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Analysis

Sea Journeying

Symbol Analysis

Both the speaker of "The Husband's Message" and the lord who sent him have undergone rough sea-journeys – the lord as he fled from feud violence, and the speaker after the lord sent him as a messenger to his lady. The messenger tries to convince the lady to follow in their footsteps and jump on a boat. The messenger describes his lord's sea-voyage to make him look like a courageous, strong sailor, while for the lady the sea-journey is simply a path to her lord.

  • Lines 5-9: The piece of wood uses alliteration to describe how it has traveled over the "salty seas" to get here, arriving on the deck of a boat.
  • Line 21: The messenger relays the lord's request for the lady to "stir up the water," a very figurative way of asking her to make a sea-journey that emphasizes the physical closeness to the sea that such a journey entails.
  • Line 26: The messenger tells the lady to start heading for the ocean, which he calls the "native land of seagulls." This description of the ocean suggests that it's a hospitable place for animals but not necessarily for people.
  • Line 28: The messenger calls the sea the "ocean-path," emphasizing the sea's role as a road to the lord.
  • Line 41: The messenger describes how his lord "urged his ship out" upon the waves and stirred up the sea-currents. This description paints the lord as a heroic, strong traveler who contends with the powerful forces of nature.
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