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The Seafarer

The Seafarer

by Anonymous

Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

How I have suffered          grim sorrow at heart,
have known in the ship many          worries [abodes of care],
the terrible tossing of the waves          where the anxious night watch
often took me          at the ship's prow,
when it tossed near the cliffs. […]
(4-8)

The ocean on which the speaker travels is a dangerous place. Those tossing waves don't just throw the ship out of control – they do it "near the cliffs," where there's a danger of running aground and springing a boat-sinking leak. Right away, at the beginning of the poem, the natural world is a dicey, frightening place.

Quote #2

[…] Fettered by cold
were my feet,          bound by frost
in cold clasps. […]
(8-10)

The cold and frost totally mean business. They've got our speaker shackled, which is an interesting contrast with his description of himself as a traveler in constant motion. He may be physically in motion, but he feels trapped by his environment.

Quote #3

[…] I, wretched and sorrowful,          on the ice-cold sea
dwelt for a winter in          the paths of exile,
bereft of friendly kinsmen, hung          about with icicles;
hail flew in showers. […]
(12-17)

This passage links together a lot of important themes of the poem: exile, sadness, loneliness, and, of course, extreme winter weather. Being in exile is no cakewalk. In fact, it seems like the most miserable place ever: bad weather, no friends, and icicles.

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