Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/66
|I was a young woman, a fair-haired lady,
and at the same time a peerless warrior;
I flew with the birds and swam in the sea,
dove under the wave, and was dead among fishes,
and I walked on the ground. I had a living soul.
|Ic wæs fæmne geong feax hār cwene|
ænlic rinc on ane tid
fleah mid fuglum on flode swom
deaf under yþe dead mid fiscum
on foldan stop hæfde cwicu
One guess is Siren; another Water. If the latter, one would rather say Rain: a gentle shower, a heavy downpour, in the sea its natural form (its life) is lost; a little imagination can see it as hail walking on the ground. A third solution is offered by (Medium Ævum xv , 48–54), comparing Frag. 117 of Empedocles:
- Once I was a young man, maiden,
plant, bird, and mute fish cast ashore.
This, of course, is not a riddle, but an expression of cyclic metamorphosis. Just how an Anglo-Saxon came to know Empedocles is not clear.