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‘To Be a Good King’
Michael Wood - In Search of Beowulf

“A work of the Anglo-Saxons...Impoverished pagan immigrants who came to the British Isles at the fall of the Roman Empire...”

The fact that the Anglo-Saxons made little genetic imprint on the indigenous population but had such a huge effect on English sensibilities, to the extent that Americans with hardly any Anglo-Saxon blood regard themselves as Anglo-Saxon, is testament to the severe class stratification of Britain, in which waves of conquerors fought over the right to exploit essentially the same host population.

The mead hall, where social cohesion was once welded in the minds of men, is in our age a dark corner of a forgotten residential sector of a failing city managed as a top down inverted hierarchy with the undoing and duplicitous at the top and the doers honestly slaving on the bottom, a parasitic beast and its conniving mother.

“Grendel’s mother, now purposed, black-hearted, gluttonous... Beowulf was not there...”

In epic poetry the subtext is often rich and runs as a counter current to the text. In Beowulf the King is lauded, but the hero is plagued by a back-stabbing prince. Even the monster’s mother is a sympathetic character, more like a human mother than the listener would be comfortable with. In reality, the marshlands inhabited by Grendel and his mother were the ancient enemy of Christianity, in that the grassland, garden-based Christian vision of the world was forever hampered by such hard to tame wild places.

In Beowulf we are treated to a vision of a world caught between the old and the new, pagan and Christian, the monstrous and the human, the unsettle places and the royal hall, and, in the life of men what is most important, a world in which the honor of the actionist was being displaced by the honor of accumulated and inherited wealth, the beginning of our inverted social pyramid.

“And Grendel flew death-sick to his joyless den...”

The postmodern equivalent would be the fall of the banking order, their media priests and their political puppets.

“He was glad of the deed...”

Where the postmodern hero is sorrowful for his defeat of the enemy, the Dark Age hero was exultant of his victory. The King, even in that age, was feeble next to the hero and was hoped would be succeeded by a hero. This hope, dashed to oblivion in the Magna Carta, that a hero king might keep those who preyed upon his subjects at bay, is still latent in the human psyche, and in some souls stirs in this long denatured country with the election of the false puppet king called president.

A Well of Heroes

A Well of Heroes: Two:

Literary Impressions of the Prose and Verse of Robert E. Howard

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