The cryptic speaker of the Old English poem we call The Wife's Lament has long been the subject of speculation. She is painted as hopeful,1 mournful,2 vindictive;3 her song is a lament by a dead woman,4 a curse by a living woman5—or, perhaps, not a woman's song at all.6 For some, she evokes erotic longing; for others, bitter regret. In many ways, however, this plethora of interpretations demonstrates the limitations of a narrative-driven analysis when that narrative remains unclear; barring future manuscript discoveries (or time travel), our speculations regarding the “true” nature of the Wife's circumstance must remain exactly that. What we are left with is the poem itself: a concrete manifestation of language and syntax that presumably has, beyond the unknown specifics of the narrative, a discrete rhetorical structure that remains intact. In this paper I aim to move beyond the identity...
As Though “Wit” Never Were: The Dual Pronoun as Interpretive Crux in The Wife's Lament
Amy W. Clark; As Though “Wit” Never Were: The Dual Pronoun as Interpretive Crux in The Wife's Lament. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 1 July 2022; 121 (3): 321–341. doi: https://doi.org/10.5406/1945662X.121.3.02
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