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The Seafarer and The Wanderer are elegies found in the Exeter Book.

According to Garca
Tortosa (1985), the critical opinion is divided as regards the number of narrators within the
poems. Some believe that both elegies are dialogues between an old and a young man and
some others think that they are monologues and that the narrator is only one. Garca
Tortosa agrees with the second group of critics. He describes The Seafarer as having a
narrator who ponders on the ephemeral nature of things, death and God. The author
explains that in The Wanderer the narrator is referred as eardstapa (wanderer) and snottor
(wise man), and this may lead us to believe that there are two different narrators but it is
more plausible that these two names refer to aspects of a same journey: a phase of learning
and one of maturity.
Both elegies speak about exile and loneliness but with differences. On the one hand, in The
Wanderer the narrator has been forced into exile: he has lost his lord and his companions
and is looking for a new lord to join in a comitatus. On the other hand, the seafarer has
chosen his own banishment: he is a pilgrim who is on a journey to distant lands as a
sacrifice to God (Garca Tortosa, 1985). This significant difference between the elegies
leads to another contrast that is connected to nostalgia. This feeling is prevalent in The
Wanderer where the narrator looks back into past memories of happier times. However, in
The Seafarer, the-narrator has chosen to live in loneliness so he does not look back because
he was willing to sacrifice despite the suffering of living in foreign lands and the pain of
loneliness.
Life in the mead hall was an important part of the Anglo-Saxon culture and we can find this
theme in both poems. The hall was the place of protection from the hostile environment and
where the social ties and bonds of a community were carried out. According to Donoghue
(2004), The Wanderer deals with this theme more thoroughly than The Seafarer. The
reason for it is that the narrator in the former poem has lost this life but the seafarer has
willingly left this life aside. The feeling of nostalgia previously described can be mentioned
again in connection to this theme as the wanderer laments that he will no longer receive
treasure or spend time with his fellow thanes.

Another point for comparison is the poems attitudes towards wyrd (fate). Donoghue (2004)
considers that while the seafarer sees faith as a synonym of Gods power to which-he has
summited himself willingly , the wanderer presents himself as a victim of the impersonal
forces of wyrd: Often the solitary man []must journey the paths of exile; settled in truth
is fate.(The Wanderer: 73)
One last point that is worth mentioning is the references to heaven in the elegies which
relate them to Christianity. In The Seafarer there are mentions to the mercy of heaven
and the joys of the Lord which are more inspiring [] than life on earth (The Seafarer:
77), and The Wanderer begins with a reference to praying and to the mercy of the Lord.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Gordon, R. K. (trans.) (1957), Anglo-Saxon Poetry, London & New York: J. M.
Dent.
Donoghue, D. (2004) Old English Literature. A Short Introduction, Australia:
Blackwell
Garca Tortosa, F., La estructura temtica de las elegas anglosajonas, Galvn
Reula J. F. (comp.) (1985), Estudios Literarios Ingleses. Edad Media, Madrid:
Ctedra, pgs. 43-68.