27 Best Beowulf Quotes by Seamus Heaney

The epic poem Beowulf was translated by Seamus Heaney.

His translation of Beowulf was published in 2000 and is accessible in both English and French.

The poem is about Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who protects the Danes from the monster Grendel.


We have selected some of the best quotes from Beowulf for you.

Beowulf Quotes

“A powerful monster, living down In the darkness, growled in pain, impatient” ~ Beowulf.

“I shall gain glory or die.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Strength and courage are basic virtues for both followed and follower.” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.

“Let whoever can win glory before death.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Over the waves, with the wind behind her and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird until her curved prow had covered the distance…” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Fate goes ever as fate must.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“The hall towered,
its gables wide and high and awaiting
a barbarous burning.
[ll. 81-83]” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

Other Book Quotes: Pride and Prejudice Quotes by Jane Austen and The Red and the Black Quotes by Stendhal

Best Beowulf Quotes

“And so he mourned as he moved about the world, deserted and alone, lamenting his unhappiness day and night, until death’s flood brimmed up in his heart.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“The fabled warrior in his warshirt and helmet
trusted in his own strength entirely
and went under the crag. No coward path.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards, in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“The good fighter, the hero, the man who wins the most precious of all treasures, fame, is the man who never gives up, and who does not worry about the possible consequences of bravery.” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.

“Beowulf survives: for a time, for as long as learning keeps any honor in its land. And how long will that be? God ána wát. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf.

Quotes from Beowulf

“Battle is a way of life, a necessary function of the worthiest members of society.” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.

“His poem is like a play in a room through the windows of which a distant view can be seen over a large part of the English traditions about the world of their original home.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf.

“That struggle was too strong,
hateful and long-lasting, which had come on the people,
dire wrack and ruin – the greatest of night-evils.” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.

“Meanwhile, the sword
began to wilt into gory icicles,
to slather and thaw. It was a wonderful thing,
the way it all melted as ice melts
when the Father eases the fetters off the frost
and unravels the water-ropes. He who wields power
over time and tide: He is the true Lord.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“He was swiftly overwhelmed in the shallows,
prodded by barbed boar-spears,
cornered, beaten, pulled up on the bank,
a strange lake-birth, a loathsome catch…” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

Famous Beowulf Quotes

“In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Time and again, when the goblets passed
and seasoned fighters got flushed with beer
they would pledge themselves to protect Heorot and wait for Grendel with whetted swords.
But when dawn broke and day crept in
over each empty, blood-spattered bench,
the floor of the mead-hall where they had feasted
would be slick with slaughter. And so they died,
faithful retainers, and my following dwindled.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

Top Beowulf Quotes

“You are free now to move forward
to meet Hrothgar, in helmets and armour,
but shields must stay here and spears be stacked
until the outcome of the audience is clear.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“Behaviour that’s admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.” ~ Seamus Heaney, Beowulf.

“There in bloody billows bubbled the currents,
The angry eddy was everywhere mingled
And seething with gore, welling with sword-blood;
He death-doomed had hid him, when reaved of his joyance
He laid down his life in the lair he had fled to,
His heathenish spirit, where hell did receive him.” ~ Lesslie Hall, Beowulf: An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem.

“Fate will unwind as it must!” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.

“His vanity swelled him so vile and rank
That he could hear no voice but his own. He deserved to suffer and die.” ~ Burton Raffel, Beowulf.


  1. Beowulf Quotes – SparkNotes
  2. Beowulf Quotes by Unknown – Goodreads
  3. The 21 Best Beowulf Quotes – Bookroo

A passionate writer who specializes in writing book reviews. I spent most of my time lost in the pages of novels and bestsellers, immersing myself in different worlds and stories. This love for reading eventually led me to pursue a career in writing.

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