I like this concept of an inheritance as something solidly rooted in the past, but ‘willable forward again and again and again’. Not a burden the past imposes on us, but something we can take up and use with forward momentum, if we choose.

‘And now this is ‘an inheritance’ –

Upright, rudimentary, unshiftably planked

In the long ago, yet willable forward

Again and again and again.’

See also our bestellar review of this and other versions of Beowulf, a quote-mosaic for the mind. 

 

Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf, Introduction, p. ix

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