What’s in Yuuur Future?

by Kate
"He knew his days upon this earth were pa...

“He knew his days upon this earth were past” Wiglaf speaking to Beowulf after his battle with the dragon. Beowulf is mortally wounded. Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908). Stories of Beowulf, 99. T.C. & E.C. Jack. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beowulf, the national epic of England, was first written down in the year 725.  It tells the tale of Beowulf, a mighty Geat  warrior who left his homeland of Sweden to help the Danes defeat the monster, Grendel.  In his prime, he was described as having the strength of thirty men.  He not only fatally wounded Grendel by pulling off his arm, but also defeated Grendel’s mother, the Troll-Wife (who lived at the bottom of a lake) after holding his breath for nearly a day.

Basically, the man was a hero.  Why else was he attributed these fantastic abilities?  After gaining the admiration of Hrothgar, the Danish king, Beowulf returned to his own king, Hygelac, and eventually became king himself.  After fifty years at home, (most men of this time died before forty, mind you) a dragon began to scourge the land.  The elder Beowulf prepared to battle the dragon.

For the first and last time, Beowulf needed help to defeat an enemy.  Unlike the achievements in his youth, he was no longer strong enough to be victorious alone.  And there was no young buck ready to duplicate his former service and fight his battles for him.  He paid into social security, but he didn’t receive its benefits.  All of his men but one, his loyal retainer, Wiglaf, deserted him.  With Wiglaf’s help, he slew the dragon.  In doing so, a fang from the dragon pierced his neck, fatally wounding him.  Even though his men had abandoned him, he bequeathed the treasure of the dragon to his people.  They built him a tower large enough to be seen from the sea in honor of his memory.

 In the time of the Anglo-Saxons, there were no health insurance plans, no retirement plans, no 401ks.  No one took Beowulf to the hospital and Frankenlifed him up to live out an unnatural existence.  With our modern world’s fixation upon money rather than honor, we are forgetting entirely the original credit that Capital One wouldn’t want us to remember: our heirs.    Beowulf’s wealth would have been useless to spare his life because it couldn’t buy him anything or anyone to save him.  His fate rested on the loyalty of his people under extreme circumstances.

  There is no mention in the epic of a wife or children of this great man: no little legacies.   His people, of course, lamented his loss, and his retainers who fled before the dragon felt guilt after the mighty tongue lashing Wiglaf gave them when he shared the news of their king’s death.  His greatest tribute appears the poem itself (which, by the way, is not taught in Denmark).  While the lessons of the poem vary, the one applicable to our causes is this: one in a million men may become so great their heroic deeds are sung for hundreds of years, but our story lines peak and fall, and, when we pass on, the world quickly goes right on as it was before.  There is no insurance against death, retirement is not the reason to work, and true wealth is measured in the faith of those surrounding us in battle.

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19 Responses to “What’s in Yuuur Future?”

  1. It’s certainly amazing that some men are remembered for thousands of years after their lives. Achilles, Hector, Ceaser, Alexander, Socrates. White people like their heros.It is a hard thing. I can think of several areas where the right man might be a hero forever, greater than Achilles or Ceaser today.

    • What areas are you thinking of, Ryu?

      • Isn’t it clear? Just imagine the opportunities!

        The glory and fame for the person who would restore real pride in America. In the white race. To restore womanhood. They would live forever and any man who could form a white homeland today, in all times,would be a hero for the ages, higher than Beowulf or Caeser or Achilles.

      • Oh, I had some idea of what you were thinking, but I’m glad you elaborated. I wouldn’t have expected you to say that about restoring womanhood. That is a lofty goal. And nice to know that some men would consider such a woman a heroine. I wonder what steps would need to be taken to achieve that. Repealing the right to vote? A best-selling book on the topic of reclaiming womanhood?

  2. Lovely post, greatly enjoyed this. So true. Thanks.

  3. I like this Kate, this is very good writing!

    • Thanks! I taught British Literature for seven years, so its nice to get a chance to discuss this work again. One of my favorite lessons was when I had students reenact the battle between Beowulf and Grendel. lol They had almost as much fun with that as when we acted out the accidental death of Polonius, but not QUITE as much fun as an activity I’d do for Lord of the Flies. I’d say to the class: “You’ve got ten mintues to build a shelter. Go.” lol You should have seen what happened to my classroom. But, hbd might appreciate this, they were memorable lessons, and, by the end of the ten minutes, not one student would be visible because they were all in some sort of structure they’d built with desks, tables, books, boxes, etc.

