The first monster to appear in the epic Beowulf and
the anti-heroic protagonist of John Gardner's novel.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
since the Creator his exile doomed.
On kin of Cain was the killing avenged
by sovran God for slaughtered Abel.
Ill fared his feud, and far was he driven,
for the slaughter's sake, from sight of men.
Gummere's notes tell us that a "march-riever" is:
A disturber of the border, one who sallies from his haunt
in the fen and roams over the country near by. This probably
pagan nuisance is now furnished with biblical credentials as
a fiend or devil in good standing, so that all Christian Englishmen
might read about him. "Grendel" may mean one who grinds