Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/23
|My beak was close fettered, the currents of ocean,
running cold beneath me. There I grew in the sea,
my body close to the moving wood.
I was all alive when I came from the water,
clad all in black, but a part of me white.
When living, the air lifted me up,
the wind from the wave, and bore me afar,
up over the seal’s bath. Tell me my name.
|Neb wæs min on nearwe ic neoþan wætre|
flode underflowen firgenstreamum
swiþe besuncen on sunde awox
ufan yþū þeaht anum getenge
liþendum wuda lice mine
hæfde feorh cwico þa ic of fæðmum cwom
brimes beames on blacum ·
sume wæron hwite hyrste mine
þa mec lifgende lyft upp ahof ·
wind of wæge siþþan wide bær
ofer seolhbaþo saga hwæt ic hatte
Barnacle Goose. There was a popular belief that it was born from a barnacle growing on wood, the plank of a boat, or a submerged tree trunk. Dr. Johnson’s first definition of Barnacle is “A bird like a goose, fabulously supposed to grow on trees.” The “currents” in l. 1 are literally a mountain stream.