Exile, or Revelation?
In The Wanderer, translated by Charles W. Kennedy, there are many prevalent Anglo-Saxon themes. In the poem the narrator is a man who has spent countless winters on the sea. It is evident that this refers to the theme of exile. One can infer that exile, in context, is the state of being banished or away from your home during which one may come to realize his true purpose and find meaning in the world. The main topic of the poem is the cause for this exile and the effect on the narrator (the wanderer). He uses the persona of the wanderer as a metaphor of himself.
When the poem opens the exile of the narrator is immediately stated, “Off to the wanderer, weary of exile, Cometh God’s pity, …”(1-2). This informs the readers that it has been long since the wanderer has begun his exile. He is tired and weary, and God himself shows him pity. The character no longer had a home or a place of importance to him. He has no friends or loved ones in which he can confide in. “ No man is living, no comrade left. To whom I dare fully unlock my heart.”(10-11). The loss of those mentioned is the source for the character’s exile. He wants a new home, somewhere he will be accepted and can be at peace again.
Exile brings the wanderer sadness, for he comes to realize that all he has lost is not to be found. “His fortune is exile, not gifts of fine gold; a heart that is frozen, Earth’s winsomeness dead”(28-30). The word winsomeness means charm and delightfulness. This shows that the narrator recognizes (but doesn’t want to believe) the fact that he cannot obtain what he has lost. Exile is all he has, and it is all he will ever have.
The wanderer’s only way of getting by is to dream of the events of his past. “Even in slumber his sorrow assaileth, And, dreaming he claspeth his dear lord again, head on knee, hand on knee, loyally laying, pledging his knees as in days long past.”(35-38). His dreams are his only comfort while on the sea.
These dreams soon end...
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