Genre[ edit ] Though the description of the text as a woman's song or frauenlied—lamenting for a lost or absent lover—is the dominant understanding of the poem, the text has nevertheless been subject to a variety of distinct treatments that fundamentally disagree with this view and propose alternatives.
The Angles and Saxons were Germanic tribes and the poem is generally considered to be an elegy in the tradition of the German frauenlied, or "woman's song.
The poem may be considered an early feminist text; it is perhaps a very early precursor of The Handmaid's Tale.
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. There are links to other translations of mine below the poem, including William Dunbar's exquisite "Sweet Rose of Virtue" and the evocative Anglo-Saxon classic "Wulf and Eadwacer.
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 accuses her husband's kinsmen of plotting secretly to divide the couple, causing her heart to break. 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.
The Wife's Lament loose translation by Michael R. I recount wrenching wanderings I've suffered since birth, both ancient and recent, that drove me mad. I have reaped, from my exile-paths, only pain here on earth. Since then, I've known only misery: Where, oh where can he be?
Then I, too, left—a lonely, lordless refugee, full of unaccountable desires! But the man's kinsmen schemed to estrange us, divide us, keep us apart. Divorced from hope, unable to embrace him, how my helpless heart.Dated back to somewhere between and AD, this codex consists of leaves worth of poems and riddles, including "The Wanderer,") "The Seafarer," and, you guessed it, "The Wife's Lament." No one knows for sure who wrote these poems.
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"Deor's Lament" is one of the truly great poems of English antiquity. This modern English translation of one of the very best Old English/Anglo-Saxon poems is followed by footnotes and the translator's comments.
Included in the notes are a summary and a detailed analysis of the poem's plot, theme. "The Wife's Lament" or "The Wife's Complaint" is an Old English poem of 53 lines found in the Exeter Book and generally treated as an elegy in the manner of the German frauenlied, or woman's song.
She lamented over the loss of her best friend. “I've lost my best friend!” she lamented.. Noun. The poem is a lament for a lost love. the national lament that . "The Wife's Lament" is especially noteworthy amongst these elegies because, well, it's really emotional—like, "ready the tissues and let the band play on because we're going down with .