I worry from time to time that future generations may miss out on some of the very greatest parts of our cultural heritage because, as they are perceived as increasingly 'inaccessible', education will be made correspondingly more 'accessible' simply by avoiding those green but rocky roads and shepherding everybody along the broad well-trodden valleys, where are no obstacles to passage save for the treacherous bogs of being insufficiently arsed.
Beowulf is one of the great foundation-stones of English literature. It is also long, difficult, and in an alien language. It is my happy task to repair all these deficiencies without falling into either the Scylla of omitting vital matter, or the Charybdis of introducing extraneous Angelina Jolies. (Actually I may have the proverbial hazards the wrong way round in this metaphor, but let that pass!) To the best of my knowledge and belief, I have succeeded.
Ladies, gentlemen, and sturdy technopeasants with your stout cudgels proudly upraised, hear my song!
THE ESSENTIAL BEOWULF
The king who ruled the Spear-Danes
Once built a famous hall.
A monster ate his houseguests there,
Which weren’t no good at all!
A hero, name of Beowulf,
Dropped by to break the charm,
And when the foul fiend came to snack,
Our boy ripped off his arm.
So Grendel ran off crying home,
And howling, “Ma! I die!”.
“Who done it, son?” his Mummy growled.
“I’ll have him, by and by!”
Now Grendel’s Mum turned out to be
A greater grimmer ogre,
And beating her in battle proved
An even bigger bugger.
At last, in dank and weedy halls,
Our hero did this thing,
And everyone was so impressed,
He soon became a king.
Much later, some guy stole a cup
From out a dragon’s lair.
The worm performed a stocktake soon,
And went completely spare.
He spilled his fire on barn and byre,
And bum became the deal
Until the old king strode grim-eyed
To show the snake his steel.
He bearded Bad-Breath in his lair,
And from that deadly bout
Nor king nor drake arose - we heard
From mates who'd chickened out.
So passed the greatest of the Geats,
And so must end my song.
It’s cooler in the speech of eld,
But this way ain't so long!
I await my fame, fortune, and literary lionhood with an air of modest, yet manly, stoicism.