Hope Via Religion

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In a world filled to the brim with alienation, despair, and loneliness one could assume that there is no allotted room for hope. During the Oral Tradition, 5th-11th Centuries, many Anglo-Saxon poems contained common themes of isolation and characters who led wretched lifestyles. Two of the most legendary poems descending from the Oral Tradition, “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer,” contain these elegiac elements. Similarly, both the seafarer and the wanderer reside in worlds of continuous exile and turmoil. Despite the gloomy worlds the characters inhabit they continue to persevere due to hope provided via religion; the belief that one day they will achieve eternal salvation.

The wanderer’s spirit and youthfulness appear worn down after much time in exile. Believing, “woe of heart withstandeth not fate; a failing spirit/ Earneth no help” (“The Wanderer” 14-6), the wanderer ascertains there is no panacea. Not even his sleep where he evokes memories of his kin and the mead hall provides him consolation. As his journey across the wintry seas continues he ruminates over the circuitous fleetingness of life. Wealth, friends, man kind, and maid are all ephemeral, leaving, “the foundation of the earth [to] fail,” (“The Wanderer” 115-8). Distraught and worried because the world he grew to recognize, to identify with, and to adore steadily begins leaving him. However, after much pondering the wanderer foresees hope. He discovers that a, “good man is [one] who guard[s] his faith/Never too quickly unburden[s] his breast/ Of its sorrow, but eagerly strive[s] for redress;/ Happy [is] the man who [seeks] mercy/ From his heavenly Father, our fortress and/ strength” (“The Wanderer” 120-5). Realizing that instead of reflecting on his sorrows, th...

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...eir shared belief that one day they will reach Heaven permits them to continue on their sorrowful and tiresome journeys.

Hope via religion provides the central reason that the seafarer, the wanderer, and many Anglo-Saxons persisted with their cruel lives. Deserted on the sea for a vast period of time the Anglo-Saxon warriors found it crucial to discover a reason to continue their journeys. Knowing that the hope of reaching Heaven is possible, warriors such as the seafarer and the wanderer persist until they reach that vital day. The wanderer comes to peace with the idea of God as, “our fortress and/strength” (124-5).Similarly, the seafarer acknowledges that one should praise God who is, the “Eternal, unchanging creator of earth” (124). Despite the grievances of their current circumstances, hope via religion prevents these Anglo-Saxon men from falling apart.
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