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

There was a lady loved a swine,
     "Honey!" quoth she;
"Pig-hog, wilt thou be mine?"
     "Hoogh!" quoth he.

"I'll build thee a silver sty,
     Honey!" quoth she;
"And in it thou shalt lie!"
     "Hoogh!" quoth he.

"Pinned with a silver pin,
     Honey!" quoth she;
"That thou mayest go out and in,"
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.
   "Oh where ha'e ye been, Lord Randall my son?
O where ha'e ye been, my handsome young man?"
     "I ha'e been to the wild wood: mother, make my bed soon,
     For I’m weary wi' hunting, and fain wald lie down."

   "Where gat ye your dinner, Lord Randall my son?
Where gat ye your dinner, my handsome young man