Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/3

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An annotated version of this text is available.


3 (K-D 29)

I saw a being     in wondrous wise
hold its plunder     between its horns,
a vessel of light,     of shining beauty,
bringing it home,     a spoil of battle.
It wished to build     a bower in the burg
and cunningly place it     —if so might be.
Then a wondrous being     came over the roof,
known to all children     of mortal men,
recovered the spoil     and then brought back
the unwilling exile.     Westward it went,10
hurrying home     after the battle.
Dust rose to the skies;     dew fell on the ground;
night departed     and none thereafter
knew its way,     whither it went.

Some strange solutions have been proposed, but the correct one is no doubt the monthly contest of Sun and Moon. The plunder is the old moon in the new moon’s arms. The moon would like to make itself a home in the heavens, but the familiar sun comes up and the moon is routed.