"Beowulf" perhaps our most widely translated window into our Anglo- Saxon past, has become somewhat clouded over the years. Countless interpretations in multiple styles have been rendered for our perusal. From the notable to the obscure the variety of translation gives us an unusual opportunity, one to criticize and secondly to develop our own ideas on the original intent of the epic. The changes range from stylistic to grammatical; each has its own language, and its own thematic variation. The intent of the following content is to provide criticism relating two separate translations of "Beowulf". The selections are the Seamus Heaney translation, derived from the 7th edition Norton Anthology, and the McLeod translation a more obscure, nearly entirely Middle English work attained from the Internet through direct link to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. On the outset the largely comparable facets of the works may appear to be only in title; however, far more is apparent upon closer inspection.
Seamus Heaney's "Beowulf" was derived by the Irish scholar after he was recognized and granted status as Nobel laureate. It is widely recognized as the comprehensive translation of the day. The other was a plaintext document received from a scholar studying the particular period represented by the translation's dialect. The second requires either at least a rudimentary understanding of Middle English or a grammar text to consult. The Speech in the McLeod version was broken in coupleation (a word used in the description of the text from Aberdeen) the old split line style used in scop type poetry. Apparently it was a spoken memorization mnemonic device used to ease the burden of recalling endless texts. After research the style becomes fluid and the intent is clarified, it actually serves to intensify the poetry. The breaks occur at intentional expected locations in lines, each gap allows for secondary meanings to surface.