Exeter Book RiddlesR iddles tend to be metaphorical indeed, the trick is to discern what the metaphor signifies and, in that sense, are somewhat like kennings, where a compound expression such as "sea horse" substitutes for "ship. This notion of an inanimate object speaking in its own voice can be seen in the Alfred Jewel, the inscription of which reads "Alfred ordered me to be made" or, even more poignantly, in The Dream of the Rood , where the cross itself recounts the crucifixion of Christ. At the end of the Exeter Book , there are almost a hundred riddles or enigmata , a dozen or so which are considered to be sexual in nature. Their charm is in the use of double-entendre , whereby one answer is suggested but another is meant, the reader teased by an innocuous object disingenuously described. A curiosity hangs by the thigh of a man, under its master's cloak. It is pierced through in the front; it is stiff and hard and it has a good standing-place. When the man pulls up his own robe above his knee, he means to poke with the head of his hanging thing that familiar hole of matching length which he has often filled before.
Exeter Book Summary and Analysis of Riddles 1, 2, 3, 25, 44, 45, 47, 72
Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further. The stealing guest was not at all the wiser for that, for those words which he swallowed. In describing the biting of a bookworm as thoughtless thievery, this Old English riddle provides a lesson about the dangers of consuming knowledge without understanding it. Despite it being written down over a thousand years ago, the poem contains a timeless message that I am sure we can all appreciate. In particular, it is a poem that has proven to be invaluable for educators, and we are still mobilising it today! The bookworm riddle can be found in the Exeter Book, one of the greatest literary treasures to survive from Anglo-Saxon England. Produced at some point in the late 10th century, the manuscript — written mainly in Old English and exclusively in verse — brings together poems as short as one line and as long as 25 pages.
There is much to be gained from interpreting the tenth-century Exeter Book riddles as a characteristically biographical group of texts.
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The book was donated to the library of Exeter Cathedral by Leofric , the first bishop of Exeter , in It is believed originally to have contained leaves, of which the first 8 have been replaced with other leaves; the original first 8 pages are lost. The Exeter Book is the largest known collection of Old English literature still in existence. The Exeter Book is generally acknowledged to be one of the great works of the English Benedictine revival of the tenth century; the precise dates that it was written and compiled are unknown, although proposed dates range from to This period saw a rise in monastic activity and productivity under the renewed influence of Benedictine principles and standards. At the opening of the period, Dunstan 's importance to the Church and to the English kingdom was established, culminating in his appointment to the Archbishopric at Canterbury under Edgar and leading to the monastic reformation by which this era was characterised.