Beowulf: A Verse Translation (Penguin Classics)
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"Alexander's translation is marked by a conviction that it is possible to be both ambitious and faithful [and] ...communicates the poem with a care which goes beyond fidelity-to-meaning and reaches fidelity of implication. May it go on ... to another half-million copies." - Tom Shippey, Bulletin of the International Association of University Professors of English
Beowulf is the greatest surviving work of literature in Old English, unparalleled in its epic grandeur and scope. It tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and of his battles, first with the monster Grendel, who has laid waste to the great hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, then with Grendel's avenging mother, and finally with a dragon that threatens to devastate his homeland. Through its blend of myth and history, Beowulf vividly evokes a twilight world in which men and supernatural forces live side by side. And it celebrates the endurance of the human spirit in a transient world.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
the son of Edgelaf, 500 sitting at the feet of the Father of the Scyldings, unbound a battle-rune. Beowulf’s undertaking, the seaman’s bold venture, vexed him much. He could not allow that another man should hold under heaven a higher care for wonders in the world than went with his own name. ‘Is this the Beowulf of Breca’s swimming-match, who strove against him on the stretched ocean, when for pride the pair of you proved the seas and for a trite boast entrusted your lives 510 to the
British Library. Forty-one lines were transcribed in 1705, and another forty-one published in the second edition of Sharon Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons in 1807. The text was first published by an Icelander, Thorkelin, in Copenhagen in 1815, with a Latin translation. In 1820 it was translated by the poet Gruntvig into Danish. In 1830 a Cambridge undergraduate called Tennyson translated into his notebook a few lines, in which Beowulf ‘his word-hoard unlocked’. In 1833 Tennyson’s friend J.
help you. As for Hygelac, I know that the Lord of the Geats, Guide of his flock, 1830 young though he is, will yield his support both in words and deeds so I may do you honour and bring you a grove of grey-tipped spears and my strength in aid when you are short of men. Further, when Hrethric shall have it in mind to come, as a king’s son, to the courts of the Geats he shall find many friends there. Far countries are seen by a man of mark to much advantage.’ Hrothgar spoke to him in
champion stood up beside his shield, brave beneath helmet, he bore his mail-shirt to the rocky cliff’s foot, confident in his strength, a single man; such is not the coward’s way! Then did the survivor of a score of conflicts, 2540 the battle-clashes of encountering armies, excelling in manhood, see in the wall a stone archway, and out of the barrow broke a stream surging through it, a stream of fire with waves of deadly flame; the dragon’s breath meant he could not venture into the
of power, the huge inheritance, hedged about with a spell: 3050 no one among men was permitted to touch that golden store of rings unless God Himself, the true King of Victories, the Protector of mankind, enabled one He chose to open the hoard, whichever among men should seem meet to Him. It was plain to see then that this plan had failed the creature who had kept these curious things hidden wrongfully within the wall; the warden had slain a man like few others; but the feud was