Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From Beowulf (Commonplace book)

[Yeah, I know. This is the last post on Beowulf. I promise. Probably.]

This I thought was the most moving part of Heaney's translation of Beowulf, the funeral for the hero:

On a height they kindled the hugest of all
funeral fires: fumes of woodsmoke
billowed darkly up, the blaze roared
and drowned out their weeping, wind died down
and flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house,
burning it to the core. They were disconsolate
and wailed aloud for their lord's decease.
A Geat woman too sang out in grief;
with hair bound up, she unburdened herself
of her worst fears, a wild litany
of nightmare and lament: her nation invaded,
enemies on the rampage, bodies in piles,
slavery and abasement. Heaven swallowed the smoke.

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