Beowulf for beginners

The Dragon Fight

soon the famous fighter stands before the entrance to the barrow. Stout-hearted Beowulf gives a great roar. His clear voice echoes under the grey rock, along the passage to the dragon's home. That shout is full of anger. The dragon hears. It does not mean to ask for peace.

Beowulf and the dragon Steam hisses from the hole as the dragon heaves its long body to the mouth of its home. Loud rumbling shakes the earth. Fire pours from the dragon's scaly jaws. Beowulf raises his round shield against the roaring flame. The dragon gathers its coils ready to attack. Beowulf waits in his armour. His grey sword, Naegling, given to him by his forefathers, is sharp and shining in his hand. They glare at one another, the dragon and the man. Each fears the other and means to do him harm.

The dragon rushes slithering towards his enemy, but Beowulf swings his sword. It bites less strongly than Beowulf needs. The dragon is in a fury after this attack, spitting deadly fire. The shooting flames dart everywhere. Beowulf's shield does not protect him for as long as he would like. For the first time he has to fight on when Fate has decided he will not win.

Beowulf has nothing to boast of now, when his good old sword has failed in battle as such iron weapons should not do. It is not easy for him to die, to give up his days on the plains of earth, as everyone must do in the end. Our lives are only lent to us for a while.

The two bitter enemies attack one another again. The dragon heaves out a new breath of fire, surrounding Beowulf with flame so that he feels sharp pain.

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As Beowulf finds, fire is a fierce enemy.
The Anglo-Saxons had a riddle about this.