Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/42

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42 (k-d 47)


A moth ate words.     To me it seemed
a remarkable fate,     when I learned of the marvel,
that the worm had swallowed     the speech of a man,
a thief in the night,     a renowned saying
and its place itself.     Though he swallowed the word
the thieving stranger     was no whit the wiser.
Moððe word fræt     me þæt þuhte
wrætlicu wyrd     þa ic þæt wundor gefrægn
þæt se wyrm forswealg     wera gied sumes
þeof In þystro     þrymfæstne cwide
þæs strangan staþol     stælgiest ne wæs
wihte þy gleawra     þe he þam wordū swealg ·

Book-moth. Developed from Symphosius 16, Tinea or Bookworm: “A letter was my food, yet I know not what the letter is. In books I lived, yet I am no more studious on that account. I devoured the Muses, yet so far I have made no progress” (Wyatt’s translation).