Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

3.42 avg rating
( 182,167 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780374111199: Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

A brilliant and faithful rendering of the Anglo-Saxon epic from the Nobel laureate.

Composed toward the end of the first millennium of our era, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the end of the twentieth century, Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface.

Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

In Beowulf warriors must back up their mead-hall boasts with instant action, monsters abound, and fights are always to the death. The Anglo-Saxon epic, composed between the 7th and 10th centuries, has long been accorded its place in literature, though its hold on our imagination has been less secure. In the introduction to his translation, Seamus Heaney argues that Beowulf's role as a required text for many English students obscured its mysteries and "mythic potency." Now, thanks to the Irish poet's marvelous recreation (in both senses of the word) under Alfred David's watch, this dark, doom-ridden work gets its day in the sun.

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,
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...
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.

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 here
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.
In 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

About the Author:

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
vladimir belskiy
(Alexandria, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hardcover Feb 15, 2000. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # kamk 112217

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Heaney, Seamus
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2000. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VV-9780374111199

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.00
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Seamus Heaney
Published by MacMillan Publishers
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description MacMillan Publishers. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0374111197

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Heaney, Seamus
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Quantity Available: 4
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2000. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780374111199

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 17.42
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Heaney, Seamus
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux 2/15/2000 (2000)
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar Straus Giroux 2/15/2000, 2000. Hardback or Cased Book. Book Condition: New. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9780374111199

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 22.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Mediaoutlet12345
(Springfield, VA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0374111197 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI1068464

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 19.05
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Heaney, Seamus (EDT)
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 3
Seller:
VNHM SHOP
(Pompano Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 1659528

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 23.21
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2000)
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # 0374111197

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 22.12
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 5
Seller:
Lakeside Books
(Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0374111197 BRAND NEW, GIFT QUALITY! NOT OVERSTOCKS OR MARKED UP REMAINDERS! DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER!|1.16. Bookseller Inventory # OTF-S-9780374111199

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 20.28
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2000)
ISBN 10: 0374111197 ISBN 13: 9780374111199
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Save With Sam
(North Miami, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # 0374111197

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 21.68
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.00
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book