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Beowulf : Popular Penguins : Popular Penguins - Michael Alexander

Beowulf : Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins

Paperback Published: 28th June 2010
ISBN: 9780141194875
Number Of Pages: 116

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Beowulf tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and of his battles, first with the monster Grendel, then with Grendel's avenging mother, and finally with a dragon that threatens to devastate his homeland. Through its blend of myth and history, Beowulf vividly evokes a twilight world in which men and supernatural forces live side by side.

Author Biography

Michael Alexander recently retired from the chair of English Literature at the University of St Andrews. For Penguin he has translated, The Earliest English Poems, The Canterbury Tales: The First Fragment, as well as a prose translation of Beowulf. His verse translations of The Earliest English Poems and Beowulf have sold over half a million copies in Penguin, for whom he has also edited Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales: The First Fragment.


We have heard of the thriving of the throne of

Denmark, how the folk-kings flourished in former days, how those royal athelings earned that glory.

Was it not Scyld Shefing that shook the halls, took mead-benches, taught encroaching foes to fear him – who, found in childhood, lacked clothing? Yet he lived and prospered, grew in strength and stature under the heavens until the clans settled in the sea-coasts neighbouring over the whale-road all must obey him and give tribute. He was a good king!

A boy child was afterwards born to Scyld, a young child in hall-yard, a hope for the people, sent them by God; the griefs long endured were not unknown to Him, the harshness of years without a lord. Therefore the life-bestowing Wielder of Glory granted them this blessing. Through the northern lands the name of Beow, the son of Scyld, sprang widely. For in youth an atheling should so use his virtue, give with a free hand while in his father's house, that in old age, when enemies gather, established friends shall stand by him and serve him gladly. It is by glorious action that a man comes by honour in any people.

At the hour shaped for him Scyld departed, the hero crossed into the keeping of his Lord. They carried him out to the edge of the sea, his sworn arms-fellows, as he had himself desired them while he wielded his words, Warden of the Scyldings, beloved folk-founder; long had he ruled.

A boat with a ringed neck rode in the haven, icy, out-eager, the atheling's vessel, and there they laid out their lord and master, dealer of wound gold, in the waist of the ship, in majesty by the mast. A mound of treasures from far countries was fetched aboard her, and it is said that no boat was ever more bravely fitted out with the weapons of a warrior, war accoutrement, swords and body-armour; on his breast were set treasures and trappings to travel with him on his far faring into the flood's sway.

This hoard was not less great than the gifts he had had from those who at the outset had adventured him over seas, alone, a small child.

High over head they hoisted and fixed a gold signum; gave him to the flood, let the seas take him, with sour hearts and mourning mood. Men under heaven's shifting skies, though skilled in counsel, cannot say surely who unshipped that cargo.

Then for a long space there lodged in the stronghold Beowulf the Dane, dear king of his people, famed among nations – his father had taken leave of the land – when late was born to him the lord Healfdene, lifelong the ruler and war-feared patriarch of the proud Scyldings. He next fathered four children that leapt into the world, this leader of armies, Heorogar and Hrothgar and Halga the Good; and Ursula, I have heard, who was Onela's queen, knew the bed's embrace of the Battle-Scylfing.

Then to Hrothgar was granted glory in battle, mastery of the field; so friends and kinsmen gladly obeyed him, and his band increased to a great company. It came into his mind that he would command the construction of a huge mead-hall, a house greater than men on earth ever had heard of, and share the gifts God had bestowed on him upon its floor with folk young and old – apart from public land and the persons of slaves. Far and wide (as I heard) the work was given out in many a tribe over middle earth, the making of the mead-hall. And, as men reckon, the day of readiness dawned very soon for this greatest of houses. Heorot he named it whose word ruled a wide empire. He made good his boast, gave out rings, arm-bands at the banquet. Boldly the hall reared its arched gables; unkindled the torch-flame that turned it to ashes. The time was not yet when the blood-feud should bring out again sword-hatred in sworn kindred.

ISBN: 9780141194875
ISBN-10: 0141194871
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 116
Published: 28th June 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 11.0  x 1.4
Weight (kg): 0.08
Edition Number: 1

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