Written in the first person, the titular wife begins by saying that her words come from a "deep sadness", which is a result of her exile. She has never experienced hardship like this before. She is tortured by her isolation. She explains that her misery began when her lord left their family and sailed away, leaving her behind. She was consumed with anxiety about his whereabouts.
First of all, there exists a sharp asymmetry in regard to the The wifes lament heroic to do harm through physical acts versus the power to do harm through words. I therefore hope to develop a viable reading context for The Wife's Lament by directing attention The wifes lament heroic cursing as a Santa cruz escort rates institution and a literary theme, both in the earlier Middle Ages in Europe and, as space permits, in other times and places. May they be cursed waking and sleeping! Rosenwein Ithaca, N. Resolving that issue in a manner that will win the assent of informed readers will require first of all a careful look at the exact phrasing of the text. Click here to sign up. Viewing the Wife as embittered, I take the liberty of suggesting that she speaks of her wine 'lord, husband, protector' in an ironic tone of voice, but that point is inessential.
The wifes lament heroic. More about The Anglo-Saxon poems, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and The Wife’s Lament
Although it is unclear The wifes lament heroic the protagonist's tribulations proceed from relationships with multiple lovers or a single man, Stanley B. Muir, ed. While eordscrcef does some times appear in the Old English records The wifes lament heroic that meaning, it is used just as often in the literal sense "cave, den, cavern. Laughs and tears. People that always have your best interest at heart. It might be argued that a degree of catharsis through art is achieved through the poem itself, which well exemplifies the art of the giedd? Why have they seen the woman's rhetoric in the poem as philosophical, her situation as wifex and pitiful, and her grief as nobly borne? And all these sufferings, we are told, are to be only the prelude to the man's dismemberment in this world and the next, when he will be haunted by the au thor's angry shade.
The female gains power through her authoritative speech, which can be interpreted as a form of revenge on her husband.
- You can really feel the emotion in this poem.
- Written in the first person, the titular wife begins by saying that her words come from a "deep sadness", which is a result of her exile.
- The poem has been relatively well-preserved and requires few if any emendations to enable an initial reading.
To browse Academia. Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. John Niles. Niles Source: Speculum, Vol. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
Niles The poem known as The Wife's Lament has long been admired as one of the most evocative poems of Old English literature. It is also regarded as one of the most problematic. Upon that point the interpretation of the narrative and its emotional arc chiefly depends. Resolving that issue in a manner that will win the assent of informed readers will require first of all a careful look at the exact phrasing of the text.
As we shall see, however, philology alone cannot resolve the problem of how to construe either this particular passage or the poem as a whole. It can only open up certain her meneutic possibilities while virtually ruling out certain others. I therefore hope to develop a viable reading context for The Wife's Lament by directing attention to cursing as a social institution and a literary theme, both in the earlier Middle Ages in Europe and, as space permits, in other times and places.
That part of the paper may be of interest to medievalists in its own right. By combining the methods of philology and historical anthropology, I hope to present an interpretation of The Wife's Lament that is both linguistically sound and historically plausible, even if it departs from a consensus of current critical opinion in its emphasis on the will to avenge as opposed to the virtue of stoic endurance. In passing, I will touch on points regarding the modern reception of medieval literature that, again, may be found of interest in their own right.
The poem should be introduced, although it is well known The wifes lament heroic specialists and Preliminary versions of parts of the present paper were presented at the International Medieval Congress held at Kalamazoo, Michigan, in May and at the annual meeting of the Medieval Association of the Midwest held at St. I am grateful to the participants in those sessions for their constructive questions and comments.
This study has also benefited from its reading by two anonymous reviewers at Speculum, one of whom was particularly generous in offering detailed comments. As Frederic G. Cassidy and Richard N. New York,"Scholars are now pretty much agreed that the so-called Wife's Lament is a dramatic monologue spoken by a woman. They agree about little else" p. The introduction and textual notes to Cassidy and Ringler's edition of the poem include no fewer than twelve statements that are followed by a question mark, leaving aside other editorial comments to the effect that particular aspects of the text are "somewhat disconcerting" note to 42aa"very ambiguous" note to 45ba"very strange" note to 53aor impossible to resolve notes to 18b and 20ab.
No other work of Old English literature that is included in that anthology comes close to presenting so many difficulties of interpretation. Speculum 78 This content downloaded from Although in that regard it resembles the poem known as Wulf and Eadwacer fols. To that extent it more closely resembles other Exeter Book elegies, including the longer and more philosophical poem known as The Wanderer fols. It should Playing mr mom come as no surprise The wifes lament heroic different readers have arrived at radically dif ferent ideas concerning the most basic features of the poem's "plot.
