Biography: Beowulf is an old story, that was composed somewhere between the middle of the seventh and tenth century, that used to be told orally in front of large groups of people, never being written down until much later when the original teller was long dead. Therefore the original author of Beowulf is unknown, however Seamus Heaney is one of the many to have translated it from old english into current english so many others can enjoy it as well. Seamus Heaney was born on April 13 in 1939. Born and raised in Ireland he was the eldest of nine children, and grew up on a family farm. The landscape gave him reason and background for many of his poems. He attended St. Columb’s College in Londonderry. After that he went to Queen’s University…show more content… In 1975 he began teaching at Carysfort College, and became the head of the Department of English. He later resigned from his position at the college in 1981. He then went to Harvard to teach as the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory in February of 1982, as well as teaching at Oxford as a professor of poetry. These jobs were a five year teaching arrangement. Mid 1980’s he began to translate the tale of Beowulf, and finished it in 1999.
Seamus Heaney was influenced by poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins and John Crowe Ransom, who were also Irish. Yet, he was also influenced by the time he spent in America. When he was translating Beowulf, he attempted to keep the Anglo-Saxon tone it had originally, while adding his own twist to it. He maintains the four line stress pattern it originally had, but also adds in imagery to make scenes more colorful. On top of this, he offers helpful notes on pronunciations of names, as well as specific usages of language instead of analogies.
In 1995 Heaney won the Nobel Prize in Literature, being the second Irish poet to do so. He wrote five major works in his lifetime: Death of a Naturalist, North, The Haw Lantern, District and Circle, and Beowulf; A New Translation. Heaney’s constant switch between two continents earned him audiences in Ireland, Britain, and America. He’s earned many other prestigious awards including the W.H. Smith Award,