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The author uses a kenning (a stock phrase or combination of words) to describe his lord. He calls him his "gold-friend." The lord is associated with gold because a good king or lord would reward his men with treasure, usually in the mead hall. The imagery of gold illustrates the shared treasure but the color also symbolizes glory and strength. These qualities are now gone from the wanderer's life because his lord and companions have all died. He has buried his lord, put him "in the darkness of the earth." This is a grave but he uses "darkness" to further express his sorrow.
In his lonely state, the wanderer uses images of frost and cold weather to emphasize how cold and alone he feels. As he searches for a new lord and new companions, he travels the "woven-waves, winter-sad." In exile, he can not hope for "twisted gold." Rather, he experiences "frozen thoughts." The glory he has lost is represented by gold again. His sorrow is represented by coldness.
In the second part of the poem, he says the wise warrior must think about how "ghostly" the earth will be when "all the wealth of this world stands waste." His existence is "ghostly," haunted by memories, and lonely. He thinks about old walls and fortresses and ruins. These are covered in snow and hail. The snow "binds" the earth as if in a tomb and the hailstones come as if they have hatred for men. In the earlier part of the poem, the cold weather symbolized the wanderer's sorrow. This is called the pathetic fallacy. This is when the weather or some inanimate object seems to mirror the speaker's mood. But in the last part of the poem, the hailstones are described as a kind of punishment. Since this poem, like many Old English works, combines pagan and Christian thought, the hailstones might also represent fate and perhaps punishment from God as well.
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