Riddle 44 from the Exeter Book
It hangs in splendor by a man’s thigh,
beneath its master’s cloak. There’s an opening in front.
It’s stiff and hard, and finds a fitting home
when the youth hefts his robe above his knee,
hoping to greet, with its dangling head
the familiar hole of equal length
that he has filled so many times before.
Riddle 25 from the Exeter Book
I’m a wonderful creature,
a comfort to women,
and useful to my neighbors.
I do harm to no one
but my slayer. I stand
up firmly, high and proud
above the bed. My lower part,
somewhere beneath, is shaggy.
Sometimes a fair farmer’s daughter
will make a grab, a daring maid
will get a grip on me.
Rushing upon my redness,
ravaging my head, she
sticks me in a dark and secret place.
Before long she will feel the force
of our meeting, the curly-
maiden who holds me fast—
her eye will be wet.
44: A key
25: An onion
from The Battle of Maldon
The murderous wolves then waded—
they were not afraid of a little water,
that Viking host—westward over the Pan.
Bearing their shields of linden wood across
the shining stream, the seamen came to land.
Against them, fierce and ready, stood Byrhtnoth
and his men. He ordered them to raise the shield wall
and hold fast against the enemy…. The time had come
when doomed men had to fall. Cries and clamor arose.
The ravens gathered, eagles eager for carrion.
There was uproar on the earth.
Now hands let go of spears—
hard and file-
Bows were kept busy, and shields
seized the sharpened points….
The Vikings charged in full battle rage,
spears punching through the husks
of doomed men’s souls….
Copyright 2012 by Daniel Veach
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