I was greatly helped by Kevin Crossley Holland s introduction to this edition and was particularly interested in the parallel that he notes between riddle and instruction Crossley Holland writes, The word riddle derives from the Old English r dan, to advise, to counsel, to guide, to explain And in a wide sense a riddle does teach it presents the old in new ways To men sitting at the mead bench, listening to the professional poet or taking the harp and themselves improvising, the riddle redefined the familiar viii All of that said, perhaps the best instruction one can receive from this book now is that the very first works written in English were dirty, dirty, poem riddles Many of these riddles appear to be written by some sort of medieval Samantha Jones onions that are really penises, virgin maids sexually accosting men in the pantry, and a lot of erection metaphors This book makes me proud of the English language. This is a Good book A selection of poems in the form of riddles, this ancient literature is captivating It requires thought and dedication to work through though I suggest it to someone who has time and interest in the time period. This Is A Translation Of The Anglo Saxon Poems From The th Century Exeter Book Ranging From Natural Phenomena To Animal And Bird Life, From The Christian Concept Of Creation To Prosaic Domestic Objects, The Riddles Are Full Of Sharp Observation And Earthy Humour This is a collection of Old English riddles, from around the time of Beowulf They are each one page poems, rather than simply a couple of lines, like you might think of a riddle e.g what s black and white and read all over The riddles are interesting because the first time you read each riddle, it is describing some nebulous monster The monster may have impossible, contradictory, or magical properties Then you read the solution provided in the notes and reread the riddle, and see the other meaning in each statement So it s kind of like an optical illusion for the mind The explicit riddles are elaborate double entendres, but through most of the book the overt meaning is simply strange, like a spirit or a monster, rather than something obscene The hidden meanings might be animals, or household items, or abstract concepts So on the one side you have the most vivid medieval imaginings, beyond any bestiary, and on the other a kind of picture of everyday life for the Anglo Saxons by the items they choose to riddle about It might be interesting to try to illustrate the book with illusions that can be viewed in either manner.I read it in a parallel text, and the original is clearly poetically constrained each half of the line on either side of the caesura is usually only two words But the version I read had a pleasantly archaic feel to the modern English, at least You can find it here for free en.wikisource.org wiki Anglo SaxonRi It got me to thinking how the ability to do well on IQ tests is mainly a matter of either being able to figure out, or to remember a previously learned solution to a series of riddles, looking for the clues to the hidden pattern. A witty interpretation of the riddles I loved the playful use of language and the use of unusual or archaic words where relevant Makes a good reference for translations as well. Beautifully translated and he was kind enough to sign my copy with ic wiht geseah. While I enjoyed the riddles I did not like the fact that the answers were at the back of the book rather than at the bottom of each riddle It may not be such an issue with hard copies your can flitter back and forth with but on a kindle it becomes tiresome after reading a few of them. 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 Key Me the wet ground, exceeding cold, first brought forth from within itself.Neither am I wrought of woolen fleece nor of hairs, with skill I know it in my mind I have no winding wefts nor any warp in me nor with strong rods does the thread resound for me, nor the whirring shuttle move across me, nor the weaver s rods anywhere smite me.Worms do not weave me with fatal wiles which fairly adorn the fine yellow web.Yet nevertheless the wide world over one will call me a joyful garment for heroes Say now truly, you cunning sage,learned in language, what this garment may be Coat of Mail The Exeter Book RiddlesSmutty riddle, anyone I m sure you ll agree with me that nothing helps pass the time like some honest to goodness smut and when the Anglo Saxon church was responsible for collating it, you know you re onto something special.The Exeter Book was created by the first Bishop of Exeter in the eleventh century, when he collected poetry and riddles into a single tome The date of authorship of many of the riddles is unclear Scholars believe that a number were composed in the first half of the eighth century.The meaning of some of the riddles is just as tantalisingly mysterious Thankfully, Penguin Classics thought to include a set of answers although in some cases all we have is speculation between possible alternatives, either due to manuscript damage or to varying opinions about the riddle s meaning I found the seven so called obscene riddles the most entertaining of all and I hope that you will too They re well worth the effort involved in deciphering them Three have as their answer penis , others are about coitus, the vagina, pregnancy and drinking vessels with the innuendo of course hinting at oral sex All are playful, clever, subtle and amusing.My favourite obscene riddle was number 25 I m a strange creature, for I satisfy women,a service to the neighbours No one suffersat my hands except my slayer.I grow very tall, erect in a bed,I m hairy underneath From time to timea beautiful girl, the brave daughter of some churl dares to hold me,grips my russet skin, robs me of my headand puts me in the pantry At once that girlwith plaited hair who has confined meremembers our meeting Her eye moistens.Aristotle might not have had this sort of thing in mind when he wrote of the result of pleasure afforded by clever riddles Then again, maybe it was.I ll leave it to you to decide whether number 69 could arguably be added to the list of obscene riddles On the way a miracle water become bone.A few non smutty riddles creep in by accident of course, although the editor weeded most of them out There is the usual nod to natural phenomenon storm at sea, for example and pure oddities like one eyed seller of garlic The mind boggles that anyone would want to write a riddle where this is the answer There are riddles about bagpipes, an iceberg and oysters And, since the pre Medieval church knew a thing or two about kinky sex, two of the answers are flail and leather.Anglo Saxon society was as concerned with warfare as it was with sex, so it isn t surprising that of the ninety five riddles in this slim collection, twelve have answers relating to fighting and weaponry There are six runic riddles, too These runes gave the riddle master an extra way to torment their readers in addition to the poetic ambiguity of their meaning Luckily for us, they re all presented here in modern English.This is a cracking little volume, full of hilarity and clever invention Each riddle is perfectly crafted and is just long enough to amuse without ever becoming tiresome.When I bought my copy, in the days before , the first challenge was tracking one down but you won t have to go to anything like as much trouble The Exeter Book Riddles is available from Penguin Classics.Enjoy Anglo saxon riddle poems Some easy to work out the solution, some damn near impossible to the modern mind.Beautifully translated and full of rich imagery.
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- 144 pages
- The Exeter Book Riddles
- 24 December 2019 Anonymous