Help me paraphrase these lines from "Beowulf"?"Nor will I. My lord HiglacMight think less of me if I let my swordGo where my feet were afraid to, if I hidBehind some broad linden shield: my...

Help me paraphrase these lines from "Beowulf"?

"Nor will I. My lord Higlac
Might think less of me if I let my sword
Go where my feet were afraid to, if I hid
Behind some broad linden shield: my hands
Alone shall fight for me, struggle for life
Against the monster. God must decide 
Who will be given to death's cold grip.
Grendel's plan, I think, will be
What it has been before, to invade this hall
And gorge his belly with our bodies. If he can,
If he can. And I think if my time will have come,
There'll be nothing to mourn over, no corpse to prepare
For its grave: Grendel will carry our bloody
Flesh to the moors, crunch on our bones
And smear torn scraps of our skin on the walls
Of his den. No I expect no Danes ..."

Asked on by bluemonday

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the tradition of great tales handed down verbally from one generation to another, the heroic voice of the storyteller clearly provides the reader with the sense of the bravery and nobility in this great warrior.

Beowulf is written anonymously, having been passed through multiple generations. Our hero is bold and honorable. He speaks to his company with broad and noble words.

Beowulf basically explains that his feudal lord (and uncle, Higlac) would lose respect for Beowulf if he could only turn to battle behind a linden (wooden) shield with his sword, if his feet were afraid to go to war. He does not need the trappings of war (weapons) to do battle.

Beowulf says he will meet the beast with his bare hands. And then he honors God by saying that victory or defeat will not rest with Beowulf or the beat, but as God wishes it.

Beowulf expects that Grendel will attack as always, breaking into the mead hall, grabbing as many soldiers as possible, and eating them. If the monster is able to do so, and the warriors not able to stop him, the creature will be victorious.

Beowulf makes peace with his own possible end. If Beowulf dies in battle against the beast, he is resigned to this. No one will need to mourn his body or try to bury it, as Grendel will take the bodies of the dead to the fen (swamps, moors), to eat them. He will rub scraps of the bodies over the wall, and that will be the end of his life, if that is what is meant to occur.

ryann15's profile pic

ryann15 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Basically, he's just saying

I need to man up and not hide behind my own shield. Only God can decide who is going to be victorious in the battle against the monster, Grendel's plan, the whole time, has been to try to kill us and eat us. If it happens, then so be it. If my time really does come for death to come knocking on my door, then there'll be nothing left to mourn over - "no corpse to prepare for its grave".  Grendel will have taken what he wants to munch on with him to his den.

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