The Wanderer Questions and Answers

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The Wanderer- what ideas in the poem are part of the pagan warrior tradition?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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Much like the epic poem Beowulf, "The Wanderer" is an elegy for the pagan warrior tradition of the Anglo-Saxons. While many of the speaker's laments are universal (ex. missing someone he can emotionally confide in), much of his loss is specifically cultural.

The speaker mourns his lost people. He mentions the mead halls where his lord and fellow warriors would bond and revel. The mead hall is significant because it was a major communal space where people would come together. It was a huge part of this warrior tradition.

The speaker laments the loss of his lord in particular, who he describes as "friendly" and "wise." The ideal Anglo-Saxon lord was generous with his warriors, just as loyal to them as they were expected to be to him.

Now that his lord and fellow warriors are lost to him, the speaker is void of much of his cultural identity, since he has no one to share that culture with any longer.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To me, all of the things that the wanderer says are vanished are all part of the pagan warrior tradition.  Specifically, the pagan tradition valued loyalty, generosity, courage, the camaradarie between warriors, and physical strength.  It was a very macho tradition.

You can see how much the wanderer misses some of these things.  Since his lord died, he has no one to whom to give his loyalty and so he feels lost.  He no longer has fellow warriors with whom to share his glory and with whom to celebrate.  He misses the battles and he misses the people he shared them with.  All of these were part of the pagan warrior tradition.

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