‘When a warrior is gone’… Seamus Heaney

‘When a warrior is gone’… Seamus Heaney.

Via Call of the Siren.

Though – as I wrote a couple posts back – Heaney was not my favorite translator of Beowulf, it’s impossible to deny the impact of his translation, and for those who find medieval literature to be not only interesting and entertaining but also somehow important, that impact can only be a good thing.

As I am outside the academy it’s hard to gauge the current state of medieval scholarship in educational institutions, but a more widespread readership of Beowulf means more people are thinking about it, writing about it, making movies and art about it.  We can wrangle about the quality of that art (which is a good deal of the fun!), but to the extent that Beowulf becomes part of our cultural awareness, it becomes part of a living tradition.  I think Seamus Heaney had a good deal to do with that.

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2 comments on “‘When a warrior is gone’… Seamus Heaney

  1. Your other post about Heaney and ‘Beowulf’ is first-rate, and I enjoyed discovering it even though the circumstances are sad. I didn’t realize Tom Shippey opposed Heaney’s version: thanks for the info about that. Shippey is a superb scholar of all things Tolkien whom I admire in just about everything he writes… Though I’ll reserve the right to disagree with him on Heaney. Cheers, until next time.

  2. medieval dad says:

    I’m just getting into Shippey – I think my first experience of his writing was some Tolkien criticism (can’t recall the specifics). He’s written several other pieces that I have come across in the context of Anglo-Saxon studies, and so far everything I’ve read is lively, informed (obviously), and just fantastic. Even if you disagree with his thoughts on Heaney, ‘Beowulf for the Big-Voiced Scullions’ is too much fun of a read to pass up.

    And thank you for your post – I’m sure I would have been well out of the loop otherwise. Having little kids running around makes it difficult to keep up with news!

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