Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/32
|My beak is downward and low I move
and dig in the ground. The hoar foe of the forest
directs my movements; and so my master
goes bent over, the guide at my tail,
drives across the field, pushes me and crowds me,
and sows in my swath. I go sniffing along,
brought from the woodland, stoutly fastened,
borne on a wagon. I have many strange ways.
I leave green on one side and black on the other.
Driven through my back there hangs beneath
a well-sharpened point; on my head another,
firm and forward-moving. What I tear with my teeth
falls to the side, if he serves me well,
my lord who behind me heeds me and guides me.
|Neb is min niþerweard neol ic fere|
be grunde græfe geonge swa me wisað
har holtes feond hlaford min ·
færeð weard æt steorte
wrigaþ on wonge wegeð mec þyð
saweþ ōn swæð mīn ic snyþige forð
brungen of bunden cræfte
wegen on wægne hæbbe wundra fela
me biþ gongendre grene on healfe
min swæð sweotol sweart on oþre
me þurh hrycg wrecen hongaþ under
ān orþoncpil oþer on heafde
fæst forðweard fealleþ on sidan
ic toþum tere gif me teala þenaþ
hindeweardre þæt biþ hlaford min
Plow, as would be easily recognized by those familiar with its structure. The “hoar foe of the forest” may mean the man who clears the woodland for his field, the plowman, or the plowshare (“the iron which, in the shape of an axe, bears ill-will to the tree”). See , xxxii (1937), . The beak or nose is the plowshare; the wagon is the fore-carriage; the sharp point underneath is the coulter.