dr_beowulf (dr_beowulf) wrote,

Old English riddles. . .

For the past couple of years, I've been honing my Old English chops by translating the riddle-poems preserved in a great manuscript of Old English poetry known as the Exeter Book. The book includes about 95 riddles (there are some differences of opinion as to how to number them), not all of which are completely legible (besides the usual deterioration you might expect in a 1000-year-old manuscript, the book shows signs of having been used as a beermat and cutting board at some point).

I originally planned to collect my translations and have them printed up in book form, just as a Yule/Christmas gift to family and friends. And then I thought, well, some of you folks out there might be interested in seeing what I've put together. . .

So may I present _Say What I Am_, my translation of thirty of the Exeter Book riddles. Most of these have never been published before. Each one is not just a puzzle, but a little glimpse into the world of the Anglo-Saxons a thousand years ago; birds and beasts, weapons and tools, and men and women from the humblest to the noblest walks of life, all take turns describing themselves.

I've followed the originals' alliterative forms closely, and tried to come up with my own modern English solutions to the problem of translating the linguistic quirks that some of the riddles offer.


The book's available in paperback or as a download. Come check it out!
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