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`Download Ebook ⚜ Sweeney Astray ⛅ Sweeney Astray is Seamus Heaney s version of the medieval Irish work Buile Suibne Its here, Mad Sweeney, undergoes a series of purgatorial adventures after he is cursed by a saint and turned into a bird at the Battle of Moira Heaney s translation not only restores to us a work of historical and literary importance but offers the genius of one of our greatest living poets to reinforce its claims on the reader of contemporary literature 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 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 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 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 Finally he was slain by a jealous husband while slurping milk left for him in a cow s stool by his killer s wife 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 Or maybe just because people liked the sounds of the verses, which are necessarily lost in this English translation 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 But the English version is not something to enjoy for its musicality Sweeney Astray is a translation by Seamus Heaney of a medieval Irish work Buile Suibhne that has all the hallmarks of Heaney s poetics A long poem about Sweeney, King of the Ulsters who is cursed by the powerful cleric, Ronan, after he is wronged and almost killed by the king Consumed by fear thanks to the curse His brain convulsed,his mind split open.Vertigo, hysteria, lurchingsand launchings came over him,he staggered and flapped desperately,he was revolted by the thought of known placesand Sweeney Astray is a translation by Seamus Heaney of a medieval Irish work Buile Suibhne that has all the hallmarks of Heaney s poetics A long poem about Sweeney, King of the Ulsters who is cursed by the powerful cleric, Ronan, after he is wronged and almost killed by the king Consumed by fear thanks to the curse His brain convulsed,his mind split open.Vertigo, hysteria, lurchingsand launchings came over him,he staggered and flapped desperately,he was revolted by the thought of known placesand dreamed strange migrations The strange migrations come to pass, as Sweeney travels naked through the land, afraid of capture and surviving on watercress Mixing brief snippets of narrative that propel the story forward, along with longer pieces of poetry, mostly compositions by Sweeney in lamentation of one thing or another, his unusual adventure of flight progresses To night the snow is coldI was at the end of my tetherbut hunger and botherare endless.Look at me, brokenand down at heel,Sweeny from Rasharkin.Look at me nowalways shifting,making fresh pads,and always at night.At times I am afraid.In the grip of dreadI would launch and sailbeyond the known seas.I am the madman of Glen Bolcain,wind scourged, strippedlike a winter treeclad in black frostand frozen snow Eventually, Sweeney runs into his wife, who has now taken a place with one of two rightful successors and Sweeney recalls Do you remember, lady, the great love we shared when we were together Life is still a pleasure to you but not to me And a humorous and beautiful exchange takes place between them where the dialogue is in poetic format After their exchange, Sweeney is chased by Lynchseachan who eventually convinces him to return to his home at Dal Arie, until Sweeney realizes he is being made a fool of and escapes Suffice to say, he eventually runs into a fellow madman who asks Muirghil to give Sweeney milk each night, but due to a row between Muirghil and another woman, the other woman convinces Muirghil s husband that Muirghil is with another man Sweeney The jealousy plays out to a tragic consequence for Sweeney Of all innocent lairs I madethe length and breadth of IrelandI remember an open bedabove the lough in Mourne.Of all innocent lairs I madethe length and breadth of IrelandI remember bedding downAbove the wood in Glen Bolcain.To you, Christ, I give thanksfor your Body in communion.Whatever evil I have donein this world, I repent.What I particularly enjoyed is the conversion I experienced from being appalled by Sweeney s irrational and unjustified actions at the start towards the Cleric, to being sympathetic to this madman s curse and plight at all that he had lost I suppose the moral is to act justly or suffer the consequence Yet, by stripping him of everything worldly, tangible and intangible, did he then not become closer to god than the Cleric In his suffering and transformation from lamentations to, eventually, some praises, did he not become humble and pious Sweeney Astray is Seamus Heaney s version of a very old Irish poem that sounds strikingly modern Sweeney, the King of Dal Arie, becomes involved in a territorial dispute with the priest Ronan After Sweeney killed one of Ronan s priests, the cleric cursed the king, who, at the battle of Moria suddenly lost his wits and courage and fled, the text says, like a bird, literally He spent the rest of his life mostly in trees, eating watercress and often speaking in poems, many of which lament his Sweeney Astray is Seamus Heaney s version of a very old Irish poem that sounds strikingly modern Sweeney, the King of Dal Arie, becomes involved in a territorial dispute with the priest Ronan After Sweeney killed one of Ronan s priests, the cleric cursed the king, who, at the battle of Moria suddenly lost his wits and courage and fled, the text says, like a bird, literally He spent the rest of his life mostly in trees, eating watercress and often speaking in poems, many of which lament his fate, his fear and homelessness Despite attempts to bring him home by his wife and his loyal countryman Sweeney remained naked in the wild until his death in a manner consistent with Ronan s curse Heaney attributes the story to a clash between the native Celtic religion and the new Christianity, but with its story of spells and magic, I think that it is likely one of those old myths recast by adherents of the new religion And one also senses in it an early acknowledgement, like that of Sophocle s Ajax, of the chaos that war can inflict on the mind Sweeney s story has been taken up by a wide variety of modern writers, none of them Irish beside Heaney T.S 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 Heaney admits to some tidying up of the text, some omitted lines, some clarification of textual difficulties 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 Many translations of Celtic arcana, the Mabinogian , for instance, come across as musty and muddled, only half visible in the darkness that covers forgotten motives and symbols, but not this one Heaney manages that very difficult feat, of rescuing a powerful story from antiquity and making it clear and compelling Eh, Sweeney had it coming.