Superheroes 9/1 – The Seafarer

Hi everyone,

Today we began some pre-Beowulf reading. We discussed how British culture changed in 450 AD and again in 597 AD as the Norse (vikings) invaded and their religious culture mingled with the growing Christianity.

Here are the notes in case you need more details: Brit Lit context clues. Just use the 450 AD and 597 AD slides.

To really see this change, we read the poem “The Seafarer,” which shows the blending of Norse and Christian cultures. Here’s the poem if you need it.

Tonight, and in the comments, I’d like you to answer these two:

1) Where do we see elements of both 450 AD era British religious/cultural ideas and post-597 AD British religious and cultural ideas?

2) Describe the two journeys happening here. The seafarer talks about the hardship of a life on the sea, but what figurative journey is he on as well? How do they compare to each other?


One thought on “Superheroes 9/1 – The Seafarer

  1. 1) We see elements of 450 AD in the first half of the poem, especially towards the end when it becomes apart that the beliefs are changing to the religious ideologies of 597 AD. In like 72 it says, “Therefore, praise of the living, of those speaking after, is for each noble one best of words left behind,” because during 450 AD, the best death, the way to be remember was to be written about. The only afterlife was the stories that people would write and/or tell of someone. War was important to them, and so was their king and in line 41 it says, “For there is none so proud in heart over earth, none so good in his gift nor in youth so keen in deeds so brave, to him lord so loyal,” which is them saying that their pride and devotion to the Lord is the most important thing. However there is a change towards the end of the poem when more 597 elements are created. During the fifth stanza, God is mentioned as his own entity and being at the point. God is put on a pedestal above everyone else, unlike before when it compared their Lord to their God/as their God. It becomes more spiritual, especially the last three lines. He becomes about the spiritual entity that God is and “eternity” which is given to those by God. The last line is, “AMEN,” which clearly shows the conversion in religious ideologies.
    2) The seafarer is down on himself. While he is on the physical journey, his mind is somewhere else. He is almost like an angsty teenager whole believes that no one will ever understand him and the troubles that are in his mind. This is shown in line 33, “So, now, thoughts trouble my heart, that I have the deep sea, play of salt-waves, should venture myself on,” he believes that the journey that he is taking he has to take alone. He is off in his own little world. There are multiple mentions of birds throughout the poem and it is as if with each bird he goes a bit crazier and feels more on edge. It is also is shown when he says in line 55 that the common man does not know the struggle of the journey and being a seafarer. The actual physical journey takes a toll on his personal/emotional journey. The more he experiences on the physical journey the more he has his personal journey.


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