The Meaning of Home in The Seafarer

957 Words2 Pages

The Meaning of Home in The Seafarer

It is important to consider the meaning of home when analyzing The Seafarer. The narrator of this poem seems to feel a sense of belonging while traveling the sea despite the fact that he is obviously disillusioned with its hardships .The main character undergoes a transformation in what he considers home and this dramatically affects his life and lifestyle. Towards the end of The Seafarer the poet forces us to consider our mortality, and seems to push the notion that life is just a journey and that we will not truly be at home until we are with God.

The first instance of a sense of home in this poem comes with the description of the former life of the narrator in his pre-seafaring days. He leaves his old life for some unspecified reason, telling us that he was "cut off from his kinsmen", and he talks about this with a definite sense of regret and loss. Winter on the sea is presented as an "exile" or "wræcan"1 , a form of punishment where someone is forced to leave their homeland, the place where they belong. It seems that in the early stages of the poem the seafarer identifies his life with his kinsmen on land as his home, the place that he belongs.

At first he does not seem content with his seafaring life. During the early descriptions of his time there, it is painted as a life of hardship and penance. Images and adjectives of the sea and life there are harsh and foreboding-"ice cold", "hung round with icicles" , "fettered with frost". The sea is seen as cold, and not just in the physical sense .It is remote, a place of despair , an earthly purgatory, where there is "always anxiety …. as to what the Lord will bestow on him"2. The narrator is cut away from the comforts ...

... middle of paper ...

... angels"6.What ever home we make for ourselves on Earth, we must keep in perspective that it is only temporary.

To conclude, there are two main opposing representations and aspects of home presented in this poem, from what is seen as the "norm", the narrators life on land, to the "favoured", the narrators life at sea. Home is irrevocably linked to lifestyle and should not just be where the heart is,(though there is a sense that our "Heart's fulfilment" is important) but should more importantly be a place where we can live a life that will bring us towards heaven, which the poem portrays as our eternal home. The Seafarer is a poem which urges us to carefully "consider where we possess our home, and then think how we com thither."

Works Cited

Mitchell, Bruce and Robinson, Michael A Guide To Old English, fifth edition 1992 , Blackwell Publishers , Oxford .

Open Document