Exeter Riddle 9


Date: Sun 16 Jun 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 9

This week’s translation is a guest post from the very clever Jennifer Neville. Jennifer is a Reader in Early Medieval Literature at Royal Holloway University of London where she is currently working on a book about the Old English riddles. Stay tuned for her commentary in the next post.

Original text:

Mec on þissum dagum      deadne ofgeafun
fæder on modor;      ne wæs me feorh þa gen,
ealdor in innan.      Þa mec an ongon,
welhold mege,      wedum þeccan,
5     heold ond freoþode,      hleosceorpe wrah
swa arlice      swa hire agen bearn,
oþþæt ic under sceate,      swa min gesceapu wæron,
ungesibbum wearð      eacen gæste.
Mec seo friþe mæg      fedde siþþan,
10     oþþæt ic aweox,      widdor meahte
siþas asettan.      Heo hæfde swæsra þy læs
suna ond dohtra,      þy heo swa dyde.


In these days my father and mother
gave me up for dead. There was no spirit in me yet
and no life within. Then someone began
to cover me with clothing;
5     a very loyal kinswoman protected and cherished me,
and she wrapped me with a protective garment,
just as generously as for her own children,
until under that covering, in accordance with my nature,
I was endowed with life amongst those unrelated to me.
10     The protective lady then fed me
until I grew up and could set out on wider journeys.
She had fewer dear sons and daughters because she did so.

Click to show riddle solution?


This riddle appears on folios 103r-103v 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 185.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 7: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), pages 72-3.

Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 9  jennifer neville 

Related Posts:
Commentary for Exeter Riddles 1-3
Commentary for Exeter Riddle 77
Exeter Riddle 42