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The Seafarer

The Seafarer

by Anonymous

Spirituality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Indeed there is not so proud-spirited          a man in the world,
nor so generous of gifts,          nor so bold in his youth,
nor so brave in his deeds          nor so dear to his lord,
that he never in his seafaring           has a worry,
as to what his Lord          will do to him.
(39-43)

In this passage, God does not seem like such a positive force. Even those who are "dear" to God have to worry about what God will "do" to them. In other words, God may direct the course of a person's life in an unfavorable direction. In this, the Lord is a lot like the Anglo-Saxon idea of "fate": an unchangeable, all-powerful destiny before which a person is helpless. Plus, we can't forget to note the two different lords in this passage. There's the lower-case lord, who stands in for earthly wealth. And then there's the upper case Lord, who will either reward or punish man for his deeds. Major distinction.

Quote #2

[…] Indeed hotter for me
are the joys of the Lord than          this dead life
fleeting on the land. […]
(64-66)

In a poem in which the cold winter weather is such a negative thing, calling something "hot" is high praise. Here, the Lord is the opposite of death and the "fleeting" life on the land, probably because, in the speaker's mind, God is stable, permanent, and eternal. "Land" comes to represent the earthly world, which will eventually come to an end.

Quote #3

[…] That is the best epitaph,
that he should work          before he must be gone
bravery in the world          against the enmity of devils,

daring deeds           against the fiend,
so that the sons of men          will praise him afterwards.
(73-77)

This passage puts a Christian "spin" on the typical Anglo-Saxon warrior ethic of bravery in battle and eternal life through fame and glory. According to our speaker, instead of human foes, the person who hopes to live forever should accomplish brave deeds against the devil. He should be a Christian warrior.

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