The Wife’s Lament, together with another elegy, Wulf and Eadwacer, is the only love lyric composed from a female perspective in Old English poetry. Certain interpretive difficulties, along with the undoubted charm and recognized literary value of this brief, 53-line poem, have yielded considerable, diverse scholarly studies over the years. This paper aims to highlight that the events and state of mind narrated by the poem deal with the story of an exiled woman in a society where expulsion from the community turned individuals into outsiders and condemned them to a life of hardship and poverty. In a felicitous combination of form and content, the anguish of the abandoned woman, oppressed by a burning longing for a happy past and growing anxiety over a dark present assumes an absolutely universal – because fundamentally human – valence that is still capable of evoking interest, curiosity, fascination, and emotional involvement in readers today.
Riviello, C. (2018). Longing in The Wife's Lament. In E. Federici M. Parlati (a cura di), The Body Metaphor: Cultural Images, Literary Perceptions, Linguistic Representations (pp. 27-49). PERUGIA : Morlacchi Editore.