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"...the black raven with raucous glee..."

I love this brief passage from Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf which describes the weary hero retiring for the evening after defeating Grendel's mother.

That great heart rested. The hall towered,
gold-shingled and gabled, and the guest slept in it
until the black raven with raucous glee
announced heaven's joy, and a hurry of brightness
overran the shadows.

Interesting that it isn't the usual strutting rooster that heralds the dawn ("heaven's joy") but instead a black raven which typically has ominous overtones. Some of Heaney's phrases here ("a hurry of brightness", "overran the shadows") seem more modern in style and maybe not an ideal fit with this ancient epic poem, but I still like them quite a bit.

August 12, 2010 in Books | Permalink