Old English Poetry: Q&A

Like how you compare Wife’s Lament to Wanderer and Seafarer… Can’t find gender in the language.
If you look at the wanderer, everyone says we ought to control our feelings and so should I, but then goes on about how awful everything is and then breaks down. Laments the loss of companionship.

Might hold those feelings back in The Wanderer.
Gender construction as a cultural structure, what counts as feminine? So the fact that she doesn’t say she needs to hold back.

Could be as simple as if a guy, has to say that you shouldn’t be emotional before you are.

female is strong and has power. Can she be emotional and not have to discuss because she is woman or powerful?

Lament: wailing with weeping?

No. Wailing with loud voice. People are supposed to hear the mourning.

In Beowulf (and Maxim I) Cain and Abel appear. In Beowulf it is unnecessary. Poet does not inherit that. Chooses to insert paradigm of bad brotherhood. Is brotherhood in Beowulf poisoned from the beginning because poet sets the paradigm of Cain and Abel?

Doesn’t want to say that there is something rotten, but wants to set up the problems.
Problem of younger brothers. (But Cain is older.)

Beowulf placed between the brothers. Wealtheow reminds Hrothgar of her sons. Wonder that Wealtheow speaking magnifies the anxiety around the brothers?

Women are performing in the hall.
Freawaru doing the same thing later.
Wealtheow is “out of the way” by poet to emphasize the speech.
Something is wrong with the brothers. Simply age or capability. The brothers are vulnerable through their own lack or age. Mother needs to step in to protect them in a way that the poem is iffy about.

Wealtheow worried about power being given to Beowulf.
Worried that Hrothgar is giving away the house. Taking the kingship from her sons.

Capability and power played a role in kingship.
Beowulf is the most successful king in the poem.
If he wanted to, he could take the Danish show, in the same way he doesn’t take the Geatish throne.
More capable than Hrothel. Definitely more capable than the two sons.

Caught by the phrase “gnomic ritual”
How do gnomes speak to rituals?

Elaine… Hanson Solomon Complex
TA Shippey Wisdom and Learning
Wife’s Lament joins through gnomic ritual (Shumimori? Japanese name of scholar)

Reading The Wanderer, reminds me of Ecclesiastes.
Nothing new under the sun. Striving after the wind.
Esp. when younger, wisdom is “the right way.” How to do things properly.

Wisdom through gnomic wisdom is less practical.
Tells you to survive.
Doesn’t give you an answer for dealing with your problems.

Question: Beowulf better king? Poet says Hrothgar is better king.
Doesn’t end in glory (Beowulf).
Hrothgar will ultimately defeat his enemies.

Attacks Beowulf’s countryside by a dragon.
Give Beowulf more forgiveness.

How about Wiglaf?
Wiglaf says don’t do this. Don’t be prideful. Gold goes back into the ground and is useless.

Beowulf is capable of TAKING the throne, even if we don’t agree he is capable of keeping it.

Liked the snow and the childhood.
Could get the childhood out of Stevens’ poem and see how it gets stuck in the middle way.
Invoke a pathetic fallacy and then gradually strip away everything human.
“Course of a Particular” poem says “today a leaf cries” by Stevens also.
Can’t believe. Stuck in humanist condition.
Starts with Frosty human-snow man, but eventually only the human who becomes a snow man can speak.
Shifts in that way with that progression.
Not really a question.

Comfortably negotiate the poetic.
Sense of things you were trying to evoke.
Last paper takes on an awful lot. “15-minute genre”
Poetic out of Stevens…
Using Stevens to prove as poetic, but if you say something about Beowulf, you are up for grabs.
The whole poem is all in praise of Beowulf. Who is the dragon? Because sooner or later the evil comes even to destroy the “perfect” man.
Not a question.

significance of earth glory?

Scandanavian myth as symbol of grave.
Can literally the woman be dwelling in a grave?
Lewster says not to read it so literally, read it metaphorically.

“to find ground in a sanctuary”
refuges for criminals in old pagan groves, under the oak
Grenheld’s Hell Ride (she has to dwell in grove after Odin doesn’t like her killing.)

in the underworld calling back husband figure

sanctuary in the old groves
calling back a memory/history

to put the two poems in dialogue: conceiving of and giving voice to lament, sorrow in open versus closed space?

Wife’s Lament, in an enclosed space
women wailing are public usually
but she is imagined in a private and enclosed space

Wanderer possible reading poem of exile, in addition, also a speaker who is monastery or hermitage
enclosed space sense there
really outside the enclosed space; the enclosed space invoked is the mead hall from the day-dream/memory
enclosed space has to be settled or bury the dead memory in order to come back to an enclosed space which is metaphorical or allegorical which is the community of suffering

character in exile is focused on interior space
lamentation is focused on outside
Is there an inverse relation to where they are to what they are thinking of?

Denmark is a prison- says Hamlet. Prison is in his mind. Feels trapped. Feels unable. At beginning wants to go back to school at Wittenberg. Wants to go back to a space where you are allowed to party and think and not take responsibility as a prince. He is forced to stay as part of courtly drama.

terminology in the excerpts
Why are brothers just called kinsman? Is it just variation?

I think there is more going on than variation.
Poet is more willing to generalize than to specialize.
More important that there is a connection than what the connection is.
I’ve tried to total up variations of maeg or its variants and they are predominant.
Wonder if you can do hierarchical rather than horizontal relationships.
Do think there is something going on even if it isn’t totally clear now.

conflates comitatus relationship

50 years of service is plenty.
Ending on a rhetorical point; linked to but not understatement.
Beowulf says, “You killed your brother. You’re going to hell.”
Not just credibility.
Monster in the mere has a beautiful description of the monster but there is no detail. If there is some kind of horror around the idea of violation of kinslaying, invoking is delicate and allows the audience to imagine the full horror.

aesthetic effect is to dangle
Poet can’t do it justice in the same way that your imagination can.
Would add to that the pointedness of putting it out there.
Put it out there so that the subject is raised but you don’t have to talk about it.
If there is a pattern here, it is an aesthetic/rhetorical (possibly cultural) presentation.

Let’s solve the issue of Unferth.
Unferth is a drunken lout to begin with but straightened out.
Silenced and gives up his sword to Beowulf.

When Beowulf comes in, his next insult is that “if you were a better retainer, I wouldn’t have to be here.”
Crystallizes what Unferth should have done.

Also what Hrothgar should have done.
BUT he was a good king.

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