Sixty-Five Anglo-Saxon Riddles * Louis Jerome Rodrigues (1998)

Initially this was the first publications in Rodrigues’ series of Anglo-Saxon texts rendered into modern English. He completely reworked the booklet in 1998. As the title says, this booklet is filled with the famous Anglo-Saxon riddles, many of which come from the Exeter Book. I find this one of the least interesting books in the series. The texts are short, most of them not too interesting and worst of all, I do not understand the larger part of the riddles, not even with the proposed answers that Rodrigues found among different authors (up to 10 for one riddle). There is some nice word-play to be found here and there and it is amusing that one author gives the sollution “phallus” for almost every riddle. Perhaps a funny book to annoy people. I will quote one riddle that I like to give you an idea. There are 64 more of these, shorter and longer.

A moth devoured words. That seemed to me
a curious fate, when I heard of that wonder,
that the worm swallowed up a certain man’s song,
a thief in the darkness filched the fine saying
and strong man’s support. The thievish guest was
no whit | the wiser, though he swallowed words.

1998 Llanarch, isbn 1861430620

One comment

  1. I once translated this same riddle as it is one of my favorites! I would like to share.

    Moððe word fræt. Me þæt þuhte
    wrætlicu wyrd, þa ic þæt wundor gefrægn,
    þæt se wyrm forswealg wera gied sumes,
    þeof in þystro, þrymfæstne cwide
    ond þæs strangan staþol. Stælgiest ne wæs
    wihte þy gleawra, þe he þam wordum swealg.

    ***

    A moth feasts upon the words, songs and ideas of mankind.
    Ways of wyrd bring strange fate think I, that a mere worm,
    a glutton of thought forms in the dark, devours,
    The songs of a man, his chants of glory, sung in intellectual strength.
    For all that he fattened himself on the words he was none the wiser.
    Only obese with knowledge.

    ~ my own translation

    Fare thee well,
    Weo

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