Quotes from Chapter VI: Beowulf Against Grendel of Robert Nye’s Beowulf: A New Telling. Be sure to catch the rest of the book’s highlights if you haven’t already.
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.
- 36: Beowulf’s men were weary and soon slept. They lay stretched out in couches all round the hall. Their sea voyaging, followed by the march to Heorot and the many cups of mead Hrothgar had given them, made them sleep deeply. Only Beowulf and Unferth stayed awake. They sat on either side of the empty throne, watching for Grendel’s coming.
Unferth played with a silver trinket. He kept pouring the little chain through his fingers, making a tinkling sound. Sometimes he drew it so tight about his wrist that it hurt.
- 37: Then, as dawn began to drain the dark, both men heard a sound. It was a sound like the breaking of ice underfoot. It came quick and was gone again.
- 39: [Unferth] screamed, and scratched at the wall for a hiding place, but there was none. Two torches went out as Grendel slithered past them.
- 40: To Grendel, it was if the sun itself had caught him in its clutch.
- 40-41: The mortal fingers were like ten red-hot nails driven into his skin. Grendel had never known such strength like this. He roared and shook to be free, to crawl away, to escape into the ruins of the night. But Beowulf would not let go. Now Beowulf began to talk. His voice was quiet, and there was hullabaloo in the hall, what with the soldiers rushing about confusedly in the dark, and Unferth screaming, and the monster threshing about to get loose―yet Grendel heard every word like thunder in his brain. He did not know what was worse: Beowulf’s grip or what Beowulf said…: “Light holds you, Grendel. Light has you in its power. You, who have shunned the sun, meet me, once stung by bees that drank the sun. There’s honey in my veins, Grendel, a liquid sunlight that can kill you quite. These fingers that you feel are ten great stars. Stars have no fear. I do not fear you, Grendel. I do not fear, therefore I do not fight. I only hold you, child of Cain. I only fix you fast in your own evil, so that you cannot turn it out on any other. It is your own evil, Grendel, that undoes you. You must die, creature of night, because light has got you in a last embrace.”
- 41: Hall Heorot rocked down to its stone roots with the rage of the demon’s struggling.
- 42: Grendel grew angrier and angrier. He shook his arm about and dashed it against the wall. Beowulf, badly bruised, refused to relinquish his hold. When shaking did not work, Grendel tried jerking his arm. But Beowulf wound his own legs round a pillar. He took the full force of the monster’s pull―and still held on.
There was a fearful snapping of bones and tearing of sinews and muscles.
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