Seamus Heaney Beowulf Analysis

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Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf opens with a passage that invites the readers into a world of the Danes, and explains the importance of Shield Sheafson, who was an exceptional king. Shield Sheafson founded the royal line of the Danes after being abandoned by his parents at a young age, but was able to rise to power and become a well-known ruler. The loss of Shield was mourned by everyone, but soon his son was born and became king. The opening passage of the text helps the speaker establish the central themes of the text, which lays a solid translation for the audience. Beowulf is very centered around the patriarchy of the Danes and the importance of a heroic king. Through long pauses and alliterations, Seamus Heaney is able to depict a world that is focused on establishing greatness while ruling a kingdom. The poem opens with “so” (1) which helps the speaker invite the audience into the text. Although this creates an inviting tone, it additionally grabs the audience’s attention. Similar to the famous rulers of the Danes, the speaker demands respect and uses an authoritative tone to narrate the poem. The speaker also explains everything in great detail with a formal tone that …show more content…
Although the first stanza of the poem is more direct than others, it allows the audience to focus on the themes of “courage and greatness” (2). Although the audience has not been introduced to Beowulf yet, it can be expected that he will be a “heroic” (3) character that will face many challenges later in the text, specifically his fights with the monsters Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. After the first stanza the sentence structure begins to slightly lengthen as the speaker goes into great detail about “good kings” (11), heritage, and the importance of identity. As a whole, the text is filled with primarily lengthy stanzas which help Heaney’s translation of Beowulf’s “path to power”

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