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Lament Poem Essay Sample

The Wife's Lament Essay

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The Wife's Lament

Over the years, there have been many interpretations of who the speaker of The Wife’s Lament could be. These range from very interesting ideas to ones that seem a little rough around the edges. It is obvious that no sure answer can be found due to the fact that whoever wrote this poem is dead and that the answer will always be in speculation even if it is correct. Hopefully, at the end of this quest I will be slightly more enlightened as to who the true speaker may really be.

There are some things that we do know about this poem. It is most often referred to as an elegy because of the mood of mourning and regret. Upon further reading I discovered that this poem is like others of its time period. Many…show more content…

“I have the right to say what miseries I have endured since I grew up, new or old-never greater than now.” Even though this poem is relatively short, the vivid expression of grief is somewhat awe-inspiring.

The first interpretation of who the speaker is in The Wife’s Lament is very shaky and not well accepted among scholars and even the average reader. This interpretation is that the speaker may be a male and not a female as we all believe. It was very common in Anglo-Saxon times for the lord of a group of people to be more to them than a ruler. Very often he would become a close friend to his people and they loved him like family. The relationship between lord and man was more than just a business arrangement and although they were working for the lord, he was respected much like a father figure would be. The problem with this interpretation is that the grammatical gender is feminine. This is the reason why everyone assumes that the speaker is a female. Supporters of this reading of The Wife’s Lament believe that somewhere along the line of translating the poem the translator made a mistake and changed the gender of the speaker. As I have already said, this interpretation is very rough around the edges and rather hard to believe. I believe that if the speaker were male then there would be no real reason for his being exiled in this fashion. It was not a custom for communities to allow “foreigners” in thus falsifying

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Gillian Clarke, the writer of Lament, uses imagery in his poem in the form of animals and nature to express the consequence of war and greed on the innocent. He uses nature imagery to show that the very thing that was meant to nurture us is being destroyed. Clarke uses imagery to mourn the destruction of the innocent and nature. He also uses imagery to show how appalling the consequences of human nature are to its surroundings.

Clarke explains that “for vengeance” “the green turtle” suffers with “her pulsing burden in search for the breeding ground” and that for something that starts life, she is being put at burden for. He points that from this burden, which was put on to her by human nature, “her eggs laid in the nest of sickness”. When Clarke uses this image he intensifies the idea that the innocent egg cannot choose its life and lies in the birth place of sickness. All of this is because of the same cause, and Clarke shows us that by repeating the word “For”. We as the reader connect with the idea as Clarke uses his images with the life cycles and the innocent.

The idea of mother nature is really emphasized in the poem. Clarke uses imagery to represent this image. He gives nature a comforting “lap” which shows us that nature is very nurturing. The word “lap” is an image of comfort and a mother-like feature, thus it represents the idea of mother nature. The effect of this is that we feel more sorrow as we read through the poem; we feel that we are destroying something that gives us a home, food, and much more.

Clarke makes us see that it is not onlz us who are in the “ocean’s lap” but the “cormorants in his funeral silk… the dugong and the dolphins,” and something as massive as the whale; they are the ones suffering from the destruction of the lap, which is caused by humans, according to the writer. He uses these animals to make us realize that innocent creatures also are under the care of nature, and as we destroy nature, we are destroying life itself for many.

It is not only the innocent creatures that are suffering, but within our own kind. Clarke uses an innocent “boy who joined for the company,” to show us that even children are going into war for silly reasons and eventually in vain. This boy is “the farmer’s son” and we are brought back to this idea that the innocent poor son of some father, is suffering. The fact that he is someone’s son makes us relate to the father’s sorrow of having his son shipped of to war. It could have been anyone’s son but the author says a farmer, so we imagine this kid with a poor background and a humble past going into war.

War is something in this poem that is described indirectly. The idea of war is brought up by the use of all the images of dying races. It is also brought up by the consequences of war on the earth itself. “The burnt earth and the sun put” symbolizes that war and greed has burnt the earth and mother nature. It also mentions that the sun is put out, meaning that something that gives light and life, is put out. The sun is the source of light of a new day, without it there is no new day, and so the life cycle ends.

The poet then uses this image of “the ashes of language”. Language is something that is used to communicate. Without language the world is barbaric. Communication is something that is destroyed when war and greed takes place and therefore, the writer summarizes the effects of war in greed in this sentence as chaos. Gillian Clarke uses these images of nature and life to express this final consequence.

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