The Wanderer

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What does "The Wanderer" reveal about life in the Anglo-Saxon period?

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"The Wanderer" touches on themes of the fragility and fleeting nature of life, kinship, and loyalty. One of the main laments of the wanderer is the loss of his clan; he longs to be among his fellow warriors and to serve his dead king. Nature is harsh and inhospitable, and time has erased what he once held dear. The wanderer, the last member of an extinct clan, longs for a mead hall where his kind is remembered.

Given the fleeting nature of life, the poem also touches on the problem of memory and how individuals or societies can be remembered. The wanderer travels through a land of death and destruction; as in much Anglo-Saxon poetry, there is a characteristic feeling of doom (see, for instance, the famous passage "Where is the horse gone / Where the rider?" beginning in line 92).

Finally, the poem includes the characteristic Christian overlay of much Anglo-Saxon poetry. While the wanderer himself does not express any Christian sentiments, the "frame" of the poem suggests that faith might form a "bulwark" against the destruction of his culture.

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