Aldhelm Preface


Date: Fri 07 Jan 2022
Original text:

Arbiter, aethereo iugiter qui regmine sceptrA
Lucifluumque simul caeli regale tribunaL
Disponis moderans aeternis legibus illuD,
(Horrida nam multans torsisti membra VehemotH,
Ex alta quondam rueret dum luridus arcE),
Limpida dictanti metrorum carmina praesuL
Munera nunc largire, rudis quo pandere reruM
Versibus enigmata queam clandistina fatV:
Sic, Deus, indignis tua gratis dona rependiS.
Castalidas nimphas non clamo cantibus istuC
Examen neque spargebat mihi nectar in orE;
Cynthi sic numquam perlustro cacumina, sed neC
In Parnasso procubui nec somnia vidI.
Nam mihi versificum poterit Deus addere carmeN
Inspirans stolidae pia gratis munera mentI;
Tangit si mentem, mox laudem corda rependunT.
Metrica nam Moysen declarant carmina vateM
Iamdudum cecinisse prisci vexilla tropeI
Late per populos illustria, qua nitidus SoL
Lustrat ab oceani iam tollens gurgite cephaL
Et psalmista canens metrorum cantica vocE
Natum divino promit generamine numeN
In caelis prius exortum, quam Lucifer orbI
Splendida formatis fudisset lumina saecliS.
Verum si fuerint bene haec enigmata versV
Explosis penitus naevis et rusticitatE
Ritu dactilico recte decursa nec erroR
Seduxit vana specie molimina mentiS,
Incipiam potiora, sui Deus arida servI,
Belligero quondam qui vires tradidit IoB,
Viscera perpetui si roris repleat haustV.
Siccis nam laticum duxisti cautibus amneS
Olim, cum cuneus transgresso marmore rubrO
Desertum penetrat, cecinit quod carmine DaviD.
Arce poli, genitor, servas qui saecula cunctA,
Solvere iam scelerum noxas dignare nefandaS.

Incipiunt enigmata ex diversis rerum creaturis composita.


Judge, who with celestial control perpetually arranges the sceptres
And the resplendent royal court of heaven,
Directing it with eternal laws,
(For you tormented the horrible limbs of Behemoth
When the foul beast had fallen from the lofty heights),
Now, to me, who composes vivid songs in verse, protector,
Bestow gifts, so that I, unrefined, may be able to explain
Through your word the hidden mysteries of things in my verses:
Thus, God, do you freely offer your gifts to the unworthy.
I do not summon the Castalian nymphs here,
Nor did a swarm of bees spread nectar in my mouth;
Thus never do I traverse Apollo’s summits, and I did not
Prostrate myself on Parnassus, and I did not see visions:
For God will be able to enhance my poetic song,
Freely breathing his blessed gifts into my unlearned mind;
If he should touch my mind, immediately my heart returns praise.
For metrical verses declare that the prophet Moses
Sang, a long time ago, of the standards of ancient
Victories, distinguished among peoples far and wide,
Where the bright sun shines, raising its head from the ocean’s waters;
And the psalmist, singing the verses of his songs aloud,
Declares born through divine generation a deity
Who appeared in the heavens before the morning star
Poured its splendid light on the earth at the world’s conception.
But if these mysteries in verse should indeed be well and truly
Freed from defects and inelegance as well as correctly
Sequenced in the dactylic style, and error did not
Lead astray my mind’s efforts with specious show,
I will begin upon better things, if God, who once
Imparted strength to his soldier Job, should replenish
The arid insides of his servant with a drink of eternal dew.
For you once brought streams of water out from dry rocks
When the throng, after crossing the Red Sea,
Entered the desert, which David sang of in song.
Father, who protects all ages in the castle of heaven,
Deign now to free me from the unspeakable faults of my sins.

Here begin the riddles composed about various created things.

Click to show riddle solution?
The preface to Aldhelm's riddle collection


This edition is based on Rudolf Ehwald, ed. Aldhelmi Opera Omnia. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi, 15. Berlin, Weidmann, 1919, pages 59-150. Available online here.

Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  latin  Aldhelm