A highly readable and natural-sounding blank verse translation of one of the most important works of English literature.
The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf tells the story of the hero's slaying of three fabulous monsters, set against the historical background of sixth-century Scandinavian wars and dynasties. Its alliterative and metrical rules are complex, and many previous translators have attempted to replicate them. Here, blank verse has been used, as being more suitable for the less inflected and freer syntax of modern English, and therefore offering a more familiar and neutral form - less likely to distract from the interest and subtleties of the poem. Staying close to the original throughout, Richard Hamer's translation is ideal for contemporary readers to fully enjoy this early masterpiece.
Richard Hamer was a tutor in medieval English literature at Christ Church, Oxford for forty years, retiring in 2002. His translation of all the most famous shorter Anglo-Saxon poems was published in 1970 as A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse, and in a revised and expanded version in 2015.