Loyalty, Mortality, and Prosperity

Themes That Span the Ages

Dear Reader,

For my multigenre project, I have written a ballad about loyalty, an obituary highlighting, not surprisingly, mortality, and a diary entry regarding wealth. In reading Beowulf and the Pardoner's Tale, I have learned it is easier than I thought to find multiple topics and themes in literature. Beyond that, I also discovered that despite the immense difference in time, the themes found in those tales still hold true today.

One thing I feel I did well in this project was keeping my voice throughout the varied pieces I wrote. A ballad is quite different from an obituary, however, I aimed to stay true to my style and diction. My goal is to continuously refine my style, but maintain consistency in my writing. This was good practice.

However, it was very hard to tie in the theme to the piece being written. There is a balance between not being too obvious in stating your theme, but stating it clearly enough to be understood. I found that balance hard to strike. As a result, I have added respect for the way themes were effortlessly included in Beowulf and Canterbury Tales.

In the future, I hope to expand my reading to older literature, since I especially enjoyed reading Beowulf. Also, I will be on the lookout for lessons and themes in the books I read, as well as ways to incorporate themes in what I write. A good book always has some bit of wisdom to pass on to it's reader; hopefully I am now better equipped to find it.


Janelle Popish

Piece #1 Description

My first piece is a ballad recounting Beowulf's fight with Grendel and then Grendel's mother. There is no doubt that Beowulf was a mighty warrior- the best of his time. Yet, another of his outstanding qualities was his loyalty. He offered to help Higlac without being asked, and with out asking for something in return. Yet, when Grendel's mother struck unexpectedly, he risked his life to battle her as well. This unceasing loyalty sets Beowulf apart as a true hero.

Piece #1- The Mark of a Hero True

Listen and I will tell the tale

Of wretched monsters

Risen from the depths of hell

And the warrior brave enough to face them

Beowulf, son of Edgetho,

Heard stories of an unconquerable monster

And fearlessly trekked where no man dare go

To the battle hall the heathen plagued

To the Danes, their once distinguished king,

Fallen from glory at the hands of this beast

Accepted the help good Beowulf bring

The kindness given unasked

That night, when the monster stormed the hall

He found an unwelcome surprise

By Beowulf’s hands he did fall

And the curse of the Danes was lifted

Yet the battle was not done

This monster’s mother did retaliate

But Beowulf would not rest till he had won

So he traveled to where the she-beast lurked

It was a long and arduous fight

But by God’s good grace

And Beowulf’s might

He cut off the monster’s head

And so marks a hero true

That no matter the cost

What he promises, he follows through

The loyal and mighty Beowulf

Piece #2 Description

My second piece is a mock obituary for Beowulf. It recounts his many feats and victories over the years. Sadly, even the strongest of warriors dies. However, even in death Beowulf's legacy carried on. His successful rulership and loyalty those around him will not soon be forgotten. Therefore, the good he accomplished in his lifetime lived on, even after he was gone.

Piece #2- Obituary of Beowulf

Beowulf, son of Edgtho, age 80, died on August 3rd, 580 AD. Services will be held on August 13th, at the monument being built in his honor. Beowulf died of blood loss resulting from wounds received in battle. Before his death, he successfully slayed the dragon inhabiting the tower under the rocky cliffs. The Geats mourn the loss of their brave leader.

Beowulf will be remembered for his many feats of strength. In his youth, he slayed many a monster. Among his more well-known accomplishments was the defeat of Grendel, the monster that tormented the battle hall of Hrothgar for twelve years. As the story is told, when weapons would do no harm, he tore the monster’s arm off with his bare hands. Beowulf did not stop there, however. When the monster’s mother attacked Hrothgar in retaliation, Beowulf tracked the she beast down and sliced her in two.

Aside from being a strong warrior, Beowulf will also be remembered as a good and loyal leader. For thirty years he humbly served Higlac, winning honor and wealth. Then, for fifty peaceful years he ruled Geatland, bringing even more honor and wealth to our people. His men can attest he was kind and faithful, his loyalty to them never faltering. His death is a grave reminder even the strongest of warriors will not win the battle against his own mortality. Yet, he left behind a legacy that will span the ages.

Piece #3 Description

The third piece I wrote was a diary entry from the view point of Death in the Pardoner's Tale. Death reveals he was the old man the rioters met on the road to St. Mary's, and after the unsavory interchange, sent them down a path of no return. He ponders at the foolishness of the rioters, who forget about avenging their friend and their loyalty to one another the instant they find the treasure. Death knows all too well that wealth is meaningless beyond the grave- hardly something worth risking your life over.

Piece #3- Death's Diary

Dear Diary,

Today was a busy day. Early this morning I caught rumor of a vow made in a pig sty of a tavern by three drunken rioters. They had learned of the end of an old friend- saw his coffin passing by and heard he had crossed paths with me. It seems my reputation proceeds me, as several of the locals warned to steering clear of the thief they call Death. Behaving as foolish drunks will, the group would not heed the advice, but vowed to track me down and avenge their comrade. I generally make it a policy to only conduct business by appointment, but never let it be said I am not approachable. My schedule was clear this morning, so I met them on the path to St. Mary’s. What an unpleasant meeting! I disguised myself as an old man, told them the heart wrenching-tale of how even my own mother’s soul ignored my pleas to be laid to rest. It was a pretty stirring account, but not a shred of sympathy was shown. They even went as far as to threaten me- an old crippled man. They insisted on their meeting with Death, so I sent them to find it. I told them death was nearby in a graveyard- and it was. They so happened to stumble upon a treasure and lo and behold! their greed led to their own undoing. Each plotted against the other to take his share of gold. By the end of the day they had each fallen by the others' hands. What strange creatures humans are, with their love of gold. The rioters died in vain- what good will their gold do them now?