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    Orality and Religion in The seafarer

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    Thank you very much for your help, it clarified a lot for me and gave me further insight. I do have some points I was wondering if you could expand on to help me understand a little better.

    1) The shift I had mentioned is key, as it is dramatic as you explained, can you be more specific about how the poem shifts? For example, you said that the details shift from general concepts of virtue to the difficulties of a sailors life, can you be more specific on that?

    2) Can you give examples of how the grammar supports the notion that the poem may have been written as a dialogue? What are some specific parts in the poem that best show how the changes in person support this idea?

    3) Could you give more specific examples of how the religious aspect changes abruptly throughout the poem?

    Thank you so much for your help! I'm just trying to really understand specific moments in the poem that support this argument!

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    Solution Preview

    We're off to a great start here in working through this. As I'm not sure how much your instructor has covered about oral tradition, let's start with a bit of background.

    "The Seafarer" comes down to us as a written text in The Exeter Book (ca. 975 AD) but its origins are probably earlier and oral. The original kernel of the poem would have been composed and performed orally by a bard. Other bards who heard it would have included it in their own repertories, changing, enlarging, or otherwise modifying it according to their own aesthetic sensibility and the nature of their audience. At some point, someone created a written text, but the text we have represents a fairly late stage in the development of the poem; the original kernel may have dated back several centuries earlier, to a period when Christianity was a relatively new religion in England. In this it is similar to Beowulf (which you may ...

    Solution Summary

    This expands on an earlier answer, discussing the shifts in theme and belief structure in the Old English poem, The Seafarer. It covers how the process of composition of the poem may have affected what appear to be structural discontinuities.