By Stanley B. Greenfield, Alain Renoir

Stanley B. Greenfield, one of many world’s optimum Anglo-Saxon students, writes of why, after greater than thirty years of analysis, 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 overdue John Lennon could have placed it, ‘A Poem in Its personal Write.’ i needed it to ‘flow,’ to be effortless to learn, with the narrative circulation of a contemporary prose tale; but to indicate the rhythmic cadences of the previous English poem. i needed it either glossy and outdated English in its reflexes and sen­sibilities, delighting either the final reader and the Anglo-Saxon professional. . . . i wished it to breed the intoxication of aural contours which… may have happy and amused war­riors over their cups within the Anglo-Saxon mead-hall, or these clergymen in Anglo-Saxon monasteries who paid extra awareness to music and to tales of Ingeld than to the lector and the gospels.”

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

One of the good issues of different translations is they make the examining of Beowulf difficult. Greenfield’s translation speeds besides massive ease. . . students will locate the interpretation attention-grabbing as an workout within the winning recreat­ing of assorted points of previous English poetic style.”

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As the makers of horror films discovered long ago, the mon- < previous page page_21 next page > < previous page page_22 next page > Page 22 ster's slow approach is likely to prove far more suspenseful and terrifying than his sudden appearance on the screen, since it allows the audience to anticipate and share emotionally the fate of the intended victims. Consciously or otherwise, the Beowulf-poet has composed in accordance with this principle, as we can see in his handling of Grendel's last raid upon Heorot (703-21).

Frequently I bind sequent lines together with alliteration and other sound effects. Thus the "days" of line 2 picks up the "-Danes" of line 1; and "courage" of line 3 links with "kings'" of line 2, both in sound and in sense. In line 3 "displayed" not only provides the p alliteration within the line (with "princes") but its sp sound links with that of "Spear-" in line 1. Line 4 comes closest to imitating the Old English pattern, with its "Scyld Scefing shattered," since sc was pronounced sh in Old English.

Curious, he wondered who and what those. men were. So, riding his horse, right to the shore 235 went Hrothgar's thane; in his hand he shook his great spear, spoke to them formally: ''What kind of men are you, armor-clad in your coats of mail, who have thus come hither in so tall a ship, taking 240 the sea-paths in your stride?. For some time have I guarded this land's end, held -sea-watch so that no. foes with, a force of ships could launch a raid in our Danish land. No other band has come so openly 245 with shields, yet you have no leave to land, have not received consent of kinsmen, our noble leaders.

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