Final Translation of Riddle 67

            You now have all the information you need to begin a final translation of this riddle. When you are finished translating the text try to figure out the answer to the puzzle and compare your work with the example provided. Remember that your translation does not have to match the provided solution exactly, as long as the grammatical information is correct. Take your time and refer to past exercises and paradigms if necessary. If you are having difficulty with the process look ahead at the completed translation and attempt to understand how the translator came to such conclusions.

  Riddle 67  
 

Ic eom mare þonne þes middangeard,

læsse þonne hond wyrm, leotre þonne mona,

swiftre þonne sunne. Sæs me sind[on] ealle

flodas on fædmum ond þes foldan bearm,

grene wongas ; grundum ic hrine,

helle underhnige, heofonas oferstige,

wuldres eþel ; wide ræce

ofer engla eard ; eorþan gefylle,

ealne middangeard ond merestreamas

side mid me sylfum. Saga hwæt ic hatte.

 
 
 
 
 
(5)
 
 
 
 
(10)
 

 

  Riddle 67  
  Ic eom mare þonne þes middangeard, I am greater than this world,
  læsse þonne hond wyrm, leotre þonne mona, smaller than [the] handworm, brighter than [the] moon,
  swiftre þonne sunne. Sæs me sind[on] ealle swifter than [the] sun. All seas [and] flowing waters
  flodas on fædmum ond þes foldan bearm, are in my embraces, and this bosom [of] earth
(5) grene wongas ; grundum ic hrine, [and the] growing fields; I touch [the] grounds,
  helle underhnige, heofonas oferstige, sink under hell, rise above [the] heavens,
  wuldres eþel ; wide ræce [the] homeland [of] glory, extend far and wide
  ofer engla eard ; eorþan gefylle, over [the] dwelling [of] angels, [I] replenish [the] land,
  ealne middangeard ond merestreamas all [the] earth and [the] vast sea-waters
(10) side mid me sylfum. Saga hwæt ic hatte. with myself. Say what I am called.

            Can you figure out the answer to the puzzle? Most scholars agree that this is a Christian riddle whose subject is ‘Creation.’[39] As you can see the passage is very beautiful and includes many adjectives and adverbs establishing the miraculous and awe-inspiring tone of the piece. There is also a great deal of alliteration, giving the riddle a lovely cadence. Try reading the Old English text out loud and you will immediately hear the rhythm. In my translation of the piece I have attempted to maintain this alliteration. Sometimes maintaining the alliteration of the original text is easy, but often it is difficult to find Modern English words that convey the necessary information whilst sounding poetic. In line eight, engla eard, for example, is difficult to translate into present day English without making the phrase sound choppy. Essentially these two words mean the dwelling of angels or the country of angels, both of which are grammatically correct but not examples of alliteration. Your translation might not be particularly poetic but that is fine as long as the grammar is correct. Your rendition of the text does not have to look exactly like mine. You may in fact choose to translate the text as literally as possible or perhaps focus on a different poetic device.

            It is also important to note the use of the phrase hwæt ic hātte in the last line of the riddle, which means what I am called. The sentence can thus be translated Say what I am called, a clause that is often used in riddles. As you continue to translate you will begin to notice other phrases that are used with frequency. On the next page I have included a list of some of these reoccurring expressions so that you can become familiar with them.

To Commonly Used Phrases & Numbers

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[39] Paull F. Baum, Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book 16.