At the end of the epic poem “Beowulf,” there’s a woman at the warrior’s funeral “who speaks without permission,” Maria Dahvana Headley said.
“This is an unusual state of affairs,” the author said. “This is one of the only times when this happens — when someone from outside of the inner circle gets voice.”
In her modern retelling of the thousand-year-old poem, Headley translates the moment, which happens at the end of the tale, with greater emphasis on the Geatish woman’s perspective on the hardships to come following her king’s death:
“Then another dirge rose, woven uninvited
by a Geatish woman, louder than the rest.
She tore her hair and screamed her horror
at the hell that was to come: more of the same.”
Photo by Beowulf Sheehan
Stream your PBS favorites with the PBS app: https://to.pbs.org/2Jb8twG
Find more from PBS NewsHour at https://www.pbs.org/newshour
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2HfsCD6
PBS NewsHour podcasts: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/podcasts