Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/Annotated/33

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Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book  (1963) 
translated by
Paull Franklin Baum
33 (k-d 91)

My head is     forged with the hammer,
hurt with sharp tools,     smoothed by files.
I take in my mouth     what is set before me
when girded with rings     I am forced to strike,
hard against hard,     pierced from behind,
must draw forth     what protects at midnight
the heart’s
delight     of my own lord.
Sometimes I turn     backwards my beak,
when, protector of treasure,     my lord wishes
to hold the leavings     of those he had driven
from life by battle-craft     for his own desire.


Min heafod is     homere geþuren
searopila wund     sworfen feole
oft ic begine     þæt me ongean sticað
þōn ic hnitan sceal     hringum gyrded
hearde wið heardū     hindan þyrel
forð ascufan     þæt mīnes frean
· · freoþað     middel nihtum ·
hwilum ic under bæc     bregde · nebbe ·
hyrde þæs hordes     þōn min hlaford wile
lafe þicgan     þara þe he of life het
wælcræf awrecan     willū sinū

Key. (Cf. also 75 [k-d 44], which is Key with a difference.) “Delight” is represented in the manuscript by W, the rune wyn (‘joy,’ ‘pride’). Ll. 8 ff., “open the door so that the lord can stow the plunder of battle.”