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Anglo-Saxon Poetry Paperback – February 15, 1995
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Many of the poems are hard to find in translation, including "Elene", "Andreas", and a number of the Old English Riddles. Whatever merit this book gains from its size is, sadly, lost by its overly technical and extremeley non-poetic translations (you may forget that what you are reading *was* poetry prior to this translation).
Bradley often decides to render the poetry into prose, leaving the reader with rather cumbersome lines, especially evident in "The Wife's Lament" and "Beowulf" (which he translates completely). My opinion, you ask? Buy this book for its large collection of poetry, but please also buy Kevin Crossley-Holland's The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology (Oxford World's Classics), which allows the reader who encounters these delightful and somber works in modern English to realize that they are real and visceral poetry.
First the good: This book is quite comprehensive, including huge volumes of works which are difficult or impossible to find in translation.
However, having said this, the translations are, I feel, of rather poor quality. The first mark against the translations (mentioned by the other reviewer) is that they are prose translations. This itself isn't a fatal flaw though as it can be easier to translate some works (like Beowulf) in a prose rather than a poetic form.
A larger criticism though has to come with comparing some of the works, like The Wanderer, with the Old English texts. IMO, the base feel of the text when read aloud is extremely different (the translation seems to reduce the poem's feel to an exercise of self-pity while the original has a sober and grim strength), and the book provides no help in exploring deeper constructs within the poems.
This is a helpful book for some, as a supplement to other Old English works in translation. However, I would not recommend it as an introduction to the subject, and would recommend picking up other works first.
I would prefer a verse translation, but this was written in the period when W.H.D. Rouse was writing prose translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey and they have been received more or less with approval. The Gordon translation gets the job done in the sense that it passes on the information. So I am not too critical on that point.
I think if you want to read something precisely translated, you can get the works by Seamus Heaney. If you want a serviceable copy, this one will work out just fine.