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Nostalgia In Anglo Saxon Elegies Essay

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Yennadim Medina

The Wanderer and The Wife’s Lament: Nostalgia in Anglo-Saxon Elegies.

Whenever we read an Anglo-Saxon elegy, we may notice a feeling of sentimental longing for a better past, which is portrayed by the poet. This feeling is called nostalgia, and it is present in many –if not all- early English poems, specially in Anglo-Saxon elegy, and it is often used in order to convey the ideas of belong to nowhere and having nobody to rely on are worse than death itself. This belonging is related to the love of home and country that early inhabitants felt and with their allegiance towards their chief, the lord o ring-giver. So an Anglo-Saxon poet would write about his feelings and thoughts about being isolated and banished from, which may provoke a sense of sorrow and despair due to the lack of a place in the world and the loss of reliable friends. Nostalgia is a feeling somebody may have in a present moment, and it refers to how much we miss past events, in which the persona poetica was involved in his culture, where he belonged and where he had a function. When the lyrical “I” loses his world, because of exile, banishment or war, he also loses his place and function in the world, he becomes nothing. So he starts wandering within the world in order to find a new place, a new gold-giver, a new commitatus to belong to. As we can see in The Wanderer, the second voice in this elegy, tell us that he has no friends, there is no lord who can help him or give him advice, but still in the way to find somebody new.

In the lines above, we find elements that help the persona poetica to convey its nostalgic feelings through words that create a sense of stormy darkness and harshness, contrasted to expressions that may be read as statements of willingness and anxiety for finding a new place to belong to and a new lord. For instance, “Ploughed the icy waves with the winter in my heart” is a hyperbolic metaphor that strongly shows the wanderer’s feelings of being alone and sad, and how he sees and perceives the world that surrounds him. But immediately bellow in the poem, a reader will find that, even though his sorrow, the wanderer is willing to become a seafarer an...

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