“Hwaer cwom mearg? Hwaer cwom mago?” asked Professor MacFarlane and he meant it.
He had a right to that poem. Gretchen had been waiting all during summer school to hear him eulogize that, his, our, her lost world. Where is the Horse? Where is the horserider? Where is the giver of rings? Alas, that space of time has gone, become dark under cover of night, as though it had never been. Mac-Farlane said, “In those days nobody cared about signatures. So ‘The Wanderer’ is anonymous.” Gretchen raised her hand and said, “Do you think ‘wanderer’ adequately translates anhaga?” (Already knowing what he would answer, having read his thoughts on the subject in his own translation of Old English poetry, but wanting him to say it to her.) “No,” he said, “some people,” and named a professor of a rival edition, “say ‘lone-goer.’ I myself like to translate it as ‘he who is solitarily situated.’”
Professor MacFarlane is a bachelor. He lives alone in a big house in this Midwestern town and walks to the university puffing his pipe and swinging his Harvard bag. (And storms beat against the stone cliffs...) His toes tum a little outward as he ; walks. He’s sixty-two. The town he comes from in North Carolina is gone. His great-grandfather, a leader of men in the Revolutionary War, founded it. When the oldest of Mac-Farlane’s nine sisters and brothers got ready for college, the mother decided to move them all to the state university. When the MacFarlanes left MacFarlane, so did everybody else, and now the town is wilderness again.