The tribes from Germany that conquered Britain in the fifth century carried with them both the Old English language and a detailed poetic tradition. The tradition included alliteration, stressed and unstressed syllables, but more importantly, the poetry was usually mournful, reflecting on suffering and loss.
The Exeter Book has been dated to AD, so the poem was probably written no later than AD, perhaps much earlier.
The version below is my modern English translation of one of the greatest poems of English antiquity. A woman grieves because she has been separated from her husband or lover, who is a ruler of some note.
He forsook her and their people, after which she was also forced to leave, becoming a refugee. She also complains that her lover ordered her to settle in a new region, where she had no friends and felt lost, alone and out of sorts.
She reveals how she met another man who initially seemed like a good match for her, until he turned out to be a criminal and a fraud.
Because other men held her new lover in contempt, she was forced to live in a cave. One possible interpretation is that the "cave" is the grave, meaning that the speaker lies dead and buried, and is speaking to us "from beyond.
I have reaped, from my exile-paths, only pain here on earth. Where, oh where can he be?
Then I, too, left—a lonely, lordless refugee, full of unaccountable desires! Divorced from hope, unable to embrace him, how my helpless heart.These are secular poems evoking a poignant sense of desolation and loneliness in their descriptions of the separation of lovers, the sorrows of exile, or the terrors and attractions of the sea, although some of them--e.g., "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer"--also carry the weight of religious allegory.
“The Wife’s Lament” Friendless wanderer for my grievous need that began with the son of man’s intent, through secret thought, that they separate we two. 13 That we two- most widely in the world survived most wretchedly, and I longed.
Included Anglo-Saxon poetry “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer” and “The Wife’s Lament”, survived because it was in Exeter Cathedral – one of the benefits of Christianity is that with it the people got churches, libraries, and schools, bound together during King Alfred’s reign.
METAPHORICAL SPACE AND ENCLOSURE IN OLD ENGLISH POETRY by BENJAMIN S.
WALLER Anglo-Saxons possessed a richly metaphorical understanding of the world, not merely in behave independently as they compete for control in poems like The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and Soul and Body.
Second, death for the Anglo . A fundamental Anglo-Saxon belief is that human life is shaped by fate. How is this belief reflected in "The Wife's Lament"?
Students may respond that in each case, the subject of the poem accepts what fate has dealt to him or her. It´s a secular poem but it has also religious tone and connotations (spirituality).
As we have seen befote, Anglo-Saxon poetry is a poetry of lament and suffering and we can see it reflected in the poem because she talks once and again about hardships.