What words and images contribute to the epic of Beowulf closing on a somber note of mourning?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two things contribute to the feeling of somberness and mourning in the final passages of Beowulf:  language and imagery.

The language of the passage tells of finality, grief, and respect.  Finality is seen in words like "infinite," "forever," "long days," "dead king," "leaving his body behind."  Grief is evident by one who "groaned a song of misery," "moaning their sorrow, lamenting their lord," they "rode, mourning their beloved leader, crying."  We don't hear it, but they show their respect as they tell

"...their sorrow, telling stories

Of their dead King and his greatness, his glory,

Praising him for heroic deeds, for a life

As noble as his name."

The imagery in the passage is equally reflective of their grief.  We have the sounds of mourning and grieving, weeping and praising.  There is the smell of smoke and the sound of a fire. The sounds also include the building of a pyre, the clanking of monument-making, and the sound of precious metals and jewels being heaped in the monument.  And what a sight that must have been, as well.

This is a fitting tribute, in every way, to a great and beloved king.