, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 119–137 | Cite as

The Wanderer’S Courage



Because of the problematic sequence of tenses that we find in the poem, The Wanderer might best be seen not as a narrative of how an exiled pagan warrior frees himself from the hardships of the path of exile and comes to know the consolation of the God of Christianity but rather as an act of courage, a self-affirmation in the face of the meaninglessness of his life after the death of his lord and the dissolution of his lord’s comitatus. Sitting alone in contemplation, this former warrior recognizes the ephemeral nature of all earthly things, and he realizes that he will find no lasting meaning in the hall of an earthly lord; rather, he learns to face the instability of earthly existence looking for meaning and purpose not in a hall of timber and its temporary joys but in heaven; he affirms himself by embracing the hardships of the path of exile and by declaring his faith in and allegiance to a Lord who transcends this world.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, Michael. ed. and trans. The Earliest English Poems, 3rd edn. London: Penguin, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. Bateley, Janet. “Time and the Passing of Time in ‘The Wanderer’ and Related OE Texts.” Essays and Studies (1984): 1–15.Google Scholar
  3. Bede, A History of the English Church and People. Trans. Leo Sherley-Price. Rev. R.E. Latham. London: Penguin, 1968.Google Scholar
  4. Bjork, Robert E. 1989Sundor æt Rune: The Voluntary Exile of the WandererNeophilologus73119129Google Scholar
  5. Bradley, S. A. J. Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London: J.M. Dent and Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1982.Google Scholar
  6. Champion, Margrét Gunnarsdóttir 1998From Plaint to Praise: Language as Cure in ‘The Wanderer’Studia Neophilologica69187202Google Scholar
  7. Clark, S. L., Julian, N. Wasserman 1979The Imagery of The WandererNeophilologus63291296Google Scholar
  8. Cook, Patrick 1996Woriað þa Winsalo: The Bonds of Exile in ‘The Wanderer’Neophilologus80127137Google Scholar
  9. Cross, J. E. 1968

    On the Genre of The Wanderer

    Jess, B. Bessinger,Jr.Stanley, J. Kahrl. Hamden eds. Essential Articles for the Study of Old English PoetryArchon BooksHamden, CT515532
    Google Scholar
  10. Crossley-Holland, Kevin 1999The Anglo-Saxon World: An AnthologyOxford University PressOxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Diekstra, F. N. M. 1971The Wanderer 65b–72: The Passions of the Mind and the Cardinal VirtuesNeophilologus557388Google Scholar
  12. Doubleday, James F. 1969The Three Faculties of the Soul in The WandererNeophilologus53189194Google Scholar
  13. Elliott, Ralph W. V. 1958The Wanderer’s ConscienceEnglish Studies39193200Google Scholar
  14. Evans, Stephen S. 1997The Lords of Battle: Image and Reality of the Comitatus in Dark-Age BritainBoydell PressWoodbridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  15. Fowler, Roger 1967A Theme in the WandererMedium Ævum36114Google Scholar
  16. Greenfield, S. B. 1951The Wanderer: A Reconsideration of Theme and StructureJEGP50451465Google Scholar
  17. Hume, Kathryn 1974The Concept of the Hall in Old English PoetryAnglo-Saxon England36374Google Scholar
  18. Hume, Kathryn 1976The ‘Ruin Motif’ in Old English PoetryAnglia94339360Google Scholar
  19. Huppé, Bernard F. 1943The Wanderer: Theme and StructureJEGP42516538Google Scholar
  20. Klinck, Anne L. 1992The Old English Elegies: A Critical Edition and Genre StudyMcGill-Queens University PressMontreal and KingstonGoogle Scholar
  21. Krapp, George PhilipElliott Van Kirk, Dobbie eds. 1936The Exeter BookColumbia University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, Alvin A. 1972The Guest-Hall of Eden: Four Essays on the Design of Old English PoetryYale University PressNew HavenGoogle Scholar
  23. Lumiansky, R. M. 1957The Dramatic Structure of the Old English WandererNeophilologus34104112Google Scholar
  24. Pope, John C. 1965

    Dramatic Voices in The Wanderer and The Seafarer

    Jess, B. Bessinger,Jr.Robert, P. Creed eds. Franciplegius: Medieval and Linguistic Studies in Honor of Francis Peabody Magoun, Jr.New York University PressNew York164193
    Google Scholar
  25. Pope, John C. 1974Second Thoughts on the Interpretation of The SeafarerAnglo-Saxon England37586Google Scholar
  26. Richman, Gerald 1982Speaker and Speech Boundaries in The WandererJEGP81469479Google Scholar
  27. Seneca, 17 Letters. Trans. C. D. N. Costa. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips, 1988.Google Scholar
  28. Stanley, E. G. “Old English Poetic Diction and the Interpretation of The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Penitent’s Prayer.” Anglia 73 (1955): 413–466. Rpr. in Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry. Eds. Jess B. Bessinger, Jr. and Stanley J. Kahrl. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1968, pp. 458–514.Google Scholar
  29. Swanton, Michael 2002English Poetry before ChaucerUniversity of Exeter PressExeterGoogle Scholar
  30. Tillich, Paul 1977The Courage To BeYale University PressNew HavenGoogle Scholar
  31. Timmer, B. J. 1968

    Wyrd in Anglo-Saxon Prose and Poetry. Neophilologus 26 (1941). Rpr

    Jess, B. Bessinger,Jr.Kahrl, Hamden eds. Essential Articles for the Study of Old English Poetry.Archon BooksCT124158
    Google Scholar
  32. Wagner, Roy 1975The Invention of CulturePrentice HallEnglewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  33. Yorke, Barbara 1999

    The Reception of Christianity at the Anglo-Saxon Royal Courts

    Richard, Gameson eds. St.␣Augustine and the Conversion of EnglandSuttonThrupp, UK
    Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennsylvania College of TechnologyWilliamsportUSA

Personalised recommendations