Recently I read a poem written by the sixth-grade daughter of a friend. She, too, was eloquent in her simplicity--reaching for the plain verb, the plain noun, but putting them together in ways that were exciting and surprising. "String the stems of the flowers." "Push the clouds higher in the sky." "Sing with all the footsteps." Beowulf is a poem in this tradition--a plain story of men and monsters, yet it also presses us to see violence, terror, and retribution as versions of beauty. It's a very distressing poem, and perhaps, because I am a woman, I am also unable to avoid reading it as a closed door. My story is not in this poem.
[Beouw] was four times a father, this fighter prince:Has anyone written the tale of this daughter?
one by one they entered the world,
Heorogar, Hrothgar, the good Halga
and a daughter, I have heard, who was Onela's queen,
a balm in bed to the battle-scarred Swede.