Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/Annotated/35

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Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book  (1963) 
translated by
Paull Franklin Baum
35 (k-d 4)

Bound with rings     I must readily obey
from time to time     my servant and master
and break my rest,     make noisily known
that he gave me a band     to put on my neck.
Often a man or a woman     has come to greet me,
when weary with sleep,     wintry-cold, I answer him:
(their hearts were angry):     “A warm limb
sometimes bursts     the bound ring.”
Nonetheless it is pleasant     to him, my servant,
a half-witted man,     and to me the same,
if one knows aught     and can then with words
riddle my riddle     successfully.


Ic sceal þragbysig     þegne minum
hringan hæfted     hyran georne
min bed brecan     breahtme cyþan
þæt me halswriþan     hlaford sealde
oft mec slæpwerigne     secg oðþe meowle
gretan eode     ic him gromheortum
winterceald oncweþe     wearm lim
gebundenne bæg     hwilum bersteð
seþeah biþ on þonce     þegne minum
medwisum men     me sylfe
þær wiht wite     wordum mīn
on sped mæge     spel gesecgan :⁊

A Bell speaks, calling the man who rings it servant and master; tells how it rouses the sleepers on a cold wintry morning. The “bound rings,” e.g., is the “bell.” There is something a little wrong in l. 8, perhaps an omission which would make the speech clearer; and “burst” is not normally transitive in Anglo-Saxon. Mrs. von Erhardt-Siebold (PMLA lxi [1946], 620–23) argues for Handmill, and gives a diagram.