Riddle 42 (or 40)

This riddle translation comes to us from Jennifer Neville, Reader in Anglo-Saxon Literature at Royal Holloway University of London. She has published on several of the riddles and is currently working on a book about them. You may remember her from her brilliant translation and commentary of Riddle 9.

 

Ic seah wyhte      wrætlice twa
undearnunga      ute plegan
hæmedlaces;     hwitloc anfeng
wlanc under wædum,      gif þæs weorces speow,
5     fæmne fyllo.      Ic on flette mæg
þurh runstafas      rincum secgan,
þam þe bec witan,      bega ætsomne
naman þara wihta.     Þær sceal Nyd wesan
twega oþer      ond se torhta æsc
10     an an linan,     Acas twegen,
Hægelas swa some.      Hwylc þæs hordgates
cægan cræfte      þa clamme onleac
þe þa rædellan      wið rynemenn
hygefæste heold      heortan bewrigene
15     orþoncbendum?      Nu is undyrne
werum æt wine      hu þa wihte mid us,
heanmode twa,     hatne sindon.

(scroll down for a version of the following translation that’s lineated more in line with the Old English)

 

I saw two amazing creatures —
they were playing openly
outside
in the sport of sex.
 
The woman,
proud and bright-haired,
received her fill under her garments,
if the work was successful.
 
Through rune-letters
I can say the names
of both creatures together
to those men in the hall
who know books.
 
There must be two needs
and the bright ash
one on the line —
two oaks
and as many hails.
 
Who can unlock
the bar of the hoard-gate
with the power of the key?
 
The heart of the riddle
was hidden by cunning bonds,
proof against the ingenuity
of men who know secrets.
 
But now for men at wine
it is obvious
how those two low-minded creatures
are named among us.

 

Highlight the box with your cursor to reveal the solution: N N Æ A A H H = hana & hæn, or Cock and Hen

 

If you’re a student, you may find this translation’s lineation helpful:

I saw two amazing creatures —
they were playing openly outside
in the sport of sex. The woman,
proud and bright-haired, received her fill under her garments,
5     if the work was successful.  Through rune-letters
I can say the names of both creatures together
to those men in the hall
who know books. There must be two needs
and the bright ash
10     one on the line — two oaks
and as many hails. Who can unlock
the bar of the hoard-gate with the power of the key?
The heart of the riddle was hidden
by cunning bonds, proof against the ingenuity
15     of men who know secrets. But now
for men at wine it is obvious how those two
low-minded creatures are named among us.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Riddle 42 (or 40)

  1. Pingback: Commentary for Riddle 42 – The Riddle Ages

  2. Pingback: Commentary for Riddle 58 – The Riddle Ages

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s