Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/16

16 (k-d 59)

I saw in the hall     a golden ring
which men beheld     with happy hearts,
with wise minds.     Peace and salvation
has God offered     to every guest
who turns the ring.     A word then it spoke,
the ring to the gathering.     It named the Saviour
of righteous men.     Dumb it brought
clearly to their minds     the Lord’s name
and to the sight of their eyes     if one could grasp
the true meaning     of the noble gold.
The wounded Lord,     do as the wounds
of the ring had said.
Nor can to the prayer     . . .
the soul of any man     unfulfilled
seek the princely city,     the castle of heaven.
Explain how the wounds     of this splendid ring
spoke to mortals     when there in the hall
it was turned and revolved     in the hands of the proud.


Ic seah In healle     hring gylddenne
men sceawian     modum gleawe
ferþþum frode     friþo spe bæd
god nergende     gæste sinum
se þe wende wriþan     word æfter cwæð
hring on hyrede     hælend nemde
tillfremmendra     him torhte In gemynd ·
his dryhtnes naman     dumba brohte
In eagna gesihð     gif þæs æþelan
goldes tacen     ongietan cuþe
dryht dolg     don · swa þæs beages
benne cwædon     ne mæg þære bene
æniges monnes     ungaful lodre
godes ealdorburg     gæst gesecan
rodera ceastre     ræde se þe wille
hu ðæs wrætlican     wunda cwæden ·
hringes to hæleþum     þa he In healle wæs
wylted wended     wloncra folmum

“Who turns the ring” (l. 5) probably means: “Who passes it along.” Two lines are defective. They have been built up by emendation to yield the meaning: “The prayer of any man being unfulfilled, his spirit cannot attain to seek God’s city, etc.” (Tupper). Like the preceding riddle on the same subject, this is not a success. One may suppose that the pious author tried too hard.