Fly private added one poem only: The Wife's Lament. He explains that he did so on account of the poem's current place in the classroom, for "the poem has in the past twenty years become so important to the Old English curriculum" p. Martin Green Rutherford, N. Matti Rissanen discusses many points of textual resemblance between The Wife's Lament and the other elegies in "The Theme of 'Exile' in The Wife's Lament," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 70, focusing on how the rela tionship between the husband and wife is described in terms of the relationship of a lord and a retainer who is exiled from his master's service.
Later I will return to the question of the place of the poem in this codex p. Tripp, and A. This content downloaded from As for the speaker's imputed ghostly or semidivine character, there are no overt statements in the poem to the effect that the woman or anyone else who figures in the plot is other than a flesh and-blood person. The landscape where she is forced to dwell is the essence of gloom, with caverns that are suggestive of ancient grave sites, and yet in the ab sence of explicit deaths or other thematic elements that would suggest an other worldly dimension, there seems to be no strong reason to take these caves in any other but a literal sense.
The speaker tells of how the love between herself and a man has gone sour, leaving her with an acute con sciousness of physical and emotional isolation. Situations My first sex teacher sky taylor this are familiar in the literary representation of women in the early-medieval period, when exogamy was the rule for young women of high status and when not all marriages and in law relationships worked out ideally.
No one legendary model for the anonymous woman of the poem has yet convincingly been found, and perhaps none need be sought, but literary figures of her type are well known. Muir, ed. Exeter, Quotations of Old English poems that are preserved Stocking gallery thumbs manuscripts other than the Exeter Book are drawn from the appropriate volume of the collective edition The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, ed.
Translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. While eordscrcef does some times appear in the Old English records with that meaning, it is used just as often in the literal sense "cave, den, cavern.
Much of the pathos of the speaker's condition is that she lives a kind of "living death" in a place as cheerless as the grave, but she is not therefore to be regarded as a revenant. Northcote Toller, eds. Campbell Oxford,s. That the man in question is indeed the speaker's husband, and not a more casual friend or lover, is implied by the speaker's allusion to the vows of fidelity that the two have exchanged 21b A marital relationship is confirmed by several of the nouns that are used to refer to the man, specifically hlaford 'lord, husband' 6a, 15afrea 'lord' 33aand wine 'lord, friend, protector' 50b.
The first of these epithets, hlaford, is well attested elsewhere in Old English in the sense of "husband" in addition to its usual sense of "liege lord"and the word is naturally to be taken in that sense here.
This word could not possibly mean "husband" but must refer to a chieftain, high lord, or king. It follows that the woman, too, as the wife of such a man, must have enjoyed a place near the top of the social hierarchy. That the couple's marriage was once one of genuine affection is made clear by many narrative details including the woman's reference to her having found a man who was ful gemcecne 'completely suited' to her 18ato their freondscipe 'friendship, affection, love' 25aand to her grief at being forced to endure the enmity of her felaleofan 'dearly loved one' 26a.
Thus the woman addresses the man as both her husband and her lord. Despite her rancor, she speaks of him with some tenderness he remains her freond 'friend, kinsman, lover', 47b as well as with the respect that is due him as The wifes lament heroic head of their house hold he is her wine, 50b. To round out this brief account of my guiding assumptions, I should state my agreement with most commentators in seeing no need to posit an allegorical mean ing for the poem. Swanton, W. Bolton, R. Kaske, and Margaret Goldsmith.
To those references may be added S. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry London,pp. Liuzza New Haven, Conn. To clarify my own position, I do not mean to argue that a story Porn share sites is set in the heroic past can have only a literal meaning. It could conceivably bear an allegorical sense as well. There is nothing to prevent readers of The Wife's Lament from reading it as an allegory of Christ's love for the Church, for example, or of an individual's love for Christ.
The chief reason why such interpretations have not commanded general assent is that there are no clear markers that the poem is to be taken at anything The wifes lament heroic than its face value.
An added factor is the lack of agreement among This content downloaded from That much can be taken for granted. In addition, as Alain Renoir has suggested, the central action of the poem might be regarded as a textbook illustration of the New Testament assertion that the Lord "deposuit potentes de sede" has put down the mighty from their thrones.
