Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

An abridged review from my original one here.

I never studied this in school, but I think I would have liked it more if a passionate English teacher had done so especially with this translation of the story. My mind wandered quite a bit while reading this text. It was not the most enjoyable thing I’ve read in awhile. On the other hand, I really appreciated the translation by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. There were some margin notes and the original text on the left page to guide you through the book. There is something in the prose of the translation and the arrangement of the text that makes me aware that Heaney is a poet, and this work has been well thought out. Even with a good translation, this is still Beowulf. I think part of the problem is that these stories are so different from present conventions and not created originally for a literary text form or modern prose. I would have much rather listened to this story as it is meant to be. These stories are meant to be recounted by a talented storyteller with a booming bard voice. I’m pleased to say that Seamus Heaney has recorded an audiobook, and exerpts from it can be heard at Northon Anthology. In the end, I’m still glad I read this classic as it does give me more ideas of the Dark Ages and the literary traditions that have derived from this era. I doubt I’ll read

This text won the Costa/Whitbread award and Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.