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Tomorrow this monster shall be slain and my children and I will all sleep soundly. Downstairs in the hall men sleep so soundly and one man lies waking and watchful there's a dangerous one dangerous for monsters yes troublesome for the great unruly note: familiar stirring in blood hum always the wanting for someone who doesn't yes of course with the serving girls and the ra-ta-ta-tat glory/light but not darkly deep like my husband making children and slumbering darkly but like me never liked the deep waters saltsmell girls go swimming in the pond out deep for a dare but not me stay high and dry glory/light good wife for a king like him he would be good wife for a king lying down there with eyes wide open wake and watchful for tomorrow this monster slain and so sleep well Wealtheow in trust of endings but even the monster is somebody's child creature/creation not my nightmare but theirs sleep my lord my husband sleep my love I cannot move between you and this creature somebody's child but not mine my children are children are so daring in the deepwater always out farther and chasing the waveswell tearing that saltdark limb from limb seeking new ground to rend and new monsters great kings don't kill monsters but sleep them to breed that hero down there will rule over a sterile country but I wish it could be my country is beset by children no by monsters yes they are killing the men all the young men dying of their nightmares men sleep so soundly while their boymonsters rend the earth and if I close my eyes and sleep in the bed of the king Father can I bind this wound gaping close this split I shall be Queen I move between you and him Father he speaks to me of darkwaters and saltslick close your eyes Wealtheow close your eyes but my eyes stay open round on my husband as he rends the new ground these are my hours afterwards wake and watchful watching him beside me slumber so soundly even the monster is somebody's child and if I close me eyes and sleep it could be mine tomorrow

Okay, so this is Wealtheow, falling asleep (or not) the night Beowulf kills Grendel. I didn't have any huge amazing insights to convey here but kind of wanted to try my hand at some sort of stream-of-consciousness stuff. And I thought she was a really interesting character...so serene and luminous and generally diplomatic and with-it, at the same time so limited in her role and therefore cut off from a lot of what was going on around her. What struck me about her in the original poem was that she seemed pretty comfortable with her lot, which made me think she likes things rather neat and clean, and so it occured to me that perhaps her nightmares could be closer to the yet-undiscovered salty messy dark femaleness of Grendel's mother, while she herself would feel alienated from the men's fear of Grendel, which is not familiar to her. And of course she would have the hots for Beowulf a little, but it doesn't seem to bother her that much (I disagree with the Rock Opera here!)...I get the impression she runs into Great Heroes a lot and is pretty used to it by now. Seems like she more identifies with Beowulf than anything else--she knows nothing would come of it with someone like him because they are too similar, and sex and marriage in this world demands binary oppositions. A little resentment of her children, too, and her ultimate fear (justified!) that they will turn against everything she's spent her life building up.

surrealist automobiles and fish cakes, Elizabeth

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