English Literature » Notes » Write a note on Anglo Saxon elegiac poetry/elegies and lyrics

Write a note on Anglo Saxon elegiac poetry/elegies and lyrics

There are a group of Anglo Saxon poems which stand apart from the Anglo Saxon war poems by virtue of their lyrical tendency. These poems strike the truly elegiac mode and have nothing to do with either the German word or with paganism. Nor are they Christian except in some of their details and conclusion. Like lyrics they express the personal feelings and emotions of the poets themselves. They strike as Legouis says perhaps more truly than the authentic fragments of keltic poetry that not of lamentation at once personal and human to which the name of assianic has been given of those poems.

The Wanderer and Seafarer are almost similar to each other. The Wanderer is a lament of a lonely man who had once been happy in the the service of his Lord. Now after his Lords death and the passing away of happiness and friendship he has become a wanderer journey the path of exile across the icy sea. The poem ends with some conventional moralizing, but the main part of the elegy is an impressive lament of departed joy’s done in a pleasant tone of reminiscence.

The Seafarer is the monologue of an old sailor who recalls the loneliness and the hardship of life at sea, while at the same time ever of of its fascination. Compare it with The Wanderer it appears to have the same melancholy tone the same mingling of regret and self pity. Some critics take it to be a dialogue in which the old sailor urge the hardship of the seafaring life against the arguments of an eager young man anxious to take to the sea. The poetry can be read is this way but the fluctuating moods seems more impressive if taken as the alternation of weariness and fascination in the same person.

Another poem in the Exter Book generally given the title of The Wife’s Lament can also be considered as belonging to this group of electric monologue. It is difficult to follow the proper situation described by the speaker, but apparently the wife seems to have been separated from her husband and forced to live in a cave in the forest by the plotting of his kinsmen in spite of the comparative obscurity of of the situation, the central emotion comes through strongly and the note of personal passion rings out with remarkable clarity.

Similar in many ways is the poem The Husband message where the speaker is a piece of wood on which the letter is curved. It first tells the wife its own life story and then goes on to speak the message carved on it. The husband reminds the wife of her earlier vows tell her that he has been driven from her by a feud and ask her to join him across the sea.

Wulf and Eadwacer is another dramatic monologue which express an intense romantic passion in a way quite uncharacteristic of Anglo Saxon poetry as it has come down to us. Wulf is the women’s outlawed lover and Eadwacer her heated husband aur at least the man with whom she is forced to live. The passionate cry of “Wulf my Wulf my longing for the thee/ have made me sick” might be insult crying for Tristam.

Finally there are two interesting anglo-saxon poems with an elegiac tone ‘The Ruin’ is a sad picture of dissolution and decay set against an account of the earlier prosperity of the place. Though the text is imperfect the sense of passionate regret at passing away of what was once lively and beautiful is conveyed with impressive eloquence. ‘The Lament of Deor’ a poem of 42 lines and spoken in the first person purports to be the element of a scope who after years of service to his Lord, has been ousted by a rival scope. Deor however consoles himself by recalling fire instances of misfortune all of them drown from Germanic legend and history in each case he assures himself the sorrow passed away so likewise may the pain of his rejection pass.

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