In honour of it being a holiday, I thought I’d post this poem by the Beowulf scop’s cat, that is, Henry Beard. Illustration by, well, me. (It’s an old pic; if I were doing it now I’d add a little boar, with bristles along its back, on top. Possibly some engraving on the sides.) Anyway, enjoy the poem–I’m particularly fond of “Hrodent slayer.”
Grendel’s Dog, from Beocat
Brave Beocat, brood-kit of Ecgthmeow,
Hearth-pet of Hrothgar in whose high halls
He mauled without mercy many fat mice,
Night did not find napping nor snack-feasting.
The wary war-cat, whiskered paw-wielder,
Bearer of the burnished neck-belt gold-braided collar band,
Feller of fleas fatal, too to ticks,
The work of wonder-smiths, woven with witches’ charms,
Sat upon the throne-seat his ears like sword-points
Upraised, sharp-tipped, listening for peril-sounds,
When he heard from the moor-hill howls of the hell-hound,
Gruesome hunger-grunts of Grendel’s Great Dane,
Deadly doom-mutt, dread demon-dog.
Then boasted Beocat, noble battle-kitten,
Bane of barrow-bunnies, bold seeker of nest-booty:
“If hand of man unhasped the heavy hall-door
And freed me to frolic forth to fight the fang-bearing fiend,
I would lay the whelpling low with lethal claw-blows;
Fur would fly and the foe would taste death-food.
But resounding snooze-noise, stern slumber-thunder,
Nose-music of men snoring mead-hammered in the wine-hall,
Fills me with sorrow-feeling for Fate does not see fit
To send some fingered folk to lift the firm-fastened latch
That I might go grapple with the grim ghoul-pooch.”
Thus spoke the mouse-shredder, hunter of hall-pests,
Short-haired Hrodent-slayer, greatest of the pussy-Geats.
From Poetry for Cats, by Henry Beard (Villard, 1994)
2 thoughts on “brave Beocat, brood-kit of Ecgthmeow”
I did enjoy this poem and the illustration – very much. In fact, I’ve been enjoying all of the posts and comments here. Very cool to hear all of this stuff.
Thank you. What I’d really like is for someone, as a fun project–maybe something for a class they take or teach–to translate this into Old English. That would be utterly cool. But I’m beginning to have notions of using chunks of this poem, as is (if I can get Beard’s permission–if not I can write my own pastiche easily enough), as something a parent amuses a child with in my story…