The poem "The Wanderer" first appeared in a tenth-century anthology called the Exeter Book . It is written in Anglo-Saxon, and its author is unknown. In the poem, the narrator wanders far from home in lonely exile. He has lost his lord, kinsmen, and fellow warriors in battle....
The poem "The Wanderer" first appeared in a tenth-century anthology called the Exeter Book. It is written in Anglo-Saxon, and its author is unknown. In the poem, the narrator wanders far from home in lonely exile. He has lost his lord, kinsmen, and fellow warriors in battle. He ruminates philosophically in the midst of deep sorrow and laments that the brighter days he once knew are gone forever. Finally, as he sits in meditation, he considers that friends, family, and wealth all pass away, and that a wise man remains honest, controls his emotions, and seeks mercy and consolation from the Father in heaven.
The poem has several references to the wanderer's isolation. However, the poem was originally written in Anglo-Saxon and has to be translated into modern English. I have access to three different translations, and though the meaning is the same, the wording varies significantly. For this reason, I'll give you the line numbers of the quotations I suggest so that you can easily find them in the translation you have.
Line 1 of the poem mentions the "one alone," or "lone-dweller," or "lonely" man, who longs for love or awaits favor.
In line 5, the narrator relates that he "walks in exile's paths" or "the way of exile." An exile is someone who can no longer return to his own country. For this reason, exiles are often isolated and lonely.
Lines 9 through 12 emphasize the loneliness of the wanderer and the fact that he has no one to share his sorrows. One translation says,
Often alone, every first light of dawn,
I have had to speak my sorrows. There is no one living
To whom I would dare to reveal clearly
My deepest thoughts.
In lines 20 and 21, the wanderer confesses that he is "cut off from my homeland, far from dear kinsmen."
In line 40 he calls himself a "wretched exile," and in line 45 he declares himself to be a "friendless man."
In lines 50 and 51, his isolation is intensified as he remembers his relatives: "Sorrow is renewed when the mind flies out to the memory of kinsmen."