Grace Aguilar, a Victorian Jewish writer, used many different literary genres, including poetry, to explore religious themes relevant to her Jewish audience.6 Aguilar wrote her poem, "The Wanderers," as a young, single, Jewish woman whose collective memory allowed her to identify very closely with Hagar. In this poem, she explored some of the emotional issues surrounding Hagar's story.
In an article on this poem Daniel Harris suggests that Aguilar found Hagar emblematic of the Jewish diaspora. Hagar is doubly banished, first from her Egyptian homeland, then from Abraham's household. Similarly, the Jewish people were banished from their homeland, then many were also banished from the European countries of their exile. Aguilar's family found refuge in England after banishment from Spain. Harris writes, "The poem presents Hagar's psychic and dramatic displacement as the poetic trope of
5 Hall used the dates of Bishop James Ussher (1581–1656). These dates were commonly
used in biblical commentaries in the early nineteenth century and were often printed in the
margins of Bibles.
6 For more information on Aguilar, see part 2, "Sarah—The First Mother of Israel."