Nothing more humbling than working your way through a passage and still not understanding what it means. Robert J. Menner charitably calls this passage “the most obscure in the poem” (p. 121), and I see what he means. The grammar is plain, and I’m pretty sure I got the words in the right places, but the referent is utterly unknown to me.

Menner has his explanations, and apparently an article upon the subject (JEGP 37 (1938): 332-54, but I don’t know. Certainly the sketches of the story are fascinating: a hero named Ravening Wolf slays twenty-five dragons but dies himself in a pan that soon becomes so infected with poison that not even birds can fly across it, yet Wolf’s sword glitters upon the empty field still. A creepy image.

Guess I do get it — I just never heard this story before. I like it though.