The Wanderer and The Seafarer belong to elegies, which are ´the most subjective and emotional part of Anglo-Saxon poetry being otherwise much restrained in real feeling and emotion´ . The word elegy is derived from ´the Greek elegos meaning funeral song´ and like all elegies both poems are full of melancholy, mournful mood. The influence of christianity, which penetrated into Anglo-Saxon society in the sixth and seventh century, is evident in both poems. I decided for the analysis of these two poems because they deal with suffering and I wanted to learn how other people, in this case Wanderer and Seafarer, perceive life while suffering and how they solve their misery. This essay will concentrate on the comparison of the poems in terms of these issues: impact of society on heroes, their relation to God,fate, their attitude towards life on Earth, their perception and reaction to suffering. This aim will be achieved by the analysis of poetic images, explaining metaphors and other poetic devices. Old English poetry contains both religious and heroic elements , the reason for that fact is that ´while the Anglo-Saxons adapted themselves readily to the ideals of Christianity, they did not do so without adapting Christianity to their own heroic ideal´ . So the hypothesis is that both poems present mixture of heroic and religious elements.
The attitude of heroes towards fate is demonstrated in both poems. The Wanderer believes in fate but he does not agree with the course of his fate, which is clear from the line ´Fate is full stubborn´ . He wants to resist fate, he does not want to submit to it, which indicate these lines:
A weary mind cannot resist fate,
nor can a sad soul afford help:
wherefore they who yearn for glory oft bind fast
in their bosoms a troubled heart.
So must I often bind in fetters
my souls thoughts, miserably wretched.
Here he reveals his idea how he would like to fight against fate. Suppressing of his feelings, preventing them from penetrating into his soul, indicated by the metaphor in the last two lines above, could be, according to him, the way to gain power over fate. He stresses the importance of not giving away his emotions and not allowing them to take control over him by parallelism, which is obvious in ´it is a noble virtue in a man/ to bind fast the mind´s enclosure,/ to guard his treasure-chamber, whatever he may think´ .He is fighting with suffering, is not submitting to it and this way he can find strength in himself to influence the direction of his fate, his life.He is searching the place, where he could find one, ´who in the mead-hall would show me love /, would comfort me in my friendlessness /, and cheer me with delights´ .The Wanderer endures suffering bravely, he is not falling into passivity and makes efforts to change his state of mind. The Wanderer exhibits himself as a heroic person, as a courageous warrior against his grief, his fate.
The poem reflects strong tie between the lord and his retainers. The relationship between the lord and retainer was very significant in Anglo-Saxon society. ´The lord surrounds himself with a band of retainers who are members of his household. It was the duty of retainers to defend him in battle, to give up their own lives while defending or avenging his´ .´In return for faithful service they received from their lord both protection and reward´ . The Wanderer was very deeply attached to his lord, the relationship to the lord did not give him only material benefits ( ´Where is gone the horse?´ ), but also social delights( ´he remembers the retainers and the receipt of treasure /, how in his youth his generous lord / regaled him at the feast, but all delight has fallen away!´ ).He is missing social activities, such as feasting, he cannot reconcile himself to the passing of these social pleasures. He is calling- ´Where are gone the seats of the feast? Where are the joys of the hall?´...