Imagery Patterns In The Seafar Essay

This essay has a total of 2447 words and 8 pages.

Imagery Patterns In The Seafar


The Anglo-Saxon society was a combination of the Jutes, the Anglos, and the Saxons. It was
through this combination that the values of this one culture evolved. Anglo-Saxons lived
their lives according to values such as masculine orientation, transience of life, and
love for glory. Contradictory to the belief that the Anglo-Saxons' values are outdated,
one will find when taking a closer look that most of the values are, in fact, still
present in today's society. Most of the literature from that time period, lasting from
449-1066, is by unknown authors. The oral tradition practiced by the Anglo-Saxons made it
possible for the pieces to be passed down and still be in existence today. When many of
the pieces were finally written down the took on a poetic style. Through the examination
of these poems, both universal and cultural themes become present. In 'The Seafarer'; and
'The Wanderer,'; both being poems from the Anglo-Saxon time period, the anonymous authors
portray the universal theme of the harshness of life through imagery patterns of the sea
and winter, and in the conclusion of both poems it becomes evident to the subjects of the
poems that the only way they will find contentment in life is if they accept the fact that
the things that happen to them are all a part of God's plan.In both poems the unknown
authors use the imagery of the sea to represent the trials of life. In both, the reader
must understand that the theme presented, the harshness of life, has had a specific impact
on the character in the poem. They have had a personal experience that has lead them to
the conclusion that this theme is relevant in everyone's life. The opening of 'The
Seafarer'; proves this to be true as the very first line states 'This tale is true and
mine.'; This brings to the reader's awareness that the 'tale'; of the poem is an
experience of the poem's character. Immediately after that, the writer uses the imagery of
the sea to illustrate the theme of the harshness of life. 'It tells/ How the sea took me
swept me back/ And forth in sorrows and fear and pain.'; In reading this poem it becomes
obvious that life is represented by the sea. In this line the person is saying that that
he has been swept away by the trials of life. The author continues with the imagery of the
sea throughout the entire piece. 'Showed me suffering in a hundred ships,/ In a thousand
ports and in me. It tells/ Of the smashing surf when I sweated in the cold/ Of an anxious
watch, perched in the bow/ As it dashed under cliffs My feet were cast.'; Through the next
few lines the author shows the reader that man is scared of life and what it has in store
for him in the same way that he is scared on a ship out at sea. The author uses the
feeling of this person out at sea, 'when I sweated in the cold/ Of anxious watch'; as a
parallel to the anxiousness and fear of what life will bring. In describing the man's soul
as being 'sea weary,'; the author is demonstrating man's lack of control over his life.
The waves of the sea, and the sea itself, are uncontrollable and this is how the person in
the poem feels about his life and his soul. 'The only sound was the roaring sea.'; This
suggests that the hardships of life overpower other aspects of the person's life. Roaring
implies something being extremely loud and unavoidable, indicating that the harshness of
life is always staring one in the face and cannot be escaped. The reference that the
author to 'the freezing waves'; also represents the unavoidable difficult times in life.
Here the word 'freezing'; brings to mind extreme coldness, being trapped, and even death.
The next referral to the sea reinforces this theory, 'To a soul left drowning in
desolation.'; The person in the lyric feels as though he is drowning, being pulled under
because he can't cope with the harshness of life. The hardships of his life diminish any
of the good times he may experience. The word 'desolation,'; implies that the person in
the poem feels like he will drown in his sorrows all alone in the same way that he has
been left alone to deal with life itself. Continuing to express the theme, the writer uses
the lines 'And how my heart/ Would begin to beat, knowing once more/ The salt waves
tossing and towering sea.'; These lines create the image of this person being tossed about
by the waves; being thrown from one difficulty to the next. He is unable to escape them.In
'The Wanderer,'; like 'The Seafarer,'; it is also necessary for the reader to understand
the personal connection that the person in the poem has with the theme. In 'The
Wanderer,'; the subject of the poem is seeing the harshness of life through the experience
of losing someone, a comrade, who was close to him. The narrator expresses how the subject
feels in the following lines that state, 'Though woefully toiling on wintry seas/ With the
churning of the oar in the icy wave,/ Homeless and helpless he fled from fate.'; The
subject is trying to escape a painful situation but is 'rowing on an icy sea'; making the
escape slow and difficult. One cannot escape life's pain and it is futile to try. 'And I
sailed away with sorrowful heart,/ Over wintry seas, seeking a gold lord.'; once again
portrays a desperate and difficult attempt to flee from his sorrow. The seeking of a gold
lord implies that he wants to know what purpose his loss has served and what good, if any,
can come from it. 'The Wanderer'; also exemplifies the theme by illustrating the fact that
hard times have not only short term effects, but long term effects as well. 'Beholding
gray stretches of tossing sea,'; illustrates that this person still feels the pain caused
by the death of his friend, even after the passing of time. It becomes evident to the
reader that one cannot control the things that happen in one's life, and that life is seen
as unfair and harsh. The last sea imagery used by this writer portrays one fighting
against being tossed about the sea, 'Once more to the toil of the tossing sea.'; This
tells the reader that life is full of difficult times and regardless of how one may try to
avoid them, he cannot. Through the use of the imagery pattern of the sea, both of these
writers are able to convey how harsh life can be.Both writers use the reference of winter
to further illuminate the theme for their readers. It is the combination of the two
images, winter and sea, that brings clarity to the theme. Winter is a cold, dreary, and
often depressing time. It is the time of the year when things of nature die and become
dormant. Snow, ice, and frost can be damaging and often bring things to a halt causing one
to become trapped. The winter of 'The Seafarer'; utilizes words like icy, frost, frozen,
icicles, hailstorms, and snow to give the illusion of being trapped or coming to one's
ending. He is implying that the harshness of life is much like the harshness of winter,
one feels trapped and depressed, wondering if good times will ever follow. Specifically
with such lines as, 'In icy bands, bound with frost/ With the frozen chains, hardships
groaned,'; the writer illustrates one being held captive by his difficulties, unable to
escape. These images imply once again that one cannot avoid the hardships of life and that
they can make it impossible to enjoy life.The author of 'The Wanderer'; also effectively
uses the imagery of winter in lines such as, 'When friends are no more. His fortune is
exile,/ Not gifts of fine gold; a heart that is frozen'; to produce the feeling of being
desolate. The subject is alone and caught in his sorrow, his heart is cold and hard and he
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