Exeter Book Riddle 30

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Exeter Book Riddle 30 (according to the numbering of the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records) is one of the Old English riddles found in the later tenth-century Exeter Book. Since the suggestion of F. A. Blackburn in 1901, its solution has been agreed to be the Old English word bēam, understood both in its primary sense 'tree' but also in its secondary sense 'cross'.[1]

The riddle is particularly important because it actually appears twice in the Exeter Book, on folios 108r (numbered 30a in the Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records) and 122v (numbered 30b). Parts of 30b are missing due to burn damage to the manuscript. This makes Riddle 30 a rare example of an Old English poem surviving in two copies (in this case both by the same scribe). The copies are fairly different, and these differences seem more likely to have arisen from scribal rather than memorial transmission.[2] In the assessment of Roy M. Liuzza, '30b is rhetorically a decidedly more forceful poem than 30a'.[3]

Text[edit]

As transcribed by Roy M. Liuzza[4] and translated by Pirkko Koppinen,[5] Riddle 30's text is thus:

30a (f. 108r) 30b (f. 122v)
Ic eom leg bysig lace mid winde

bewunden mid wuldre wedre gesomnad

fus forð weges fyre gebysgad

bearu blowende byrnende gled

ful oft mec gesiþas sendað æfter hondum

þat mec weras ⁊ wif wlonce cyssað

þoñ ic mec on hæbbe ⁊ hi on hin gað to me

monige mid miltse þær ic monnum sceal

ycan up cyme eadig nesse :⁊

Ic eom lig bysig lace mid winde

w . . . [r] . . . . . . dre ge somnad

fus forð weges fyre gemylted

[bear] . blowende byrnende gled

ful oft mec gesiþas sendað æfter hondū

þær mec weras ⁊ wif wlonce gecyssað

þoñ ic mec onhæbbe hi on hnigað to me

modge miltsum swa ic mongum sceal

ycan up cyme eadignesse :⁊

I am busy with fire, fight with the wind,

wound around with glory, united with storm,

eager for the journey, agitated by fire;

[I am] a blooming grove, a burning ember.

Very often companions send me from hand to hand

so that proud men and women kiss me.

When I exalt myself and they bow to me,

many with humility, there I shall

bring increasing happiness to humans.

I am busy with fire, fight with the wind,

[…] united […],

eager for the journey, consumed by fire;

[I am] a blooming […], a burning ember.

Very often companions send me from hand to hand

where proud men and women kiss me.

When I exalt myself, high-spirited [ones]

bow to me with humility, in this way I shall

bring increasing happiness to many.

Editions[edit]

  • Krapp, George Philip and Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie (eds), The Exeter Book, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pp. 195-96, 224-25, http://ota.ox.ac.uk/text/3009.html.
  • Williamson, Craig (ed.), The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), no. 28.
  • Muir, Bernard J. (ed.), The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry: An Edition of Exeter Dean and Chapter MS 3501, 2nd edn, 2 vols (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2000).

References[edit]

  1. ^ F. A. Blackburn, "The Husband's Message and the Accompanying Riddles of the Exeter Book", JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 3 (1901), 1-11.
  2. ^ Roy M. Liuzza, "The Texts of the Old English Riddle 30", JEGP: The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 87 (1988), 1-15, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27709946; A. N. Doane, "Spacing, Placing and Effacing: Scribal Textuality and Exeter Riddle 30 a/b", in New Approaches to Editing Old English Verse, ed. by Sarah Larratt Keefer and Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (Cambridge: Brewer, 1998), pp. 45-65.
  3. ^ Roy M. Liuzza, "The Texts of the Old English Riddle 30", JEGP: The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 87 (1988), 1-15 (p. 10), https://www.jstor.org/stable/27709946.
  4. ^ Roy M. Liuzza, "The Texts of the Old English Riddle 30", JEGP: The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 87 (1988), 1-15 (pp. 3-4), https://www.jstor.org/stable/27709946.
  5. ^ Koppinen, Pirkko (October 13, 2014). "Riddle 30a and b (or Riddle 28a and b)". The Riddle Ages. Retrieved 27 August 2016.