I found the Exeter Ellegies to be evoking and powerful — excellent examples of how emotion or “feeling” can be expressed in literature and transcend time and culture. My favorite, however was “Wulf and Eadwacer” which the introduction calls “one of the most obscure poems in Old English” (40). Even though we have little or no context on the background or narrator of the elegy, I still found it a moving poem. The battle imagery of the first two stanzas seems to introduce us to the narrator’s internal conflict and heartache. Wulf, who is a “bold warrior” embraces the narrator and “it was sweet to me, yet I also despised it” (lines 11-12). As the introduction suggests, the female speaker is married, but loves Wulf who seldom comes and perhaps takes the child of the married couple–lines that can be translated in multiple ways. The last two lines of the elegy, “One can easily split what was never united,/the song of the two of us” stood out to me (18-9). The poem and these last beautiful lines in particular, can be interpreted in so many ways, but still, the speaker’s “feelings” come across, and somehow we can sympathize with her heartache.
I thought they were beautiful poems. And just as you were saying, although the gender of the speaker is not explicitly known or said, the words and images provoke a woman’s voice in a non traditional way. These elegies absolutely capture a great amount of emotion in such a small amount of space. That in itself makes them the more powerful. The fact that we as readers are able to immediately “feel” these intense waves of separation, isolation, and loss just as the speaker is very identifying with the Medieval time. In addition, this fascination of earthly possessions and nature, mostly of storms, further carries and adds to the mood and emotional outcome of these elegies.