For those of you who don’t know, Beowulf is an epic spotlighting a Scandinavian prince (and later king) named Beowulf and his great deeds. It’s a really old poem, written in Old English–the language of the Anglo-Saxons, by an Anglo-Saxon poet who–sadly–is anonymous. For years, Beowulf was only memorized, not written down. People would memorize Beowulf and recite the poem for hours, as a form of entertainment and a way to remember how to behave in society (it’s hard to see why it would be something to help Anglo-Saxons remember how to behave in society when you read it).
Then in the days of medieval England, Catholic monks finally wrote Beowulf down, and kept copies of it in the monasteries. But King Henry VIII came along and burned down all the monasteries to convert the entire England to Protestantism. All but one copy was ruined. That one copy was taken to a museum that housed only famous works of English literature, but in 1731 a fire did some damage to the Beowulf manuscript. While you can get a translation of Beowulf, translators have sometimes had a hard time translating Beowulf because some of the words are cut off. They have even used ultraviolet technology to figure out some missing letters.
If you’re not a poet (or at least not familiar with poetry), dig into Burton Raffel’s translation of Beowulf and you might be overwhelmed by all the kennings, what certain phrases mean, etc. But you’ll get the hang of it.
P.S. Sorry for not posting! Also, I am transferring my NaPoWriMo poems to a Figment (I’ll show the link below, and the poems will still be here) book.