Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/Annotated/3

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1188453Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book1963Paull Franklin Baum

3 (k-d 29)

I saw a being     in wondrous wise
hold its plunder     between its horns,
a vessel of light,     of shining beauty,
bringing it home,     a spoil of battle.
It wished to build     a bower in the burg
and cunningly place it     —if so might be.
Then a wondrous being     came over the roof,
known to all children     of mortal men,
recovered the spoil     and then brought back
the unwilling exile.     Westward it went,
hurrying home     after the battle.
Dust rose to the skies;     dew fell on the ground;
night departed     and none thereafter
knew its way,     whither it went.


Ic wiht geseah     wundorlice
horna abitweonū     huþe lædan
lyftfæt leohtlic     listrum gegierwed
huþe to þam ham     of þā heresiþe
walde hyre on þære byrig     bur atimbram
searwum asettan     gif hit swa meahte ·
ða cwom wundorlicu wiht     ofer wealles hrof
seo is eallum cuð     eorðbuendum
ahredde þa þa huþe     to ham bedræf
wreccan ofer willan     gewat hyre west þonan
fæhþum feran     forð o netteð
dust stonc to heofonum     deaw feol on eorþan
niht forð gewat     nænig siþþan
wera gewiste     þære wihte sið

Some strange solutions have been proposed, but the correct one is no doubt the monthly contest of Sun and Moon. The plunder is the old moon in the new moon’s arms. The moon would like to make itself a home in the heavens, but the familiar sun comes up and the moon is routed.