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Quotes

Quote #1

I can make a true song         about me myself,
tell my travels,         how I often endured
days of struggle,         troublesome times
(1-3)

Right away in line 2 with the verb "endured," the poem lets us know that the speaker's "true song" is no walk in the park, since this is a word that connotes suffering. And line 3 confirms our suspicions: this song is about trouble and a struggle.

Quote #2

How I have suffered          grim sorrow at heart,
have known in the ship          many worries [abodes of care].
(4-5)

The more literal translation of "worries" as "abodes of care" suggests that the speaker inhabits not just a ship, but also a psychological space of sadness. He carries his suffering around inside himself, almost as if his body is the ship itself. This sorrow overwhelms him so much that he feels like it's an actual place in which he dwells – an "abode."

Quote #3

[…] This the man does not know
for whom on land          it turns out most favourably,
how I, wretched and sorrowful,          on the ice-cold sea
dwelt for a winter          in the paths of exile.
(12-15)

The speaker is convinced that lucky land-dwellers cannot possibly understand what he has gone through. This passage sets up a contrast between life on land and seafaring, associating the former with good fortune. But what is it about these city-folk that makes them unable to get our guy's suffering?

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