall of Hrothgar, the music of the bard.

Ða se ellengæst         earfoðlice
þrage geþolode,         se þe in þystrum bad,
þæt he dogora gehwam         dream gehyrde
hludne in healle;         þær wæs hearpan sweg,
90
swutol sang scopes.

Ða se ellengæst  

Then a strong/powerful monster.  Ellengaest is compound word.  Ellen = strength, gast = spirit.  It’s similar to giest (guest) and is tempting to see it as a race memory of a time when a guest (or strangers) could be a mysterious threat.

                                                   earfoðlice
þrage geþolode,         se þe in þystrum bad,

                                                  Impatiently

[a] time endured, he that in darkness dwelt,

þæt he dogora gehwam         dream gehyrde
hludne in healle;

That he [on] days each rejoicing heard (That he heard on each day rejoicing)

Loud in [the] hall;

                                 þær wæs hearpan sweg,
90
swutol sang scopes.

                                There was [the] harp sound,

[and] Sweet song [of the] bard.

It’s interesting to wonder what Grendel’s state of mind was before he heard the sweet sound of he harp.  He dwelt in darkness, it seems, but was he enduring a time impatiently before that? 

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