The sea flows through Beowulf’s culture as much as any Greek epic, and its warriors are likewise mariners. Heaney uses the metaphor of a boat at sea to convey a reader’s response to the poem. May you be also ‘buoyantly down-to-earth’ while swaying in the element of pure comprehension.
‘At these moments of lyrical intensity, the keel of the poetry is deeply set in the element of sensation while the mind’s lookout sways metrically and far-sightedly in the element of pure comprehension – which is to say that the elevation of Beowulf is always, paradoxically, buoyantly down-to-earth.’
Source: Beowulf, Seamus Heaney (London: Faber & Faber, 2000 (1999)), p. xxi