Composed towards the end of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the great Northern epics and a classic of European literature.
In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in its language and music, of something fundamental to his own creative gift.
The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed, in that exhausted aftermath.
It is not hard to draw parallels between this story and the history of the twentieth century, nor can Heaney's Beowulf fail to be read partly in the light of his Northern Irish upbringing.
But it also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 144 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 02/10/2000
- Category: Poetry by individual poets
- ISBN: 9780571203765
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by isabelx
This is the first time I've read Seamus Heaney's translation. As Beowulf is a poem, I think that a poetic approach to the translation makes much more sense, and is more readable than the prose rendering in my other copy of Beowulf. <i>Never again would he glitter and glideand show himself off in midnight air,exulting in his riches:</i>is a much more evocative description of the slain dragon than<i>Never would he circle through the air for his sport at the dead of night, nor let himself be seen abroad, glorying in the treasures he owned;</i>
Review by questbird
Epic literature. A very approachable and moody translation; reads well.
Review by mbmackay
A 6th century tale of Danish/Swedish blood feuds overlaid with a later Christian gloss. Written in Eng. in the 9th century.Read Samoa Nov 2003