Heathen and Christian Elements in the Wanderer Essay

Heathen and Christian Elements in the Wanderer Essay

Length: 1754 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Heathen and Christian Elements in the Wanderer

 
    The modern word 'weird' bears only a superficial resemblance to its etymological descendent, wyrd.  What now stands for 'strange' and 'queer' only has an archaic connection to its classical meaning of 'Fate'.  During the process of evolution, however, the word went through many phases, especially during the formation of the English language by the Anglo-Saxons.

 

      Wyrd appears fairly often in Old English poetry and prose, indicating a certain importance in Germanic society.  By following the changes the word undergoes, it is also possible to follow some of the changes that the culture undergoes as well.  A fine example of Old English poetry that employs wyrd on four separate occasions - with four separate meanings - is The Wanderer.

 

      What began as a word firmly rooted in what can only be termed 'heathen' culture eventually began to take on much more religious overtones.  The word wyrd, though originally pagan in meaning, had found an entirely Christian colouring by the time of its use in The Wanderer.

 

      Before beginning an analysis of a single word that appears four times in this poem, it is important to establish a few assumptions about the nature of the piece itself.  Many an article and essay have been written about The Wanderer, trying to define its theme, genre, even its narrator.  Yet the wonderfully ambiguous nature of the poem defies any single explanation, so it remains up to the critical reader to develop his own opinion.

 

      For the purpose of this paper, it is believed that The Wanderer is, in essence, a heathen/pagan poem, rooted firmly in the Germanic culture from whence it hails.  H...


... middle of paper ...


...y Exile of the     Wanderer."  Neophilologus 73 (1989): 119-129.

 

Dunning, T.P., and A.J.Bliss, eds.  The Wanderer.  London: Methuen      & Co, 1969

 

Lochrie, Karma.  "Wyrd and the Limits of Human Understanding: a   Thematic Sequence in the Exeter Book."  JEPG 85 (1986): 323-331

 

Timmer, B.J.  "Wyrd in Anglo-Saxon Prose and Poetry."       Neophilologus 26 (1941): 213-128.

 

Timmer, B.J.      "Heathen and Christian Elements in Old English Poetry."  Neophilologus 29 (1944): 180-185.

 

    1Due to the lack of punctuation in The Wanderer, it is nigh impossible to know who is narrating, or to whom he/she is referring to at any given time.

    2The actual meaning of "sundor æt rune" remains ambiguous.  Though "apart in meditation" seems the most likely, interpretations such as "reading runes" have been put forward.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Wanderer: Life in a Transient World Essay

- The Wanderer: Life in a Transient World Upon their invasion of England, the Anglo-Saxons carried with them a tradition of oral poetry. The surviving verse, which was frequently transcribed and preserved in monasteries makes up the body of work now referred to as Old English Poetry. "The Wanderer," an anonymous poem of the eighth or ninth century, reflects historical Anglo-Saxon life as well as the influence of Christianity during the period. Because both Christian and Anglo-Saxon heroic elements exist in "The Wanderer," there is cause for analysis of the structural and textual unity of the poem....   [tags: Poem Poetry Wanderer Papers]

Powerful Essays
1814 words (5.2 pages)

paganbeo Pagan and Heathen Elements in Beowulf Essays

- Pagan/Heathen Elements in Beowulf        In Beowulf the pagan element, which coexists alongside the Christian, sometimes in a seemingly contradictory fashion, is many faceted.   Certainly the pagan element seems to be too deeply interwoven in the text of Beowulf for us to suppose that it is due to additions made by scribes. While the poet’s reflections and characters’ statements are mostly Christian, the customs and ceremonies, on the other hand, are almost entirely heathen/pagan. This fact seems to point to a heathen work which has undergone revision by Christian minstrels....   [tags: Epic Beowulf essays]

Powerful Essays
1597 words (4.6 pages)

Essay about The Wanderer: Christianity for a Pagan World

- The Wanderer: Christianity for a Pagan World         The introduction of Christianity and its culture to the Anglo-Saxon culture brought about an intriguing blend of these two often opposing sets of beliefs. In literature this blend frequently manifests itself as an overlay--Christianity is simply imposed in short spurts upon preexisting works. The demonstration of this practice is not difficult to find in Anglo-Saxon literature. Scanning a section of Anglo-Saxon works from nearly any literature anthology will most likely uncover several such overlays per page....   [tags: Wanderer Essays]

