We're finishing Beowulf today. Actually we finished it yesterday; today, we're moving on to The Wanderer and comparing it a little bit to excerpts from The Seafarer and Beowulf. But my point is this: we've spent an entire week on Beowulf. The students have not risen up in rebellion me, or against boring, difficult-to-read texts about people with names like Hrothgar and Wiglaf.
As much as I would love to attribute this to my brilliant teaching style, I know better. (We've done a lot of close readings in this poem--which makes for classes that are interesting to some, but not to all.) But if we weren't reading the Heaney translation, I'd certainly have a class full of utterly bored, hopelessly lost English Lit students--which could pretty much describe Yours Truly when reading it in high school nearly twenty years ago.
Instead, some of them actually seem to have enjoyed Beowulf. This is a miracle. Thank you, Mr. Heaney.
I think they also had fun comparing our hero to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin yesterday. :)