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The Seafarer Essay

“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think. ” Robert Henri statement not only applies to himself but it also explains many other human’s feelings towards the ocean. This passion is significant in “The Seafarer” by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon scop. “The Seafarer” intertwines the positives and negatives of a life at sea. The story goes through the sacrificial day to day life of a sailor. The voyages cause many controversial scenarios in the sailor’s life.

Although sailing a life at sea is very interfering to a normal life, the Seafarer still loves the life he lives and also finds himself on a much deeper spiritual level than any ocean depth he has ever came across. The first section addresses the seafarer’s feelings of misery and “hardship” (10). This is much like being in a position of exile in the Anglo-Saxon Era. These peoples worst fear was of being alone in the world with no one around them. The sailor chose this life with options of other lives to live yet the life at sea that he chose causes “desolation” (26) of his normal day to day life.

This destruction causes his physical and mental state to dwindle very much. Before he knows it he is living the “wretched” (14) life of a lonely sailor at sea. The second section displays the different relationships that the farer has for life at sea. The sailor reveals his love/hate relationship with the life that he has chosen. He faces two life choices one of these being a life of “desolation” (26) and the other being a life of profitable peace on land. He imagines the life he can have over the “horizon” (38) yet also remembers why he is living the “blackened” (31) life that he adores so dearly.

This idea of over the horizon is also an Anglo-Saxon literature trait. With the depiction of the horizon an image of the “light at the end of the tunnel” or in other cases where “there grasses are greener on the other side”. This is why the sailor is so eager to search and journey. He wishes to find a place where he can flourish and prosper. The sea-man realizes he may be happy somewhere else but he will never love anything else the way he does a life at sea. The third section is a section of passion and “greatness” (40) which is what the Seafarer wishes to achieve.

The Seafarer expresses his flaming love for the open ocean and all the lovely things that come along with it. He is burdened by the fact that people fail to see the sacrifice he makes to do the things he loves. If it were not for his great sacrifice from him, as well as his family and loved ones, he would never have the satisfaction or “pleasures” (45) that drive him as a human being and sailor on a daily basis. In the fourth section the true severity of his passion for the open water and exploration becomes evident. He is lonely at sea yet, he still continues to stay away from his loved ones.

He goes as far as betraying promises he has made to his dear family because of his highly effective addiction. Although he is very lonely he still has his eye at the end of the tunnel. He has very “ravenous” (61) feelings towards his new land and home that he must first seek out and find. His passion is so deep and driving that almost becomes aggressive towards his desire for exploration and voyages. He has these agonizing feelings towards this way of life however he is still loyal to his ship as well as his desire and love for the ocean.

This shows a huge Anglo-Saxon reference which was highly honored by these people. Loyalty was highly honored by the Anglo-Saxons and should still be today. Furthermore in this section an Anglo-Saxon trait of repetition is very evident and also leads to another bit of parallelism into the sixth section. Repetition of the phrase “No” comes about as his feelings of loneliness and his passion collide and fight in among his spirit. Although the sea-man is very loyal to his ship, section five recaps the “rancor” (76) that he has towards his sacrifices.

The sailor hates being away from his life yet he feels as if it is his “fate” (70) to be doing what he is doing. He feels his life was meant to be spent at sea all alone. The idea of “fate” (70) is an aspect in the Anglo-Saxon culture where one fells their life has a predetermined destiny. The sailor feels this is what his life was meant to be spent doing. The seafarer feels “fervent with life” (66) at sea. He is happy there whether he has a hard time or not. Also in section five a homily, or mini sermon, arises. This interpolation creates syncretism within the story.

Syncretism is also a very big factor in old Anglo-Saxon literature. The images of “God” (65) and “Heaven” (81) are painted into the minds of the reader and create an interpolation or a Christianity addition to the plot. Section six is divided between the Seafarer pondering the life he has lived and he also laments on the things in his lost life. He seems to be thankful for his accomplishments he has gained over his lifetime as a sailor. Although he missed out on a life with others, his life “flourished” (83) by being alone.

He also ponders on the reasons why he chose to do the things in life that he did rather than just living a simple life like most people. He came in search of “Gold” (85) and riches as well as a new foreign land but instead found nothing but himself, a broken self but still found the man he is. The sea-man tries to regret the life he chose. He realizes instead of looking for a home he should have been focused on getting home or “heaven” (101). Even if he would have become very wealthy it still would not have helped him in the real life goal which would have been to make it to the “rises of heaven” (104).

This means he must first be unhidden with “God” (102) to make it home. In section seven the homily continues as the Seafarer pushes towards his real life goal. He gives “God” (105) the credit for the things that he done not only for himself as a sailor but also the things that he blessed everyone with. The farer says, “He set it swinging firmly in space…” it being the earth. He calls those who forget “God” (108) “Fools” (108). The sailor criticizes himself for doing the things he done and living the life he did. He realizes to be successful, “A man must conquer pride…” (111) for himself by being closer to God.

The Seafarer’s journey was in search of a new home. He never realized he was actually looking for his own Heaven while God was trying to give it to him. He says, “Out thoughts should turn to where our home is…” This concludes the sea-farer has finally found his home after all of the years of searching. In conclusion the sailor finds himself as well as the true way to a happier life. He sets a precedent for many people to come after his time. Like an Anglo-Saxon scop said, “Be an Outlaw” and then you may be surprised at what you may become and what your future may hold for you.

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