All the same, the theme of a fall from grace is a literary commonplace that requires no allegorical exegesis. Of greater importance for a culturally specific understanding of this poem, The wifes lament heroic my view, is the poem's setting in a past time that, while never identified, seems far more archaic than the late-tenth-century period when the text was written down and, presumably, was being received by an audience of Anglo-Saxons. This is a fabulous northern world of lords and retainers, gifts and scops, wars and feuds, dynastic rivalries, arranged marriages, intrigues, and exiled victims of circumstance.
It is a world that seems never to have heard of some prominent elements of the society that readers of the Exeter Book must have known firsthand, such as manuscript pro duction, coinage, taxation, a complex hierarchy of clergy, a growing governmental bureaucracy, sad efforts at urban plumbing, and so forth.
This Shandi finnessey nip northern world of the imagination has been given a name? Skeptics might argue that an allegorical reading of any of the Old English elegies with the exception of The Seafarer, which is a special case would involve an element of hermeneutic agility and, at key points, strain and would therefore be likely to be more revealing of the biases of the critic than of the content of the poem.
Of course, that skeptical argument could be countered by the argument that hermeneutic agility and strain are inherent aspects of alle goresis and indeed constitute much of its appeal. Let me simply state, then, that it is not my purpose to seek out allegory in the poem that we call The Wife's Lament, for I prefer to see if the assumption that the poem is about a grief-stricken woman leads to a satisfactory conclusion. This Gospel text in turn is based on Hannah's prayer in celebration of the Lord in 1 Sam.
While acknowledging the Christian context of The Wife's Lament, the reader should also keep in mind that this Old English poem differs dramatically in mood from Mary's exultant words of praise, as well as from the Old Testament passage upon which her words are largely based. If one were to read The Wife's Lament in a Marian context, one would expect to discover in it the hopeful message that just as the Lord casts The wifes lament heroic, he exalts the lowly.
That is not a point made by the speaker of the poem, however. The extant text, which is a fair copy, can be dated to c. There is little point in speculating about possible prior versions. Munro Chadwick and N. To judge from their extant heroic and elegiac literature, the Gay webmaster services never ceased being fascinated by stories of their more grand and brutal ancestors.
They must have brewed from those tales a heady mixture of history, nostalgia, escapism, moral philosophy, and genealog ical pride, as well as a sense of their own enlightened spirituality when measuring themselves against the people of former times.
In her fine edition and analysis of the Old English elegies, Anne L. Klinck gives a helpful summary of the poem's plot, which is essentially the story of the woman's life.
After a conventional opening of the "elegiac" type linesthe narrator of the poem declares that her present troubles began when her husband went abroad lines a? She set off to seek folgad, a place in someone's household. The man's kin began to plot to keep husband and wife as far apart as possible. The husband then cruelly commands his wife to be seized. No one inter cedes on his wife's behalf because she has "few friends in this country" line She has the unhappy experience of finding the man who had seemed so compatible to her hiding his thoughts under a cheerful demeanor.
She laments that their love and their vows are broken lines 21ba. She is commanded to dwell in a cave in the woods, a dismal place, where, afflicted with "longing," she compares her own wretched state with the happier lot of lovers who are united lines
Start studying Poem: The Wife's Lament. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. of the Wife’s Lament. The Wife’s Lament, contrasts strongly with The Fight at Finnsburgh in many ways, even though it uses the Germanic Comitatus heroic ethic and metaphorises it through the exile of the wife. The theme of exile is a common theme in. Start studying English12A Beowulf, The Seafarer and The Wife's Lament. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.
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She feels uneasy amongst his kinsmen and decides that she will be safer elsewhere. In addition, a glance at Ovid's poem ought to convince anyone that curs ing is a legitimate literary activity. Read less. Psalm in particular offered a rhetorical model for ecclesiastical imprecations. If one were to read The Wife's Lament in a Marian context, one would expect to discover in it the hopeful message that just as the Lord casts down, he exalts the lowly. I'm not sure what your question is here? The physical distress that she suffers would have been compounded by shame, seeing that she is a member of the high aristocracy whose status has been insulted. By combining the methods of philology and historical anthropology, I hope to present an interpretation of The Wife's Lament that is both linguistically sound and historically plausible, even if it departs from a consensus of current critical opinion in its emphasis on the will to avenge as opposed to the virtue of stoic endurance. The latter possibility she elaborates on, imagining for her husband a situation reminiscent of her own lines 47ba " p. A tenth-century grant by a man named Ulfketel ends with a simple imprecation: "Se?
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