BEDA Day 30: Shakespeare vs. Beowulf

[Disclaimer: I am very tired and very cranky because 90% of this post got deleted because WordPress randomly logged me out. Also, I feel ill. And I am tired. Did I mention how tired I am? I WANT COFFEE but I’ve already had two cups today and I won’t be able to sleep if I have more.]


Anyway. Second to last day of BEDA! (Ugh, thank heavens. I’m exhausted.)

Also, I’ve got the TV set to MTV for the first time in my entire life (MTV = trash) because for the first time in a long time THEY’RE ACTUALLY PLAYING A MUSIC VIDEO. Taylor Swift’s new one – in 7 minutes! ūüôā

Today was a pretty good day! I had my first religion class of the year, and not only do I have my teacher from last year, but I also have some of the most awesome kids from last year’s class! It’s really exciting! Plus, the new Lizzie Bennet Diaries episode came out today and we’re getting somewhere, guys! We’re not far from Darcy’s proposal – or however it comes out in this adaptation.

(ALSO. The Taylor Swift video… Weird. I could have done without the woodland creatures. But whatever. I love her anyway. :P)

So onto the topic of this blog post. Well. Okay. There isn’t really a topic. But just roll with me here, okay?

For history/lit this week I’m reading Beowulf. I like it, but it’s sort of a harsh contrast compared to my usual Shakespeare. The rhythm of it is awkward and hard to find. There isn’t really a flow. It’s sort of like really bad, choppy free verse poetry. Of course it isn’t, it’s a different type of thing altogether. Point is, I’m struggling with it. I tried to read it aloud but it just sounded like one huge run-on sentence. I want to enjoy it. But I also want to find the flow.

For example: compare these two passages.

“Then was Beow of the Scyldings a beloved king
for a long time, in the town-forts of the people,
famed among the folk–his father had passed on,
that king gone from his home–till to Beow was born
Healfdene the High, who nobly ruled the Scyldings
as long as he lived, old and battle-fierce.”

Beowulf, lines 53-58


“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time;
and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.”

Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

There¬†is¬†a rhythm to the first passage, but it’s awkward and you have to read it over and over, stressing different words, looking inside the lines to find it. There’s an entire introduction on the poetry of the piece that I’m going to read over. I’m actually excited for the challenge of this – adjusting to this new format.

But let me just fangirl over the Shakespeare bit for a second. Read it aloud. Feel the push and the pull of the lines… The rhythm.

“To-morrow,¬†and¬†to-morrow, and to-morrow,
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time;
and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the¬†way to¬†dusty death.”

Just feel it. Say it. The words, the similes… The last syllable of recorded time… Mmm. I just love it. It rolls off the tongue, the lines, the words, the rhythm. Perfect.

Plus, it’s Macbeth. It’s flawless.

Macbeth and Beowulf do have something in common, though: the main characters are both quasi-idiots. Beowulf is sort of obnoxious and really full of it, and Macbeth is kind of like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I should kill the king *derp derp*.” But Macbeth is rather poetic, and that makes up for it.

Beowulf, on the other hand…

“Well, my friend Unferth, besotted with beer,
you have brought forth much about Breca,
told tales of his venture! Yet I tell the truth,
that I have proved greater in sea-strength,
more of a match for the waves, than any other man.”
(lines 530-534)

Good on you, mate. Way to sound like a total egomaniac.

I leave you with two of my favorite Shakespeare passages from one of my many favorite plays.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men are at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II

“‘Brutus, thou sleep’st! Awake!’
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
‘Shall Rome, etc.’ Thus must I piece it out:
Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?
What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive when he was called a king.
‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated
To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise,
If the redress will follow, thou receivest
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!”
Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I

Ah, poor Brutus. Poor, gullible, too-noble-for-his-own-good Brutus.

“So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!'”
(Act V, Scene V)