By an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, translated by Seamus Heaney
OPD: Original poem was written somewhere between the 8th and 11th centuries. This translation was published in 1999
This translation of the oldest surviving poem in Old English is my favorite of the several versions I’ve read. Translated by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, whose love for language and its history is explained in an opening essay, this edition presents, in taut, vivid, epic prose, the fable story of Beowful, the Geatish knight who defeated the horrible monster Grendel. A story examining courage, heroism, and death, I think this makes for an excellent read for teens hungry for the fantastical worlds of Tolkien – it was literature like this that formed the imagination from which Middle Earth later grew.
Tree and Leaf
By J.R.R. Tolkien
For any Tolkien lovers, this slim book will be a gem. In this collection of essays and stories, readers will recognize Tolkien’s winsome style in tales like Leaf by Niggle or Farmer Giles of Ham, and also get treated to his famous defense of the fantasy genre in his essay, “On Fairie Stories.” Also included is the poem Mythopoeia, written for C.S. Lewis after a discussion of the truth-bearing power of myth.