Friday, February 09, 2007
More on Men of Parts
Dear Mr. Gilleland,
Your posting today brought to mind this riddle. As a man of parts yourself, you're more than likely to be acquainted with it already but I thought I'd pass it on anyway, as you may not have seen the original text, which to those like me who don't keep their Old English in anything like reasonable enough repair, is a bit of a riddle in itself.
The Exeter Book (Exeter, Cathedral Chapter Library, MS 3501), riddle 44:
Wrætlic hongað bi weres þeo,
frean under sceate. Foran is þyrel.
Bið stiþ ond heard, stede hafað godne;
þonne se esne his agen hrægl
ofer cneo hefeð, wile þæt cuþe hol
mid his hangellan heafde gretan
þæt he efenlang ær oft gefylde.
A wondrous thing hangs by man's thigh,
hidden by a garment. It has a hole
in its head. It is stiff and strong
and its firm bearing reaps a reward.
When the young lord hitches his clothing
high above his knee, he wants the head
of this hanging tool to find the old hole
that it, outstretched, has often filled before.
Answer: a key
Javier Álvarez at Edad de Oro also has some interesting remarks.