Life In The Seafarer

889 Words4 Pages
During the tenth century, life for men and women was short and infant mortality rates were extremely high. Life for the Anglo-Saxons was exceptionally unsafe, as they could die at any moment as a result of disease, starvation, a small feud, a war, or capital punishment. Entire kingdoms would collapse, buildings were burned to the ground, and rulers were assassinated as a result of power struggles between neighboring groups. Humans observed the strong presence of death and destruction surrounding them, causing them to realize how brief life on Earth truly is. This prompted the Anglo-Saxons to incorporate into their lives the concept of “wyrd,” or divine fate. The Exeter Book, to this day, contains the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon verse.…show more content…
He opens this poem by describing his story as “true song” about the “days of struggle” and “troublesome times” he suffers. (1-3) The author continuously uses imagery such as the “high streams,” the “tossing of salt waves” (33-35), and feet “bound by cold clasps […]” (8-10) to paint a picture of the seafarer’s harsh conditions during the first half of the work. The narrator explains that he sometimes becomes so lonely that he imagines the calls of the birds to be the voices of fellow sailors. In addition, the narrator differentiates himself from city-dwellers living an easy life by explaining that they cannot understand his pain and unlike them, he does not desire wealth, power or women. In the second half of the work, however, the author stops discussing the seafarer’s sufferings and changes his tone by preaching the benefits of sea exile. The traveler comments that “[…] the joys of the Lord [are better than] this dead life 
fleeting on the land. […]” (64-66) Here, it is clear that the author is commenting on the briefness of Earthly life, and is praising God’s permanence. The seafarer also explains that one must be brave, and work “against the enmity of devils” by performing “daring deeds.” (73-77) It is evident that exile changes the protagonist, and causes him to become more aware of God’s power. The author is urging the reader to act accept their fate and act…show more content…
She comments that she is living “[…] in the woods under an oak tree […]” (27-28) The narrator once believed that the force of “death alone” would part the two lovers. This makes it clear that the speaker acknowledges the force of fate in her life. However, unlike the speakers in the two previous poems, this wife does not accept God into her life, and thus, is not comforted. In the last two lines she says, “woe be to them that for a loved one must wait in longing.” (52-53) She ends the poem, accepting, yet ruing her
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