Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beowulf, the poem

The new film Beowulf resembles a 3D video game. With the film crew bragging endlessly about how they "created a new world" I couldn't help wondering if any of them had actually read the recent Seamus Heany translation. Herewith:

These were hard times, heart-breaking
for the prince of the Shieldings; powerful counselors
the highest in the land, would lend advice,
plotting how best the bold defenders
might resist and beat off sudden attacks.
Sometimes at pagan shrines they vowed
offering to idols, swore oaths
the the killer of souls might come to their aid
and save the people. That was their way,
their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts
they remembered hell.


Beowulf A new verse translation by Seamus Heany p. 13-14


As Ezra Pound pointed out, "poetry is always news."