Return to my translation of The Wanderer.
Notes on The Wanderer
Compiled by Jonathan A. Glenn
A meditative poem, The Wanderer has a bleak outlook, but may still hold out hope for the exile; at least the exile continues to hope (or wish): Oft him anhaga are gebideð ‘often the lone-dweller waits for favor for himself’ (1). A. Lee (The Guest-Hall of Eden 136 ff.) does not see the speaker as gaining God’s mercy in the end: “he is on the whole a static figure of confinement and introspection, a man almost frozen in body and soul who sits deep in thought.” The matter cannot be proven either way, yet I think the poem is less about the man’s salvation than about the world as it is for all mankind: læne ‘transitory.’ The poem’s one speaker certainly ends in the "right" attitude, looking to God þær us eal seo fæstnung stondeð ‘where for us all stability stands’ (117). Perhaps the speaker is not literally an exile at all.
Time: Early Morning, Winter
Person: Anhaga ‘lone-dweller,’ Eardstapa ‘earth-stepper’
Matter: Wyn eal gedreas! ‘joy has all perished’ (Loss of Lord and Household)
Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?
Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu? Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune! Eala byrnwiga!
Eala þeodnes þrym! Hu seo þrag gewat,
genap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære! (93-97)
[Where is the horse? Where the young warrior?
Where now the gift-giver?
Where are the feast-seats? Where all the hall-joys?
Alas for the bright cup! Alas byrnied warrior!
Alas the lord’s glory! How this time hastens,
grows dark under night-helm, as if it were not!]