Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/80

80 (k-d 37)

I saw the thing;     its belly was at the back
hugely puffed out.     A servant attended it,
a man of might.     And much had it suffered
when that which filled it     flew from its eye.
It does not always die     when it has to give
what is in it to another.     But there comes again
reward to its bosom.     Its bloom returns.
It creates a son;     it is its own father.
Ic þa wihte geseah     womb wæs on hindan ·
þriþum aþrunten     þegn folgade
mægenrofa man     micel hæfde gefered
þær hit felde     fleah þurh his eage
ne swylteð he symle     þōn syllan sceal
innað þam oþrū     ac him eft cymeð
bot in bosme     blæd biþ aræred
he sunu wyrceð     bið him sylfa fæder

The answer is Bellows, but the second meaning is unmistakable. The seventeenth-century play on the word “die” has thus a long history. Symphosius 73 begins with an interesting, and innocent, parallel:

Non ego continuo morior, cum spiritus exit;
Nam redit assidue, quamvis et saepe recedit.