I read this book back in high school for the one pre-college literature class that sang to my soul: Sci-Fi / Fantasy Honors. Beowulf’s one of the oldest English stories in existence. I read another version of it in college that I plan to go through, but I distinctly remember not getting along with the college version as much as I did Nye’s.
Enjoy my highlights of Robert Nye’s Beowulf: A New Telling; Chapter I, A Ship Without a Sail.
I’ve also got a pexels collection where you can check out all the photos (and more) that I’ve gathered for this chapter’s moodboard.
Page numbers listed herein may not match the page numbers in yours.
- 1: The child was curled asleep on a sheaf of ripe corn, with gold and swords heaped round about him. A golden flag flapped at the mast.
“This is Odin’s doing!” cried a fisherman with a big white beard that blew in the wind like spindrift.
- 1, another NPC speaking: “Look at his clenched fists and the way he smiles in his dreams. Oh, he’s royal all right!”
- 2: Under [Scyld’s] rule, peace came to the land of the Danes, because none of the neighbor countries dared to fight with such a giant. Instead, they brought him gifts and tributes so that he would not go to war against them. The treasury swelled until it was like a hill of jewels.
At last Scyld got to be an old man. His stride was still enormous, but no longer did his feet strike thunder from the earth.
- 3: “Build me a great ship,” he said, his trumpet tongue now shrunken to a whisper, “and let the decks of the ship be strewn with gold, and swords stacked upon the gold. And hang my shield and corselet in the prow, that the waves may know me and show respect. And in the heart of the ship, under the tall mast that must have no sail, prepare a bed that will burn. And in the heart of the bed let a sheaf of corn be planted.”
His warriors were sad, but they did as he said. Scyld lay on a silver litter at the water’s edge and watched with tears as the ship was made ready. When all had done as he had commanded, he dragged himself on board and lay down on the bed. They piled jewels on his chest where the great heart beat uncertainly, like the footfalls of a messenger near journey’s end. They saluted him, one after another, and returned to the shore in silence. Dawn was coming, and the air smelt salty cold.
The sheaf of corn flickered into thin green flame. Then it was gold and raging. The whole ship blazed as it moved against the wind and out to the waiting sea.
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- Homework (links in this piece):
- HFE productions.
- homework.study.com ― Is Beowulf the oldest piece of literature?
- archive.org ― Robert Nye’s Beowulf: A New Telling (read online for free).
- Storygraph ― Robert Nye’s Beowulf: A New Telling.
- Dan Charles, NPR:
- National Geographic: Wind.
- The Daily Show: The British Royal Family Compilation.
- Imagine Dragons: Thunder.
- Man on the Internet: Strike the Earth.
- Global Witness: Conflict / Blood Diamonds.
- PBS Kids ― Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
- Fable Fandom Wiki ― Whisper.
- Pokémon Database: