Identify Three Images Related To Weather In The First Stanza
Identify three images related to weather in the first part of the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Seafarer."
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:
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.
In the first stanza, the seafarer presents images of the hardships he has suffered at sea. He describes "smashing surf when I sweated in the cold / Of an anxious watch, perched in the bow." In this image, the surf is pounding against the boat in which the seafarer is traveling in the bow; he anxiously watches the waves. He is so cold that he is covered with condensation, perhaps ice. Later in the first stanza, he says that he felt a sense of wretchedness as he drifted "On an ice-cold sea, whirled in sorrow / Alone in a world blown clear of love, / Hung with icicles." In this image, the sea is frozen, and the world is covered with ice. The seafarer then describes a storm in which "the hailstorms flew. / The only sound was the roaring sea, / The freezing waves." Hail descends on him, and all he can hear is the roaring of the sea and the waves. With these vivid images of a frozen world, the seafarer describes himself as completely alone, wretched at heart, and utterly at the mercy of the whims of nature in northern climes.