The Wanderer

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The Wanderer is a 115-line poem that establishes a monologue contact frame between an unknown writer who provides the poem's original opening and ending, and the Wanderer, the Warrior who wanders around looking for shelter and help (Alexander). Two distinct concepts emerge from the Wanderer's self-talk. To begin, he laments the loss of friends, family, and relatives due to his exile lifestyle (Osborne). Second, he is amused by the king's hospitality. Naturally, he finds little solace as he continues to walk along the frigid sea (Berberick). The moving speaker expresses his desire to enter and be a member of the king's circle, but is awakened in a snowfall gray winter in a dream. Similar to Anglo-Saxon poem, the poet tries to cling pagans with Christians in a twisted combination. The anonymous voice in the poem starts the poem by praising God and ends by emphasizing on the significances of faith (Crossley 106). Driven by the reflection of the hardship and sad mood of nature, the poem rides on the power of faith that an old man acquires hope and fate to endure restraints and suffering. In the essay, I will explore and analyze the theme of religion and faith.

Superficially, The Wanderer use Anglo-Saxon culture and people to illustrate the connection between paganism and Christianity. Alexander states, “few scholars would regard the ‘pagan’ and Christian elements in the Wanderer separable” (Osborne). In further discussions, she presents a combined reading of the poem (32). Her arguments are less polarized as compared to other scholars. She then recognizes the contribution of G.V Smithers that brings a complicated view of the poem in four separate section called a “four part-allegorical schema” (33).

Seally Ann Gilles presents another complex opinion by attempting to collect together patchworks that may prove that it gnomic verses. She samples out, “Old Irish proverbs and Anglo-Saxon homilies used (53, 62-65). Furthermore, another serious writer demonstrates her views on the origin of the poem and its relationship to the Christian genre “plaint” or “plantus” by Rosemary (206). As we can we see a majority of literature specialist tried to analyze the Wanderer according to the origin found more factual basis than the ones that divulge to other minor themes.

While comparing The Wanderer with the biblical virtues, it would be less arguable to realize the connection between the ideas and concerns. For instance, Paul De Lacy identifies the conformity in themes with Ecclesiastes (128). Both the Biblical word and Anglo-Saxon poem centrally talks about the core idea of change, “an overwhelming sense of the transitory nature of existence” (129). De Lacy claims the through the identification of the central theme of depression and “meditative lament” helps grasp the focal point of the poem.

The title The Wanderer takes the basis of God and Fate. The society believed that there were supernatural powers that controlled the lives of the individual. They “could put people into the positions that seem impossible to emerge heroes.” (Crossley 106) The choices are justified by the choices the made by not giving up. The power to oppose the fate of someone resulted in the idea of Fame that was bigger than Fate. The men who had the courage and the will performed great activities that conserved their deeds. Therefore, if he insisted for his faith, then a sense of courage could prevail because he was going to meet hardship in the struggle to the death (Osborne). The Wanderer was determined to achieve Fame so he would prefer dying courageously rather than watching from a distance.

“The lonely wanderer often prays for compassion

And from mercy from Lord God; but for a long time.

Destiny decrees that with a heavy heart he must dip.

His oars into icy waters, working his passage over the sea.

He must follow the paths of exile. Fate is inexorable!. (Lines 6-10)

According to the poem, the Wanderer believes in life after death in Hell or Heaven. Your human actions will determine will determine after death. The Christians believed in Fate while pagans believed in the judgment of the Lord (Alexander). That explains why the Wanderer felt that all his sufferings should be rewarded in Heaven. The poem quotes,

“Memorial is the praise of living men

After his death, that he must depart

He shall have done good deeds on earth against

The malice of his foes, and noble works

Against the devil, and the son of men

May praise after him and his glory live

Forever with angels in the splendor. (Lines 90-93)

The context of the poem proves the close connection with religion and Christianity. A unique two types of settings arise from the beliefs of Wanderer after death. The first parameter describes the state of loneliness without the comfort of Lord (Osborne). The physical environment is full of earthly riches like the king, though covered in Stygian waves and sea birds. The other context illustrates the religious references dwells around the hopes of the good life from heaven. He has lost everybody, no relatives to take care of him, no home and no lord to serve. “His world if full of unknown sorrows and mystery” (Berberick) He, therefore, decides to abandon looking back to his past by exile and pursue the future to eliminate the prolonged pains. The Wanderer fully understands that his fate is in a mess and will tirelessly travel and meet new people who can build a mead hall to call home. This home will be the new kingdom of God.

