Twas the night before Solstice, when all through the hall
Not a person was stirring, except for the thralls.
The axes were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that Grendel soon would be there.
The vikings were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of murder danced in their heads.
And Frigga in her hjalmr, and I in my hatt,
Had just settled our bloodlust for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the armaments there arose such a crash,
I sprang from the bed to see Brogin turned to ash.
Away to my claymore I flew into a rage,
Tore straight for the battle and onto the stage.
The moon on the breast of the hoarfrost below
Illuminated the blood on the new-fallen snow
When, what to my murderous eyes should appear,
But towering jaws and a man flailing in fear.
With a spine-splitting crack, the man’s body fell
I knew in a moment it must be Grendel.
More savage than bjornkin his talons they rent,
And he growled, and he rampaged, and their bodies he bent!
“Now Agni! now, Alrek! now, Olaf and Gunnbjorn!
On, Ottar! On, Egil! on, on Brunin and Hallbjorn!
To the top of its skull! To the front of the hall!
Now hack away! Hack away! Hack away all!”
As woodland creatures before the great fire burn,
When they follow their wyrd, and are pierced by the thorn.
So did Grendel tear apart the brave fighters,
With a mouth reeking of death, the one called the Blighter.
And then, in a crippling, I heard a great yawn
The growling and scratching that came with the dawn.
As I averted my eyes, and was saying a prayer,
Down the hall stomped Beowulf the serpent-slayer.
He was dressed all in hides, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tattered with war wounds and soot.
Then he stripped the clothing right off his back,
And he looked at the monster while cracking his neck.
His eyes-filled with madness! His jaw lines drawn tight!
His clenched hands were bleeding, anticipating the fight!
Drool came from his mouth and he wiped it away,
And the stubble on his chin stood right at end.
In Grendel’s own teeth, the stump of a man,
And billowing around it was the fog of the land.
He swallowed the limb right into his belly,
It cackled with laughter, my legs turned to jelly!
Beowulf’s spirit was not lessened, a terror as well,
And he stood and he laughed at this creature from Hel!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And took Grendel’s arm and it tore with a jerk.
And twisting in pain, the beast howled in alarm.
It escaped from the battle, but left its own arm!
Beowulf raised up the limb, jumped on our table,
And growled with a bloodlust more than the monster was able.
But I heard him exclaim and it was quite a sight,
“Who’s next, all you dogs? Who wants to fight!”