I am not a big fan of Bryson's book. It is a pleasant read, but there are a number of factual errors that litter the book.
In regard to your suggestion about publishing a Beowulf translation, I think if I ever do anything, I would rather publish an on-line interactive site with the original text and hyperlink for each word--parsing it out--giving the user a kind of anatomy of the grammar, snytax and vocabulary of the original text and a very raw kind of translation. I thought about having layers of translations--from a close word for word translation, to a fairly direct but more readable prose one, to a poetic verse one that attempts to capture the poem for a modern audience. Thus the web site could be useful for scholars as well as casual readers or students.
Breedon's translation is a good read. You can find it on-line. For a close translation--with dual language-- Old English on one side and Modern on the other--find Chickering's translation. The appendices are a bit dated now, but still very useful for the beginning student.
I am curious as to what text I disparaged before in a comment.
Thank you for the link; I will check it out when I get a chance.
By the way, I am a big Dylan fan too.
Yeah, that is the gist of the newer take on the opening phrase. When I first read Heaney's, I was inclined to say, "So Hwaet"? Comically, I had thought about translating it with the British slang use of the word, "Right" for a kind of Monty Pythonesque sound: "Right! We have heard of the Spear Danes . . ."