Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/Annotated/43

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Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book (1963)
translated by Paull Franklin Baum
1189108Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book1963Paull Franklin Baum

43 (k-d 26)

An enemy came     and took away my life
and my strength also     in the word; then wetted me,
dipped me in water;     then took me thence;
placed me in the sun,     where I lost all my hair.
The knife’s edge cut me—     its impurities ground away;
fingers folded me.     And the bird’s delight
with swift drops     made frequent traces
over the brown surface;     swallowed the tree-dye
with a measure of liquid;     traveling across me,
left a dark track.     A good man covered me
with protecting boards,     which stretched skin over me;
adorned me with gold.     Then the work of smiths
decorated me with strands     of woven wire.
Now may the ornaments     and the red dye
and the precious possessions     everywhere honor
the Guardian of peoples.     It were otherwise folly.
If the sons of men     wish to enjoy me,
they will be the safer     and surer of victory
and the stronger of heart     and the happier of mind
and the wiser of spirit.     They will have more friends,
dearer and closer,     truer and better,
nobler and more devoted,     who will increase
their honor and wealth,     with love and favors
and kindnesses surround them,     and clasp them close
with loving embraces.     Ask me my name.
I am a help to mortals.     My name is a glory
and salvation to heroes,     and myself am holy.



Mec feonda sum     feore besnyþede
woruldstrenga binō     wætte siþþan
dyfde on wætre     dyde eft þonan
sette on sunnan     þær ic swiþe beleas
herum þam þe ic hæfde     heard mec siþþan
snað seaxses ecge     sindrum begrunden
fingras feoldan     mec fugles wyn
geond sped dropum     spyrede geneahhe
ofer brunne brerd     beamtelge swealg
streames dæle     stop eft on mec
siþade sweartlast     mec siþþan wrah
hæleð hleobordum     hyþe beþenede
gierede mec mid golde     forþon me gliwedon
wrætlic weorc smiþa     wire bifongen ·
nu þa gereno     ond se reada telg
þa wuldorgesteald     wide mære
dryhtfolca helm     nales dol wite ·
gif min bearn wera     brucan willað
hy beoð þy gesundran     þy sigefæstran
heortum þy hwætran     þy hygebilþran
ferþe þy frodran;     habbaþ freonda þy ma
swæsra gesibbra     soþra godra
tilra getreowra     þa hyra tyr ead
estum ycað,     hy ār stafum
lissum bilecgað     hi lufan fæþmum
fæste clyppað ·     frige hwæt ic hatt
niþum to nytte;     nama min is mære ·
hæleþum gifre     halig sylf

Book—Bible. First the preparation of the parchment, then the writing and decoration are described; then the manifold values of what is written. “It were otherwise folly,” l. 16 (literally: not at all stupid punishment, penance), has puzzled the scholars. Proposed renderings are “not the pains of hell” and “let no fool find fault.”