In "The Seafarer," what happens to “fools who forget their God," and what happens to those who “live humble”?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"We all fear God.  He turns the earth, he set it swinging firmly in space, Gave life to the world  and light to the sky.  Death leaps at the fools who forget their God.  He who lives humbly has angels from Heaven To carry him courage and strength and belief."

The Seafarer believes that those individuals who forget their God will die quickly and without help.  Those who live according to God's wishes, humbly, as Jesus did, will have the help of the angels who will carry them courage and strength and belief.

Courage and strength are two of the pagan ideals of the Anglo-Saxon period...their belief that they will only live after death by the stories told of their heroism.  The Christian beliefs include the afterlife in Heaven with God.

The pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons relied heavily on fate and the deeds they did which resulted in songs to secure a place in the afterlife.  Think of Beowulf and all his heroic deeds (the sea monsters, Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the Dragon). 

dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In lines 108-110 the author says,

"Death leaps at the fools who forget their God

He who lives humbly has angels from Heaven

To carry him courage and strength and belief".

The author believes in a God that, though loving, is also wrathful "for a soul overflowing with sin" (Line 103), and says that "we all fear God" (Line 105).  He conludes that "fools who forget their God" (Line 108) will be punished and will face his anger in death. On the other hand, to someone who lives humbly, a benevolent God will send the gifts of "courage and strength and belief" (Line 110) to him on his journey through life.


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