I suppose the moral is to act justly or suffer the consequence. Yet, by stripping him of everything worldly, tangible and intangible, did he then not become closer to god than the Cleric? In his suffering and transformation from lamentations to, eventually, some praises, did he not become humble and pious? View all 6 comments.
Nov 19, Nick rated it really liked it. Sweeney, the King of Dal-Arie, becomes involved in a territorial dispute with the priest Ronan.
After Sweeney killed one of Ronan's priests, the cleric cursed the king, who, at the battle of Moria suddenly lost his wits and courage and fled, the text says, like a bird, literally. He spent the rest of his life mostly in trees, eating watercress and often speaking in poems, many of which lament his "Sweeney Astray" is Seamus Heaney's version of a very old Irish poem that sounds strikingly modern. He spent the rest of his life mostly in trees, eating watercress and often speaking in poems, many of which lament his fate, his fear and homelessness.
Despite attempts to bring him home by his wife and his loyal countryman Sweeney remained naked in the wild until his death in a manner consistent with Ronan's curse.
JEGP, Journal of English and Germanic Philology
Heaney attributes the story to a clash between the native Celtic religion and the new Christianity, but with its story of spells and magic, I think that it is likely one of those old myths recast by adherents of the new religion. And one also senses in it an early acknowledgement, like that of Sophocle's Ajax, of the chaos that war can inflict on the mind. Sweeney's story has been taken up by a wide variety of modern writers, none of them Irish beside Heaney: T. Eliot used his name for a series of poems, he has a few cameos in Neil Gaiman's "American Gods", and one senses the influence on Italo Calvino's "The Baron in the Trees" and on Joseph Heller's naked, reluctant Yossarian.
Heaney admits to some tidying up of the text, some omitted lines, some clarification of textual difficulties. His rendering of the narrative and the poems some of which are in the form of dialogue between Sweeney and other characters is clean and unobtrusive.
Many translations of Celtic arcana, the "Mabinogian", for instance, come across as musty and muddled, only half-visible in the darkness that covers forgotten motives and symbols, but not this one. Heaney manages that very difficult feat, of rescuing a powerful story from antiquity and making it clear and compelling.
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May 22, Mir rated it liked it Shelves: celtic , poetry. Eh, Sweeney had it coming. May 18, Lee Foust rated it it was amazing. A fascinating work of un-categorizable Medieval literature that combines, juxtaposes, and cherishes contradiction: poetry v. I'm not sure if it's prosimetric format exactl A fascinating work of un-categorizable Medieval literature that combines, juxtaposes, and cherishes contradiction: poetry v.
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I'm not sure if it's prosimetric format exactly qualifies it as an early novel--it rather reminds me of Dante's Vita Nova sic, the edition of G. Gorni wherein the prose is subservient to the verse, acting as a connecting thread to bring a series of poems together in order to add a narrative frame to the lyrical imagination's momentary rather than time-bound immediacy and abstraction out of the continuum.
I see others here have found this merely repetitious. But I, who, like Moore, revel in the beauties of literary experimentation, find a constantly inspiring other worldview in Medieval literature. Moore is quite right to include Sweeny Astray in his study as the novel form is flexible enough to include such un-followed exemplary roads--Christ, people, get over your adherence to realistic fiction and the so-called classic novel.
Time will sweep that form away eventually too, taking the hacks along with it! Singing like the bird he is flying too, apparently, perching in trees and eating watercress, so much watercress!
Most of the dialogue scenes, when Sweeney encounters farmers, priests, even ladies in his travels, deal with others mistaking his madness for joy or sharing his disgraceful fear--seems like it's really fear that's considered madness here as most of Sweeney's words are quite rational. It's just that his fear won't let him stay dressed, interact consistantly with others, or stop flitting from tree to tree.
Our own loyalties as readers are also put to the test: since we spend so much time with the beautiful verses and sad lamentations of the man himself, how can we situate Ronan Finn, the priest evil bell-ringer that he is , who curses Sweeney, as anything other than the villain here? It's a sad religion can only curse and torture those who don't believe in it--or have other, more important things to do.
