In 910 AD, the Anglo-Saxons were attacked by the Vikings, at the Battle of Tettenhall. The first day of battle did not go well for the English. As their remnant army huddled in the keep, the King called in his poet to rally their spirits. This was the first telling of the epic poem Beowulf.
Long ago, when English Olde was new,
And monasteries with vocations grew,
And monsters were more commonly begotten,
A poet came, whose name has been forgotten.
The Anglos loved their king, whose name was Thayne,
A ruler from the run of Charlemagne,
He followed Christ, his faith was resolute,
A model king was he, without dispute.
But Viking warships split the Anglo shore,
With golden dragons blazoned on their fore,
And English soldiers fell like shafts of wheat.
And on the field they sounded their retreat.
A few survivors hid behind the wall,
Huddled in the keep of Tettenhall,
Then to the hearts of those who mourned the dead,
A poet spoke, and this is what he said:
Listen! Tired and wounded, bend an ear,
The Lord is in our midst, whom shall you fear?
So curse these rebel Vikings, hear me sing
Of Beowulf, now that was one good king!
He ruled in peace, but soon a demon came,
A man-eater, and Grendel was his name,
And, in the darkened Hall, this beast did thresh,
‘Til he was fully gorged on human flesh.
Now Beowulf, this monster’s limbs did rent,
Until the monster’s life was fully spent,
And Grendel’s wretched mother, too, was axed;
The good King won, though he was greatly taxed.
A giver of gold gifts, he governed well,
For many years, he quelled the gates of hell,
Then word of a marauding dragon came,
So Beowulf rode off to douse its flame.
And slaughtering the dragon gallantly,
The sable king was wounded, mortally,
And there he died, so that his friends might live;
It’s true, there is no greater love to give.
And when they raised his funeral pyre to burn,
The loyal Wiglaf voiced his sound concern,
That when their loss had reached combative ears,
There would be war, for many, many years.
So, when the Danes secured the dragon’s hoard,
They sharpened all their spears, and praised the Lord;
And war there was, forever and a spell;
And with no king, the war did not go well.
Towards a golden beast the Vikings bow,
A dragon’s image on their vessel’s prow,
And raining blows against their neighbor’s walls,
They burned their towns, their churches and their halls.
But all these ventures happened long ago…
Today, our people bear a heavy blow,
And now, our people’s freedom to deprive,
These selfsame dragon-worshippers arrive!
And, thus, was heard the poet’s final word,
Then noble Thayne, the king, took up his sword,
And, on the field, the sun was rising bright,
And all his men charged headlong to the fight.
A trumpet flared above the Sovereign’s head,
And on the field they left the Vikings dead,
As untold score of Vikings lives were slain,
That never England did they storm again.
The dragon left the Anglo isle alone,
Until a despot sat upon their throne,
Rejecting God, committing many sins,
And here is where another tale begins…