By Stanley B. Greenfield, Alain Renoir

Stanley B. Greenfield, one of many world’s prime Anglo-Saxon students, writes of why, after greater than thirty years of research, he undertook the Herculean activity of rendering Beowulf into con­temporary verse: “I sought after my translation to be not just faith­ful to the unique yet, because the past due John Lennon might have placed it, ‘A Poem in Its personal Write.’ i wished it to ‘flow,’ to be effortless to learn, with the narrative circulate of a latest prose tale; but to signify the rhythmic cadences of the outdated English poem. i wished it either glossy and previous English in its reflexes and sen­sibilities, delighting either the final reader and the Anglo-Saxon expert. . . . i wished it to breed the intoxication of aural contours which… may need happy and amused war­riors over their cups within the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall, or these priests in Anglo-Saxon monasteries who paid extra cognizance to tune and to tales of Ingeld than to the lector and the gospels.”

Greenfield has succeeded to a striking measure in attaining his ambitions. An early reviewer of the manuscript, Daniel G. Calder of UCLA, wrote: “I locate it the simplest translation of Beowulf.

One of the nice issues of different translations is they make the analyzing of Beowulf difficult. Greenfield’s translation speeds in addition to massive ease. . . students will locate the interpretation attention-grabbing as an workout within the profitable recreat­ing of varied points of previous English poetic style.”

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525, it seems that the historical Hrothulf the Hrolf of the Hrolfssaga Kraka usurped the throne and presumably rid himself of the legitimate claimants. Once properly impressed upon our mind, this and other similar reminders of historical facts outside the scope of the narrative become powerfully relevant to the immediate context: by keeping us aware that the glory before us is doomed to nought, they lend a tangible reality to the sense of transiency which pervades the poem; by keeping us aware that Hrothgar's sons will never succeed their father, they add tragic intensity to the concern which their mother shows for their future, as was suggested earlier in this essay.

While I have not imitated this sound contour for the block of lines, I have used equivalent devices. " Rarely a line of my translation will have no alliteration; but I would note that any vowel alliterates with any other vowel in my version, even as it did in Old English practice: for example, "that no óther shíeld-béarer ánywhere," line 858. " But both the envelope pattern and word-play of this sort, as I mentioned earlier, were part of the Old English aesthetic, and particularly part of the Beowulf-poet's aesthetic arsenal, and my translation legitimately conveys meaning embedded within the Old English image: for it is Scyld's deeds and those of his Danish successors that the poet is "hwæt-ing" as he begins his epic.

Retainers; those warriors who were closest companions to Old English and early Germanic war-lords or kings. < previous page page_42 next page > < previous page page_43 next page > Page 43 than one night he once again performed more atrocious and murderous acts, unrepenting of his evil ways. It was not hard then to find the thane who sought a more distant sleeping place elsewhere in softer chambers when he had such evidence of enmity from this hall-thane: he who escaped that foe kept farther off, more secure.

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