cover image The Translations of Seamus Heaney

The Translations of Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $50 (704p) ISBN 978-0-374-27773-4

These 101 texts across 14 languages demonstrate how vital a role translation played in the imagination of Nobel Laureate Heaney (1939–2013). As the introduction notes, Heaney began translating before the publication of his 1966 debut, Death of a Naturalist, and was working on the last of his translations in the months before his death. This edition seeks to highlight the “cohesion” that “underscores this volume. Translation after translation, and decade after decade, the poet-translator weaved his own word-hoard and story-board.” The reader notes this continuity “of thoughts and words” even across such varied texts as the much-celebrated Beowulf and lesser-known works. There is the same delighting rhythm and force in lines such as “Brightening brightness, alone on the road, she appears,/ Crystalline crystal and sparkle of blue in green eyes,/ Sweetness of sweetness in her unembittered young voice/ And a high colour dawning behind the pearl of her face” (“The Glamoured,” a translation of Irish 18th-century poet Aodhagán O’ Rathaille) that exists in Heaney’s own poems. These well-contextualized translations are a resounding testimony to Heaney’s remarkable contributions to literature. (Mar.)