ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Christian and Heroic Elements of the Old English Poem "The Wanderer"

Updated on October 19, 2011

The Old English poem “The Wanderer” has gathered some debate on whether it is a Christian text or an example of pre-Christian Germanic Heroism. Some critics believe that the poem was based on an earlier, secular text, which was later converted into a homiletic Christian form.

While the overall poem does read as more Heroic than Christian, there is room left for a vague entrance of the Christian at the start and finish, lending strength to the possibility that the text was co-opted from a secular one. The Christian elements are rather ambiguously inserted at these points, without changing the overall tone of the work.

The beginning of the second to last paragraph begins with the phrase “So the Maker of mankind laid waste this dwelling-place…” implying that the subsequent description of cultural and social decay is the work of God. Yet as the paragraph moves into the Ubi-Sunt topos, we see an abandonment of the Christian in favor of a listing of the hallmarks of Heroic society that are fast-disappearing, such as comitatus and seledream.

Source

As the poet asks, “Where have (these vestiges) gone?” there is a lament for a lost Heroic society rather than the exploration of any Christian principle. Even the possible answer posed to the question of why this has all happened is a heroic one: Fate. It is fate that has rendered this life of isolation, which provides the comforts of the hall as the only escape from a harsh life, yet it is even now the work of fate which is depriving mankind of this comfort.

In the final line, "It will be well with him who seeks favor, comfort from the Father in heaven, where for us all stability resides," there is again room for Christian principle, though not specifically referenced, the notion that all good things on earth are fleeting and death is all that is left.

From "The Wanderer"

"The wise warrior must consider how ghostly it will be when all the wealth of this world stands waste, just as now here and there through this middle-earth wind-blown walls stand covered with frost-fall, storm-beaten dwelling...

War took away some, bore them forth on their way; a bird carried one away over the seep sea; a wolf shared one with Death..."

It bears mentioning that while this sentence describes a world in which Heaven represents the only comfort left, there is room for both a Christian and Heroic principle. Within Heroic poetry death is often regarded as a final comfort. This parallels the Christian viewpoint, and provides both an easy means to facilitate an overlay of Christianity onto a secular work, as well as resolving the ambiguity between the two ideals in terms of the ultimate ending or lesson to be learned, despite the Heroic life described.

Though the paragraph may indeed be a primarily Heroic work, there is some overlap between the two constructs, which has been highlighted here to blend the Heroic aspect into and overall Christian moral-- that the suffering on earth is brought upon by “Fate” or “God,” but overall reward and comfort will be found in the “afterlife” or “Heaven.”

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Cordelia 

      3 years ago

      Well done artlcie that. I'll make sure to use it wisely.

    • profile image

      Buddy 

      3 years ago

      Well macdmaaia nuts, how about that.

    • collegatariat profile image

      collegatariat 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for a wonderful introduction very insightful review of this work! I love these old, rare gems that are undeservedly forgotten, and this one seems like it is a must-read.

    • Jason R. Manning profile image

      Jason R. Manning 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Great piece, you give this work extremely thoughtful consideration. You certainly know how to dig behind the intentions of authors. Very entertaining read, thank you for sharing your craft. Cheers.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)