the wanderer n.
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The Wanderer

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  1. The Wanderer Anglo-Saxon Poetry

  2. This poem is a mournful elegy that ends with a twist. • The speaker is a warrior who recalls a battle in which his friends, family, and lord are killed. He conveys an overwhelming sense of sadness as he recalls details of “this dark and twisted life” in which “Fortune vanishes, friendship vanishes...And all this earth rolls into emptiness.” • The tone is sorrowful. And the details of battle and loss are timeless. • “Wisdom is slow, and comes / But late, “ the speaker admits, but the poem ends abruptly on a hopeful and religious note. Some scholars believe the last lines were added later, since their tone is so different from the rest of the poem . Overview / Summary

  3. The speaker travels the sea. • He is alone and grief-stricken, wandering aimlessly in exile. • “Frost-cold” describes the sea and his life. • His memory torments him. • Fate - he is fated to only remembered. Lines 1-7

  4. ll. 8-11: The speaker references his loneliness and states that those men he cared about have long been dead. • ll.12-16: • He doesn’t voice his grief; his heart has closed itself off. • Only more sadness comes, and Fate has seemingly kicked him while he was down. • ll. 17-22: He has been forced into exile. • His lord died; in his perspective this darkness has affected the entire earth. Lines 8-22

  5. ll. 23-27: • He left his home hoping to find companions to replace those he lost to death. • This “winter” is literal and figurative. • ll. 28-34: • He found no companions. No one offered comfort, joy, or feasting. • Throughout his journey, only sorrow was his companion. • He was “alone, an exile” everywhere he went, and no one really understood what he had experienced. • “For who can hear: ‘friendless and poor.’ / And know what I’ve known…” Lines 23-34

  6. He remembers the warmth of his youth, the joy of serving his lord. • Sometimes he dreams his lord still lives, and he can kiss and embrace him. Other times he dreams of his kin, but in both cases he wakes to nothing. • “And I open my eyes, embracing the air” • “They fade away,…/ Leaving nothing” Lines 35-55

  7. Instead of his lord and kin, the “frozen waves” of his travels surround him. Lines 56-57

  8. ll. 58-64: • His outlook on life is “melancholy” (depressing) because he knows the fate of all men – to die. • ll. 64-74: • Wisdom is slow to come to people. • Those wise men are careful to heed knowledge and not to boast of the future because their wisdom informs them everything is destroyed. • All wealth comes to a “wastelike end” Lines 58-74

  9. ll. 75-84: All is already wrecked. • Mead-halls are crumbled. • Monarchs are overthrown. • Warriors lie dead. • ll. 85-87: • God is pictured as a destroyer, crushing men’s mirth. Lines 75-87

  10. ll. 88-93: • The person who considers the ruins and “this dark twisted life” will wonder where the warriors and lord have gone. • “this dark twisted life”– this is the speaker’s true view of life • ll. 94-100: • The questions concerning the war steed, warrior, warlord, feasting-place, mead-hall are answered. • All is “gone, / Lost” as if it had never existed. Lines 88-100

  11. ll. 101–105: • The speaker provides images of a winter storm – • Beating the rocks • Pinning down the earth • Smothering warmth in snow, hail, and darkness. • ll. 106-110: • Fate is fickle and everything vanishes into emptiness. Lines 101-110

  12. The poem shifts its tone from very melancholy to hopeful. • The closing message is to guard your faith and find grace and hope in God. Lines 111-116

  13. Lines 1-7 • Lines 8-22 • Lines 23-34 • Lines 35-55 • Lines 56-57 • Lines 58-74 • Lines 75-87 • Lines 88-100 • Lines 101-110 • Lines 111-116 Paraphrase