With the Beowulf discussion in full swing here, my mind is full of wonderful ancient imagery and I find myself seeing my world through the filter of this Anglo-Saxon text. It seems everything I come across in my everyday life brings to mind this magical epic that a special few of us are reading together.
This photo you see above ? These days I want to assign it the title the spoils of battle – i.e., me vs the mess. What you see is no ordinary beaded necklace, it is a priceless, jewelled treasure received in return for my valiant and heroic efforts in housewifery and motherhood.
And this swan block I found on the floor – likely once used as a projectile in a previous battle against foes real or imaginary (yes, that’s what living in a house of boys can look like here) – well, it brings to mind this seemingly simple phrase:
“he would seek the war-king over the swan’s road” (from the Norton Anthology of English Literature, 5th ed., p28)
In Beowulf, this use of kenning, “swan’s road”, is a kind of descriptive metaphor for the sea. But, for me, this image really stands as metaphor for my own life some days – maybe for yours too.
You see, some days life can feel so up and down, a bit like I’m caught in the swells of an emotional stormy sea. This image of a swan bobbing up and down gracefully on the waters (in my imagination anyway) reminds me to just relax and go bravely forward despite the feelings of being tempest tossed by life’s more challenging moments.
Maybe this takes free association with Beowulf a little too far, but I like it anyway, as it makes me feel I can identify with the text in a personal way – since you’re not likely to catch me battling literal monsters anytime soon!
And that, my dear friends, is the power of poetry to stir the imagination and connect our individual experiences to something larger, something shared, something epic.
Wishing you a peaceful weekend ahead, full of grace, free of monsters. xo
p.s. Since I established a little while back that I’m lousy at keeping surprises, here’s a little peek at how poetry can spark a knitter’s creativity, too. Besides, someone who may or may not be the recipient of these mittens has already caught a glimpse of them anyway. I’m hopeless, I know.