The Lay of Beowulf

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Beowulf refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Beowulf (disambiguation).

The Lay of Beowulf is a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, retelling the story of Beowulf and Grendel in the form of a ballad.[1] The poem was first published in Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary in 2014, edited by Christopher Tolkien.


The Lay of Beowulf exists in two different versions — the earlier version entitled "Beowulf and Grendel" and the later "Beowulf and the Monsters". These were rendered by Tolkien in typescript, containing a cover page with the handwritten notes "Stages in the accretion of new matter to The Lay of Beowulf" and "Intended to be sung". The date of composition is unknown, but the first verson was sung by Ronald to his son Christopher in the early 1930s.[2]

First stanza

Grendel came forth in the dead of night;
the moon in his eyes shone glassy bright,
as over the moors he strode in might,
   until he came to Heorot.
Dark lay the dale, the windows shone;
by the wall he lurked and listened long,
and he cursed their laughter and cursed their song
   and the twanging harps of Heorot.

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