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Ancient Anglo-Saxon Riddle

  1. Jul 5, 2012 #1
    It's, supposedly, never been solved, but I believe I've solved it.

    My solution has been PM'd to a moderator, so there's no question of cheating on my part.

    Here's the riddle in the original:

    Ic waes faemne geong, feaxhar cwene
    ond aenlic rinc on ane tid;
    fleah mid fuglum ond on flode swom,
    deaf under ythe dead mid fiscum,
    ond on foldan stop; haefde ferth cwicu.


    And here's my translation:

    I was a young lass, a frizzy-haired woman
    and a singular man at the same time;
    I flew with the birds and swam upon the flood,
    Dove under the waves dead with the fish
    And stooped upon the earth I have left the living.


    I eagerly await your proposed solutions. Yours may well prove superior to mine. You never know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    I'd imagine it is "not solved" in the sense that the author's intended answer is unknown rather than that there is an absence of solutions which satisfy the rules for these kinds of riddles.

    They usually depend on context as in; "In it went, out it went, and saved the lives of seven sons." with known answer: "a woodpecker". How you get from one to the other is context.

    Not sure how "singular" should be interpreted in that line - you probably want to elaborate on that. But I think it's the snow/ice ... which can be fresh and pure as a young girl on the hills but frizzy-"haired" on the boughs or form icicles as a singular man all within the same moment. It has been in the air with the birds from whence it falls as snow and floating on the river as an ice-floe ... falls in the ocean and it melts (dies). The bitter cold that comes with it leaves the living stooped upon the Earth (as they huddle for warmth.)
  4. Jul 5, 2012 #3


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  5. Jul 5, 2012 #4


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    Answer = Driftwood on the beach (IMHO)

    Detailed answer:
    A tree that is now driftwood.
    single man = trunk
    branches = frizzyhair woman
    new growth leaves = young woman
    branches waving in the wind = flight
    falling into the water = swim
    becoming driftwood = dead with the fish
    washing up on the shore
    once was alive
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