Exeter Riddle 15


Date: Mon 04 Nov 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 15
Original text:

Hals is min hwit      ond heafod fealo,
sidan swa some.      Swift ic eom on feþe,
beadowæpen bere.      Me on bæce standað
her swylce swe on hleorum.      Hlifiað tu
5     earan ofer eagum.      Ordum ic steppe
in grene græs.      Me bið gyrn witod,
gif mec onhæle      an onfindeð
wælgrim wiga,      þær ic wic buge,
bold mid bearnum,      ond ic bide þær
10     mid geoguðcnosle,      hwonne gæst cume
to durum minum,      him biþ deað witod.
Forþon ic sceal of eðle      eaforan mine
forhtmod fergan,      fleame nergan,
gif he me æfterweard      ealles weorþeð;
15     hine berað breost.      Ic his bidan ne dear,
reþes on geruman,      (nele þæt ræd teale),
ac ic sceal fromlice      feþemundum
þurh steapne beorg      stræte wyrcan.
Eaþe ic mæg freora      feorh genergan,
20     gif ic mægburge mot      mine gelædan
on degolne weg      þurh dune þyrel
swæse ond gesibbe;      ic me siþþan ne þearf
wælhwelpes wig      wiht onsittan.
Gif se niðsceaþa      nearwe stige
25     me on swaþe seceþ,      ne tosæleþ him
on þam gegnpaþe      guþgemotes,
siþþan ic þurh hylles      hrof geræce,
ond þurh hest hrino      hildepilum
laðgewinnum,      þam þe ic longe fleah.


My neck is white and my head dusky,
my sides just the same. I am fast on my feet,
I bear a battle-weapon. On my back stands
hair, likewise on my cheeks. Two ears
5     tower over my eyes. On spears I step
in the green grass. Sorrow is ordained for me,
if someone finds me hidden,
a slaughter-cruel warrior, where I inhabit a house,
a dwelling with my children, and I remain there
10     with my young family, when the stranger comes
to my doors, death is ordained for them.
Therefore I must carry my children out of the homeland,
frightened at heart, defend them by flight,
if he pursues me at all afterward;
15     his breast bears him. I do not dare await his
cruel [nature] in the room, (good advice will not require that),
but I must boldly with walking-hands
produce a path through a high hill.
I can easily defend the lives of the precious ones,
20     if I may lead my kindred
on a secret track through a hole in the hill
the near and the dear ones; afterward I do not need
to concern myself at all with the slaughter-whelp’s attack.
If the evil-enemy on a narrow trail
25     seeks my track, he will not lack
a war-meeting on the hostile path,
when I reach through the hill’s roof,
and ferociously strike with battle-spears
the loathed-foe, from whom I have long fled.

Click to show riddle solution?
Badger, Fox, Porcupine, Hedgehog, Weasel


This riddle appears on folio 104v of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), page 188.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 13: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), pages 76-7.

Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 15 

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