Cover image for Beowulf : a new verse translation
Title:
Beowulf : a new verse translation
Author:
Heaney, Seamus.
Uniform Title:
Beowulf. English & English (Old English)
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Rockland, MA : Wheeler Pub., [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
243 pages ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781568959207
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PR1583 .H43 2000B Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print
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Summary

Summary

Winner of the Whitbread Prize, Seamus Heaney's translation "accomplishes what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right" (New York Times Book Review).


Author Notes

Seamus Heaney was born in Mossbawn, Ireland on April 13, 1939. He received a degree in English from Queen's College in Belfast in 1961. After earning his teacher's certificate in English from St. Joseph's College in Belfast the following year, he took a position at the school as an English teacher. During his time as a teacher at St. Joseph's, he wrote and published work in the university magazine under the pen name Incertus.

In 1966, he became an English literature lecturer at Queen's College in Belfast. His first volume of poems, Death of a Naturalist, went on to receive the E.C. Gregory Award, the Cholmondeley Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.

After the death of his parents, Heaney published the poetry volumes The Haw Lantern, which includes a sonnet sequence memorializing his mother, and Seeing Things, a collection containing numerous poems for his father. His other works included Field Work, Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996, and Human Chain.

Heaney was a professor at Harvard from 1981 to 1997 and its Poet in Residence from 1988 to 2006. From 1989 to 1994 he was also the Professor of Poetry at Oxford and in 1996 was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. Other awards that he received include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999). In 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry. His literary papers are held by the National Library of Ireland.

He died following a short illness on August 30, 2013 at the age of 74. Heaney's last words were in a text to his wife Marie, "Noli timere", which means "Do not be afraid."

(Bowker Author Biography) Seamus Heaney lives in Dublin and teaches at Harvard University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1995.

(Publisher Provided) Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. A resident of Dublin, he has taught poetry at Oxford University and Harvard University.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

How powerful the oldest, most archetypal literary works remain, especially when newly rendered by so accomplished a hand as Northern Ireland's Nobel laureate. The story of Beowulf, who crosses the sea to slay two monsters ravishing a neighboring kingdom and then, many years later, must vanquish a dragon to save his own people, dying as he does, enthralls as surely as ever. As Heaney explains marvelously in the second part of the book's introduction, he keeps, loosely, the alliteration of the Old English original but, except when a line's natural rhythm "breaks" it in two, dispenses with its caesurae. He provides a running gloss on the plot to dispel any possible bewilderment about what is happening, and he winningly incorporates a few obscure but economical words (e.g., bawn for king's hall) that are Old English survivals in the regional English of Ulster and, Heaney found, parts of America. With the Old English text printed on lefthand pages, across from the new, this Beowulf sets a new standard for versions of the old epic. --Ray Olson


Publisher's Weekly Review

When the great monster Grendel comes to Denmark and dashes its warriors' hopes, installing himself in their great hall and eating alive the valiant lords, the hero Beowulf arrives from over the ocean to wrestle the beast. He saves the Danes, who sing of his triumphs, but soon the monster's mother turns up to take him hostage: having killed her, our hero goes home to the land of the Geats, acquires the kingship, and fights to the death an enormous dragon. That's the plot of this narrative poem, composed more than a millennium ago in the Germanic language that gave birth (eventually) to our version of English. Long a thing for professors to gloss, the poem includes battles, aggressive boasts, glorious funerals, frightening creatures and a much-studied alliterative meter; earlier versions in current vernacular have pleased lay readers and helped hard-pressed students. Nobel laureate Heaney has brought forth a finely wrought, controversial (for having won a prize over a children's book) modern English version, one which retains, even recommends, the archaic strengths of its warrior world, where "The Spear-Danes in days gone by/ and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness." Well-known digressionsAa detailed dirge, the tale-within-a-tale of Hengest, "homesick and helpless" in ancient FrieslandAfind their ways into Heaney's English, which holds to the spirit (not always the letter) of the en face Anglo-Saxon, fusing swift story and seamless description, numinous adjectives and earthy nouns: in one swift scene of difficult swimming, "Shoulder to shoulder, we struggled on/ for five nights, until the long flow/ and pitch of the waves, the perishing cold drove us apart. The deep boiled up/ and its wallowing sent the sea-brutes wild." Heaney's evocative introduction voices his long-felt attraction to the poem's "melancholy fortitude," describing the decades his rendering took and the use he discovered for dialect terms. It extends in dramatic fashion Heaney's long-term archeological delvings, his dig into the origins of his beloved, conflictedAby politics and placeAEnglish language. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

There are over 20 translations of this Old English epic into modern English, from the prose version of E. Talbot Donaldson to the verse renditions of Burton Raffel and Stanley Greenfield. The appearance of this new translation by Nobel Laureate Heaney, and especially its replacement of the Donaldson Beowulf in the Norton Anthology, instantly elevates it in the canon. Recognizing that ordinary native English dialects still contain much of the vocabulary found in Old English, Heaney tries to evoke the diction and syntax of a living language. He captures the alliterative rhythm without monotony (although he loses some of the subtle shifts of mood, making the world of Beowulf seem more primitive than it was). Heaney is especially good at creating the elegiac tone of the work. In all, this is good poetry, if not always true to the original. This bilingual edition contains a valuable introduction by Heaney and a note on names by Alfred David. For public and academic libraries.--Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Alfred David
Introductionp. ix
A Note on Namesp. xxxi
Beowulfp. 2
Family Treesp. 217
Acknowledgementsp. 219

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