Beowulf Heaney

Speaking of Beowulf (J.R.R. Beowulf) here is Seamus Heaney reading form his 2000 translation

And here is the beginning of the poem read in Old English.

Heaney’s translation, by the way, is absolutely brilliant:

Countless small examples like this add up to a translation that manages to accomplish what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right.

A Better ‘Beowulf‘, by James Shaphiro (New York Times)

Here is a small sample of Heaney at work:

In off the moors, down through the mist-bands
God-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.
The bane of the race of men roamed forth,
Hunting for a prey in the high hall.
Under the cloud-murk he moved towards it
Until it shone above him, a sheer keep
Of fortified gold.

And here is the entire translation:

Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation.

Here’s more on the original manuscript.



    1. Heaney to me is the finest living poet writing in English. Geoffrey Hill is a somewhat distant second. Early and mid- John Ashbery brings up the rear. Adrienne Rich is up there, but unfortunately she recently passed away.

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