The Paris Review

Solving Riddles, Reading Poems

“I saw two wonderful and weird creatures / out in the open unashamedly / fall a-coupling,” wrote a monk in Old English a thousand years ago, either composing or transcribing a riddle about a rooster and a hen. This riddle and a hundred others—as well as elegies, proverbs, and dreams—were written into one big book, which was bequeathed to Exeter Cathedral by its bishop and subsequently used by the monks as a cutting board and a beer coaster and left vulnerable to bats and bookworms. Still, ninety-four riddles survived.

A thousand years later, I found two dozen of these riddles, translated into modern English and collected in a slim volume called The Earliest English Poems, and a few years after that—now, to be precise—I have published a book of my own riddles and elegies and proverbs.

Riddles aren’t confined to English. There are riddles etched into clay tablets from ancient Babylon, and Sanskrit riddles in the Rig Veda (1700–1100 ). Samson

Você está lendo uma amostra, registre-se para ler mais.

Mais de The Paris Review

The Paris ReviewLeitura de 11 mins
Eat This Book: A Food-Centric Interview with Amber Scorah
I met the Canadian writer Amber Scorah at a party last winter. She was introduced by a mutual friend as the author of an upcoming memoir, Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life. I tried but failed to bite my tongue (a frequent fai
The Paris ReviewLeitura de 4 mins
The Woman of a Thousand Faces
Aldous Harding performing at the Oxford Art Factory on November 21, 2015. Photo: Bruce Baker (CC BY 2.0 ( Via Wikimedia Commons. Aldous Harding is a young singer-songwriter, the kind usually labeled a fol
The Paris ReviewLeitura de 9 mins
On Warnings
Still from Belly (1998) It is hard to say when I stopped noticing the sirens. They’re still there, piercing the otherwise normal Wednesday-afternoon noise. But I haven’t noticed them for at least fifteen years. In the central Ohio area, a test of the