Sweeney Astray

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Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish
First edition
Author Seamus Heaney
Country Ireland
Language English
Publisher Field Day Publications, Derry[2]
Publication date
Pages 85
ISBN 0-946755-03-5
OCLC 11339072
821/.914 19
LC Class PR6058.E2 S9 1984b

Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish is a version of the Irish poem Buile Shuibhne written by Seamus Heaney and published in 1983. It is based on an earlier translation by J.G. O'Keeffe. Heaney's version was well received in many circles and, much like his later take on Beowulf, has largely become the standard translation on college syllabi.

Book reviewer Ilana Teitelbaum writes:

Sweeney Astray is a masterpiece on many levels: for the complex weave of its themes to the lyrical quality of its prose—accentuated greatly, of course, by Seamus Heaney's virtuoso translation. We follow mad Sweeney in his crazed wanderings through the forest and hills, torn within himself by his love of the wild and his incurable loneliness. The tale is presented as chunks of narrative interspersed with segments of poetry, their quiet, melancholy beauty evoking the sounds of windsong and rain.[3]

The poem served as inspiration for a collection of photographs by Rachel Giese which was published, side by side with excerpts from the poem, under the title Sweeney's Flight.


  1. ^ "Kennys Bookshop & Art Gallery - Sweeney Astray: A version from the Irish by Seamus Heaney - KHS1003398". Bookshop.kennys.ie. 1983-11-01. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Book Details". Abebooks.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  3. ^ Ford, Patrick K. "Sweeney Astray: A Version From the Irish". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-02-26.