Beowulf: An Updated Verse Translation Beowulf is published by Harpercollins in July 2004. This book has 112 pages in English, ISBN-13 978-0060573782.
A new translation of the first narrative poem in the English language closely follows the original poetic form and includes an introduction that discusses the poem’s historical background, structure, form, principal characters, religion, and importance. R
“Frederick Rebsamen’s recently revised translation of Beowulf is stands out from the crowd. Having read the poem dozens of times, both in Old English and in translation, I have to say that this is certainly the most literal rendering of the poem in modern English that I’ve yet read.
Rebsamen states in his introduction and notes that he set out to produce a translation that would not only recreate the exciting story of the epic, but would give the reader a feel for the poetry and rhythm of the original. He has succeeded remarkably. Where most modern English editions of Beowulf are set in blank or free verse, Rebsamen follows the original four-stress pattern of Anglo-Saxon poetry and goes so far as to include the caesura or pause in the middle of each line. The language of the original also shows through very clearly. Beowulf includes scores of kennings, and Rebsamen translates many of them literally.
The translation is not without flaws, of course. Owing to the lilting, stop and start rhythms typical of Old English poetry and Rebsamen’s faithful translation, the phrases sometimes seem to run over one another. The unique style also takes some time to get used to, but it’s certainly worth it.