The Geat people built a pyre for Beowulf,
Stacked and decked it until it stood four-square,
Hung with helmets, heavy war-shields
And shining armor, just as he had ordered. 3140
Then his warriors laid him in the middle of it,
Mourning a lord far-famed and beloved.
On a height they kindled the hugest of all
Funeral fires; fumes of wood smoke
Billowed darkly up, the blaze roared
And drowned out their weeping, wind died down
And flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house,
Burning it to the core. They were disconsolate
And wailed aloud for their lord’s decease.
A Geat woman too sang out in grief;
with hair bound up she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles
slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Heaven swallowed the smoke
From Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. On the death of Beowulf, full of years and heroic deeds.