Seeking Hardy’s Thrush

Joseph M Hassett at The Dublin Review of Books:

The integrating power of the erotics of poetry was on Heaney’s mind when he decided to take on the task of producing a modern English version of the quintessentially Anglo-Saxon Beowulf. Contemplating a version distinguished by many Hiberno-English uses, Heaney concluded, as he wrote in “The Irish Poet and Britain”, ‘So, so be it. Let Beowulf now be a book from Ireland.’

That he succeeded spectacularly is apparent in reactions from two different viewpoints. Terry Eagleton observed that Heaney’s Beowulf was his “final, triumphant reversal of his cultural dispossession”. This was true not only in literary terms, but also in terms of readership. The Mapping Contemporary Poetry report released by the Arts Council of England in 2010 reported that Heaney’s Beowulf was the fourth-highest-selling contemporary book of poetry in England.

more here.