Beow's Birth and Shield's Funeral - Literary Essay Example

Published: 2019-12-10
Beow's Birth and Shield's Funeral - Literary Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 577 words
5 min read

The passage on legendary warrior King's and Shield's funerals is of a historic genre. This is because it details part of the Danish culture by discussing a legend who ruled the Danes and how his son, Beow came to succeed him. Heaney uses selective imagery to portray the traits exhibited by the warrior Kings. For example, Heaney describes the Kings as courageous and great. He also emphasizes that the princes would hold heroic campaigns in support of their fathers. Therefore, Heaneys point here is that for a man to be a warrior King among the Danes, he had to possess both courage and greatness. Courage would come out of fearlessness in challenging times whereas greatness would be imparted by the level of respect the people had for their King.

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Heaney places keen emphasis on Shield, who was one of the earliest warrior Kings among Danes. Heaney uses a serious tone and an array of imagery in describing the Shields character according to history. In one of his statements, (Heaney, 2001, p. 3) describes Shield as a scourge of many tribes and a wrecker of mead-benches. In this statement, imagery is evident due to the intense words Heaney uses to depict Shield as a conqueror and a warrior. Heaney further portrays Shield as a powerful and prosperous King who had his people worshipping and paying tribute to him as soon as he proved his worth as a warrior.

Fortunately, in the course of Shields rule, he is blessed with a son. Heaney uses an excited tone to express the extent to which a Kings son was a blessing to the Kings rule and to the Danes. To emphasize this, (Heaney, 2001, p. 3) uses imagery in his expression by using words such as a cub in the yard and a comfort sent by God to describe the birth of Beow. According to Heaney, a son was not only a blessing to the King; it was also a way to make the King renowned. Given the King had been blessed with a son, his name would be known throughout the lands and this would be a sign that the Kings lineage was meant to rule the people as long as God desired.

Unfortunately, Shields time as warrior King came to an end and according to Danish culture, his warrior band would bid him farewell. However, this funeral was like none other the Danes had ever seen. Heaney employs a sad tone throughout this historical event. He also utilizes imagery a lot to help create the image of a funeral in the mind of the reader. For example, Heaney states that the warrior band shouldered their King out to the seas floods to illustrate how they carried his body. Throughout the rest of the passage, Heaney puts a lot of emphasize into the manner in which Shield was buried. While doing so, he also uses imagery to show how expensive and breathtaking his funeral was especially to ordinary Danes. For instance, (Heaney, 2001, p. 5) states, Far-fetched treasures were piled upon him, and precious gear. He continues to say, I never heard before of a ship so well furbished with battle tackle, bladed weapons, and coats of mail.

The events analysed in this paper mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Heaneys point of view from the passage, therefore, is how Beows era as a warrior King came to be.


Heaney, S. (2001). Beowulf: A new verse translation.

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