The Wife's Lament

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The Wife's Lament

Over the years, there have been many interpretations of who the speaker of The Wife’s Lament could be. These range from very interesting ideas to ones that seem a little rough around the edges. It is obvious that no sure answer can be found due to the fact that whoever wrote this poem is dead and that the answer will always be in speculation even if it is correct. Hopefully, at the end of this quest I will be slightly more enlightened as to who the true speaker may really be.

There are some things that we do know about this poem. It is most often referred to as an elegy because of the mood of mourning and regret. Upon further reading I discovered that this poem is like others of its time period. Many parallels can be seen between The Wife’s Lament and The Wanderer. The Wanderer is a poem about a man that is exiled due to war and details his miserable life in the wintry wilderness. Another poem that resembles The Wife’s Lament is Wulf and Eadwacer. In both of these poems, the speaker is interpreted to be a woman unlike other poems of the time. Wulf and Eadwacer is about a woman who has been involved with two men, the dreaded love-triangle. When the woman was separated from her lover, Wulf, she is taken into the comforting arms of another man, Eadwacer. This causes her much happiness but also pain over the lost love of Wulf. Thus the lament of this woman is very similar to the speaker in The Wife’s Lament.

The various interpretations of The Wife’s Lament may argue on who the speaker is, but there is one thing that can not be denied. There is no doubt that this poem is about lamenting exile and the trials the speaker must face due to this exile. No matter who the speaker is, he/she is wroug...

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... I think that anyone that reads this poem should be told about this interpretation so that they can at least consider it.

The question of who is speaking in The Wife’s Lament will never be answered because there are too many facts that aren’t provided. It would have been wonderful if the poet would have stated straight away that the speaker was a woman or a goddess or any of the other possible people or things. The only thing that readers of this poem can do is take all of these interpretations into consideration and use them to form their own idea of who the speaker is. I am very glad that I was introduced to this work and that I had the possibility to examine the various arguments of who is speaking. I think that when reading any piece of literature it should be looked at in a similar fashion as trying to pick apart who is speaking in The Wife’s Lament.
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