In the translation work of Emily H. Hickey’s, she discovers the use of old language that complexly describes God. For instance, “Still the loved one and desolate waits for his Maker’s “ruth”/ God’s good mercy, albeit so much time it tarries, in sooth” (1-2). While analyzing these lines, you need to remove useless terms like “ruth,” “sooth,” and “tarry.” Therefore, the modern readers would the straight message of “God’s good mercy” that controls life nature than The Wanderer himself. The later is a real reflection of religion in the poem.

The person he who forgets the advice of the Lord will realize the amount of sorrow and lack of sleep that surrounds the poor. He will bend low to the legs of Gods in his mind remembering the time he lost while gift giving while placing his hands on the knees and kissing the feet of Lord (Alexander). The world's sorrows and agonies make the wanderer feel the intensity of loneliness and poverty. The passage informs us that the wanderer must seize lamenting and blame games of the old God and start searching for a new God who will never desert him in thin and thickness (Crossley 106). A revelation tells him that the only Master who can accept him the way he is only the Christ.

The Wanderer quotes that “No man may indeed become wise before he has had his share of wisdom in this world’s kingdom.” (Crossley 106) Indeed, the physical world has tortured him in several ways by losing loved ones, titles, and everything. It is now the time escape to the Promised Land to avoid more pains afflicted to him (Berberick). The exile process taught him the wisdom of true contentment comes from spiritual life. “…this middle earth each day fails and falls” (Osborne). The determination he has shows that he will gain acceptance as a human being in an authentic world of happiness and defeat death.

Through the interpretation of the speaking voices, the anonymous voices praise the goodies of the cultural world while The Wanderer laments on the bad experience he had on earth. The Anglo-Saxon translator, Patrick Cook, describes the poem’s plot as superficially in culture but deeply in Christianity and new eternal life. Mandel supports by saying that “The logic of the poem is quite straight forward” (18). “The Wanderer has a new vision from dark past” (43). The Wanderer shows the significance of unity in religion within the Anglo-Saxon culture. The loss of family, friends, and people he knows leads him to the agony of lonely life and stays in the dream that he will meet again with them in the new kingdom (Crossley 106). He must learn to forget the past and focus on the future.

Michael J. Alexander, a prominent old English translator found the poem has the great connection with Jewish and Greek religion. He points out on the word choice that resembles those in the Holy book. The following lines give light on the similarity.

Who liveth alone longeth for mercy

Maker’s mercy. However, he must traverse

Tracts of sea, sick at heart,

Trouble with oars ice-cold waters,

The ways of exile –Weird is set to fast. (1-5)

The passage connects the similarity in Anglo-Saxon language and the original biblical language used by the writers of Bible.

The theme of religion shows up in the second part of the poem where The Wanderer ponders around the temporary nature of the human capitals and human-made wealth (Hickey). He remembers the loyalty he paid to his king, the revelation of Mead Hall and the relationship they had with kin. He, therefore, trusts nobody and walks alone to find the new unsuccessfully (Alexander). His melancholic dreams tell him that the comforts he needs rest at the palace of God and that a wise man should never be anxious, braggadocio and irresoluteness. The destruction and ruins of walls and cities that befell on his exile journey represents the end of the world to the pagans and their Fates.

At the end of the poem, there are several instances where God has been mention. Nevertheless, this is a simple criterion to follow while analyzing a poem. The Christian views in a poem are always admonitory in tone. The roots of the traditional poetic background, describes the transience of life (Osborne). Every Christian in the world believes that suffering is for the non-believers and the right eternal life would be found in Heaven. The Wanderer uses these sayings to walk while searching for the delightful but falls in the cold and chilly sea regions. He acts as the Christian figure. He was by the society, pushed to exile from his place, just like the Israelites while in Egypt.

