Books I Love · Harp

Beowulf Blues

Image attributed to Ganainm

At the risk of sounding like I didn’t enjoy myself when I went to England and Ireland in 2005 (which is far from the truth) I’m going to post another regret from that trip. This one was my own fault.

When I was in Dublin, I went on a pub crawl – one of those touristy things (I’d gone on another fantastic one in Scotland which covered Burns and Stevenson). It was guided by 2 musicians who explained all about Irish music and the history of it.

During the tour, they talked about how you may find yourself at an impromptu session of music making at any pub and it’s possible you may be asked to contribute. The lead fellow on the tour explained (tongue in cheek) that it would be highly offensive to refuse. If you aren’t any good, the musicians would be happy to give you tips to get better, and if you are very good, they still will give you tips to get better.

Since I still had the rest of the week to go on my stay in Ireland, I was already dreaming of how nice it would be to find myself one of these musical sessions, but it would be a shame that there probably wouldn’t be a harp around for me to play. As it was there was no harp at this tour, and when it came to the end of it, the guides requested us to contribute something.

Only 2 other guests got up and during their performances, my heart started hammering because the thought crossed my mind that I could contribute after all. Neither one played an instrument; a lady recited a poem about fairies and a fellow sang a song about Boston a capella.

“Beowulf! You can sing Beowulf!” A voice in my head was screaming at me. Another voice was saying, “Eh, don’t bother, you don’t have your harp with you anyway.”

It would have fit in nicely. Beowulf originally passed along by oral tradition before it was written down, much like the traditional Irish tunes. It was originally sung by a person called a scop (I believe it’s pronounced “shope”), who would play the tune on a lyre. I had learned the first 11 lines in Old English and set them to the tune of “The Grenadier and the Lady” because I’m not that good at making up my own tunes. I did it for a project in one of my classes at USF and enjoyed the creative and historical aspect of it. I’ve never forgotten how to sing Beowulf, though now I’d have to practice again to play it on the harp.

In the end, I chickened out. At the time, I made the excuse to the first voice in my head that I didn’t have my harp, so there. But as we were all walking out of the door of the last pub, part of me wanted to gather everyone back in there so I could sing it a capella like the guy from Boston.

I know it wasn’t that big a deal, but I was really kicking myself that I was going home with a regret instead of what could have been a fun story. If I ever get the chance to do something like that again, I hope that I can push myself out of my comfort zone. Doing this blog thing helps, I think. 😉

Have you ever had an opportunity like that pass by? Do you regret it, or are you happy you didn’t jump on it?

Glutened Goal update: I haven’t been able to get any writing done the past 2 days because of illness and gluten. But on the plus side, I came up with another creative analogy to what gluten sometimes feels like: Don Quixote is riding around on Rosinante in my belly and for reasons only known to him, he’ll suddenly wield his sword and swipe my innards. These are the times when I have to just stop what I’m doing and let the jabbing pain pass. lol My writing today was finishing this blog post.

4 thoughts on “Beowulf Blues

  1. I know what this is like. I’d love to be able to get up in front of a bunch of people and do something crazy like sing, but there will always be that voice that keeps me sitting in my chair. It is fun to watch others sing in pubs though! One of the greatest times I had in Ireland was during some impromptu pub singing and spoon playing.

  2. Glutened Goal update: No writing over the weekend, but it’s mostly because of spending as much of my best time with my family. 😀 I did get about a half a page written this morning at the Y. I think that I have about 2 weeks or so to go before the gluten symptoms finally subside.

  3. No writing yesterday. Got about a page written of my WIP this morning. This morning, my hubby said, “Don’t you remember? I said you could go ahead and get a Kindle.” *sigh* I’ve been wanting a Kindle for months since my worthless LookBook bit the dust. You’d think that even under the influence of gluten, I’d remember him saying that the first time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s