Riddles


ᚱᚫᛞᛖᛚᛋᚪᛋ (Rædelsas)


The Anglo-Saxons very much enjoyed both riddles and poetry, and oftentimes combined both. One of the best-known surviving examples of Old English literature is the "Exeter Book" [1], owned by a bishop of the period known as Leofric whom later donated it to the Church, where it survived into the modern era. It contains over 90 such riddles, as well as a number of other topics pertaining to theology, history, and similar.


Herein, I continue this practice. Before going further, it's worth noting that Anglo-Saxon poetry worked different than we're used to. It primarily utilized alliteration rather than rhyme - if you're not familiar with the term, recall this phrase: "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers". That's alliteration. You alliterate off the first stressed syllable, not the one actually in front. Such as, "Look aLong the Loamy Land". That isn't used much in Modern English, but it is very frequently in Old English, which had many more prefixes than we do now. All vowels are considered able to alliterate in Old English, which isn't a particularly orthodox concept these days either.


Some of the other rules are more opaque. In the first half, 1-2 words should alliterate together with 1 word from the second half - and only one in the second. Any others, if present, can either alliterate with the line to follow, or stand alone in sound. When reading aloud these poems you stress the words that are important, which do not always alliterate as just stated. Usually it ends up to be two-four stressed words per line. They also really liked to truncated their poetic works, omitting more prepositions and articles than we're used to. Word order and rules of grammar were even looser here than in prose, much like today, as was the creation of euphemisms and new, compound words to refer to things and phenomena.


Those so inclined, feel free to email me if you'd like to attempt to solve them [2]. Supposing you're correct, I'll link to your capsule as a fun way to get people's pages networked.


Riddle 1


We ge[c]limbaþ, up[c]uman on fiðru meregrota.

User [m]odor [m]onan; hire beorhtan [m]aga.

Eac [m]in [m]edrencynn, ic up[m]acige wæcce.

[E]alneg in [a]nsin, [e]ahtende snawleas lands.

We edwendaþ [h]untan [h]ame, we [h]abbaþ brimmanes begang.

Ðe [h]ehst [h]ordweorðung, we aberan [H]lafordes rod.

Saga user nama.


We together climbed, brought up on (a) pearl's wings

Our mother the moon; her bright guardians.

With my brothers (lit: matrilineal kindred), I put up vigil.

Always in sight, watching snowless lands.

We bring (the) hunter home, we keep (the) sailor's course.

The highest honor given, we bear the Lord's sign.

Say our name.


Riddle 2


Ic [b]ue in [b]ediglinge, [b]iedende þec in smyltnesse.

Ic ge[w]inde eow, [w]yrmlices swefn.

Ic [d]æle eow [d]omweorðunge, ic ænlic on[d]arae.

Þuruh [h]iwnesse ic [h]leoþrige, þuruh gold ic [h]leoðre.

Hwænne [þ]in hielst na[þ]ing, ic [þ]eahtiġe afon.

Saga min nama.


I live in hidden places, calling (to) you in times of silence.

I weave (for) you, (the) serpent's dreams.

I share (with) you glory, (that) I alone unveil.

Through beauty I resound, through gold I sing.

When you hold nothing, I counsel (you) to take.

Say my name.


⇨ Links

Exeter Book

Contact



exul.flounder.online/