The Anglo-Saxons loved riddles and word games; as a writer I love playing with words too, and I guess in a way I am trying to do the same as the old riddlers, presenting my readers with something to puzzle on and try and work out, and then at the end pulling all he ‘clues’ together and giving the answer. I hope I give sufficient hints to allow a good guess to be made, but I want it to be tricky enough to get them thinking ‘could it be this, or could it be that?’.

The book I am just wrapping up now is more of a family story, and all the unexpected things which happen in families, but there is also another thread running about a Black Sea holiday home scam and a stalker ex-husband. So here are some questions a reader might try and work out the answer to:

  • who came into character E’s bedroom to comfort when she was frightened in the night?
  • why did character A really leave his wife?
  • who burnt the bed?
  • what is character N’s secret business?
  • what has disrupted the twins telepathy?

Here is an Anglo-saxon riddle, first in the lovely Anglo-Saxon:

Hrægl min swigað     þōn ic hrusan trede
oþþe þa wic buge     oþþe wado drefe
hwilum mec ahebbað     ofer hæleþa byht
hyrste mine     þeos hea lyft
mec þōn wide     wolcna strengu
ofer folc byreð     frætwe mine
swogað hlude     swinsiað
torhte singað     þōn ic getenge ne beom ·
flode foldan     ferende gæst

…and now in Wikipedia’s translation:

Silent is my garment     when I tread the earth
or dwell in the towns     or stir the waters.
Sometimes my trappings     lift me up over
the habitations of heroes     and this high air,
and the might of the welkin     bears me afar
above mankind.     Then my adornments
resound in song     and sing aloud
with clear melody     —when I do not rest
on land or water,     a moving spirit.

Here is a clue to the answer:

An elegant swan wearing a fetching green ribbon

My new book is ‘Lucky Portbraddon’, and it will be published in September; you will find it on Amazon and my other novels can be found here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

4 thoughts on “Riddles

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