A while ago I wrote about the Exter Book Riddles, that wonderful collection of medieval riddles that speak so much of the Anglo-Saxon love of literature and poetry. These witty texts deserve a wider audience, so here’s one of the riddles below, in a translation by Kevin Crossley-Holland (1993). Do you know the answer? Scroll down if you want to check your answer.
Christ, the true giver of victories,
Created me for combat. When my lord
Urges me to fight, I often scorch mortals;
I approach the earth and, without a touch,
Afflict a huge host of people.
At times I gladden the minds of men,
Keeping my distance I console those
Whom I fought before; they feel my kindness
As they once felt my fire when,
After such suffering, I soothe their lives.
Wouter van Dijk