It might seem that in pointing out the differences between the Welsh and the English elegies I have glossed over their definite similarities. I hope to have shown, however, that these texts have evolved from the confluence of many streams and thus resist our present efforts to pin a comforting rubric on them. This is not true of all medieval poems, to be sure, but is especially true of the poems in The Exeter Book, The Red Book, and The Black Book, which deal with wanderers and exiles and with double languages and worlds. One can argue passionately for penitential or secular readings, but one's argument will always depend on what features one illuminates, what traditions one compares or contrasts to them, and in what contexts one sees them.
Manuscript serniotics, for instance, offers a promising focus for interpretation, and yet it is often overlooked in these weighty studies of genre and translation. It is perhaps a moot point whether a scribe's understanding of a poem and his placement of it among other poems contributes to its "meaning"; despite its glancing mention of salvation, Claf Abercuawg is sandwiched