Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/67

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67 (k-d 95)


This, the last riddle in the Exeter book, is unhappily the most difficult. The text is complete but almost certainly corrupt, and any attempt to translate it is only a desperate hope, even after the experts have done their best with emendations.

I am a lordly, thing     known to nobles,
and often I rest,     famous among peoples,
the mighty and the lowly;     I travel widely
and to me first a stranger     remains to my friends
the delight of plunderers,     if I am to have
success in the cities     or bright reward.
Now wise men     exceedingly love
my presence.     To many I shall
declare wisdom.     There they speak not,
none the world over.     Though now the sons of men
who live on the earth     eagerly seek
the tracks that I make.     I sometimes conceal
those paths of mine     from all mankind.









10



Ic eom Indryhten     eorlum cuð
reste oft     ricum heanū
folcū gefræge     fereð wide
me fremdes ær     freondum stonde&eth
hiþendra hyht     gif ic habban sceal
blæd in burgum     oþþe beorhtne god
nu snottre men     swiþast lufiaþ
midwist mine     Ic monigum sceal
wisdom cyþan     no þær word sprecað
ænig ofer eorðan     þeah nu ælda bearn
londbuendra     lastas mine
swiþe secað     ic swaþe hwilum
mine bemiþe     monna gehwylcum

Perhaps Moon, perhaps Wandering Minstrel, perhaps Riddle. If the last, this is “a kind of monkish colophon to the collection” (Wyatt). Mrs. von Earhardt-Siebold (MLN lxii [1947], 558–59), taking “the delight of plunders” as a kenning for Quill-pen, would make that a clue to the solution.