They saw in the water many of the serpent-kind,
wondrous sea-dragons exploring the waters,
such nicors as lie on the headlands,
who, in the mornings, often accomplish
sorrowful deeds on the sail-road,
serpents and wild-beasts.
So concludes the epic poem Beowulf. Speaking Old English, storytellers composed Beowulf extemporaneously and shared passages from person to person for thousands of years until they were written down sometime between the eighth and the eleventh centuries. Beowulf is very much a poem about animals, so it’s appropriate to translate its last word, “wilde-or,” as “wild-beasts,” though the word forms … » More …