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The Exeter Book

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
 by Ashley ListerThe Exeter Book According to Wikipedia: “The Exeter Book […] is a tenth-century book or codex which is an anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It is one of the four major Anglo-Saxon literature codices, along with the Vercelli Book, Nowell Codex and the Cædmon manuscript or MS Junius 11. The book was donated to the library of Exeter Cathedral by Leofric, the first bishop of Exeter, in 1072. It is believed originally to have contained 131 leaves, of which the first 8 have been replaced with other leaves; the original first 8 pages are lost. The Exeter Book is the biggest known collection of Old English literature that exists today.
Most importantly, The Exeter Book contains some of the earliest English Language nob-gags on record. Below is is Riddle 25 from The Exeter Book, and a suggested translation:“Ic eom wunderlicu wiht wifum on hyhte neahbuendum nyt; nægum sceþþe burgsittendra nymthe bonan anum. Staþol min is steapheah stonde ic on bedde neoðan ruh nathwær. Neþeð hwilum ful cyrtenu ceorles dohtor modwlonc meowle þæt heo on mec gripe ræseð mec on reodne reafath min heafod fegeð mec on fæsten. Feleþ sona mines gemotes seo þe mec nearwað wif wundenlocc. Wæt bið þæt eage.”
TranslationI am a wondrous creature for women in expectation, a service for neighbours. I harm none of the citizens except my slayer alone. My stem is erect, I stand up in bed, hairy somewhere down below. A very comely peasant's daughter, dares sometimes, proud maiden, that she grips at me, attacks me in my redness, plunders my head, confines me in a stronghold, feels my encounter directly, woman with braided hair. Wet be that eye.Answer: Onion.”
Here’s another one.Riddle: Swings by his thigh / a thing most magical!
          Below the belt / beneath the folds
          Of his clothes it hangs / a hole in its front end,
          stiff-set and stout / it swivels about.
          Levelling the head / of this hanging tool,
          its wielder hoists his hem / above his knee;
          it is his will to fill / a well-known hole
          that it fits fully / when at full length
          He's oft filled it before. / Now he fills it again.
Answer: A key.
I mention these because, whilst it’s always interesting to see how our language has developed, and to glean various insights into the worlds our forebears inhabited, I find it wholly warming to think that, even a millennia ago, writers were scribbling out nob-gags to an audience that found them funny. It makes believe that evolution should be great when it happens to us.
Anyway, I’ve taken a shot at writing a riddle in a similar style:The Exeter Book
Riddle:He’s named after man partsHe tries to screw everyone in the countryPeople ridicule the unsightly bollocks that support him.Even those who’ve never seen a farmyard use the word ‘cock’ in his presence.He leads the Tory party.
Answer: A Penis

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