  4. Thanks for this. A succinct, well-written piece, nice and tight, touching upon larger themes I’ve been mulling over in recent years. Especially the last two sentences.

    I still haven’t completely fleshed out in words my own understanding of our predicament and how best to approach it, but I sense I’m taking first steps.

    Our time here is a gift. The challenge before us, I think, is to figure out *how* to live in these, the last days of Kali Yuga, how to accept finitude and adopt a ‘yes-saying’ to life, remaining open to the beautiful mystery of being. There is real joy to be found in merely existing, in becoming deeply involved with the world (and yet remaining untainted by it), with an ’empty mind, full heart,’ and not holding oneself above it through animal-ignorance or hubris.

    This can be some consolation, I imagine, to those without the ‘little legacies’ and heroic bard-sung accomplishments.

    The key is learning to die.

    • Happy to please:)

      Well, my way, for better or worse, is to tune out the rest of the world as best I can. Our time truly is a gift. I also tend to view life here as a training ground/ crucible. I feel we are being formed for something. It is very true that there is real joy in existence: growing carrots, for instance. We all have some legacy whether it be a child, print, painting, etc.

      “The key is learning to die.” I would love to hear you speak more about this. As a society at large, we have forgotten how to do it!!! Simply because we can fix people up doesn’t mean we should. Whether I will still feel this way if ever faced with a terminal illness, I don’t know. But, nature has a course, and I don’t believe in altering it.

  5. A lot of food for thought.

    “His fate rested on the loyalty of his people under extreme circumstances.”

    This reminds me of Tom Barry’s description of Sikibbereen:

    On the following morning we marched for Skibbereen. This town had then a population of nearly three thousand. Its inhabitants were a race apart from the sturdy people of West Cork. They were different and with a few exceptions were spineless, slouching through life meek and tame, prepared to accept ruling and domination from any clique or country, provided they were left to vegetate in peace. Like the opium eaters of the Eat they wre incapable of enthusiams or effort for anything more strenuous than promenading or gossip, so it is little wonder that there wree only four members of the IRA in the whole town, three of whom had been arrested. About a doxen other inhabitants were Sinn Feiners. The town was cursed with two cliques. One was the strong British loyalist group which lorded it over the supine natives. The other was the more despicable group of local native politicians, who invoking the names of Parnell, Redmond, Caitlin ni Houlihan and Mother Ireland, degraded the public life of this unfortunate town. These cringed to the Army of Occupation and the Loyalists, deprecated, so very carefully, the National Struggle for Freedom, and pursued their petty meannesses under the guise of what they called Catholicism. They were not dangerous to the Republican Movement as they lacked the energy and gumption to be actively hostile to anything. They were, however, it must be admitted, a true reflex of the people they represented, because if Satan himself appeared in the Skibbereen of 1920-21, the great majority would doff their hats to him, and if he wagged his tail once in anger, he was sure to be elected high in the poll to the Skibbereen District Council.

    No one can explain the origin of the blight that destroyed the spirit of man in the majority of the dwellers of that town. It was not a modern one, for Skibbereen can claim that in the so-called famine of 1846-1847 more Skibbereen men died and saw their wives and children die of starvation than in any other town in Ireland, while the British Ascendancy were allowed to seize their food without the slightest opposition. O’Donovan Rossa even failed to make the male population of Skibbereen stand upright. A native of Rosscarbery, he went to work in Skibbereen and founded the “Phoenix Society,” but he had to rely chiefly for active support on the manhood of the parishes around the town.

    Tom Barry, Guerilla Days in Ireland (Dublin: Anvil Books 1981), 89-90.

  6. Little motivation from Lotus-Eaters (see “The Odyssey”). Drudgery and despair make motivation pretty difficult as well. Seems only the rare person has it intrinsically and can rise above those circumstances.
    [ed note: it is a paradox that Mankind must wait until the Goose that lay the Golden Eggs is dead, instead of presaging the obvious. i now believe ONLY the deprivation and horror of collapse will motivate americans]

  7. i used to go to think this stuff was impossible, in America but now i dont know, but still…
    .

  8. Inspiring post Kate. Thank you.

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