You'll never guess what this Old English poem is about. Wait, what? You think it's about some dude who wanders around a lot? Hey, nice guess! Have you read it before?
Man and the Natural World
Wisdom and Knowledge
One thing the speaker spends a lot of time reflecting on is exile.
He reminisces about how sweet his life used to be when his lord and relatives were alive.
They were warriors, and they partied like rock stars.
Things were great... until everybody he knew was killed in battle.
Now, the speaker is homeless and alone.
It's not a lot of fun, but his exile does give him plenty of time to reflect on the
meaning of life.
About a zillion famous poets have written in exile... Ovid, Dante, et cetera...
In the poetry world, it's kind of the "in" thing to do.
So, even though it's a bummer, it has helped a lot of people think their... deep thoughts.
Another thing the speaker reflects on is God.
For most of the poem, he expresses traditional Germanic beliefs about how a wise man should
He talks about stuff like the inevitability of death and mankind's inability to change
Yeah, he's doesn't have a particularly sunny disposition.
At the end of the poem, though, he changes his tune a bit and starts expressing some
The speaker says that the only possible refuge from all the misery he's seen is in God's
There's no doubt the speaker spends a lot of time reflecting on suffering. With all
the terrible things that have happened to him, it's probably hard not to.
We have to hand it to him, though. Despite the bad times he's gone through, the speaker
works hard to find meaning in his suffering.
In fact, his suffering becomes bigger than just his personal experience.
It becomes part of the collective struggle of all mankind.
Because, really, aren't we all just trying to make sense of this great big... whatever-it-is?
So what's the reason for the trip down memory lane?
A reflection on exile?
Or on suffering? Shmoop amongst yourselves.