Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/48

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48 (k-d 73)

I grew up in a field,     lived where the earth
and the sky fed me,     till old in years
they turned me aside,     those who hated me,
from the way that was mine,     that I held while I lived.
They altered my fashion,     took me from the ground
and against my nature     made me bow at times
to a slayer’s will.     Now in my master’s hand
. . . . .     . . . . .

cares for me well     carries me in battle
with skill by his will.     It is widely known
that I among the bold     with a thief’s craft
. . . . .     . . . . .
sometimes openly     against a fastness
I break forth where     before was peace.
Swift in movement     he turns in haste
away from that place,     the warrior who knows
what are my ways.     Say what my name is.



Ic on wonge aweox,     wonode þær mec feddon
hruse · heofon wlonc     oþþæt me onhwyrfdon
gearum frodne     þa me grome wurdon
of þære gecynde     þe ic ær cwic beheold
onwendan mine wisan     wegedon mec of earde
gedydon þæt ic sceolde     wiþ gesceape minū
on bonan willan     bugan hwilum ·
nu eom mines frean     folme bysigo
[…]dlan dæl     gif his ellen deag
oþþe æfter dome    
[…]ian     mæ[…]þa fremman
wyrcan w
[…]ec on þeode     utan we[…]
to wrohtstæp
[…] eorp     eaxle gegyrde
swiora smæl     sidan fealwe
[…]     þōn mec heaþosigel
scir bescineð     mec
fægre feormað     on fyrd wigeð
cræfte on hæfte     cuð is wide
þæt ic þrista sum     þeofes cræfte
under hrægn locan ·     . . . . .
hwilum eawunga     eþelfæsten
forðweard brece     þæt ær frið hæfde
feringe from     he fus þonan
wendeð of þam wicum     wiga se þe mine
wisan cunne     saga hwæt ic hatte.

This is about all that remains of some twenty-nine lines. Supposedly a Lance or Spear, first as it grew in the ground, then as made into a weapon. “With skill by his will” is an attempt to represent cræft on hæfte; hæft means both the ‘haft’ of the spear and also ‘constraint,’ i.e., the spear is forced to fight.