Exeter Book Riddle 44/75

saxons in bed

Wondrously it hangs by a man’s thigh, under the lord’s clothes. Before it is a hole. It is stiff and hard and hath a good stead when the man lifts his own tunic over his knees. He wants that well known hole, and with his hanging-thing’s head, to greet that which he, full length, has often filled before.”
-Riddle 44/75 of the Exeter Book, as wended from Old English by Þórbeorht

Lay Wending (Verse Translation)
Wondrously it hangs by a man’s thigh
under the lord’s clothes. Before it is a hole.
It is stiff and hard and hath a good stead
when the man, his own tunic,
lifts over his knees. He wants that well known hole,
and with his hanging-thing’s head, to greet
that which he, full length, has often filled before.

Old English Reading (Version)
Wrætlic hongað bi weres þeo
frean under sceate foran is þyrel
bið stiþ ⁊ heard stede hafað godne
þonne se esne his agen hrægl
ofer cneo hefeð wile þæt cuþe hol
mid his hangellan heafde gretan
þæt he efenlang ær oft gefylde

One of the many hall-joys oft heard in the Ealdríce’s halls is that of riddling. Indeed, hardly a gathering goes by without some giddy guildsmen or guest offering a riddle to the hall. Whilst many of these riddles are new, the work of the guildsman’s own wit, sometimes they are old, yore-old even, being some of the same riddles told by our Anglo-Saxon fore-elders so many hundredtides (centuries) ago.

Þórbeorht has wended one such yore-old riddle, that found above, from Old English to Modern English.  Mind you, the answer to the riddle is not what it first seems.  For the answer, click here.

About Þórbeorht Línléah

Ealdorblótere (chief priest) at Whitthenge Heall of the Ealdríce, an Anglo-Saxon Théodish fellowship. Author of Of Ghosts and Godpoles: Theodish Essays Pertaining to the Reconstruction of Saxon Heathen Belief, Both Old and Anglo (2014). Author of Þæt Ealdríce’s Hálgungbóc: The Théodish Liturgy of Þæt Ealdríce (2015, 2016). Þórbeorht resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife Eþelwynn and two daughters.
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