The Sea in Beowulf and in Other Anglo-Saxon Poems Essay

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The Sea in Beowulf and in Other Anglo-Saxon Poems

Is the sea mentioned only in Beowulf or is it a common element in all Anglo-Saxon poetry? Is the sea described the same way as in Beowulf?

In Beowulf there is one reference after another to the sea. When Scyld died, “his people caried him to the sea, which was his last request,” where he drifted out into the beyond on a “death ship.” In the Geat land Beowulf, a “crafty sailor,” and his men “shoved the well-braced ship out on the journey they’d dreamed of,” to rescue the Danes from Grendel. “From far over the sea’s expanse,” the Geats came, “brave men who come over the sea swells.” In his welcoming speech Hrothgar recalls that the hero’s father “sought us Danes over
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Such references are almost countless in this poem, and many of them imply, if not state, a great emotional appreciation which the characters had for the sea. Over half a century later, when the hero is dying from wounds suffered in battle against the fire-dragon, his final wish is for the raising of “ a splendid mound” which “seafarers shall afterward call it Beowulf’s Mound when they pilot their ships far over the ocean’s mists.”

The oldest poem in the English language is acknowledged to be an heroic poem entitled Widsith (Alexander 9). These 142 verses form the earliest production of any Germanic people. It is narrative, and catalogs some 70 tribes and 69 famous people, many of whom are proven to have existed in the third, fourth and fifth centuries. The poem is thoroughly heathen/pagan, and comes to us from a Catholic monk who transcribed it around 1000 (similar to Beowulf). It is the story of an itinerant scop who “knelt for the lovely stone, no living man more often” (5-6). At

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