Beowulf Quotes

Quotes tagged as "beowulf" (showing 1-21 of 21)
J.R.R. Tolkien
“A man inherited a field in which was an accumulation of old stone, part of an older hall. Of the old stone some had already been used in building the house in which he actually lived, not far from the old house of his fathers. Of the rest he took some and built a tower. But his friends coming perceived at once (without troubling to climb the steps) that these stones had formerly belonged to a more ancient building. So they pushed the tower over, with no little labour, and in order to look for hidden carvings and inscriptions, or to discover whence the man's distant forefathers had obtained their building material. Some suspecting a deposit of coal under the soil began to dig for it, and forgot even the stones. They all said: 'This tower is most interesting.' But they also said (after pushing it over): 'What a muddle it is in!' And even the man's own descendants, who might have been expected to consider what he had been about, were heard to murmur: 'He is such an odd fellow! Imagine using these old stones just to build a nonsensical tower! Why did not he restore the old house? he had no sense of proportion.' But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf and the Critics

Seamus Heaney
“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what's said and what's done.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

Woody Allen
“Just don't take any class where you have to read BEOWULF.”
Woody Allen

Terry Pratchett
“Monsters are getting more uppity, too (...) I heard where this guy, he killed this monster in this lake, no problem, stuck its arm up over the door (...) and you know what? Its mum come and complained. Its actual mum come right down to the hall next day and complained. Actually complained. That's the respect you get.”
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

Seamus Heaney
“A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear.
I have never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean's sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone over the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

Burton Raffel
“I’ve never known fear; as a youth I fought/ In endless battles. I am old, now,/ But I will fight again, seek fame still,/ If the dragon hiding in his tower dares/ To face me”
Burton Raffel, Beowulf

Seamus Heaney
“And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards, in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

John Gardner
“Stars, spattered out through lifeless night from end to end, like jewels scattered in a dead king's grave, tease, torment my wits toward meaningful patterns that do not exist.”
John Gardner, Grendel

J.R.R. Tolkien
“For it is now to us itself ancient; and yet its maker was telling of things already old and weighted with regret, and he expended his art in making keen that touch upon the heart which sorrows have that are both poignant and remote.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

J.R.R. Tolkien
“His poem is like a play in a room through the windows of which a distant view can be seen over a large part of the English traditions about the world of their original home. (Tolkien on the author of Beowulf)”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf

J.R.R. Tolkien
“Beowulf survives: for a time, for as long as learning keeps any honor in its land. And how long will that be? God ána wát. (Tolkien on the life and relevance of the Beowulf poem)”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf

John Gardner
“I am mad with joy.--At least I think it's joy. Strangers have come, and it's a whole new game. I kiss the ice on the frozen creeks, I press my ear to it, honoring the water that rattles below, for by water they came: the icebergs parted as if gently pushed back by enormous hands, and the ship sailed through, sea-eager, foamy-necked, white sails, riding the swan-road, flying like a bird! O happy Grendel! Fifteen glorious heroes, proud in their battle dress, fat as cows!”
John Gardner

“Nor have I seen a mightier man-at-arms on this earth than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken, he is truly noble. This is no mere hanger-on in a hero's armour.”
Unknown, Seamus Hean

“Cwædon þæt he wære wyruld-cyninga,
manna mildust ond mon-ðwærust,
leodum liðost ond lof-geornost.”
Anonymous, Beowulf

Seamus Heaney
“It is a great wonder
How Almighty God in his magnificence
Favors our race with rank and scope
And the gift of wisdom; His sway is wide.
Sometimes He allows the mind of a man
Of distinguished birth to follow its bent,
Grants him fulfillment and felicity on earth
And forts to command in his own country.
He permits him to lord it in many lands
Until the man in his unthinkingness
Forgets that it will ever end for him.
He indulges his desires; illness and old age
Mean nothing to him; his mind is untroubled
By envy or malice or thought of enemies
With their hate-honed swords. The whole world
Conforms to his will, he is kept from the worst
Until an element of overweening
Enters him and takes hold
While the soul’s guard, its sentry, drowses,
Grown too distracted. A killer stalks him,
An archer who draws a deadly bow.
And then the man is hit in the heart,
The arrow flies beneath his defenses,
The devious promptings of the demon start.
His old possessions seem paltry to him now.
He covets and resents; dishonors custom
And bestows no gold; and because of good things
That the Heavenly powers gave him in the past
He ignores the shape of things to come.
Then finally the end arrives
When the body he was lent collapses and falls
Prey to its death; ancestral possessions
And the goods he hoarded and inherited by another
Who lets them go with a liberal hand.

“O flower of warriors, beware of that trap.
Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part,
Eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride.
For a brief while your strength is in bloom
But it fades quickly; and soon there will follow
Illness or the sword to lay you low,
Or a sudden fire or surge of water
Or jabbing blade or javelin from the air
Or repellent age. Your piercing eye
Will dim and darken; and death will arrive,
Dear warrior, to sweep you away.”
Seamus Heaney

Christina Engela
“The last week hadn’t been any better, come to think of it. On Monday they arrived at Gorda, just to find that the cargo of electronics he was to ship to Beowulf had been taken by another freighter for a lower fee. It took him until Wednesday before he found another cargo – which had to reach Earth by Saturday. The last straw was when his crew mutinied a day out of the Hermes system and demanded a pay increase. The union tended to call that sort of thing “collective bargaining”, not actually mutiny, but hey – the results are the same. He tended to favor the term “piracy”, but this wasn’t the high seas and out here, there were real pirates to worry about. His former crew had also wanted more time off and a better cook – at least one who knew how which end of a frying pan to hold. He was unable to comply, and so was forced to stop at Beowulf anyway. That was the last time he saw them. Fortunately for him, Weaver, Fuller and Jang opted to stay with him. Whether it was out of loyalty, or perhaps just convenience, he never knew.”
Christina Engela, Blachart

“Today and tomorrow you will be in your prime; but soon you will die,
in battle or in bed; either fire or water,
the fearsome elements, will embrace you,
or you will succumb to the sword's flashing edge,
or the arrow's flight, or terrible old age;
then your eyes, once bright, will be clouded over;
all too soon, O warrior, death will destroy you.

Hrothgar to Beowulf”
Anonymous

Seamus Heaney
“Let whoever can win glory before death.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

“Where do you come from, carrying these
decorated shields and shirts of mail,
these cheek-hinged helmets and
javelins?" - a proud warrior, Beowulf by Anonymous”
Seamus Heaney translation

J.R.R. Tolkien
“Fate oft saveth a man not doomed to die, when his valour fails not.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell

John Gardner
“So it goes with me day by day and age by age, I tell myself. Locked in the deadly progression of moon and stars. I shake my head, muttering darkly on shaded paths, holding conversation with the only friend and comfort this world allows, my shadow.”
John Gardner, Grendel