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Author Topic: Riddle 1 trouble  (Read 8218 times)

Horsa

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Riddle 1 trouble
« on: May 26, 2011, 04:57:43 PM »
Hello Folks,
After practising presumption by criticising the reading of riddle 1 by a seasoned professor of Old English, I decided to practise my Old English by studying the poem, and it's got me stumped. Not the solution, I'm more concerned about getting the language, but the solution may provide a context to help unriddle the gnarly sentences.

Here's the text on-line, and here it is below, supplied with accents to show vowel length.

1.   Hwylc is hæleþa þæs horsc         ond þæs hygecræftig 

2.   þæt þæt mæge ásecgan,         hwá mec on sið wræce, 

3.   þonne ic ástige strong,         stundum réþe, 

4.   þrymful þunie,         þrágum wræce
5.   fere geond foldan,         folcsalo bærne, 

6.   ræced reafige?         Récas stígað, 

7.   háswe ofer hrófum.         Hlin bið on eorþan, 

8.   wælcwealm wera,         þonne ic wudu hrére, 

9.   bearwas blédhwate,         béamas fylle,
10. holme gehréfed,         héahum meahtum 

11. wrecen on wáþe,         wíde sended; 

12. hæbbe mé on hrycge         þæt ǽr hádas wréah 

13. foldbúendra,         flæsc ond gǽstas, 

14. somod on sunde.         Saga hwá mec þecce,
15. oþþe hú ic hátte,         þe þá hlæst bere.


Questions:
Line 2- sið is not in the dative, is this idiomatic or because of the sense of movement? "roused into a journey". Is wræce subjunctive? Do all the subsequent verbs up to the question mark agree with 'hwá'? That's the only way that the question mark makes sense. However, it makes the verb 'fere' difficult to understand. Are there two things to figure out in the poem, the sender and the sendee?

Line 2 - is the first half line a C verse, 'þæt þæt mæge á-secgan'. It's a bit weird to stress a prefix but I know they do it in modern icelandic, and I'm uncomfortable stressing 'mæge' and therefore having to stress 'mec' but not 'wræce' in the next half line. But then in the next line you have the same prefix and it's clearly not part of the metrical stress 'þonne ic ástige strong,

Line 10B - 11 How's this "by high powers / (I am) sent on a journey, widely sent"? Miles off?

Line 12 - who's covering whom. Is the verb reflexive first person singular with the "I" implied, or is it that pesky "hwa" again?

Line 15 - 'þá hlǽst?' shouldn't that be 'þone hlæst' or is it 'bear that load at that time'?

Thanks,
Phil

Linden

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2011, 05:54:06 PM »
You picked a difficult riddle to start on!  I'm still working on it although I now know the answer.   I'm not going to tell you - you'll have to wait for me to publish it or work it out for yourself.  To be fair, here is the text as it actually appears in the Exeter Book. In my view, the text as written does not require the amendments made by the various editors.  There is no punctuation except the one capital 'I' (and the start capital letter and an end marker at the finish of the riddle); '7'=&; (*)'hlin' has a supercript 'y' above the 'i', no stresses/long vowels are marked.  I have expanded the standard abbreviations other than '7'.  There is no indication in the manuscript as to how the riddle is to be divided up into lines and you will note that some words have been run together and others are separated into two. 

'Hwylc  is  hæleþa  þæs  horsc  7þæs  hygecræftig  þæt þæt  mæge
asecgan  hwa  mec  onsið  wræce  þonne  ic  astige  strong  stundum
reþe  þrymful  þunie  þragum  wræce  fere  geond  foldan  folc
salo  bærne  ræced  reafige   recas  stigað  haswe  ofer  hrofum
(*)hlinbið  oneorþan  wæl cwealm  wera  þonne  Ic wudu  hrere  bear
was  bled  hwate  beamas  fylle  holme  gehrefed  heanum  meah
tum  wrecan  on  waþe  wide  sended  hæbbe  me  on  hrycge  þæt
ær  hadas  wreah  fold  buendra    flæsc  7gæstas  somod  on
sunde  saga  hwa  mec  þecce   oþþe huic  hatte  þeþa  hlæst  bere'

I'll answer the purely technical questions.
a)The preposition 'on' can take the accusative. 
b) 'Wræce' is the past sing. subj. form of 'wrecan'

Have fun.  Remember to 'listen' to the riddle.  Let me know if you get anywhere - it would be great to have someone else independently solve it. 
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 07:26:48 PM by Linden »
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Linden

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2011, 07:29:37 PM »
Phil
I have edited my previous posting as the two highlights I put in got taken out when I posted it. The highlights show where previous editors have changed words from the original.
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Horsa

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2011, 07:37:20 PM »
How is the riddle difficult? Is the language difficult, or the solution?

