poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Old English riddle


My dress is silent when I tread the ground 
Or stay at home or stir upon the waters.
Sometimes my trappings and the lofty air
Raise me above the dwelling-place of men,
And then the power of clouds carries me far
Above the people; and my ornaments
Loudly resound, send forth a melody
And clearly sing, when I am not in touch
With earth or water, but a flying spirit.


by this poet

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn,
The man cut his throat and left his head there.
The others went to get it.
When they got there they put the head in a sack.
Farther on the head fell out onto the ground.
They put the head back in the sack.
Farther on the head fell out again.
Around the first sack they put a second one that 
   was thicker.
O Insewn God--born from Zeus' thigh--
   some folk say in Drakanon,
some in windy Ikaros,
   others say in Naxos,
or by the deep-eddying river Alpheos,
pregnant Semele bore you to thunder-loving Zeus.
Others say you were born in Thebes, Lord,
but all of them lie:
   the father of men and gods gave birth to you