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There are endless pleasures in Heaney's analysis, but readers should head straight for the poem and then to the prose. (Some will also take advantage of the dual-language edition and do some linguistic teasing out of their own.) The epic's outlines seem simple, depicting Beowulf's three key battles with the scaliest brutes in all of art: Grendel, Grendel's mother (who's in a suitably monstrous snit after her son's dismemberment and death), and then, 50 years later, a gold-hoarding dragon "threatening the night sky / with streamers of fire." Along the way, however, we are treated to flashes back and forward and to a world view in which a thane's allegiance to his lord and to God is absolute. In the first fight, the man from Geatland must travel to Denmark to take on the "shadow-stalker" terrorizing Heorot Hall. Here Beowulf and company set sail:
Men climbed eagerly up the gangplank,After a fearsome night victory over march-haunting and heath-marauding Grendel, our high-born hero is suitably strewn with gold and praise, the queen declaring: "Your sway is wide as the wind's home, / as the sea around cliffs." Few will disagree. And remember, Beowulf has two more trials to undergo.
sand churned in the surf, warriors loaded
a cargo of weapons, shining war-gear
in the vessel's hold, then heaved out,
away with a will in their wood-wreathed ship.
Over the waves, with the wind behind her
and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird...
Heaney claims that when he began his translation it all too often seemed "like trying to bring down a megalith with a toy hammer." The poem's challenges are many: its strong four-stress line, heavy alliteration, and profusion of kennings could have been daunting. (The sea is, among other things, "the whale-road," the sun is "the world's candle," and Beowulf's third opponent is a "vile sky-winger." When it came to over-the-top compound phrases, the temptations must have been endless, but for the most part, Heaney smiles, he "called a sword a sword.") Yet there are few signs of effort in the poet's Englishing. Heaney varies his lines with ease, offering up stirring dialogue, action, and description while not stinting on the epic's mix of fate and fear. After Grendel's misbegotten mother comes to call, the king's evocation of her haunted home may strike dread into the hearts of men and beasts, but it's a gift to the reader:
A few miles from hereIn Heaney's hands, the poem's apparent archaisms and Anglo-Saxon attitudes--its formality, blood-feuds, and insane courage--turn the art of an ancient island nation into world literature. --Kerry Fried
a frost-stiffened wood waits and keeps watch
above a mere; the overhanging bank
is a maze of tree-roots mirrored in its surface.
At night there, something uncanny happens:
the water burns. And the mere bottom
has never been sounded by the sons of men.
On its bank, the heather-stepper halts:
the hart in flight from pursuing hounds
will turn to face them with firm-set horns
and die in the wood rather than dive
beneath its surface. That is no good place.
wie gesagt, muß einem liegen. Aber wenn das der Fall ist, wirds geradezu aufregend. Die Reimform ist für Menschen nicht englischer Muttersprache (Und womöglich auch... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 6. November 2006 von Sebastian Lechner
During my college years, I read the Cantebury Tales in Middle English. While i could make my way through the verse, I never felt I could completely grasp the story. Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 31. Juli 2000 von Doug De Bono
I hadn't read Beowulf since college, and while I remembered the epic to be a magnificent piece of art, I had forgotten (or maybe just discovered through Heaney's translation) how... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 19. Juli 2000 von Constance Ferrari
This is a book people buy to say they bought it. To say they are intellectuals. Come on, get a life. Duh.Veröffentlicht am 16. Juli 2000 von Bob
This classic Anglo-Saxon poem was created by an unknown poet sometime between 700 and 1000 A.D. It was reduced to writing much later than that and has been turned into modern... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 14. Juli 2000 von Billax
That an Irishman could so well understand the Anglo Saxon tongue is one thing. But for Seamus Heaney also to understand and bring to life the culture within a culture--the time... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 3. Juli 2000 von "lynnelda"
Do not be put off by the fact that this is a verse translation of an Anglo-Saxon poem. Beowulf is an epic hero - I would cast Russell Crowe - on a mission to rid the land of... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 2. Juli 2000 von francesca
"Beowulf" is, first and foremost, a good story clad in well-crafted language. But the distance between that language and modern English is far too great for most readers... Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 28. Juni 2000 von P. Lozar
I'm no scholar of translations, but I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Beowulf. I had read Beowulf in high school and never got this kind of a thrill. Lesen Sie weiter...Veröffentlicht am 25. Juni 2000 von John M