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Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book

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Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book  (1963)  translated by Paull Franklin Baum


ANGLO-SAXON RIDDLES OF THE EXETER BOOK

Anglo-Saxon Riddles
of the Exeter Book


translated by
PAULL F. BAUM


DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Durham, North Carolina
1963

© 1963, Duke University Press
Library of Congress Catalogue Card number 63-21168
Cambridge University Press, London, N. W. 1, England


Printed in the United States of America
by the Seeman Printery, Inc., Durham, N. C.

PREFACE

THE ninety-odd riddles in Anglo-Saxon which have come down to us in a single manuscript are naturally a miscellaneous collection of varying merit. A few of them are poetical in the best sense of Anglo-Saxon poetic style, as good as anything outside the heroic style of the Beowulf. Many of them are interesting as riddles: intentional ambiguities to be solved by reader or hearer. Some of them are learned, turning on the interpretation of runic letters or dealing with subjects only the monkish mind would care about. Some of them are neat and clever and well versified; others are not so good.

In the manuscript the riddles appear in no particular order. The following translations have been grouped according to subject. It was not feasible to arrange them by types, because the typical forms of the riddle are not clearly fixed and the Anglo-Saxon riddles are too few to illustrate many types.

The language of the Anglo-Saxon riddles is often difficult, and even those who are fairly familiar with Old English cannot read them readily. Though some of the best have been translated in scattered places, and there is a prose line-for-line translation in the E.E.T.S. edition of the Exeter Book, not readily accessible to the common reader, it has seemed worthwhile to render them all in similar verse form, with brief explanations, for any who may be interested in the riddles as such and for the glimpses they afford of monkish diversion and of daily life in England of the eighth and ninth centuries—in modern terms, for their psychological and sociological values.

I am deeply indebted to Professor Elliott V. K. Dobbie for reading my manuscript with great care and suggesting many improvements.

P.F.B.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION ix

I. NATURAL PHENOMENA 3

II. CHIEFLY CHRISTIAN 12

III. BIRDS 21

IV. OTHER ANIMALS 24

V. DOMESTIC SUBJECTS 28

VI. WRITING 33

VII. MUSIC 36

VIII. WEAPONS, FIGHTING 38

IX. HORN 43

X. MISCELLANEOUS 47

XI. RUNES 53

XII. THE ‘OBSCENE’ RIDDLES 57

XIII. FRAGMENTS 61

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 67

NUMBERING OF THE TRANSLATIONS AND
THE KRAPP–DOBBIE EDITION
67

INDEX OF SOLUTIONS 69


Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.
Original:

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

 
Translation:

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The author died in 1964, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Works published in 1963 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1990 or 1991, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on .