Twelve winters of grief for Hrothgar, king
Of the Danes, sorrow heaped at his door
By hell-forged hands.
Grendel's hands are compared to a thing forged in hell Explanation: Who could have foretoldThe doom that Grendel would bring?Twelve winters of grief refers to the twelve years that Hrothgar, king of the Danes, was forced to endure the terror and devastation caused by the monster Grendel. Grendel was a hell-forged creature, created by the devil to bring misery and death to Hrothgar and his people. No one could have predicted the devastation that Grendel would ultimately cause.
That shepherd of evil, guardian of crime, [Grendel]
Knew at once that nowhere on earth
Had he met a man whose hands were harder...
Grendel is compared to a shepherd
and to a guardian Explanation: In this passage, the speaker is describing Grendel, a monstrous creature who terrorizes the people of Denmark. The speaker says that Grendel knows he has never met a man whose hands are harder, meaning that Grendel has never met a man who is stronger than him. This is significant because it shows how Grendel is confident in his own strength and abilities, and how he views himself as being the most powerful creature on Earth.
The brilliant light shone, suddenly,
As though burning in that hall, and as bright as Heaven's
Own candle, lit in the sky.
The sun is compared to a candle Explanation: The light in the sky is so bright that it seems to be burning. It is as bright as a candle in heaven.
Famous son [Beowulf] stared at death,
Unwilling to leave this world, to exchange it
For a dwelling in some distant place—a journey
Into darkness that all men must make...
Dying is compared to a journey into
darkness; Death is compared to a dwelling Explanation: In the quote, Edgetho's famous son is Beowulf and the quote is talking about his death. Beowulf is unwilling to die and leave this world because he knows that there is a darkness that all men must make (a journey into the afterlife). This darkness is unknown and scary, and Beowulf doesn't want to leave the safety and comfort of this world. Even though he knows he must die someday, he is still reluctant to leave everything he knows behind.
The old man's mouth was silent, spoke
No more, had said as much as it could;
He would sleep in the fire, soon.
Beowulf's funeral pyre is compared to sleep in fire Explanation: The old man's mouth was silent, spoke No more, had said as much as it could; He would sleep in the fire, soon. This means that the old man was very tired and wanted to rest.
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