The Seafarer Themes

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As a poetic genre, elegy generally portrays sorrow and longing for the better days of times past. To conjure up its theme of longing, "The Seafarer" immediately thrusts the reader deep into a world of exile, hardship, and loneliness. The speaker of the poem describes his feelings of alienation in terms of physical privation and suffering: "My feet were cast / In icy bands, bound with frost, / With frozen chains, and hardship groaned / Around my heart" (8b-1 1a). The cold that seizes his feet, immobilized in the hull of his open-aired ship while sailing across a wintry sea, corresponds to the anguish that clasps his mind. "Alone in a world blown clear of love," he listens to the cries of various birds whose calls take the place of human laughter, and he must sojourn with these feathered forces of nature without the warmth of the human bonds...

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This section contains 837 words
(approx. 3 pages 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.