Beowulf: A New Translation for Oral Delivery by Dick Ringler

By Dick Ringler

Dick Ringler's deceptively basic translation captures the rhythm, circulate, and tool of the unique previous English poem whereas making use of a fluid sleek English type and a comparatively spare vocabulary. His beneficiant advent, a full of life but masterly advisor to the paintings, with his translations of 3 shorter outdated English poems elucidate a huge English textual content virtually as famous for its subtlety and intricacy because it is for its monsters and heroes.

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Here the translation makes use of echo-words, embedded in a series of rhetorical questions, to simulate a climax that is achieved in the original by means of syntactic suspension: the poet employs an elaborate sequence of repetitions to iterate and reiterate the Danes’ dismay and terror but defers mentioning the cause of it—the direct object hafelan (“head”)—until the climactic position at almost the end of the sentence. xxxviii Introduction entire poem. Modern readers sometimes feel that these exchanges take up much too much space, delaying the really interesting part of the story— Grendel’s assault on the hall and his battle with the hero—for an unnecessarily long time.

It is only when one reads this part of the poem in slow motion (as it were) that it begins to make sense and yield up its riches. The poet realizes that the Scandinavian dynasties that are his “historical” subject lived in the past, a past he idealizes as a time when people—people like Beowulf’s Geats, at least— treated friend and foe with firmness, constancy, and all honor in the ancient way. —stretches a much deeper past. The dragon, for example, had been guarding its treasure for three hundred years when a thief robbed it, starting the chain of events that led to Beowulf’s death.

26 A more complex example of the deferral of “relevant” information is provided by Grendel’s murder of Beowulf’s follower Hondscioh. Two things are striking here: first, that the follower is nameless when he is first mentioned (1480), which adds to the horror of his sudden death and dismemberment; and second, that Beowulf, whose role as a leader is to protect his men, does nothing to avert Hondscioh’s fate, but is represented as coolly taking advantage of an opportunity to study Grendel’s modus operandi: for there lay Hygelac’s kinsman, alert and carefully watching how the murderer meant to proceed.

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