Lament Poem Essay Examples

The Wife's Lament Essay

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The Wife's Lament

Over the years, there have been many interpretations of who the speaker of The Wife’s Lament could be. These range from very interesting ideas to ones that seem a little rough around the edges. It is obvious that no sure answer can be found due to the fact that whoever wrote this poem is dead and that the answer will always be in speculation even if it is correct. Hopefully, at the end of this quest I will be slightly more enlightened as to who the true speaker may really be.

There are some things that we do know about this poem. It is most often referred to as an elegy because of the mood of mourning and regret. Upon further reading I discovered that this poem is like others of its time period. Many…show more content…

“I have the right to say what miseries I have endured since I grew up, new or old-never greater than now.” Even though this poem is relatively short, the vivid expression of grief is somewhat awe-inspiring.

The first interpretation of who the speaker is in The Wife’s Lament is very shaky and not well accepted among scholars and even the average reader. This interpretation is that the speaker may be a male and not a female as we all believe. It was very common in Anglo-Saxon times for the lord of a group of people to be more to them than a ruler. Very often he would become a close friend to his people and they loved him like family. The relationship between lord and man was more than just a business arrangement and although they were working for the lord, he was respected much like a father figure would be. The problem with this interpretation is that the grammatical gender is feminine. This is the reason why everyone assumes that the speaker is a female. Supporters of this reading of The Wife’s Lament believe that somewhere along the line of translating the poem the translator made a mistake and changed the gender of the speaker. As I have already said, this interpretation is very rough around the edges and rather hard to believe. I believe that if the speaker were male then there would be no real reason for his being exiled in this fashion. It was not a custom for communities to allow “foreigners” in thus falsifying

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For the green turtle with her pulsing burden,

in search of the breeding ground.

For her eggs laid in their nest of sickness.

For the cormorant in his funeral silk,

the veil of iridescence on the sand,

the shadow on the sea.

For the ocean’s lap with its mortal stain.

For Ahmed at the closed border.

For the soldier in his uniform of fire.

For the gunsmith and the armourer,

the boy fusilier who joined for the company,

the farmer’s sons, in it for the music.

For the hook-beaked turtles,

the dugong and the dolphin,

the whale struck dumb by the missile’s thunder.

For the tern, the gull and the restless wader,

the long migrations and the slow dying,

the veiled sun and the stink of anger.

For the burnt earth and the sun put out,

The scalded ocean and the blazing well.

For vengeance, and the ashes of language.

Cormorant, tern,  gull and wader –types of seabirds

Iridescence-a surface of shimmering colours


Dugong-large aquatic mammal

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