This is a repost of some of my favorite quotes from Beowulf.
I have read Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf every winter for the past four years. Each time I read it I enjoy it more. Beowulf belongs to the season when the wind is pounding, the temperatures hover around 25 degrees, and the snow whips into your face like ice spears. I know some Beowulf readers swear by Chickering’s translation. I have his on my shelf and will read him next year. However, this year is was Heaney’s translation again. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the poem.
“….Behavior that is admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.”
“…Oh, cursed is he
who in time of trouble has to thrust his soul
in the fire’s embrace, forfeiting help;
He has nowhere to turn. But blessed is he
who after death can approach the Lord
and find friendship in the Father’s embrace.”
“When Hrothgar arrived at the hall, he spoke,
standing on the steps, under the steep eaves,
gazing at the roofwork and Grendel’s talon:
‘First and foremost, let the Almighty Father
be thanked for this sight. I suffered a long
harrowing by Grendel. But the Heavenly Shepherd
can work His wonders always and everywhere.'”
Beowulf speaks to Hrothgar after Grendel’s mother has attacked and killed one Hrothgar’s men.
“Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone
that will be his best and only bulwark.
So arise, my lord, and let us immediately
set forth on the trail of this troll-dam.
I guarantee you: she will not get away,
not to dens under ground nor upland groves
nor the ocean floor. She’ll have nowhere to flee to
Endure your troubles today. Bear up
and be the man I expect you to be.”