A Readable Beowulf: The Old English Epic Newly Translated

Stanley B. Greenfield, one of the world s foremost Anglo-Saxon scholars, writes of why, after more than thirty years of study, he undertook the Herculean task of rendering Beowulf into contemporary verse: I wanted my translation to be not only faithful to the original but, as the late John Lennon would have put it, A Poem in Its Own Write. I wanted it to flow, to be easy to read, with the narrative movement of a modern prose story; yet to suggest the rhythmic cadences of the Old English poem. I wanted it both modern and Old English in its reflexes and sensibilities, delighting both the general reader and the Anglo-Saxon specialist. . . . I wanted it to reproduce the intoxication of aural contours which might have pleased and amused warriors over their cups in the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall, or those monks in Anglo-Saxon monasteries who paid more attention to song and to stories of Ingeld than to the lector and the gospels. Greenfield has succeeded to a remarkable degree in reaching his goals. An early reviewer of the manuscript, Daniel G. Calder of UCLA, wrote: I find it the best translation of Beowulf. One of the great problems with other translations is that they make the reading of Beowulf difficult. Greenfield s translation speeds along with considerable ease. . . Scholars will find the translation fascinating as an exercise in the successful recreating of various aspects of Old English poetic style.