The examination of the elegy in the poem perpetuates the meditative traditions of the Anglo-Saxon audience. The Wanderer begins his biography by the evocation of past activities. The Wanderer get care from the code of comitatus; he takes supper with the Mead halls, and as a king loyalist he would be appreciated by treasures and privileges (Crossley 106). The speakers’ reflection on the dining room halls times, The Wanderer becomes mimetic during Anglo-Saxon times. Either through self-experience or observation, the author outlines the real events that took place in the Anglo-Saxon era.

At the period, the pagans believed in the existence of many gods and happenings of supernatural events that controlled the society. The Wanderer, however, believes that through doing extra good works and forgiving those who wronged him would lead him to heaven and will gain fame as well. The belief in the pagans’ philosophy is unquestionable, “Yet fate is mightier, the Lord is stronger than any man can know.” (Alexander) On the other hand, he believes that the living Gods create the ultimate destiny for everyone.

Conclusion

The Wanderer is the most Anglo-Saxon poem that attracts more different translations and interpretation in the Old English time. In the Wanderer’s self-talk, we find two unique ideas. To begin with, he laments about his exile lifestyle loss of friends, family, and relatives (Osborne). The Wanderer led the traditional life of Anglo-Saxon period dedicating his life to the king. Eventually, all his earthly treasures were taken away from him, relatives killed and sent into exile. From experience, he now believes that the only real savior is the Christ (Berberick). Besides, he says that the only rational place a man can be is Heaven. From different quotations and translations of the poem, gives us the overriding theme of religion and practices. The Wanderer walks the lonely nights across the sea to find the Christ (Crossley 106). Unfortunately, he finds himself in the dreamlike situation around the dark sea. The Wanderer believes in life after death in Hell or Heaven. Your human actions will determine will determine after death. The Christians believed in Fate while pagans believed in the judgment of the Lord. Furthermore, the Christian views in a poem are always admonitory in tone. The roots of the traditional poetic backgrounds that describes the transience of the of life. Every Christian in the world believes that suffering is for the non-believers and the true eternal life would be found in Heaven (Crossley 106). In the comparison of the elegy, the poem perpetuates meditative traditions of the Anglo-Saxon audience. The Wanderer begins his biography by the evocation of old activities (Alexander). The Wanderer get care from the code of comitatus; he takes supper with the Mead halls, and as a king loyalist he would be appreciated by treasures and privileges (Berberick). Therefore, the poem The Wanderer in my view enlightens us on the religion during the Anglo-Saxon period.

Works Cited

"The Wanderer" Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction Ed. Frank Northen Magill. eNotes.com, Inc. 2005 eNotes.com 10 Jun, 2017 http://www.enotes.com/topics/wanderer-54431#summary-wanderer-0089900480-1

(1996): 127-137.

Alexander, Michael J. The Earliest English Poems. Penguin: New York, 1991.

Berberick, Nancy Varian. “The Home-Reft.” Winlandes Scir The United States Chapter of Þa

Cook and Chauncey B. Tinker. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1970. 55-55.

Cook, Patrick. “Woriað þa Winsalo: The Bonds of Exile in The Wanderer.” Neophilogus 80.1

Crossley-Holland, Kevin. “The Wanderer.” The Battle of Maldon and Other Old English Poems.

De Lacy, Paul. “Thematic and Structural Affinities: The Wanderer and Ecclesiastes.”

ed. Bruce Mitchell. New York: St. Martin’s., 1965. 105-112.

Engliscan Gesiðas. MarySavelli.1997. 10 July 2003.

Gilles, Sealy Ann. “Ne…to sequences in Old English and Old Irish, with Special Attention to

Hickey, Emily H.. “The Wanderer.” Select Translation from Old English Poetry. ed. Albert S.

http://www.dnaco.net/~sirbill/TheHome.html

Neophilogus 82.1 (1998): 125-137.

Osborne, Kristen. Boghani, A. ed. "Exeter Book “The Wanderer” Summary and Analysis". GradeSaver, 17 April 2013 Web. 8 June 2017.

The Wanderer.” Voices In Translation The Authority of “Olde Bookes” In Medieval Literature:Essays in Honor of Helaine Newstead. ed. deborah M. Sinnreich-Levi and Gale Sigal. New York: AMS, 1992. 53-68.

August 26, 2022
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