“Riddle 45” as translated by Bertha Rogers




Ic on wi ncle gefrægn     weaxan nathwæt,
þindan ond þunian,     þecene hebban;
on þæt banlease     bryd grapode,
hygewlonc hondum,    hrægle þeahte
þrindende þing     þeodnes dohtor.

RIDDLE 45 – BREAD DOUGH – Bertha Rogers Translation

I heard of a thing     that grows in the dark—
it breathes, blows from within,     lifts up its hat.
There was a bride-girl     who boldly lay hold
of that body without bones.     She cradled it,
handled it.     That daughter of a prince blanketed
the wheezing creature     with her own coat.


There are 95 of the Anglo-Saxon Riddle Poems from the Exeter Book, which are about 1,000 years old. The above appears translated and illustrated courtesy of Bertha Rogers.

Bertha Rogers’ poems have been published in literary magazines and journals and in several collections. Her latest collection, Heart Turned Back, was published by Salmon Poetry Publishing, Ireland. Her translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, was published in 2000 by Birch Brook Press; her translation of the Anglo-Saxon riddle poems from the Exeter Book, Uncommon Creatures, Singing Things, is out now.

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