Identify three images related to weather in the first part of the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer."

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer," images of weather abound.

The first example describes the water. We can infer that the weather is harsh because of the manner in which the water moves, causing him pain:

It [the poem] tells

How the sea took me, swept me back

And forth in sorrow and fear and pain...

Immediately the unknown author describes again the way storms have crashed around him:

It tells

Of smashing surf when I sweated in the cold

Of an anxious watch, perched in the bow

As it dashed under cliffs.

The words that describe the weather are "smashing surf" and "dashed under cliffs." If the weather had been fair, the ocean would be calm.

In the following lines, the reader learns that the sailor is traveling in wintry weather:

My feet were cast

In icy bands, bound with frost...

Note the use of the words "icy" and "frost."

The author continues to describe the weather, worse than it was before:

On an ice-cold sea, whirled in sorrow,

Alone in a world blown clear of love,

Hung with icicles. The hailstorms flew.

The only sound was the roaring sea,

The freezing waves.

The images of the harsh weather are found in "ice-cold sea," "Hung with icicles," "hailstorms," and "freezing waves." Again, in order to experience these things, the weather must be wintry.

The poem is a mariner's story of the many long and lonely years he has spent sailing to "a thousand ports." In his profession he has, understandably, been exposed to all kinds of weather. However, the beginning of the poem seems to concentrate on the cold, perhaps a parallel to the sense of isolation he is experiencing. There is little to warm his heart beyond the sound of the birds. He feels desperate about his separation from society and even from the land. He is "Alone in a world blown clear of love." At the same time, he recognizes that he is the kind of person who could have no other life, for he is a sailor at heart.

While the descriptions of weather provide images of the difficult circumstances under which the seafarer sails, they also provide the reader with a glimpse of the man's heart and soul as he is irresistibly drawn to the water, even while he also misses the pleasures of friends and a stationary life—things he realizes he can never have.

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