My advanced English student is taking an English Lit. course at university, and wanted me to help her get ready for her Medieval English exam. I always dreamed of studying Lit. and teaching it at high school or college level, but I never had or took the opportunity. It’s something I’m sometimes sad about.
So when she handed me the anthology she’s studying, and wanted me to read some pieces to her, I was in new, deep water. On her study list was Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare. I’d never read any of them, only heard about them. My student friend wanted practice in listening, so I read aloud, starting with Beowulf.
Recently, I’ve felt starved for words that live, that speak relevance and life to me. So much of what is being written now is clap-trap and trite, canned and smooth, without the grip of something solid for me to hold onto. Not that it’s not speaking to someone else out there, but somehow I need something more.
I started reading the first lines, stumbling over the foreign-sounding, archaic words as gracefully as possible, and came to this line:
…the Lord endowed him,
the Wielder of Wonder, with world’s renown.
So it’s talking about Beowulf, the heir, the son in his halls to ‘favor the folk’ and the alliteration is lovely, but instantly I knew I’d found the rich words I’d been aching for, and who they describe for me: my God, the Wielder of Wonder. The words took my breath away, the alliteration and simplicity and depth.
This week a mentor asked me to think about what God was up to during a particularly puzzling time. So I’ve been thinking about what God was doing, and how patient and solid and persistent He was and is. The phrase from Beowulf, “Wielder of Wonder,” put into words what I hadn’t grasped yet. I can’t fully explain why the words touched me so deeply, why I found them so rich and meaningful, but there they are, because I wanted to share them in case someone else is starved for beautiful words.