Monday, 5 September 2011

Anglo-saxon lyrical poetry

     * It is preserved in the Exeter Book.
     * 'Widsith' means 'the far goer'.
     * It is a poem of 143 lines, divided into three parts-
              a) A Prologue- first 9 lines.   
              b) A speech by Widsith- Next 125 lines.
              c) En Epilogue- last- 9(nine) lines.
* It is the autobiography of an itinerant minstrel who recounts the story of his long travels through the Germanic World.
* During his tour he visited different tribal chiefs, lords, kings and princes and received rich presents. Some of them are well-known to History as- Eormenric, king of the Goths; Attila, king of the Huns; Albion-king of the Lombard, Theodrick, king of Franks and even the reference of Hrothgar and Hrothwulf.
* It is a valuable piece of social and historical documents of primitive life.
* To David Daiches- "What strikes us most forcibly is its catholicity; praise is meted out impartially to Huns, Goths, Burgandians,Franks, Danes, Sweedes, Anglos, Wends, Saxons and many others".
* To S.Brook- "Widsith is our Ulysses".      

The Wonderer:-
* It is an elegy of 115 lines by an unknown Anglo-Saxon Poet.
* It is the lamentation of a young-man for his dead master. The Wonderer travels in a ship, alone and friendless, seeking a home for peace and protection under a new lord .In the sleep he dreams the happiness of his former days but after awakening he finds nothing but grey waves and falling snow which adds to his distress. Finally he draws the conclusion that miseries are the common lot of man.
* The poem ends with a conventional Christian sentiment that good is the man who never loses his faith on God.
* The poem is purely personal but attains the universality by virtue of its presentation.

The Seafarer:- 
* It is a poem of some hundred lines.
* It is difficult to surmise wheather the poem is a monologue of a seaman or a dialogue between two sailors-one old and another young.
* It seems to be in two distinct parts.
 The first shows the hardship of ocean life; but the subtle call of the sea is more alluring.
 The second part allegorically represents that the troubles of the seaman are the troubles of earthly life and the call of the ocean is the call in the soul to go to its true home with God.
* The poem is remarkable for (as Legouis puts) - "The somber and violent pictures it gives of northern seas in which sufferings from cold mingles with the pains of water and wind".                       
The Ruined Burg or the Ruin:-

 * It is an elegy not for the misfortune of a person but for a place.
 * The unknown poet laments for the vanished glory of a great city, probably the Roman built city Bath, which was turned into debris by the Anglo-Saxon aggression, Conquest and settlement.
 * The poem can be divided in three parts-
      a) First the poet describes the ancient gorgeous buildings now deserted and rootless and tottering.
      b) Next he goes to muse on its golden past and its adorned and crowded noble princess and warriors.

      c) Finally he contrasts the runions present with the pompous past.
 * The poem is remarkable for its nostalgic melancholy and for its descriptive nature.
    Deor’s Lament:
* It is a poem of 42 lines, divided into stanzas and it is included in the Exeter Book.
* It is the lamentation of Deor, a scop who after years of service has been supplanted by another minstrel, Herrenda. Finally he consoles himself by considering the misfortune of others.
* It is written in strophic form throughout and each strophe ends with a refrain.
* There are altogether seven sections in the poem.
* In the first five sections, the mentions the adversities that befall others but ends with a note of consolation in the sixth section he speaks of the misfortune of mankind in general. And in the seventh section the poet mentions his own misfortune. In this way the poem is logically well-knit.
* It remains plainly heathenic in sentiment.

The Wife’s Complaint:
* It is a kind of monologue.
* The narrator is a woman whose husband has left her and gone to the sea. She is forced to live in an old dwelling dug out of earth under oak by her husband's relatives. She sitting under the tree laments over her miserable lot all day. Friendless and fore shaken she bewails her loneliness and the vows of love that have come to nothing.
* The poem is rich in melancholy feeling.

The Husband’s Message:
* It exists in fragments. A good many lines of this poem are lost for ever.
* An exiled husband sends his message to his wife by means of letters carved on a piece of wood. The wood tells the wife its own life story and its journey in a ship. It tells her that though the circumstances let her husband out of home he has been able to gain a position of wealth and dignity. Finally it bids her to join with her husband in the place of exile.
* To some critics the poem is a sequel to 'The Wife's Complaint but some would to see it as an independent poem.