Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Often the lone-dweller waits for favor,
mercy of the Measurer, though he unhappy
across the seaways long time must
stir with his hands the rime-cold sea.
The lone-dweller's situation – having to cross the "seaways" – is portrayed here as the kind of thing that would cause him to doubt the favor and mercy of God. He hopes for these things even though his present situation on the open ocean gives him a reason to doubt.
[...] Long ago earth covered
my lord in darkness.
Instead of just saying that his lord was buried, the speaker says that "earth" (dirt), covered him in darkness. This personification of the dirt makes it into a somewhat ominous force, since it becomes the agent of death here.
When the friendless man awakens again,
he sees before him fallow waves,
sea-birds bathing, wings spreading,
rime and snow falling mingled with hail.
The friendless man here has just dreamed that he's back in the warm mead-hall among his friends. The waves, birds, and wintry weather contrast sharply with that dream. They become the antithesis of everything that's good in life. The "spreading wings" of the birds emphasize their freedom, possibly even joy, which contrasts with the way the exile feels.