This assortment offers a telling snapshot of the history not only of Anglo-Saxon scholarship, but also of many aspects of Anglo-American creative writing since 1842. Poetry is a noble calling; and from translation, as Giordano Bruno once remarked, "all knowledge has its source". Any censure which ignored the historical context would be invalid. Within that context, one of the most perceptive of the collection is, in my considered opinion, the 1902 version by La Motte Iddings. The correctness of her understanding of The Seafarer as an integrated (if divided) unity with a lucid, lambent meaning, was soon to be obliterated by Pound's "heave to overthrow the iambic'', in 1911. His remoulding of her diction, and the battering his breakers gave her decorous rhythms, is examined elsewhere. [Here]. For the next four or five decades, and longer, most of the verse versions seem to me bemused either by Pound's hypnotic beat and sound, or by the obdurate "search for Anglo-Saxon paganism" (see E.G.Stanley), which he built into his heave. Typical of this (to my mind) deeply flawed conception of the original poem are the footnotes appended by Colleer Abbott in 1943, and C.L.Wrenn in 1967.
A few other conclusions are: that German Anglo-Saxon scholarship (though far from faultless) was well ahead of the Anglo-American (faulty for similar reasons), until its disintegration by about the mid-1920s; that this collection of translations stretches across a spectrum terminating in scholarship and poetry at either end; and that though the poets may be cavalier, the scholars can be numbingly obtuse. An apt point here is made by the Swedish poet Gunnar D.Hansson, in the preface to his 1991 collection of Anglo-Saxon verse interpretations, Slaget vid Maldon. Noting the inability of the average scholar to produce more than a semblance of poetry, he remarks that "Dåren har som varje skriftlärd vet sitt hjärta i munnen"; ie "As every scholar knows, the madman's heart is in his mouth". I understand this to imply that the pedant's innate insecurity, fear of obloquy and tunnel vision blind him to the wood for the trees.
It has to be added that no matter how daft the scholarship, nor how vile the verse, the quality of the original is so resilient that, like the coracle of its own creation, it surmounts whatever pounding it sustains.
New versions continue to appear in the search engines. 20 Dec 2000. One by Dr David Breeden (1999); for a website with some of his translations click here. Fragmentary translations by Dominik Dengler [lines 80b-110] here, Sarah De Bank [ll 80b-110] here and Susanne Gaertner [ll 39-67] here.
1 Jan 2001. Another in German by Wilhelm G.Busse (date unknown) which used to be viewable here. The site version done into German by a machine: here. A version apparently published 1977 by Professor Kim Suk-San, now (? from 1972) at Seoul National University, in Korean; click here. 28 Jan 2001. Another Korean version by Jung Joon Ihm here. A version by John F.Deane, Dublin, published in The Hero, Home, mid-2001: order it from him here. Try Peter Manson's version (click). Mind-expanding. A version from 1976 by George T.McWhorter: click here. A version of lines 1-47 by Bill Griffiths, published in The River November 2001; available from Kingston Rowing Club, Oak Road Playing Fields, Hull HU6 7LR: see here. The River also contains a different, unidentified version of lines 39-47. 1 Sep 2002: a first version in Dutch by Joop Visser; see here. Another version by an enigmatic author: see here. [Many of these links have vanished since posting. I wonder why this is.]
If the posting of any one of the above is objected to for copyright or any other reason, please inform me, and I'll remove it. A number of the more recent versions appear to have been removed anyway. Mail here.