Monday, July 6, 2015

The Indictment of Beowulf

Lawrence Hall

The Indictment of Beowulf

A sad, sensitive, suffering soul,
Dwelling deeply down in a wetland,
Poisoned by perfidious polluters,
And cunning cultural imperialism,
Vacated vehement vegetarianism,
And dined on Danes, delicious Danes,
Who foolishly failed in their fatuous folly
To understand Grendel's special needs.
His hunger for delectable Danes in truth
A plaintive plea for pity, for grief counseling,
Because the demonic, devilish Danes
Forced Grendel to devour them
Through their ethnocentric failure to
Vividly vivifying Grendel's victimhood.
The harrowing of Herot, high Herot,
Was, as all the world knows,
The fault of the Danes themselves.

'Til that warrior came, that weaponed wonder,
That greatest of Geats, brave Beowulf,
Who slew misunderstood Grendel,
Grendel, who had a bad childhood,
His existential angst
Crying out among the fluorescent-lit cinder-
Who just happened to be standing on dead
Dead Danish bodies, waiting for his friend,
His friend, um, Bob, um, to
To drive him to his therapy.
Or maybe to his Bible class.

And the Danes cheered that brave Beowulf,
Deliverer of that people, leader of men,
Until office-hungry courtiers,
Perfumed, protected, precious princes
Loaded fantasies into their photo programs,
And promoted a perfidious pogrom,
Sacrificing truth, once again
Worshipping the old, old gods.

Then Hrothgar, as commanded by the Court,
The wonderful, worshipful Witan Court
Arrested Beowulf, woeful warrior,
For the worst of war crimes -- winning a war.
"Hwaet!" wailed the wise ones, wrapped in robes,
Judicial robes spun from the blood of workers.

"We accuse you of insensitivity, of Grendel-cide,
Of profiling, heterosexuality, and smoking
We accuse you, in the name of The People,
The MePhone-passive, obedient People,
Who think as they are told, vote as they are told,
Dress as they are told, riot as they are told,
The People, in whose Name we fatten ourselves --
We accuse you, Beowulf, of thinking for yourself.
We accuse you of courage, of caring, of
We accuse you of killing an innocent creature
Who was just expressing his or her existential
Undoubtedly abused by a meddlesome priest,
And of killing a mother, a caring mother,
An artist, an acclaimed artist
And an activist (we forget just for what)
Whose scraps of human skin on the walls of her
Won a 1985 Honorable Mention
In the Cutting-Edge Arts Show and Peace Rally.

"Did you try therapy, tender-touch therapy?
Did you offer Grendel, that forest-forager,
Your human hand in in humane humility?"

Then Beowulf, greatest of the Geats,
Deliverer of Danes, destroyer of dung-hearts,
Stood, and, almost unlocking words from his
Was told by his court-appointed attorneys
That his salvation reposed in silence.

"It was all Beowulf's fault!" cried The People,
Forgetting the slaughter of their friends.
"Punish Beowulf for lying about
Monsters of mad destruction!
Let us abase ourselves
For offending Grendel,
Cultural, colorful Grendel, and let us dialogue
And inculturate. Like, y'know."

And so beaten Beowulf, now baddest of the bad,
Retired to his country home
To spend more time with his family
to write his memoirs,
While his men, winning warriors all,
Rowed back to Geatland, and were ignored
By the MePhone People,
Who praised whomever in this hour’s Daily Mail
And had no more use for truth, justice,
Or the Geat way. They tore down statues
Of their warriors, and put up peace plazas,
And lapsed into languor, Lethe-ish languor.

And other Grendels, grinning Grendels,
Waited and watched.

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