Joy and Sorrow in Beowulf The poet Richard Wilbur expresses in his poem Beowulf one of many sorrows expressed by the original Beowulf poem: “Such gifts as are the hero’s hard reward … These things he stowed beneath his parting sail, And wept that he could share them with no son” (Wilbur 67). The hero’s lament of not having an heir is but one of many dozens of sorrows in this poetic classic, which balance with numerous joys expressed on alternate pages. This essay expresses but a
Is Beowulf an Heroic Elegy or an Epic Narrative? There is considerable debate as to whether the poem Beowulf is an epic narrative poem or an heroic elegy. Which is it. This essay intends to present both sides of the story. Some great literary scholars think that the poem is an heroic elegy, celebrating the fantastic achievements of its great hero, and also expressing sorrow or lamentation for the hero’s unfortunate death. In “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” Tolkien states:
Beowulf is an Heroic Elegy There is considerable debate as to whether the poem Beowulf is an epic narrative poem or an heroic elegy, a poem celebrating the fantastic achievements of its great hero, and also expressing sorrow or lamentation for the hero’s unfortunate death. This essay intends to show that the poem is an heroic elegy. In “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” Tolkien states: We must dismiss, of course, from mind the notion that Beowulf is a “narrative poem,” that
Anticipation of catastrophe, doom, gloom are present in Beowulf rom beginning to end, even in the better half of the poem, Part I. Perhaps this is part of what makes it an elegy – the repeated injection of sorrow and lamentation into every episode. In his essay, “The Pessimism of Many Germanic Stories,” A. Kent Hieatt says of the poem Beowulf: The ethical life of the poem, then, depends upon the propositions that evil. . . that is part of this life is too much for the preeminent man. . . .