#WhanThatAprille16: Riddle 20

Jumping into spring: it’s the time when folk long to go on pilgrimages and in addition to seeking the blissful holy martyr, medievalists like to share their love of language with the world. Thanks to Chaucer Doth Tweet, the event this year is called #WhanThatAprille16 so check out the hashtag for more audio delights.

Here’s the original and then the modern translation of Riddle 20 from the Exeter Book (Krapp&Dobie 9): can you guess what it is?

Mec on þissum dagū     deadne ofgeafum
fæder modor     ne wæs me feorh þa gen
ealdor in innan     þa mec ongon
welhold me     gewedum weccan
heold freoþode     hleosceorpe wrah
snearlice     swa hire agen bearn
oþþæt ic under sceate ·     swa min gesceapu wæron
ungesibbum wearð     eacen gæste
mec seo friþemæg     fedde siþþan
oþþæt ic aweox     widdor meahte
siþas asettan     heo hæfde swæsra þy læs
suna dohtra     þy heo swa dyde
 In those first days     my father and mother

left me for dead:     there was no life yet,
no life within me.     Then a kindly kinswoman
faithfully covered me     with her own clothing,
held me and cherished,     kept me warmly,
even as gently     as her own children—
until beneath her,     as my destiny willed,
I waxed into life     with my alien fellows.
My friend and protector     nourished me then
till I grew and grew able     to go forth by myself.
Because of this now     her own dear children,
sons and daughters,     were fewer, alas.