Anglo-Saxon Riddles of the Exeter Book/9

An annotated version of this text is available.


9 (K-D 83)

Ancient my lineage     . . . . .
I lived in towns     after the keeper of fire
. . . . .     encircled with flame
purified by fire.     Now earth’s brother,
an enemy, guards me,     who was first for me
a bringer of sorrow.     Full well I remember
who in the beginning     drove my lineage,
destroyed all the world.     I may do him no harm,
but I raise up captivity     from time to time,
the wide world over.     I have many glories,10
no little strength     in all the land,
but I must conceal     from every man
the secret power     of precious skill
and the path I follow.     Tell what my name is.

The text is uncommonly difficult, as though the author tried too hard to be “poetical.” The answer must be Metal in some form: ore, gold, money. The keeper of the fire is Tubal Cain (Gen. 4:22).