Study Guide

The Seafarer What's Up With the Title?

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What's Up With the Title?

As it turns out, "The Seafarer" is not the title of this poem. In fact, the poem doesn't have a title at all. We know we just rocked your world, so let us do a little explaining to ease your mind.

The poem we know today as "The Seafarer" doesn't actually have a title in the manuscript where it was found. "The Seafarer" is the title that editors and translators of the poem gave it at a later date. It makes sense as a title, because the poem is spoken from the point of view of a guy who tells us all about the time he's spent traveling the open ocean, or "seafaring."

But the poem is also about a lot of other things: loss, longing, the passing of time, and trust in God, to name a few. Calling the poem "The Seafarer" focuses our attention on just one aspect of it. So what do you think: is "The Seafarer" a good title for this poem? Do you think it might influence our understanding of the poem just a bit too much? What would you name it if you were the editor in charge?

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