For more “straight” translations go here:

For the ASPR text, go here:

And if you’d like to see the Exeter Book itself, go here (it’s cool):


Riddle 8 [fol. 103r]

Many voices are mine, mouth always miming
the warble is tricky, mixing up meaning,
some familiar voice, chirping loudly —
but what I mean may not be clear,
though the voice rings clear enough.
Some hear the singer they once knew,
the fuzzy feelings of their fastness —
then bowing aloud my voice thunders,
and in their homes, they sit in stillness
wondering what I might mean.

Say how I’m known —
who shows the bold kaleidoscope
of interpretation, pronouncing
to one & all the many wonderful
things made possible in my voice…


Riddle 25 [fol.106v]

What a wonderful thing I am,
gob’s gift to the ladies,
serviceable to the neighbors.

And nobody gets hurt by me,
these townsfolk — except
the killer before me alone
Steeply high’s the staff,
standing up in bed,
all rough somewhere
down there.

Sometimes Betty gets bold—
cute enough though,
a haughty little thing,
so she grabs me up,
raptures me by the redness,
ravishes my head,
puts my ass in jail.

Oh, she’ll feel it soon enough,
the costs of my congress,
that one who drags me nearer,
her little curly-haired housewife —
those eyes were made for wetness….


Riddle 30a

Kindle-kindred, am brindled, am branded,
am banded in brilliance & bandied in breeze—
standing or landing with the vibe —

fusing towards conclusion,
losing myself in the heat,
the blowing of groves,
the gladdening of the gledes.

Full often — or filled —
choice companionry lays on their hands,
sends me round the band,
every mouth a kiss without shame,
no matter who, all of them just the same.

At the right time, I hit my prime,
stand myself up tall,
whole room enthralled,
manifold & mercied.

Where I, among them all,
must multiply
their swelling blessings.


Riddle #37 [fol. 109v]

I saw it, that creature —
womb in the back end
and mighty swollen,
its retainer ready to receive —
he was puffed up as well —
and this one had come
so hard where it was filled:
what flew through his eye.

One doesn’t always die,
when one must give up
one’s guts into another’s.
Yet the nut stands tall now —
he may shape his son,
yet always his own father.


Riddle #42 [fol. 112r]

I spotted two lovely things
outside at play
some fucking game —
who cares who saw?

Shining locks,
proud under plume,
she might get it —
if the task triumphs —
a whole bellyful of it.

Here on the floor,
by secrets’ scrawl
I could tell others,
those what know books,
the names of both
those players together.

Where shall be the need,
once, twice —
an ash that bright
once in a single row,
two oaks, hail just the same.

Any of them really
unclutches the curbs
about a hoard’s close
with sly keys
that keeps these riddles
secure against scryer,
pith bewrithed
in cunning chains.

Now it’s put plain
to the companionable
what to call those two
things among us,
proudly lurid


[EBR42 & 43 are not separated as unique items in the manuscript, though most editors agree they are two riddles.]


Riddle #43 [fol. 112v–113r]

I know there is a residing presence,
not lingering long in our yards, lofty inwards,
wicked special to the worthy —
not dreadful dearth nor burning thirst
could cripple, neither eld nor ill.

If the helpmeet ministering to them,
the one he must hold in his keeping
along their way, they would surely
claim, once hale in harbor,
feast & festival, kindred infinite —

But harrowing should that hire
hold to them poorly,
their master, their lord.

Nor would one brother wish
the other to be afraid —
no, that would harm them both,
when they, itching to be gone,
embark from embraces
of that one, someone familiar,
like mother & sister both…

You there, you who wants it,
let us know in homely words
what to call that visitor
or their helper, whom
I speak about here.


Riddle #54 [fol. 113v–114r]

Shooter comes shooting — he knows where,
the husky hanger-on,
she stands, off in the gallery.

He skulks off away from the rest,
nap raised already, hands busied below.
And then standing there —
at what I guess you could call stiffness —
he dry-dicks her under her apron,
his work a will to pleasure.

Some of these strokes useful —
both of them heaving —
(what a good boy!! repeats in his head)

His own servant serviceable,
yet the effort is so exhausting,
starting strong, but she
always remains standing.

“In my youth I could fuck all night”
he tells himself again & again.

Under that same girdle
the desire is conceived
where the butter grows,
so these good old boys
must want to taste it,
give what they have
to take it for their own.


Riddle #90 [fol. 129v-130r]

Crown cudgel-curdled is me,
pricked by clever pricks,
chafed in clutches.
Often I gulp down
what thrusts against me
when I must crash,
girdled, encircled,
hardness against hardness,
holed at hind, shoving forth
what drives my driver’s
inner joy at midnight.

Sometimes I bury
my beak under the back,
for the keeper of that hoard,
when my lord wishes
to lap up the leavings
of whoever he called,
stricken to stillness,
with skill of release,
and much relish.


[more coming soon]