Wednesday, April 24, 2013


anglo-saxon helmet armor
My big activity this evening is starting the very last of my papers for this semester. Except I've already started it. Weeks ago, in fact. I've been planning and reading sources and actively procrastinating for a really long time.

I know. I live such an exciting life, but, as I keep reminding myself, there will be other nights for watching Jane Austen flix. Today, it's just me and Beowulf.   

Except . . .

Except, Beowulf isn't speaking to me like it normally does.

And it hasn't been. There's a reason I haven't started before today.

I'm sitting in my room in a literal barricade of my sources and I don't have any idea what I want to say.

Honor? Gift giving? Virtue? Heroism? Oral tradition? How do those connect? How do I make them connect?

Beowulf is . . . It is . . . uh . . .

He is . . .

And then I see him again, the way I saw him the first time I read Beowulf in High School. A quick, writer's image that came in a flash and never left.

A man stands by the edge of a grey lake that boils at his feet. The monsters' lake. He is tall, broad shouldered, wearing a grey cloak that almost sweeps the ground. A shining bronze--or is it gold?--helmet obscures his face. There is blood on the shore and blood on the man's boots.

He heaves a sigh and then removes his helmet and sets it on the damp earth by his feet. I can see now that his hair is blond, nearly white in it's lightness, and hangs loose about his shoulders. He raises his gauntleted hands to the ties at his throat and the thick cloak falls away revealing a shining coat of mail, like golden fish scales.

He looks up at me.

His eyes are as grey as the sky behind him, as grey as the lake, and they are full of . . . something between fear and resignation. He knows he may very well meet his death at the bottom of that lake, but whatever unfolds, living or dying, it is God's will. And he has traveled too far to turn back now.

And suddenly I remember why I wanted to write about this topic in the first place, why I find it so vitally important.

I still don't have a thesis, but I can't scrap all the research I've done. I can't take my sources back to the library tonight and check at six new ones on Chaucer. In other words, I've come too far to turn back now.

Sometimes surrender is the answer. Sometimes there is no choice but to pack it in. Sometimes manuscripts need to be burned and theses need to be scrapped.

But sometimes, when there is heart in the work, when it is something you love, it's worth it to bleed a little and keep working when you've almost lost hope of succeeding.

So here's me,

bleeding for love of Beowulf.


  1. Love the visual of this, good luck on you thesis.

  2. Oh wow, it's too bad your assignment wasn't to write a retelling of Beowulf, because if it was, you'd ace it! Love the imagery here. And I can't even tell you how encouraging the last line of this post is. I needed to hear this, so thanks! And good luck with your paper!

    1. I'm glad you liked it :) And thanks, I'll take all the luck I can get.

    2. Someday she is going to write a retelling of Beowulf/Beowulf-inspired story, and I will get to beta read it and I'm excited!!!!

  3. I agree with Erin--that segment was fantastic! I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read Beowulf. I should probably do that, right? Best of luck on your paper, Tyler-Rose! :)

    1. You really should. Probably several different translations so you get the full effect ;)

  4. I don't think I told you this, but I found this post really inspiring. That's very much the mindset I need to have for my WiP right now... Sometimes surrender *isn't* the answer, even when you think you can't go on. Thanks for reminding me of that, here and elsewhere. :)

  5. You and Beowulf sounds like me and Hamlet -- so closely connected, it's almost inexplicable. And yet, you explained this perfectly, and I love your imagery.