Anonymous Writing Styles in The Seafarer

Anonymous
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"The Seafarer" was probably first sung by a poet in the mead-halls of princes and kings, accompanied by the traditional instrument, the harp; thus the communal and oral nature of ancient poetry is reflected in the poem's structure.

Old English poetry has a special structure. In its original form, each line is divided symmetrically into two halves, one stressed and the other unstressed in its emphasis. To better appreciate what Old English looks like, here are the first two lines, untranslated, of "The Seafarer":

Maeg ic be me selfum soth-gied wrecan, Sithas secgan hu ic geswinc-dagum

"The Seafarer" has two major parts, lines 1-64 (part 1) and lines 65-126 (part 2). Some scholars consider the poem a dramatic monologue by the same speaker moving between two subjects; others think the poem is a dialogue between a young, inexperienced sailor and an old, wise veteran of the sea giving advice about life's...

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This section contains 310 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy The Seafarer Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Seafarer from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.