Religion's Effect on The Wanderer

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Religion's Effect on The Wanderer

“He who is alone often lives to find favor” (Wanderer), but is he searching needlessly? In short, “The Wanderer” is an Old English poem of a man who is exiled due to the loss of his liege lord. The man then finds himself traveling the sea in search of a new land in which he could remain. His travel is accompanied by a lament from his heart. His heart has little hope, and even that is overpowered by the lament for the land he had just been exiled from. Yet hope still manages to find a place in this sad tale, for this oral poem was made into a manuscript by the Christian Monks around the year of 975 (Wanderer). “The Wanderer” is among many of the oral traditions of the Anglo-Saxon period that have been put into print. Through this transition of being spoken to now being read, “The Wanderer” has lost and gained different components of its original form.

If one were to remove the words of the author, the poem would be left with only a “sense of the harshness of circumstance and the sadness of the human lot” (Encarta), which is the average focus of poems spoken at the time. However, with the author interjecting phrases as simple as “So the wise man spoke in his heart” (Wanderer), it lifts the appeal of true harshness. The author takes this man’s most abstract and uneasy thoughts and gives a simple explanation for them, and this leads the reader to not judge the wanderer- based on his morbid thoughts- as much. The author does not go as far as to create sympathy for the wanderer, just far enough to create an understanding of him. No person wants to be judged based on personal thoughts, for things expressed only within the mind are not meant to be observed by others. It could create a wrong impression of a person, and that is what the author is making sure does not happen.

There is an “elegiac note [that] finds it most eloquent expression in ‘The Wanderer’” (“Wanderer”). However, because of the clergies inserting an author, this great sense of elegy is slightly altered due to the fact: it is not completely a reflective essay anymore, but mostly because the melancholy tone is lightened by the author’s explanation, which are two key components of elegy. Granted, it is believed to be one of the best examples of elegy, but it must have been more so before it was put into manuscript.

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