Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Opening Poem of Beowulf

Hey guys, a special treat for you today! This is my own (loose) translation of the opening poem of Beowulf. I've always kinda wanted to study some Old English; now it's actually going to come in handy for one of the projects I'm working on!

If you guys like it/are interested, I might keep posting little tidbits relating to Old English now and again. Here it is...

What? Listen!
Hear of Spear-Danes in days of yore
hear of Kings of Men
and learn of glory.

Hear of Scyld Scefing
called the Shield King
How he showed courage,
How he scattered threats
How he took the mead-halls of his enemies...

And made other kings fear him.

He started out with nothing
Found destitute as a babe.
He would not stay that way.

He grew, under the great sky,
in power, in honor, in prosperity,
until all other kings
that dwelt upon the whale road
had to give him tribute.

That was a good king!


  1. Interesting. This translation reads much better to a modern reader. All the versions I've read all seemed really old-school.

    1. Thank you! As a matter of fact, that was exactly my goal :) My intent is to remain true to the spirit rather than the letter of the original, and to present a translation that is lucid, accessible and exciting to a modern reader.

      Your comment has inspired me to keep on translating :) Thank you!

    2. Excellent. My ridiculously circuitous plan is one-quarter complete.

    3. Dare I ask? You have filled my meager soul to overflowing with curiousity. What is this ridiculously circuitous plan?

    4. Sorry, it's an obscure quote from one of the better Futurama episodes.