Riddle 15

Riddle 15
bertha rogers

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english translation

Riddle 15

My long throat is ice-white,    but my head,
like my flanks,    flames like the setting sun.
I am a warrior.    My ears spike high
above my eyes,    my cloak is bristle-barbed,
and so my cheeks.    My gait is fleet.
I easily thread,    on my fighting feet,
green staves.    Yet I sing a stricken song   
when the death-hound      comes sniffing
my scant home.     Then I hide my children,   
and we bide     in a love-circle   
while doom     seeks our covert door;
it moves      above our trembling heads.
That death-bringer,      fearful and foul,    
wishes to fetch us all,    yawping,
to our slaughter—    so, handing
and footing it,      I gather my brood,   
swiftly secure       a secret way
out of the steep slope,    into the light,
where I scurry      my dear urchins
from hurt’s intent.    Free of my babes,
I am a fortress     against death.
He may scent me     on narrow paths,
but I will turn,     whirling, tooth and claw
battle-slipping     that frenzied creature   
the slay stroke—    severing,
through touch and grip,    his hated neck.
Through hill’s roof     I will stay the course,
fighting to the last.    It is then
I will see     the whites of his eyes.

original Anglo-Saxon poem

Riddle 15 — Anglo-Saxon Original

Hals is min hwit    ond heafod fealo,
sidan swa some.     Swift ic eom on feζe,
beadowΦpen bere.     Me on bΦce standaξ
her swylce swe on hleorum.     Hlifiaξ tu
earan ofer eagum.     Ordum ic steppe
in grene grΦs.     Me biξ gyrn witod,
gif mec onhΦle     an onfindeξ
wΦlgrim wiga,     ζΦr ic wic buge,
abold mid bearnum,     ond ic bide ζΦr
mid geoguξcnosle.    Hwonne gΦst cume
to durum minum,     him biζ deaξ witod;
forζon ic sceal of eξle     eaforan mine
forhtmod fergan,     fleame nergan.
Gif he me Φfterweard     ealles weorζeξ—
hine breost beraξ—     ic his bidan ne dear.
reζes on geruman—      (nele ζΦt rΦd teale)—
ac ic sceal fromlice     feζemundum
ζurh steapne beorg      strΦte wyrcan.
Eaζe ic mΦg freora     feorh genergan,
gif ic mΦgburge mot      mine gelΦdan