My long throat is ice-white, but my head,
like my flanks, flames like the setting sun.
I am a warrior. My ears spike high
above my eyes, my cloak is bristle-barbed,
and so my cheeks. My gait is fleet.
I easily thread, on my fighting feet,
green staves. Yet I sing a stricken song
when the death-hound comes sniffing
my scant home. Then I hide my children,
and we bide in a love-circle
while doom seeks our covert door;
it moves above our trembling heads.
That death-bringer, fearful and foul,
wishes to fetch us all, yawping,
to our slaughter— so, handing
and footing it, I gather my brood,
swiftly secure a secret way
out of the steep slope, into the light,
where I scurry my dear urchins
from hurt’s intent. Free of my babes,
I am a fortress against death.
He may scent me on narrow paths,
but I will turn, whirling, tooth and claw
battle-slipping that frenzied creature
the slay stroke— severing,
through touch and grip, his hated neck.
Through hill’s roof I will stay the course,
fighting to the last. It is then
I will see the whites of his eyes.
original Anglo-Saxon poem
Riddle 15 — Anglo-Saxon Original
Hals is min hwit ond heafod fealo,
sidan swa some. Swift ic eom on feζe,
beadowΦpen bere. Me on bΦce standaξ
her swylce swe on hleorum. Hlifiaξ tu
earan ofer eagum. Ordum ic steppe
in grene grΦs. Me biξ gyrn witod,
gif mec onhΦle an onfindeξ
wΦlgrim wiga, ζΦr ic wic buge,
abold mid bearnum, ond ic bide ζΦr
mid geoguξcnosle. Hwonne gΦst cume
to durum minum, him biζ deaξ witod;
forζon ic sceal of eξle eaforan mine
forhtmod fergan, fleame nergan.
Gif he me Φfterweard ealles weorζeξ—
hine breost beraξ— ic his bidan ne dear.
reζes on geruman— (nele ζΦt rΦd teale)—
ac ic sceal fromlice feζemundum
ζurh steapne beorg strΦte wyrcan.
Eaζe ic mΦg freora feorh genergan,
gif ic mΦgburge mot mine gelΦdan