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The Seafarer. Origin. This poem is taken out of the Exeter Book a hand copied manuscript that contains old English poems. The Seafarer was believed to be written around 940 A.D. . Summary.

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This poem is taken out of the Exeter Book a hand copied manuscript that contains old English poems. The Seafarer was believed to be written around 940 A.D.


First off, the poem actually has two parts, 1-64 is the first and the second is 64-124. The beginning or first part of this story tells of the speakers hardship in his life at sea. It talks about the loneliness and isolation of his ocean adventures. Also the speaker develops the feeling that he is always drawn to an inexplicable thing that pulls him to the suffering of the sea.


The second section is concentrated on that in the end it does not matter what a person possesses or how much fame a person has means nothing when their judgment day comes. The speaker also talks about some lessons to be learned by a humble person. These are being humble, strong, courageous, firm with friends, and never resort to violence even when enemies do.


The speaker was more than likely the writer who was very educated for not many could read or write in this period. It is also probably a male who is older and has a strong belief in God; which affects how the reader may interrupt the poem or how it affects the reader.


The setting is the cold and miserable sea but the mind set of the writer/ reader was taking a deep look into life as a whole. It probably takes place the same time the story was written.


The Seafarer– Traveler of the sea

It emphasizes how a man traveling alone on the sea is similar to, how in the end of a person’s life that people only have their selves and their faith in God such as a seafarer on the sea with nothing but faith to accompany them.


Alienation and loneliness are the main themes of the first section along with the love hate relationship people have with different things in life.

The second section has a slightly different view and its theme about how when a person’s judgment day comes their belief in god is the only thing that counts. The first section helps make the point that even in alienation and loneliness a person has to have faith.


“My feet were cast in icy bands, bound with frost, with frozen chains, and hardship groan around my heart.”

“Storms beat on the rocky cliff and were echoed by icy feathered terns and the eagle’s screams; No kinsman could offer comfort there, To a soul left drowning in desolation.”


“ The song of the swan Might serve for pleasure, the cry of the sea-fowl, The death-noise of birds instead of laughter, The mewing of gulls instead of mead.”

This is comparing the sounds of birds to the harsh sounds of the sea.

the sea
The Sea

The sea is symbolic of a persons journey through life and how even through bad times with faith a person could withstand anything. That is the single most important thing, for a seafarer with nothing but faith is better off than a prince with nothing but riches.