Unferth Had His Reasons …


The prequel continues next week. Today’s bit of flash fiction poetry gives insight into why Unferth hated Beowulf so much, at least while the tale continues under my supervision. This could be a bit of foreshadowing. Much adventure awaits in the lands of Midgard, and it goes way beyond a funeral and a dragon’s death …

Grendel’s Mother
(Unferth’s Lament)

I have lain with Grendel’s mother; she has been my income’s source;
Gave me pleasure like no other; gave me heartache and divorce.
Mortal men have known no measure; she, a serpent wolfskin drape.
Sultry, sensual; a treasure bound about me, noose to nape.
Claws as razors, cutting edge, demonic in her lusty suit;
Now I wallow in her flavor, tastes entice me to pollute.
When I gaze into my war-shield, me, not she, I realize
Is and was the only monster, waking from a dream’s demise.
Unferth, as this world may know me, magically sealed within.
I alone have brought this trauma; I alone have walked in sin.
Hrunting was the sword she gave me; Hrunting failed the warrior’s grip.
She designed it not to harm her, I had sent it on his trip.
Beowulf, the braggart boasting, how was I to know her fate?
He returned my sword while toasting; spoke of it as something great.
Yet it was not mine that ended life from Grendel’s mother’s chest.
No, it was Goliath’s blade that lopped her head and rend her breast.
Standing with my one reminder, Hrunting placed back in its sheath,
Heavy was my need to find her, hung about in sorrow’s wreath.
I had feared the seething waters teeming with destructive life.
Now I murdered someone’s daughter; in a sense I lost my wife.
Truth be told her venom soothed me; filled me with the strength of ten.
Now I felt the wind beneath me scale me down as other men.
Still beyond the deepest ocean, whale-road’s open call to me
Cradled me with but one notion: I must brave the lonely sea
In the hopes that of her secrets, one might prove a flame to singe,
Pledging on the blade of Hrunting, Beowulf shall know revenge!


Author: The Darque Bard

James Matthew Byers resides in Odenville, Alabama. He has been published in poetry journals and through Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL, where he received his Master's in 2010. His epic poem, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, is out from by Stitched Smile Publications, LLC. Mr. Byers is published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and eZines. He has also won numerous poetry contests for the Alabama State Poetry Society.

3 thoughts on “Unferth Had His Reasons …”

  1. Excellent poem! I’ve always found the idea that Grendel’s mother is some sort of seductress really interesting (and think it makes sense that such a macho poem as Beowulf characterizes her as some sort of humanoid animal as its means of expressing that). But I never considered that Unferth had some sort of relationship with her, or that Hrunting was of her making. Is there something in Beowulf that got you thinking about this connection?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m composing a sequel to Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, which releases November 2nd. I’m currently crafting a prequel in my blog called Beowulf: The Midgard Horrors. It mainly deals with Grendel’s extended family. I’ve named his mother Grindylin, and given her two sisters and a brother. The Unferth idea mainly stems from two sources: my desire to create a parallel antagonist in the sequel, and my desire to craft a relatable concept for why he hates Beowulf in the manner I’ve always felt he did. Having Hrunting forged by Grendel’s mother, then given to Unferth, seemed a believable means to explain why it had no effect on her. I’ve always felt her skin was impervious like her son’s, but for Beowulf fans I felt like it might intrigue or capture a new angle of exploration. Thanks so much for commenting!


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