This essay takes into account some English translations of the Old English poem Beowulf. Matter of specific investigation is the passage of the coming of Grendel to the Danes’ court Heorot. As the translations of Beowulf are countless, only specific and emblematic cases – both in prose and verse – are analysed. Then, the translations by William Morris, Chancey Brewster Tinker, J.R.R. Tolkien, Seamus Heaney and John Porter are compared trying to ascertain the approach of those translators to the Old English text and furthermore the intentions they had in rendering the poem into Modern English. The big problem that all the translators consciously tackled was the chronological and linguistic distance of Beowulf that had to be solved in some way. Choices and strategies differ from one version to another, but every solution demonstrates a specific attention to the musicalness of the original together with a deep awareness for the tradition that the Old English poem embodies.
Beowulf. Old English. Translation. William Morris. Seamus Heaney. J.R.R. Tolkien. Chancey Brewster Tinker. John Porter.