The Seafarer The Sea-Farer-text
10-26-2008, 11:39 AM
Post: #1
The Seafarer The Sea-Farer-text
The Seafarer

“The Seafarer is an Old English poem recorded in the Exeter Book, one of the four surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry, written about 850. It is 124 lines and is commonly referred to as an elegy, a poem that mourns a loss or more generally a sorrowful piece of writing.”

The Seafarer is the first person account of the hardship of life at sea. The speaker attitude to his experience at life at sea, seems to be unequivocal. His experiences are bitter and terrible. They are a matter of hardship, a labour and sorrow. As the poem progresses his attitude complicates to the point of paradox and continues to portrait the hardships of sailing but he also comes to contrast sea life with length life in a manner which increasingly glorifies life at sea compared with the easy pleasures of life on land.

It tunes out that the life of solitude and hardship is on land in sharp contrast of other. Not impose by fight the speaker even confesses a passion longing for the sea.

The poem at one point takes a religious turn and than land enters into a new opposition this time with heaven. The rest of the poem is devoted to amplifying this. On the one hand there are describe uncertain and the miseries of earthly life or discusses the miseries of live at sea and on the other hand there are an eternal joy in heaven. This last part of the poem is inferior what has happened before mainly the land has not contrast as presented here. It is moral reflections on the transience of life, concluding with a prayer. Perhaps this second part is an appendage to an earlier secular poem. Other critics see the whole as an allegorical representation of human life.
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10-26-2008, 11:40 AM
Post: #2
The Sea-Farer-text
The Sea-Farer-text

The poem translated below, has been interpreted as a dialogue between a weather-beaten old sailor and a youth eager to go to sea. The parts are not assigned in the original MS., and the only warrant for our dialogue form lies in the structure of the poem itself.

The Old Sailor:
True is the tale that I tell of my travels,
Sing of my sea-faring sorrows and woes;
Hunger and hardshipâs heaviest burdens,
Tempest and terrible toil of the deep,
Daily Iâve borne on the deck of my boat.
Fearful the welter of waves that encompassed me,
Watching at night on the narrow bow,
As she drove by the rocks, and drenched me with spray.
Fast to the deck my feet were frozen,
Gripped by the cold, while careâs hot surges
My heart oâerwhelmed, and hungerâs pangs
Sapped the strenghth of my sea-weary spirit.
Little he know whose lot is happy.,
Who lives at ease in the lap of the earth,
How, sick at heart, oâer icy seas.
Wretched I ranged the winter through,
Bare of joys, and banished from friends,
Hung with icicles, stung by hail-stones.
Nought I heard but the hollow boom
Of wintry waves, or the wild swanâs whoop.
For singing I had the solanâs scream;
For peals of laughter, the yelp of the sea;
The sea-mewâs cry, for the mirth of the mead-hall.
Shrill through the roar of the shrieking gale
Lashing along the sea-cliffâs edge,
Pierces the ice-plumed petrelâs defiance,
And the wet-winged eagleâs answering scream.
Little he dreams that drinks lifeâs pleasure,
By danger untouched in the shelter of towns
Insolent and wine-proud, how utterly weary
Oft I wintered on open seas.
Night fell black, from the north it snowed
Harvest of hail.

The Youth:
Oh wildly my heart
Beats in my bosom and bids me to try
The tumble and surge of seas tumultuous,
Breeze and brine and the breakersâ roar.
Daily hourly drives me my spirit
Outward to sail, far countries to see.
Liveth no man so large in his soul,
So gracious in giving, so gay in his youth,
In deeds so daring, so dear to his lord,
But frets his soul for his sea-adventure,
Fain to try what fortune shall send
Harping he heeds not, nor hoarding of treasure;
Nor woman can win him, nor joys of the world.
Nothing doth please but the plunging billows;
Ever he longs, who is lured by the sea.
Woods are abloom, the wide world awakens,
These are but warnings, that haste on his journey
Him whose heart is hungry to taste
The perils and pleasures of the pathless deep.

The Old Sailor:
Hearest the cuckoo mournfully calling?
The summerâs watchman sorrow forbodes.
What does the landsman that wantons in luxury,
What does he reck of the rough seaâs woe,
The cares of the exile, whose keel has explored
The uttermost parts of the Ocean-ways!

The Youth:
Sudden my soul starts from her prison-house,
Soareth afar oâer the sounding main;
Hovers on high, oâer the home of the whaleâ
Back to me darts the bird-sprite and beckons,
Winging her way oâer woodlands and plain,
Hungry to roam, and bring me where glisten
Glorious tracts of glimmering foam.
This life on land is lingering death to me,
Give me the gladness of Godâs great sea.

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10-26-2008, 11:42 AM
Post: #3
Notes - The Seafarer.

The Seafarer is a poem of 124 lines, of unknown date and authorship, preserved in the Exeter Book. It probably belongs to the eighth century. The first part, ll. 1-64, describes the joys and hardships of the seafaring life, and is filled with high poetry. The second part contains practical exhortations, echoed from the gnomic verses, and is full of dreary prose. This second part, omitted in the translation, is almost certainly a later addition, made by one or more monkish scribes.
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