In Old English poetry, the space of exclusion from society is defined in the representation of the contrast between a here and an elsewhere. Within a pagan dimension, the individual deprived of group belonging is typically the last survivor of a destroyed community or, more often, an outcast for not respecting the social order. Within a Christian dimension, he is either alien to the community of the faithful, or a sinner, or a pilgrim of sorts, a believer who has decided to follow a solitary, ascetic path toward the divine. Analyzing this theme's modes of representation in very different poems - such as Maxims, Beowulf, Wife’s Lament, Seafarer, Wanderer, Riming Poem, Ruin, Genesis, Christ III, Christ and Satan - demonstrates how the repetition of phrases and images evoking exile and the place of exile can be read as expressing an anxious perception of individual and social frailty within the Anglo-Saxon world. Furthermore the painful sentiment that emerges from these texts is the anguish of perceiving and experiencing how the boundary between here and elsewhere is easily crossed and movable; the emotional participation, the vivid realism of certain images, and the wise psychological introspection of others portray the condition of the outcast as unsustainable, verbalizing a primitive fear of loneliness and the unknown.
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