In the Anglo-Saxon poems of “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer,” similar motifs, or recurring ideas, appear frequently throughout the works. Motifs such as fate, journey and exile are discovered in these poems.
During this time in the Anglo-Saxon period, people did not believe in God, they believed in fate. So in correlation with fate, “The Seafarer” states, “But there isn’t a man on earth so proud,/So born to greatness, so bold with his youth,/Grown so brave, or so graced by God,/That he feels no fear as the sails unfurl…”(39-43). This excerpt from the poem explains how the sailor was wondering what fate had willed and would do. In the poem “The Wanderer,” the idea of fate appears in the text, “…Man is fleeting, maid is fleeting,/All the foundation of earth shall fail!...”(101-102). In this piece fate is apparent because the wanderer tries to explain that the fate of the earth is that it will end; men, women, wealth, and friends will expire.
Throughout both of the poems, the idea of journey is reoccurring. In “The Seafarer,” journey is evident when it states, “The time for journeys would come and my soul/Called eagerly out, sent me over/The horizon, seeking foreigners’ homes.” In “The Wanderer,” journey is seen when the poem states, “…And I sailed away with sorrowful heart,/Over wintry seas, seeking a gold-lord…” (22-23). This shows journey because it explains how the wanderer went through an obstacle to seek for the objective.
Finally, exile is another motif found in both of the poems. “The Seafarer” shows exile when explain how the sailor has left land to be at one with himself out in the ocean. The sailor believed that man and the land had changed drastically, causing him to exile himself from everyone. A short example of exile in this poem includes, “The freezing waves. The song of the swan/Might serve for pleasure, the cry of the sea-fowl,/The death-noise of birds instead of laughter,/The mewing of gulls instead of mead.”(19-22 because the sailor was alone, exiled from everyone. Exile was a motif in “the Wanderer” because in the text it states, “…when friends are no more. His fortune is exile… ”(28), explaining his loneliness. He exiled himself because everyone was unfriendly to him between the two tribes politically.
So in the end, fate, journey, and exile are motifs that appeared in both “The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer,” two poems recovered from the Anglo-Saxon period.