One of the most renowned stories of earlier times, the tale of Beowulf has been passed through many generations of telling. It’s a brilliant illustration of the Anglo Saxon period and has remained a true typical epic of its time.
The tales of the Ancient Greeks are well known to us, but the English heroes – apart from the legend of Arthur – are overlooked. Beowulf has come to us from an Anglo Saxon poem about events in Denmark, and it’s just as thrilling as the story of Achilles.
The story of Beowulf is an adventure that’s been told for a thousand years and it’s still a ripping good yarn.
Of all the translations I’ve read, Heaney wins hands down. He’s absolutely brilliant!
He keeps the clear simplicity of phrasing that is the English we use in everyday speech, jogging along in the rhythm of the Anglo-Saxon bard, the scop.
There was Shiels Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,
a wrecker of mead benches, rampaging among foes.
This terror of the hall troops had come far
My Amazon Link Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
Poets and story tellers were highly esteemed in the the Anglo-Saxon period of England. They were the historians of the tribe, the chroniclers of society who ensured that everyone remembered the important heroes, the war chiefs, the important battles and the folklore of the tribe.
Anglo-Saxon poetry, like the whole language itself, was an oral art – rarely written down, but recited as a song or as a riddle. Riddling was a popular pastime, and along with tongue-twisters, puns and all sorts of verbal wit, figured prominently in Old English.
Heaney carries on the tradition. Highly recommended.