“The Wife’s Lament” Unit 1 – The Anglo Saxon Period About the Author This poem is also known as “The Wife’s Complaint.” It is one of two surviving English poems believed to have been composed by women. Unfortunately, nothing is known about these first great women poets, not even their names. About the Selection This lyrical poem expresses the grief over the loss of the speaker’s family, of her homeland, and of her husband and friend. The early Anglo-Saxons lived in small, closely knit groups, the members of which were generally related by blood. Life was harsh, and someone who was cut off from the group or made an outcast would have difficulty surviving on their own. Lots of work Therefore, most of the Old English poems that have come down to us celebrate the ties to the family, king, and the tribe. Many deal with the consequences of being cut off. It is safe to say that after courage in warfare and the fickleness of fate, exile is the most common theme in Old English literature. The Outcast Lyric A short, highly musical poem that tells the emotions of the speaker. Elegy A kind of lyric that expresses grief over the loss of something.