strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

countdown to Halloween October 25, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 9:22 am

Halloween. My most favorite night in all the year, to paraphrase Ray Bradbury (I’m kicking myself for leaving From the Dust Returned at home). So I’m posting spooky bits and whatnot all week. Just finished Beowulf for class:

A few miles from here

a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch

above a mere; the overhanging bank

is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.

At night there, something uncanny happens:

the water burns. And the mere bottom

has never been sounded by the sons of men.

On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:

the hart in flight from pursuing hounds

will turn to face them with firm-set horns

and die in the wood rather than dive

beneath its surface. That is no good place.

***

On a height they kindled the hugest of all

funeral fires; fumes of woodsmoke

billowed darkly up, the blaze roared

and drowned out their weeping, wind died down

and flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house,

burning it to the core. They were disconsolate

and wailed aloud for their lord’s decease.

A Geat woman too sang out in grief;

with hair bound up, she unburdened herself

of her worst fears, a wild litany

of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,

enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,

slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

Seamus Heaney’s translation, of course!

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