Although written more than a 1,000 years ago, the themes of loneliness and materialism the poem explores are still with us today.
Although the seafarer feels the call of the sea and hears the cry of the cuckoo he associates with it, the sea is a lonely place for him. As he states of his time there, he is
Alone in a world blown clear of love,
Hung with icicles
In today's society, even pre-pandemic, three in five people in the United States report feeling lonely, according to a survey by health insurer Cigna. In Britain in 2017, 14 percent of the population was lonely, according to surveys, with figures higher among the elderly. Even today, in a far more crowded and seemingly connected world than the seafarer's, loneliness is a problem that many face.
Materialism is also a problem in the seafarer's time. On his lonely travels, he has learned important spiritual lessons that have taught him to reject materialism. As he writes,
Of the world neither reaches to Heaven nor remains
Today, many people also deal with the problem of materialism. Like the seafarer, they realize that material goods do not bring them closer to heaven or to a spiritual reality. Many realize that they "can't take it with them" but don't know how to shed what is superfluous. As is attested by the popularity of authors like Marie Kondo who write about decluttering our lives, a thirst for finding a clear path from the material world, be it on sea or on land, remains a goal, as well as a way to achieve a closer communion with spiritual values.