The Wanderer: Anglo-Saxon Poem - Summary

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      The Wanderer is an elegy of 115 lines. It is an Anglo-Saxon poem preserved in The Exeter Book. The structure is somewhat ambiguous, the poem may represent a monologue containing two reported speeches or, alternatively, speeches by different characters. The first speech says that the solitary wanderer often experiences the grace of God despite the hardships he endures. There follows a long personal account of exile leading the speaker to wonder that his suffering and the general state of decay of the world do not make him miserable. Finally, the voice of wisdom asserts that the world's wealth is transitory and faith in God is the only source of security.

The Wanderer

      The poem Wanderer is the lament of a man who has lost his lord, and now journeys, alone and friendless in search of a new lord. In sleep, he dreams of the days of his former happiness, but awaking, he finds nothing but grey waves and falling snow which adds to his distress. Then he passes on to reflect that the vicissitudes of fortune befall even the lords, and that misery is the common lot of man. The Wanderer attains the height of great lyrical poetry which expresses not only what is personal, but what is universal. The poem ends with a conventional Christian sentiment that good is the man who does not lose his faith in God, the Father who protects us all.

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