The Wanderer Questions and Answers

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What are three things from the past that the speaker in the "The Wanderer" misses the most?

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The speaker in the Anglo-Saxon poem “The Wanderer” laments those things that he has lost in his life. He specifically focuses on the loss of his ring-giver, his companions, and his kinsmen, as they would have been among the most important elements in his life.

For an Anglo-Saxon thane, his primary relationship was to his ring-giver, that is to say the king or lord whom he served. In the poem, the speaker tells us he buried his lord. As the speaker has become a wanderer and does not tell us of pledging himself to a new lord, we can conclude that whatever happened to his lord was catastrophic enough in nature that no one to whom the speaker could pledge his loyalty succeeded his fallen lord.

This interpretation is bolstered by the fact that the speaker also laments the loss of companions and kinsmen. His companions would have been those other members of his lord’s company that had pledged themselves to be the lord’s thanes. The speaker would have spent more time with his fellow thanes than he would have spent with his own family, so the complete loss of his comrades would be nearly as devastating as being bereft of a lord to serve, especially if both lord and companions were lost due to the same circumstances.

The other group mentioned by the speaker is his family. While a thane may have spent more time with his companions than his family, family ties were very important in the Anglo-Saxon world. The loss of all family, as the speaker seems to have suffered, would deprive a thane of any support he might have apart from his lord. That he has lost his family as well as his lord and companions indicates that the speaker has lost those things that were most important to him, and that loss has reduced him to exile.

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