3/23/2019

Discuss Anglo-Saxon lyrical poetry


Anglo-Saxon poetry was predominantly of a heroic epic character. But a few poems of more or less lyric nature have survived. "Widsith", "Deor's Lament", "The Wanderer", "The Sea-Farer", The Wife's Complaint", The Husband's Message" and "The Ruined Burg" are remarkable. These poems along with
Beowulf, "The Battle at Finnsburh" and "Waldere" are Pagan in origin because they were brought by the Saxons from original
continental home. These were unwritten and were sung by the minstrels. Later they were written and some Christian elements were
infused in them. These lyrics grew out of and in connection with great epic cycles. The professional scope and minstrels sometimes thought about themselves in a subjective manner, tagged short speeches on to
the end of larger epics.

Consequently, these lyrics are in the nature of
personal poetry and a general elegiac note pervades all of them. They begin with a description of experience from the poet's own life, mostly of suffering and sorrow and end with conventional conclusion about the vanity of worldly things and the inexorability of fate. Stern yet sombre, they thoroughly reflect the
Anglo-Saxon national temperament. Their general outlook is Pagan and dark though in most of them a later hand has interpolated a
Christian consolatory verse as an epilogue.

The Ruined Burg" is a complaint written on the ruin of town. It is a series of monotonous laments. "The Wife's Complaint" is the lamentation of a woman who has been banished by her lover.

In "The Husband's Message", we find a lover sending the message of his love by carving songs upon a piece of wood. "The Wanderer"
ong of friendship. It contains a philosophical note at the end.

"The Seafarer" is the most original and beautiful of these poems. It has two parts. The second part is mostly obscured by the introduction of an allegory. This poem is modern in sentiment and it glorifies
romance and adventure "Widsith" is probably the oldest Anglo-Saxon poem. It depicts
the adventures of an unknown traveller who has visited many courts and described them. So it tells us something about the life of
contemporary. courts. It contains language which shows much remoteness to old English. In "Deor's Lament", the poet speaks of a
man who has been suddenly thrown out of employment by his masters. He is a minstrel and so he gives expression to his sorrowful
feelings in beautiful language. There is a philosophic note here and its poetical value is very much limited. "Wulf and Eadvacer" is
another monologue which expresses the intense passion of a woman for her out loved lover. It is a poem of passion. Eadvacer may be her hated husband or at least the man with whom she is forced to live.

These poems reflect the main aspects of Anglo-Saxon life their love of personal freedom, easy response to Nature, Pagarn
attitude, faith in wyrd, reverence for women folk and a certain pessimistic attitude to life. "Deor's Lament", "The Seafarer", "The
Wanderer", "The Wife's Complaint" and The Ruined Burg" are elegies. But The Husband's Message" and "Widsith" are not elegies. However, all these poems are lyrics.

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