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14 (k-d 30)


I am an active flame;     I sport with the wind,
enwound with wonder,     enwrapped by the storm,
eager on my way,     troubled by fire,
a blooming grove,     a burning flame.
Friends often pass me     from hand to hand
so that men and women     proudly kiss me.
When I rise up     they bow down to me,
many joyfully,     where I shall add
to the oncoming     of blessedness to men.
Ic eom legbysig     lace mid winde
bewunden mid wuldre     wedre gesomnad
fus forðweges     fyre gebysgad
bearu blowende     byrnende gled
ful oft mec gesiþas     sendað æfter hondum
þā mec weras wif     wlonce cyssað
þōn ic mec onhæbbe     hi on hin gaþ to me
monige mid miltse     þær ic monnum sceal
ycan upcyme     eadignesse
Ic eom ligbysig     lace mid winde
w
[…]dre gesomnad
fus forðweges     fyre gemylted
bear
[…] blowende     byrnende gled
ful oft mec gesiþas     sendað æfter hondum
þær mec weras wif     wlonce gecyssað
þōn ic mec onhæbbe     hi onhnigað to me
modge miltsum     swa ic mongum sceal
ycan upcyme     eadignesse

The first four lines give a free and fanciful picture of a tree; then by a conventional association the tree becomes the Cross. (See also the preceding riddle.) This solutions was first proposed by F. A. Blackburn in JEGP iii (1900), 4–7, and has been generally accepted with reservations about cup and harp. His translation is as follows:

I am agile of body, I sport with the breeze; [tree]
I am clothed with beauty, a comrade of the storm; [tree]
I am bound on a journey, consumed by fire; [ship, tree]
A blooming grove, a burning gleed, [tree, log]
Full often comrades pass me from hand to hand, [harp]
Where stately men and women kiss me. [cup?]
When I rise up, before me bow
The proud with reverence. Thus it is my part
To increase for many the growth of happiness. [the cross]

In the first line “agile of body” is from the other text of this riddle in Exeter Book (f. 122b), where the variants add to the difficulties of translation but do little or nothing for the solution.