Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/37

37 (k-d 56)

I was in there     where I saw something,
a thing of wood,     wound a striving thing,
the moving beam     —it received battle wounds,
deep injuries;     spears caused the hurts
of this thing;     and the wood was fast bound
cunningly.     One of its feet
was stable, fixed;     the other worked busily,
played in the air,     sometimes near the ground.
A tree was nearby,     that stood there hung
with bright leaves.     I saw the leavings
of the arrow-work     brought to my lord
where heroes sat     over their drinks.


Ic wæs þær Inne     þær ic ane geseah
winnende · wiht     wido bennegean
holt hweorfende     heaþoglemma feng
deopra dolga     daroþas wæron
weo þære wihte     se wudu searwum
fæste gebunden     hyre fota wæs
biid fæft oþer ·     oþer bisgo dreag
leolc on lyfte     hwilum londe neah
treow wæs getenge     þe þær torhtan stod
leafum bihongen     Ic lafe geseah
minum hlaforde     þær hæleð druncon
þara flan     on flet beran

The favored solution is Weaver’s Loom. The “striving thing” is the web still in the loom; it is injured by the needle or shuttle passing through it. The spears or darts “must be the teeth of the batten penetrating through the warp.” “The two feet can only be the weighted ends of the two rows of warp threads.” The tree with leaves is a distaff, with flax on it; and the standing warp explains the metaphor of feet. On this see the learned and well-documented article by Erika von Erhardt-Siebold, “The Old English Loom Riddles,” Philologica, Malone Anniversary Studies, Baltimore, 1949, pp. 9–17. Mrs. von Erhardt-Siebold includes with the Loom Riddles 50 (k-d 35), Coat of Mail, which is related insofar as chain mail resembles weaving; and 45 (k-d 70), which is usually solved as Reed Pipe (p. 37 below).