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Beasts of Time

Apocalyptic "Beowulf</I>


Edward Risden

Over time the reputation of Beowulf as a poem continues to rise. Extant in only one manuscript, yet perhaps the most studied of English poems, it represents a remarkable text and artifact: the first European vernacular epic. And like much of the work of its age, Beowulf exhibits a strong native strain of apocalypticism, a pervasive awareness of the imminence of end-times. The chief source of its apocalyptic power, the poem's beasts, haunts the reader; one cannot depart the poem without a sense that the monsters and heroes continue their battle into the present and beyond.