“The wanderer” W.H Auden analysis

Introduction to the Poem 

When the leading English poet W.H. Auden died in 1973. Time magazine had published a long obituary on W.H Auden under the heading “The Sage of Anxiety,” which made an allusion to his book entitled The Age of Anxiet (1947). A fundamental human fear, which Auden learnt to define in terms of existentialist philosophy, takes concrete shape in his poetry in many forms. One of these forms was indirectly influenced by Anglo-Saxon poetry. In a number of poems, Auden uses both the themes and verse forms of Old English literary texts. 

Afine example of this is his poem “The Wanderer ” (1930), whose title exactly the same as that of the most famous Old English lament. Here he uses kennings like “sea-dingle” (literally a valley in the sea, i.e. a place where the water is deeper and possibly more dangerous), “places for fishes” (the sea), and “place-keepers” (doors). In short, we can say that W.H. Auden’s poem ‘The Wanderer’ is related to the English lyric of the 13th century. This poem was published firstly in 1930. In “Sawles Warde’. 

‘The wanderer’ Poem

Doom is dark and deeper than any sea-dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud-soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.
There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.

Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger’s leap at corner;
Protect his house,
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.

The significance of the Poem

The Wanderer wants to search to make an attempted voyage in order to search the new world. The Wanderer also wants to search for unfamiliar places and people. He is forced forward by a strong provoke of his desire.

His isolation of the native and worldly life is a kind of ill fortune. In this ill- fortune the role of divine will is too much important. In other words, we can say that this judgement is related to Mightly God. The will of God is that the Wanderer should set out in the search of the greater quantity of knowledge of the world.

The Wanderer leaves home with an analysis of exploring very new experiences. The Wanderer is so much up-set of his present life because he wants to find some new kind of joy and enthusiasm.

He is fully ready to accept the challenge of his new voyage. He does not have any fear hinderences and difficulties of his journey. He is not ready to disturb his aim by such types of obstacles as family relations and emotional attachments.

During his long journey, he passes through many unfamiliar and unknown pieces of land. In the way of his long journey, there will be dense forests, deep rivers and so much. When he feels tired after the day’s long journey, he sits by a lake in moorland ridge.

Here he hears the sweet song of a bird. During his sound sleep, he sees the dreams of his dear home. In the morning when he wakes up, the scene of his dream is shattered.

But these visions add his sorrow and grief. His dear home which is fully ready to welcome him, calls him. The sweet memories of his home make him highly depressed.

He greatly feels homesick. The poet expresses his good wishes for the Wanderer so that he may arrive at his sweet home happy and safe. He prays to God for his welfare and safety and to the certain arrival of the Wanderer. The poet also prays that God may bring joy and happiness for the members of Wanderer’s family.