Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/18

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An annotated version of this text is available.


18 (K-D 11)

My garment is darkish.    Bright decorations,
red and radiant,    I have on my raiment.
I mislead the stupid    and stimulate the foolish
toward unwise ways.    Others I restrain
from profitable paths.    But I know not at all
that they, maddened,    robbed of their senses,
astray in their actions    —that they praise to all men
my wicked ways.    Woe to them then
when the Most High holds out    his dearest of gifts
if they do not desist    first from their folly.

The solution is apparently Wine and a reproof of its excesses. Cf. 59 (K-D 27), Mead, and 60 (K-D 28), John Barleycorn. Ll. 5 ff. “I know not that…” seem to mean “it is no affair of mine that….” L. 9 has given trouble; probably “Woe to them when brought to the Last Judgment.” Or “dearest of gifts” may mean the gift of salvation.