And let's face it, is there anything more annoying than the ringing of a pissy little bell and calling people to prayer? Something of a much more challenging text than our modern era's more simple juxtapositioning of nature and culture such as Calvino's Baron in the Trees , which, I can only surmise, was inspired by this Irish medieval tale. Mar 01, Francisca rated it liked it. May 01, Nancy Heard rated it really liked it. This story is a combination of narrative and verse and tells a story based somewhat on historical events in AD.
Like gossip, the story takes on a life of its own. Sweeney, an Irish king insults and assaults a priest. His wife tries to deter him by grabbing his cloak, but he gets out and makes his assault buck naked. The king then is called to battle, which he loses. The priest puts a curse on him, and he goes mad, grows feathers and leaps and flies all over Ireland subsisting on watercress This story is a combination of narrative and verse and tells a story based somewhat on historical events in AD.
The priest puts a curse on him, and he goes mad, grows feathers and leaps and flies all over Ireland subsisting on watercress and water, living in treetops and crags. He has a leaping contest with a hag and is pursued by bleeding headless bodies and disembodied goat and dog heads. His madness brings him the gifts and hardship of living in the natural world. He suffers a yearning for the constraints and comforts of the church, family and politics, but cannot abandon his love of nature and the land for them.
This "madness" has sanity. Jul 04, Annemarie Donahue rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , classic-brit-lit , war , tragedy , medieval-li , drama , ghost-story , folklore. Really beautiful translation. Granted, Heaney is best known for his Beowulf translation, but he just sits around translating every ol' thing Well written, clever word usage, beautiful story. Sweeney is a war hardened lord who after loosing a battle suffers from what we would identify as PTSD but his medieval world has no word or understanding of this.
He goes on another journey constantly putting himself outside of a community as he can't allow himself t Really beautiful translation. He goes on another journey constantly putting himself outside of a community as he can't allow himself to rejoin. I'm hoping to use it in my Survival Literature class this fall.
I liked it as a read for the summer and would have like to study it in college. Sep 17, Thomas rated it really liked it Shelves: irish , poetry. A friend who shares my love of Flann O'Brien gave me a copy of Heaney's Sweeney many years ago and I thought of it wistfully when Heaney made his last leap a few weeks ago. The story is of Sweeney the Celtic king and his adventures after he is cursed with madness by a cleric. There is no plot to speak of, just a narrative broken by spontaneous verse delivered by Sweeney as he is driven throughout Ireland by his madness and further encounters with the Church.
The theme is of relentless persecutio A friend who shares my love of Flann O'Brien gave me a copy of Heaney's Sweeney many years ago and I thought of it wistfully when Heaney made his last leap a few weeks ago. The theme is of relentless persecution, and yet the tone is light, and at times quite funny. View 1 comment. Jan 10, Rick rated it it was ok Shelves: poetry.
Seamus Heaney and Medieval Poetry
Sweeney is a not too interesting king who offends a priest, as Ireland sits on the cusp of Christian supremacy, and is turned mad and into a kind of bird. He flits around the country, fleeing from un-fated dangers until his fated death eventually occurs. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly.
Overview A remarkable survey of Heaney's work and its debt to medieval poetry. McCarthy has presented a compelling analysis of Heaney's use of medieval poetry. This book, the first to look exclusively at this engagement, examines both Heaney's direct translations and his adaptation of medieval material in his original poems. Each of the four chapters focuses substantially on a single major text: Sweeney Astray , Station Island , Beowulf and The Testament of Cresseid The discussion examines Heaney's translation practice in relation to source texts from a variety of languages Irish, Italian, Old English, and Middle Scots from across the medieval period, and also in relation to Heaney's own broader body of work.
It suggests that Heaney's translations and adaptations give a contemporary voice to medieval texts, bringing the past to bear upon contemporary concerns both personal and political. Product Details Table of Contents. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches.
Seamus Heaney and Medieval Poetry
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