I live alone, wounded by iron,
Struck by a sword, tired of battle-work,
Weary of blades. Often I see war,
Fight a fearsome foe. I crave no comfort,
That safety might come to me out of the war-strife
Before I among men perish completely.
But the forged brands strike me,
Hard-edged and fiercely sharp, the handwork of smiths,
They bite me in the strongholds. I must wait for
A more murderous meeting. Never a physician
In the battlefield could I find
One of those who with herbs healed wounds
But my sword slashes grow greater
Through death blows day and night.
This is one of the riddles from The Exeter Book put into modern English. There is only one surviving manuscript. It contains 94 riddles. It’s a simple, powerful poem. Those adjectives are both from Latin. It’s also short, stark and blunt. Those adjectives are all from Old English.
This is the answer to the riddle.
photo: Anglo-Saxon Crystal Ball by Paul Walker