March 02, 2011

How it's done

Arpad has been known to formally boast all night.

The Goat Rope Beowulf jag continues. I've been amusing myself lately with something that occurs more than once in that Anglo-Saxon poem, to wit, formal boasting. Click on the last two days for background and how-to.

Before any self-respecting monster slayer gets down to business, he or she should make such a boast in the form of a public announcement in a mead hall (a beer joint may do in a pinch). A good formal boast should have information about the boaster and his family, all the badass stuff he or she as done, and exactly what mayhem he plans on inflicting upon whom.

There is more than one in the poem, but here's a pretty good example from Seamus Heaney's translation. This one comes when Beowulf first arrives in the kingdom of the Spear-Danes and announces his plan to kill the man-eating monster Grendel.

First an intro:

...I am Hygelac's kinsman,
one of his hall-troop. When I was younger,
I had great triumphs.

Then the business:

...Then news of Grendel,
hard to ignore, reached me at home:
sailors brought stories of the plight you suffer
in this legendary hall, how it lies deserted,
empty and useless once the evening light
hides itself under heaven's dome.

Then why he's the man for the job:

So every elder and experienced councilman
among my people supported my resolve
to come her to you, King Hrothgar,
because all knew of my awesome strength.
They had seen me boltered in the blood of enemies
when I battled and bound five bests,
raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea
slaughtered sea-brutes. I have suffered extremes
and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it
upon themselves, I devastated them).

Then the plan:

Now I mean to be a match for Grendel,
settle the outcome in single combat.

And, just to make it interesting, he boast that he will do it unarmed:

...I have hard moreover that the monster scorns
in his reckless way to use weapons;
therefore, to heighten Hygelac's fame
and gladden his heart, I hearby renounce
sword and shelter of the broad shield...
...hand to hand is how it will be, a life-and-death
fight with the fiend. Whichever one death fells
must deem it a just judgement by God.

He seals the deal with a few references to blood and gore but you get the idea. Next time you plan on laying into a monster, make sure you set it up with a good boast like that.

CUTTING INVESTMENTS in the federal budget is a bad idea, according to over 300 economists.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, a number of progressive Christians are asking "What would Jesus cut?"

WISCONSIN. Has a certain governor overplayed his hand?



HOW ABOUT A WALKING CACTUS? Here's an article about a weird ancient animal that once lived in China.


1 comment:

hollowdweller said...

Thank you for the Big Dog Pic.