The Seafarer PowerPoint


The Seafarer

Translated by Burton Raffel

Composed by an unknown poet

Part of

The Exeter


The Exeter Book was given to Exeter

Cathedral in the 11 th century. It contained a collection of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.

The Seafarer – the cold, hard facts

 Can be considered an elegy, or mournful, contemplative poem.

 Can also be considered a planctus, or

“ complaint.

” This would involve a fictional speaker and a subject that may be loss other than death.

 Regardless, the expression of strong emotion is the key.

The Seafarer – the cold, hard facts cont.

 What the poem has that most Anglo-

Saxon poems also have:


Caesuras – pause in a line


Alliteration joins the 2 parts of the line


Kennings – metaphorical phrases

The Seafarer – the cold, hard facts

 Caesura and alliteration in action

“ The only sound / was the roaring sea ”

 Kennings

“ coldest seeds ” = hail

“ givers of gold ” = Anglo-Saxon kings

The Seafarer – the cold, hard facts

 A wraecca tells his tale; he is at sea. (A

wraecca ” was a person who had been exiled from his community.)

 Poem highlights the balance between the

Anglo-Saxon belief in fate, where everything is grim and overpowering, and the Christian believer ’ s reliance on God.

The Seafarer – the cold, hard facts

 The land represents safety and security.

 The sea represents hardship and struggle, but the man is drawn to it because it brings him closer to God. The sea represents the power of God.

 “ Home ” represents heaven or being closer to God.

The Seafarer – literary criticism

 Some believe that the poem has 2 speakers. One who makes a personal

“ complaint ” and a second who comments on the condition described by the first.

 The second speaker emphasizes man ’ s relationship with the divine rather than one man ’ s personal plight.