—Anonymous, c. 960-990 A.D.
Clothes make no sound when I tread ground
Or dwell in dwellings or disturb the flow.
And lofty air and gear at times
Above men's towns will lift me:
Brisk breezes bear me far, and then
My fretting loudly rush and ring
Above the people and most clearly sing
When I forth-fare on air
And feel and know
No fold, no flow.
(trans. from Old English by Geoffrey Grigson)
A meal of words made by a moth
Seemed to me when I heard the tale
Curious and phenomenal:
That such a mite like a thief in the night
should swallow up the song of a poet,
The splendid discourse and its solid setting!
But the strange robber was none the wiser
For all those words and all that eating.
(trans. by Edwin Morgan)
The world's wonder, I liven wenches,
A boon to townsfolk, a bane to none,
Though haply I prick her who picks me.
Well-planted, I stand in a bed
With my rogue root. Rarely, mayhap,
Some carline, careless and daring,
Rasps my red tip, wrenches my head,
Lays me to larder. I teach her lore,
This curly-hair who clasps me thus,
And after our meeting moistens her eye.
(trans. by Lewis Turco)
I saw a strange creature,
a bright ship of the air beautifully adorned,
bearing away plunder between her horns,
fetching it home from a foray.
She was minded to build a bower in her stronghold,
and construct it with cunning if she could do so.
But then a mighty creature appeared over the mountain
whose face is familiar to all dwellers on earth;
he seized on his treasure and sent home the wanderer
much against her will; she went westward
harbouring hostility, hastening forth.
Dust lifted to heaven; dew fell on the earth,
night fled hence; and no man knew
thereafter, where that strange creature went.
(trans. by Kevin Crossley-Holland)
A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.
—Medusa, noting that the answers to these riddles will be posted tomorrow, if you haven't figured them out today.
For more about the Exeter Book, see www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/198020/Exeter-Book or www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=4333