Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/Annotated/28

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book  (1963) 
translated by
Paull Franklin Baum

28 (k-d 13)

I saw them, all ten,     treading the turf,
the six brothers     and their sisters too,
living and lively.     Their skins hung plainly,
visibly manifest,     on the wall of the house,
each and every one;     nor was any the worse,
nor side the sorer,     though thus they must,
despoiled of their raiment,     roused by the power
of heaven’s Lord,     tear with their mouths
the gray-green leaves.     Their garment is renewed;
having now come forth     they leave their coverings
lying behind them     as they tread the ground.


Ic seah turf tredan     x wæron ealra
vi gebroþor     hyra sweostor mid
hæfdon feorg cwico     fell hongedon
sweotol gesyne     on seles wæge
anra gehwylces     ne wæs hyra ængū þy wyrs
ne side þy sarra     þeah hy swa sceoldon
reafe birofene     rodra weardes
meahtum aweahte     muþum slitan
haswe blede     hrægl bið geniwad
þam þe ær forðcymene     frætwe leton
licgan on laste     gewitan lond tredan · :⁊

This was best explained by Mrs. von Erhardt-Siebold in MLN lxv (1950), 97–100. Ten Chickens, in Anglo-Saxon ten ciccenu, having six consonants and four vowels. When they are first hatched their skins cling to the broken shells. Then they begin to eat and are soon covered with down.