We’ve been witness to Grendel’s mother and her secrets. We’ve looked into the mind of Unferth. We’ve even gotten brief glimpses into Beowulf’s adolescence. But what about Grendel? He’s seemingly the heavyweight monster, aside from his mother and the dragon. Most people link his name with the epic poem before anything or anyone else. What did he think and feel before dying on the shores of his underwater homeland? Perhaps this might offer some insight … Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, come soon. Adventure awaits!
“What will my mother think of me, returning less and arm?
I thought I was invincible; that none could bring me harm!
The humans shook beneath my wrath; my razor claws ensnared
All men of every shape and size; some thirty if I dared!
My form can grow from small to large; my mouth can stretch around
Enormous beasts, ignoble birds, the wildest creatures found;
The fattest belly should I choose, and yet barehanded one
Has torn my precious mantle piece and seen my life undone!
This Beowulf, how strong his might, and yet I doubted him.
As all the other boasting fools, his light I planned to dim.
But dimmed instead my light, it seems, for blood has gushed and dropped
An issue so relentless; no, the bleeding hasn’t stopped!
I feel the flow of life within me ebb and slip away …
I fear my mother’s healing touch won’t let me live to slay.
The night provides an ample cloak to hide me ere I run.
The water’s edge approaches but I fear that I am done!
The vicious splash reminds me of the sound of my limb torn.
Oh, mother, I am coming; I grow cold; I am forlorn!
Around me beasts at my command appear a hungry league.
Oh, mother, I am tiresome; I am full of sad fatigue!
I fight my way below the deep; these horrors nip and gnaw.
Amazed, I am, by what they do; they trail me, open maw …
Ahead I see the secret cave; the doorway to our land;
A place I once felt welcomed; came and went, and with one hand
I claw and scrape myself unto the shore as breath depletes.
I hear the sounds, familiar, yet they fade in rapid suites.
I see her! Yes, she’s running as my moans depict my health.
About her glows her aura; magic swallowing my wealth.
Into her arms I crumble as my shape and form go limp.
A soothing whisper comforts, says ‘There, there, my little imp …
Oh, Grendel, who has done this? No, I know, so please don’t speak.
My child, I am still proud of you, no, you have not been weak.
A hex and curse upon them all; I’ll make their bodies singe!
No, Grendel, this is not your fault; know I will have revenge!’
A single tear escapes her eyes and drips upon my cheek.
The blood has flooded in my throat; is at its final peak.
Forever, now so final, not eternal, death come cover …
Encroaching is the darkness; as I die, I cry out, ‘mother’ … ”
James Matthew Byers resides in Wellington, Alabama with his wife, kids, a dog named after an elf, and two tortoises. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master’s in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is coming soon from Stitched Smile Publications, LLC.