Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Scott Gwara


This thesis is a translation into modern English blank verse of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. The bulk of the thesis is the poem itself, which represents not only the academic work of Old English translation, literary interpretation, and the study of early Germanic culture, but also the artistic work of creating poetry and adapting the poem’s content to modern language and contexts. Included with the translation is an introduction placing it in conversation with other prominent modern translations of Beowulf, and analyzing the translation choices made at macro and micro levels. It is shown through this analysis that the medium of blank verse, despite being alien to the original poem, is nevertheless a viable medium for transmitting many of important elements of its poetry. Although some features are lost—among them structural alliteration and many compound words—the poem’s archaisms of diction and syntax, its paratactic sentences, and the device of variation so important in Old English poetry, are all maintained. The effect is tonally very similar to the original, more similar, it is argued, than translations that adopt a stressbased meter superficially similar to Old English meter. A major goal of this translation is fidelity to the original’s tone as well as to its words; the blank verse and other stylistic choices do not misrepresent the original, but make its alterity accessible for modern readers.


© 2020, Alexander Jones