The Wanderer Questions and Answers

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How does the kenning "gold-lord" help you understand the Wanderer's goal in The Wanderer?

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Octavia Cordell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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The poem mourns the wanderer's lost clan. This is not just a political loss, but, in a personal loss as well. With the loss of his mead hall and his fellow warriors, the wanderer is truly alone. As he says,

There is none now living
to whom I dare
clearly speak
of my innermost thoughts.

In my translation of the poem, the "gold-lord" kenning is translated as "gold-friend," and I think that version captures a little of what the wanderer has lost. The interesting thing about kennings as poetic forms is how much meaning they can contain in just two words; here, "gold-lord" can mean "lord of the gold" or "a golden (e.g., excellent) lord"; or, to consider the alternate translation, a "friend of gold" or the friend who gives out gold; these ideas are conflated in the kenning, because the idea of...

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