The Wanderer Transience Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line).
He remembers hall-warriors and treasure-taking,
how among youth his gold-friend
received him at the feast. Joy has all perished!
Memory plays an important role in the awareness of transience. Only through a comparison with past – where hall-warriors feasted and received treasure – and the empty present does the speaker become aware of how much has disappeared, and with that, the joy that once existed.
. . . I know not, throughout this world,
why thought in my mind does not grow dark
when the life of men I fully think through,
how they suddenly abandoned the hall,
headstrong retainers. This Middle-Earth
each of all days so fails and falls . . .
The abandonment of the hall here is either a metaphor for death or a literal description of exile. Exile and death are similar in the way in which both end the presence of a person in a particular place – with death, in a human body on earth; with exile, in a community. Both death and exile remind the speaker of transience, how the earth "fails and falls."
A wise man perceives how ghastly it will be
when all this world's weal desolate stands.
The word translated here as "ghastly," gastlice, means both "ghost-like" and "awful" in Old English. It's a pun that expresses both the terribleness inherent in a deserted, abandoned earth, and the absence of the human souls whose memories now haunt it like ghosts.