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Beowulf

THE POEM | NOTABLE LINES | THE TEXT | TRANSLATIONS | AT THE MOVIES

Beowulf manuscript from the Nowell CodexEarliest known manuscript
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
c. 700

Literary form
Poem

Genres
iterary, epic, mythology, adventure

Writing language
Old English

Author's country
Unknown

Length
Approx. 30,000 words

Notable lines

Attend!
We have heard of the thieving of the throne of Denmark,
how the folk-kings flourished in former days,
how those royal athelings earned that glory.

— First lines, trans. Michael Alexander

His misery leaped
The seas, was told and sung in all
Men's ears.

— trans. Howell D. Chickering, Jr.

And then, in the morning, this mead-hall glittering
With new light would be drenched with blood, the benches
Stained red, the floors, all wet from that fiend's
Savage assault-and my soldiers would be fewer
Still death taking more and more.

— trans. Howell D. Chickering, Jr.

Hanging high
From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was
the monster's
Arm, claw, and shoulder and all.

— trans. Howell D. Chickering, Jr.

For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end.

— trans. Seamus Heaney

...they said that he was of all the world's kings
the gentlest of men, and the most gracious,
the kindest to his people, the keenest for fame.

— Last lines, trans. Michael Alexander

 

THE POEM | NOTABLE LINES | THE TEXT | TRANSLATIONS | AT THE MOVIES