Dr. Seuss’ Beowulf
Down in Geat-land
Liked Heorot a lot…
Who lived north of Geat-land,
He hated Heorot! The whole Heorot Hall!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows it all.
It could be , perhaps, that his shoes were too tight
It could be his arm wasn’t screwed on quite right.
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason,
His heart or his feet,
He stood there MidWinter’s Eve, hating the Geats,
Staring down from his den with a sour, Grendel pall
At the warm lighted smokeholes below on the Hall.
For he knew every Geat down in Geat-land he spied
Was busy now, drinking great goblets of mead.
“And they’re eating their lutefisk!” he snarled with a sneer.
Tomorrow’s Midwinter! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled with his Grendel fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find some way to stop MidWinter from coming!”
Tomorrow, he knew…
…All the Geat Men, Women, and pups
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their cups!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
And they’ll shriek squeaks and squeals, racing ’round on their hest vogn.
They’ll dance while playing with their vaben.
They’ll swing their svaerd sabel. They’ll bang their stav scepters.
They’ll strike with dolke. They’ll bang their spyd lanses.
They’ll kaste their okse. They’ll slam their skjolde.
They’ll beat their brystharnisk. They’ll wham their hovedbeklaedning.
And they’ll play noisy games like knude haevning,
A dislocation-type mix of tug-of-war and misbehaving!
And then they’ll make ear-splitting noises a-tootin’
On their great big falster-pibe fljoten!
Then the Geats, young and old, will sit down to a fest.
And they’ll feast! And they’ll feast! And they’ll FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They’ll feast on Geat pudding, and rare Geat roast beast,
Roast beast is a feast I can’t stand in the least!
And then they’ll do something I hate most of all!
Every Geat down in Geatland, the tall and the small,
They’ll stand close together, with Jul bells ringing.
They’ll stand hand-in-hand, and those Geats will start singing!”
They’d Sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more Grendel thought of this Geat-Midwinter-Sing,
The more Grendel thought, “I must stop this whole thing!
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop MidWinter from coming!
Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
“I know just what to do!” Grendel laughed in his throat,
And he made a quick Allfothr hat and a cloak.
And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a Grendel-ly sin!
“With this cloak and this hat, I look just like Odinn!”
“All I need is a wolf…”
Grendel looked around.
But, since wolves are quite rare, there was none to be found.
Did that stop Grendel….?
No! Grendel simply said,
“If I can’t find a wolf, then I’ll make one instead!”
So he called on his Mom, and he took some black thread
And he tied a Wolf-Skin to the top of her head.
He loaded some bags
And one sack or another
On a ramshackle sleigh
And he hitched up his Mother.
Then Grendel said “Giddyap!”
And the sleigh started to fall
Toward Heorot where the Geats
Lay a-snooze in their Hall.
All the smokeholes were dark. Quiet snow filled the Mall
All the Geats were dreaming sweet dreams after all.
When he came to the first family’s corner in the Hall
“This is stop number one,” The old Grendel hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Thenb he crept through the hole, a rather tight handle,
But, if Alfothr could do it, then so could Grendel.
He got stuck only once, one his way to his goal
Then he stuck his head out of the rooftop smoke hole.
And he saw the Geat clothing strung out in a row
“This clothing,” he grinned,” is the first thing to go!”
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile like Grey Poupon
Around the whole corner, and he took every weapon!
Brystharnisk! and Skjold! Lanse ! and Okse!
Dolke! And Svaerd! And Stridshandske!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then Grendel , with great craft,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, through the draft!
Then he slunk to the storage-pity. He took the Geat’s feast!
He took the Geat-pudding! He took the Roast Beast!
He cleaned out the stone-lined hole, with a Grendelly snarl.
Why Grendel even took their last piece of kaestur hakarl!
Then he stuffed all the food up the smokehole with glee
“And NOW!” grinned Grendel ,”I will stuff up the tree!”
And Grendel grabbed the tree, and he started to shjove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Geat!
Little Cindy-Lou Geat, who was very petite.
Grendel had been caught by this tiny Geat-dottir
Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at Grendel and said “Alfothr, why,
Why are you taking our Jul Log? WHY?”
But you know, that old Grendel was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why my sweet little barn,” the fake Odinn he lied,
“I’m afraid that this log will not light on this side.
“So I’m taking it back to my workshop, my dear.
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”
And his saga fooled the child. The he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Geat went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the log up!”
Then the last things he took
Were the logs for the fire!
Then he went up the smokehole himself, the old thing.
On the walls he left nothing but smoked and some string
And the one speck of food
That he left in their place
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mus.
He did the same thing
to the other Geat’s bays
Much too small
For the other Geat’s strays!
And the last thing he did
That nasty old Grendel
Was to pull the release
On the Hall’s Stay-Together Handle!
It was quarter past dawn…
……All the Geats, still a-bed,
……All the Geats, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their vaben, their scepter, the brystharnisk!
The rune! The armeret middelalderhandske!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Yding Skovhøj ,
He rode with his load to the tiptop to disgorghe!
“Weet-Weet to the Geats!” he was Grendelly humming,
“They’re finding out now that no WinterJul is coming!
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll bleat!
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or three
“Then the Geats down in Geat-land will all cry OH SHEET!
“That’s a noise,” Grinned Grendel,
“That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And Grendel put his hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow…
But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!
He started down at Geat-land!
Grendel popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Geat down in Geat-land, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without Heorot at all!
He HADN’T stopped WinterJul from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And Grendel, with his Grendel-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
“It came without laesion! It came without mjød!
“It came without Blod, Brandslukning, or øl!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore,
Then Grendel thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Heorot,” he thought,”doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Heorot…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then…?
Well…in Geat-land they say
That Grendel’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minutre his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the våben! And the food for the freast!
Grendel carved the roast beast!
…clearly from a variant tradition for the Børn. The grownups kept the bloody version, with all the decapitations and such for their own amusement.
—with apologies to Dr. Seuss. And anyone else who might be offended.