Odd thoughts about epic poetry and my life

I love narrative poetry. I think my first epic to fall in love with was Homer’s Odyssey, but it could well have been Beowulf. The recent translation of Beowulf by Maria Dahvana Headley is delightful, I am often reading it out loud, laughing at the joy of the poetry. In her care, Beowulf sings again, like it sang for those who first heard it ages ago.

Only one other translation has brought me this much joy, and that is of another poem. Barbara Reynolds’ translation of Orlando Furioso is equally delightful – after reading this for the first time I found myself talking and writing in rhyming couplets – she’d so inspired me.

I long for a good translation of Gilgamesh. The ones I have are so academic and correct.

Narrative poems I’ve read include:

The Elder Edda,



The Iliad

The Odyssey

The Metamorphosis


The Romance of the Rose


El Cid

The Song of Roland

The Ring of the Nieblungun








Fairie Queen

Orlando Furioso

Eric and Enide

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