Exeter Riddle 81


Date: Thu 27 Sep 2018
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 81

Judy Kendall, Reader in English and Creative Writing at Salford University, returns with a translation of Riddle 81.

Original text:

Ic eom byledbreost,      belcedsweora,
heafod hæbbe      ond heane steort,
eagan ond earan      ond ænne foot,
hrycg ond heardnebb,      hneccan steapne
ond sidan twa,      sag[ol]* on middum,
eard ofer ældum.      Aglac dreoge,
þær mec wegeð      se þe wudu hrereð,
ond mec stondende      streamas beatað,
hægl se hearda,      ond hrim þeceð,
[.]orst […..]eoseð,      ond fealleð snaw
on þyrelwombne,      ond ic þæt [.]ol[………..
………..] mæ[.]      wonsceaft mine.


I am bulging-breasted, big-throated;
I have a head and my tail is elevated,
eyes and ears and a single leg,
a spine and stiff beak, a stretched-out neck
and two sides, with a stake up the middle,
my place set high above the people. I put up with the strain
when that which shakes the wood strikes me,
and streaming rain sluices over me standing,
harsh hail and rime hood me
frost grips, and snow falls
on my hollow stomach; and I so …
….… measured my misfortune

Click to show riddle solution?
Weathercock, Ship, Visored helmet


This riddle appears on folio 127v 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 235.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 77: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), page 111.

Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 81  judy kendall 

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