Edwin Morgan’s Second Life

Episode 4: McFarlane’s Beowulf

February 23, 2021

As Ishbel concludes the podcast series, she returns to Edwin Morgan's first big piece of work as a writer: his 1952 translation of Beowulf. The translation was written in what Morgan called his 'dark decade' - the time immediately after the war and before his 'second life' with flat, and John, and a poetry career. Ishbel wonders what effect the place and time when it was written has on the translation. 

Falling into the complexity and layers of translation, Ishbel attempts to pull herself out by rolling her sleeves up and having a go at some Beowulf translation of her own - trying to find a glimpse of an Anglo-Saxon mother, and adapting it to her own Scots language. 

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