sweeney astray summary
The work was first published in 1983 and won the 1985 PEN Translation Prize for verse, the first year the prize was awarded as such. After reading Heaney's translation of Beowulf, I was excited to read his narrative/verse translation of the Irish legend of "mad" Sweeney, based loosely on events from 600-700 AD. I loved this book. those who enjoy Irish legends or Heaney's translations/verse. This sends Sweeney racing off to hide from the hag and he travels all over Ireland and even to Scotland and Britain. However, it isn’t very difficult to accept that, and move along looking for the deeper levels that appear to me to be rather obvious in the story. She has recently followed the clues to topography and the natural world in Sweeney's wanderings, and gathered together 40 photographs which Seamus Heaney has matched with extracts and quotations from his book "Sweeney Astray". Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish is a version of the Irish poem Buile Shuibhne written by Seamus Heaney, based on an earlier translation by J.G. This good as it gets version of the Irish medieval saga, Buile Suibhne, isn’t all that good. To see what your friends thought of this book, "Sweeney Astray" is Seamus Heaney's version of a very old Irish poem that sounds strikingly modern. The long poem is the story of his fall from greatness and the long period that follows before his death. For that, and his dishonoring the Christian deity (which must have been pagan Sweeney's intention), Ronan cursed him, making him bird-like (or maybe even turning him into a bird — there's mention of feathers), and from then on mad Sweeney perched naked in the tree tops, living mainly on watercress and bounding great distances from one part of Ireland to another, even over the sea to the land of the Britons, where he met another madman, Alan, with whom he continued his bird-like ravings until Alan's death. Finally he was slain by a jealous husband while slurping milk left for him in a cow's stool by his killer's wife. 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. I found this story/poem entertaining, which is more than I can say for most long poems that I've read. It is a very curious archeology, suggestive of medieval and later attitudes (women are either loving caretakers, slave girls or vicious hags; watercress is a supreme delicacy; honored men are terribly violent, etc.). 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. If you analyze and read between the lines you can pick up on many themes of the irish transition from pagan to catholic and how that was interpreted. The story as it has reached us, in the first written version (in Irish) in the 17th century, is the product of hundreds of retellings, very probably involving several Sweeneys (the name Suibhne appears in other medieval tales), at some point connected with another legend about the mad Briton Alan, and probably retold as an allegory of madness and the danger of defying God. The theme is of relentless persecution, and yet the tone is light, and at times quite funny. Alan soon goes off to his death and Sweeney moves on, trying to recover his life. Well written, clever word usage, beautiful story. These slow moments stress the poem's intensity. He goes on another journey constantly putting himself outside of a community as he can't allow himself to rejoin. O'Keeffe. Sweeney is an Irish king who insults and, in the buff, assaults a priest. Sweeney Astray is an early Medieval Irish epic poem. SWEENEY ASTRAY By Seamus Heaney New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984 ISBN # 374-51894-7/0770 85 pages. He threw Ronan’s holy books into a lake and was just about to kill him when he was interrupted by a messenger telling him that he has been called away to battle with Donal at Moira. Finally he encounters a holy and decent priest, Moling, who wants to help him back to his senses. Sweeney, the King of Dal-Arie, becomes involved in a territorial dispute with the priest Ronan. Sweeney goes too far for Ronan when he attacks some of Ronan’s clerics so Ronan puts a curse on Sweeney which weakens him and Donal wins the first battle. A brilliant work. Refresh and try again. 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. With a long, free afternoon with nothing to do, I was happy to find myself involved and lost with tales Sweeney that would have stirred fireside tales 1000 years ago. The wild vs society aka the church. Sweeney Astray is a translation by Seamus Heaney of a medieval Irish work Buile Suibhne that has all the hallmarks of Heaney’s poetics. Absolutely perplexing prosimetrum. The story is of Sweeney the Celtic king and his adventures after he is cursed with madness by a cleric. His wife is somewhat complicit in the scandalous assault in that she tries to grab his cloak to stop him, but in so doing causes an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction. For that, and his dishonoring the Christian deity (which must have been pagan Sweeney's intention), Ronan cursed him, making him bird-like (or maybe even turning h. Sweeney (Suibhne in Irish) was a ferocious war chieftain or ¨king", perhaps in the 9th century A.D. (the songs about him are at least that old), raging in battle and disregarding all the rules of war until the day he defied the holy cleric Ronan Finn, throwing Ronan's sacred psalter into the lake and nearly killing him with his spear. In pointed rejection of Ronan’s authority, Sweeney makes it his business to kill one of Donal’s soldiers earlier each morning that Ronan’s rules allow, and also to kill one in the evening after the killing should have been over. 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 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past. After reading Heaney's translation of Beowulf, I was excited to read his narrative/verse translation of the Irish legend of "mad" Sweeney, based loosely on events from 600-700 AD. The place of his death was at the well near Glen Bolcain and is called The Madman’s Well. Sweeney was later brought back to sanity by trickery, dropping to the ground when his relative told him that his parents, his wife and son had died (all lies), and thus allowing himself to be shackled until he recovered his senses; but a treacherous hag reminded him of his madness and tempted him to take great leaps again, and off he went again into madness.


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