Dominik Dengler: Exeter Book Riddle 20, 1-31 
       (EN2009, Pre-Conquest English II, 2000)

Translating The Exeter Book Riddle 20 I have attempted to stay as close to the original text as possible, preserving the grammar and the archaic language. Nevertheless I took liberty in rearranging the sentences, adding and repeating words and expressions as well as using the punctuation freely. I tried to implement the riddling effect into the structure and format of the poem by keeping the phrases short as well as arranging them as in an enumeration. Additionally I placed them scattered throughout the page, to create the sense of combining facts that do not match.


I am a wonderful creature.    
I am created upon battle.      
I am beloved by my lord.      
I am beautifully adorned      
      My corselet is variegated.
      The wire hangs just as bright
      around the death-bringing gem.
      The leader gave it to me. It guides me in the wanderings of my battle.
  I carry a treasure then through a brighter day.  
  I carry the blacksmith's handiwork.  
  I carry gold over the yard.    
  I often kill a living soul with war weapons.  
    A king adorns me with treasures and silver.
    He honours me in the hall.
    He does not withhold words of praise.
    He mentions my manner before the crowd,
    where they drink mead.  
    He holds me in restraint.  
While those wary of travelling brandish me freely.    
While those keen in battle brandish me freely.    
Often I scathe others, dangerous to his friend.    
      I am spotted far and wide.
      I am cursed by weapons.
  I do not need to expect    
  that a son will avenge me    
  the life of my killer,    
  If some grim one    
  attacks me in battle.    
The family does not become enlarged by my offspring,    
who I give birth then      
Unless I must depart lordless, Away from the holder,    
who gives me rings.      
      If obey the lord,
      I am forthwith decreed.
      If I perform battle,
      as I formerly performed
      with the gratitude of my lord,
      that I should forfeit
      begetting of children.
  I will never have sexual intercourse  
  with my bride.    
  But still this joyous play    
  is withheld from me, by the one  
  who formerly placed me in fetters.  
  Therefore I must spend    
  the hero's wealth unmarried.    
Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 24 May 2001