What do you mean by "'listen' to the riddle".

I think it's a thunderstorm and the narrator is the lightening working in tandem with the thundercloud who is the 'hwa' who sends him or her out (I wonder what gender lightening is). Lightening burns wooden houses and destroys forests, kills people, and is very noisy. It sticks out of the cloud (þunie), it's prominent in that it's bright, and I believe there is a bit of punning on 'þunor'. The sea roof is the water in the sky, in the cloud or as it's falling - quite a load (hlæst) to carry on one's back. The last bit about covering people and bodies and spirits in the sea is a bit difficult to understand unless it's referring to Noah's flood? This reaching suggests that I may have the solution wrong, or my understanding of the idiom and language is at fault. It'd be nice to know which to work on.

Would it have been equally unclear to an Englisc speaker whether the verbs were 1st or 3rd person subj.?

Like I said, the solution would help me decode the language, or knowing the language would help me decode the riddle and find the solution, and to tell you the truth, I'm more interested in the language and the versification than I am in the puzzle.

I'm not the biggest fan or riddles or games. That's perhaps why this is the first time I come across this riddle. My favourite 'riddles' are the bow ('agof is min noma') and the bookworm (Moþþe word fræt) which actually get the riddling out of the way by giving the answer in the first line so they can concentrate on poetry and ingenious re-imagining of everyday things.

Ooh, I'll have to check the highlighted words and re-read the riddle. See if that helps me.

Maybe I'll have a bash at recording the riddle and see what people think.

Thanks a lot for the help.

Linden

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2011, 08:24:10 PM »
How is the riddle difficult? Is the language difficult, or the solution? Yes to both.What do you mean by "'listen' to the riddle". Have you read my 3 articles in Wiðowinde?...............This reaching suggests that I may have the solution wrong, or my understanding of the idiom and language is at fault. It'd be nice to know which to work on. BothWould it have been equally unclear to an Englisc speaker whether the verbs were 1st or 3rd person subj.? Usually it can be worked out from the context.Like I said, the solution would help me decode the language, or knowing the language would help me decode the riddle and find the solution, and to tell you the truth, I'm more interested in the language and the versification than I am in the puzzle. You can't separate them in the riddles.Maybe I'll have a bash at recording the riddle and see what people think.  That would be great.  I would love to hear another recording of the riddle.Thanks a lot for the help. One final piece of advice.  The riddles are in OE, the words are important.  The answer is an OE word. Trying to answer the riddles of one language/culture in another language means that the answers usually just won't 'fit' properly.
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Horsa

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 10:40:32 PM »
Have you read my 3 articles in Wiðowinde?

Nope, I have only one copy of Withowinde. I rejoined a few months ago after a hiatus of about 7 years.

I'm more interested in the language and the versification than I am in the puzzle. You can't separate them in the riddles.

Oh no! I'll have one more pass then move onto something less puzzly. I did a sudoku once to see what the fuss was about. I will never get that 15 minutes back.

Horsa

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2011, 07:15:24 AM »
Linden, have you written a book on the riddles? If so when is it to be published?

Linden

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 12:02:43 PM »
Linden, have you written a book on the riddles? If so when is it to be published?
Hi Phil
I'm in the long process of writing a book (or books more likely) on the riddles.  It's taking much longer than I first expected because I realised that not only did the standard edited version differ quite substantially from the text of manuscript but that the original text is actually correct in many instances and required no amendment.  I have since acquired a copy of the (rare) 1933 facsimile edition of the Exeter Book manuscript and I have so far found the logic behind over 40 of the riddles.  I don't expect to find many more now as the manuscript was quite severely damaged in places and it's almost impossible to work out the logic if the riddle is too fragmentary.
Not only is the logic consistent but it also leads to the solution of several riddles that have, until now, had no satisfactory solution.  It's all quite exciting but the process of researching previous solutions and confirming or refuting them when writing it all up is rather tedious. 
So I can't tell you when the book will be out - possibly next year?
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Horsa

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2011, 07:05:09 PM »
Oh nice! New original insights into old English texts. I'd definitely like to read this, especially after being sucked into that Riddle no. 1. And well done on acquiring the facsimile. I love reading the original texts. So far I've only done it here and there with on-line digital texts.

Do you have a publisher already?

Linden

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Re: Riddle 1 trouble
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2011, 07:52:40 PM »
The 1933 facsimile of the Exeter Book is fabulous.  They actually took the manuscript apart to produce it so  the bits that are partially obscured by the binding are there too.  Just wish there was the equivalent for the rest of the corpus.

Yes to the publisher question.  But more on this later when I've made some more progress.

I really must get my nose back to that grindstone and my shoulder to the wheel.  That's after tomorrow of course - we're going to have fun at Sutton Hoo tomorrow.
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