Using one example from each poem, compare the ways in which the poems find artistic value, even beauty, in sorrow and longing.The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Lament

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The three poems from the Anglo-Saxon Period, "The Wanderer", "The Seafarer", and "The Wife's Lament", all contain elements of artistic value.

Given that each of the poems is an example of an elegiac poem, each contains the characteristics true to the elegiac poem. All contain elements of exile, each laments the loss of a loved one, and each depicts the thoughts and feelings of the speaker regarding their life.

This being said, each poem, in its own way, can be deemed artistic in regards to the language and imagery used. (When interpreting poetry, one must understand that it is a reader's individual interpretation regarding what is art in a poem.)

In "The Wanderer", one can find artistic value in the speaker's observations of the destructiveness of the world. The imagery of the middle-earth laying in waste is moving:

Blown by the wind,/ covered with frost,/ storm-swept buildings./ The halls decay,/ their lords lie/ deprived of joy,/ the whole troop has fallen,/ the proud one by the wall.

Here, one can see the destruction described by the speaker. It is the imagery which provides proof of the true artistic nature.

In "The Seafarer",the imagery, again, merits pure artistic value. In the speaker's description of his voyage, the following words are eloquently used:

All I ever heard along the ice-way/ was sounding sea, the gannet's shanty/ whooper and curlew calls and mewling gull/ were all my gaming, mead and mirth/ At tempest-tested granite crags/ the ice-winged tern would taunt/ spray-weathered ospreys overhead/ would soar and scream.

The imagery here, like in "The Wanderer", proves to provide a picture which relies on the eyes, ears, and touch of the reader. Again, the imagery here proves to be representative of the highest artistic value.

In the final poem mentioned, "The Wife's Lament", the imagery provides nothing less than pure artistic value. While much shorter than both previous poems, the perspective given here provides one of a feminine view-point. Her words tumble out as tumultuously as the waves which haunt her dreams:

First my lord left his people/ for the tumbling waves; I worried at dawn/where on earth my leader of men might be./ When I set out myself in my sorrow,/10 a friendless exile, to find his retainers,/that man’s kinsmen began to think/in secret that they would separate us,/ so we would live far apart in the world,
most miserably, and longing seized me.

Here, the reader is able to feel the suffering that the speaker feels. She is overwhelmed by the exile of her husband and desperately wishes for him to be close to her.

Overall, it is the imagery of each poem which provides proof of the artistic value each piece offers to a reader.

 

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