Powerful Essays
2888 words (8.3 pages)

Essay about Finding Jesus in The Wanderer

- Finding Jesus in  The Wanderer During the Middle Ages, banishment was a devastating occurrence which plagued many Anglo Saxons. Upon being exiled, men were forced to travel the barren world alone in hopes of finding a new lord under whom they could serve. From this point on, melancholy and loneliness stood as the emotional basis on which every thought and dream was based. Until successfully locating a new mead hall and fellow companions, these loners were forced to look to themselves for comfort, or if they were lucky enough to realize it, the Lord....   [tags: Wanderer]

Powerful Essays
1863 words (5.3 pages)

Christian Elements in Indonesian and Singapore Contemporary Art Essay

-   The Art-Religion Symbiosis originated from the inceptive purpose of commemorating and exalting the divine through art-making. Christian elements in contemporary art are apparent from the previous influence of colonialism in South East Asia. This essay compares Indonesian Artist Ariadhitya Pramuhendra (Pramuhendra) with Singaporean Artist Boo Sze Yang in the use of Christian elements and its extent in their artworks and how this is affected by their individual societal backgrounds and distinct local influences....   [tags: religion, christian art, inner spirituality]

Powerful Essays
1304 words (3.7 pages)

Religion's Effect on The Wanderer Essay

- 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)....   [tags: Religion Clergy Wanderer Poetry Poem essays]

Free Essays
753 words (2.2 pages)

Ability to Meditate in The Wanderer Essay

- Ability to Meditate in The Wanderer Human beings stand alone in the ability to meditate; to think about one’s own thinking. While humans view this as a positive aspect or even a dominant trait of their own species, this same ability can lead the thinker down a dark and depressing path. Found in the Exeter Book of Old English poetry, “The Wanderer” displays how this same ability that allows humans to grasp meaning and reason, feel a purpose and use their imaginations can also resurface memories of sadness as well as remind one of better times....   [tags: Wanderer thinking Poem Essays]

Powerful Essays
594 words (1.7 pages)

Christian and Pagan Elements in Beowulf Essay

- In eighth century Anglo-Saxon society, history was passed down as oral stories, as writing historical events was too troublesome as there were too many dialects. In addition, in eighth century Anglo-Saxon society, there was an important transition from the old pagan traditions to the new theology of Christianity. Thus, as new stories were being told, to make them apply to the audience, Christianity had to be incorporated. Coming out of this age of transition, Beowulf has various Christian colorings along with the pagan traditions of old....   [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]

Powerful Essays
1145 words (3.3 pages)

Pagan and Christian Elements in Beowulf Essay

- Pagan and Christian Elements in Beowulf                 The praised epic poem, Beowulf, is the first great heroic poem in English literature. The epic follows a courageous warrior named Beowulf throughout his young, adult life and into his old age. As a young man, Beowulf becomes a legendary hero when he saves the land of the Danes from the hellish creatures, Grendel and his mother. Later, after fifty years pass, Beowulf is an old man and a great king of the Geats. A monstrous dragon soon invades his peaceful kingdom and he defends his people courageously, dying in the process....   [tags: Epic of Beowulf Essay]

Powerful Essays
2163 words (6.2 pages)

The Anglo-Saxon poems, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Wife’s Lament

- The Anglo-Saxon poems, “The Wanderer,” “The Seafarer,” and “The Wife’s Lament” The Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, era of England lasted from about 450-1066 A.D. The tribes from Germany that conquered Britain in the fifth century carried with them both the Old English language and a detailed poetic tradition. The tradition included alliteration, stressed and unstressed syllables, but more importantly, the poetry was usually mournful, reflecting on suffering and loss.1These sorrowful poems from the Anglo Saxon time period are mimetic to the Anglo-Saxons themselves; they reflect the often burdened and miserable lives and times of the people who created them....   [tags: Wanderer Essays]

Powerful Essays
3461 words (9.9 pages)