poetry still has much in common with

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But always Sir Kay would taunt him with these words spoken to others, "How like you my boy of the kitchen?"

After that Launcelot knighted Gareth, and Gareth rode on after the maiden whose sister was kept a prisoner by the Red Knight.

When he overtook her she turned upon him and said: "Get away from me, for thou smellest all of the kitchen. Thy clothes are dirty with grease and tallow. What art thou but a ladle-washer?"


Then little Widsith's master was called up, and Widsith placed the harp for him. Clear rose the song from the sc?p's lips, and all the company was still. For a while they forgot the monster which, even now with the falling dusk, was striding up from the sea, perhaps by the same path Beowulf and Widsith and the sc?p had come. Already it had grown dark under heaven and darker in the Hall, and the place was filled with shadowy shapes.

And now came Grendel stalking from the cloudy cliffs toward the Gold Hall. It would have been hard for four men to have carried his huge head, so big it was. The nails of his hands were like iron, and large as the monstrous claws of a wild beast. And, since there was a spell upon him, no sword or spear could harm him.

Much is to be learned from this epic of the customs and the manners of the men who came to Britain and conquered it. We can see these people as they lived in their sea-circled settlements, the ships they used to sail upon the sea, how their villages looked, and the boys and girls[Pg 8] and grown-ups in them; the rocks and hills and ocean waves that made up their out-of-door world; the good times they had; their games and amusements. We come to know the respect that was given to their women; we see the bravery of the men in facing death, and we hear the songs they sang.

"Beowulf" is a great poem—English literature knows no poem that is more sacred to it—but it is a sorrowful poem, too. These people believed in Fate, for Christ had not yet been brought to them with His message of love and peace and joy. English poetry to-day is much more joyous—because it is Christian poetry—than it ever could have been if England had remained a heathen land. Yet English  "Beowulf," in love of the sea and worship of nature, and a strange sense of Fate.




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