Sweeney Astray is Seamus Heaney's version of the medieval Irish work Buile Suibhne - the first complete translation since 1913. Its hero, 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. The poetry spoken by the mad king, exiled to the trees and the slopes, is among the richest and most immediately appealing in the whole canon of Gaelic literature. Sweeney Astray 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.
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