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[fwd] [EK] Riddle Contest

Poster: James and/or Nancy Gilly <KatieMorag@worldnet.att.net>

>From: Vanessa Layne <dagoura@mit.edu>
>To: sca-east@world.std.com
>Subject: [EK] Riddle Contest 
>Date: Fri, 12 Dec 97 17:47:33 +0000
>-Poster: Vanessa Layne <dagoura@mit.edu>
>                    What is made longer and longer
>                      by desire and excitement,
>                 but grows shorter and shorter in the
>                       increasing winter chill?
>                     Why, your time left until...
>                         the Yuletide in York
>                             Anglo-Saxon
>                         ** RIDDLE CONTEST! **
>           (Email Deadline: DECEMBER 17, AS XXXII/AD 1997)
>Sweet Gentles, All and Some --
>We here in the Barony of Carolingia are throwing a Yuletide event -- a
>grand event, a marvellous event, with bountiful holiday cheer and
>What a shame, thought I, that the entire Knowne World can't all make
>it to our event.  I'm sure our head cook could handle it. :)
>But then it occurred to me, that there was a way that the subjects of
>far-off realms and those other unfortunates who cannot attend could be
>with us in spirit, if not in flesh -- "virtually" if you will.
>So I am here to announce to you our (Knowne World) Anglo-Saxon Riddle
>Contest!  Come all you scops and wits, and craft your finest riddles
>in the fashion of the Anglo-Saxons (details below), and if you
>cannot attend in person, email them to the contest, from where ever
>you are.  We will have your riddle(s) presented at our revel, and if
>your riddle is acclaimed the best, we will endeavor to get some
>token of triumph to you.
>The article at the end of this message gives several examples of
>actual Anglo-Saxon riddles (and their answers :) and explains how they
>                             Instructions
>(1) Write a riddle.  Riddles will not merely be judged on the merits
>of their construction alone -- they shall be judged on how they are
>presented -- aloud -- as well.  Your emailed riddles will be assigned
>to those who wish to delight and divert their fellow revelers, yet
>have no riddles of their own.  If you prefer, feel free to engage the
>services of a scop or bard or player or herald who will attend the
>event and present your riddle for you.  (Somehow, I feel sure that if
>you read this email list, you know of some heralds in Carolingia. ;)
>(2) Judging will be wholly subjective.  We will not be using points.
>It is a good guess that the more in a period style your riddle is, the
>better it will be received.  While the riddle need not be in the
>historically appropriate poetic verse form (see below), if you pull
>that off, we will all be Extremely Impressed and Appreciative.  Racy
>double entendres are extremely appropriate to this form, and will also
>be Greatly Appreciated.
>(3) Riddles must be original.  Joint entries are fine.  INCLUDE YOUR
>(SCA) NAME in your submission.  Ideally, include instructions on how
>to *pronounce* your SCA name.  After all, we can't immortalize you in
>story and song if we don't know how your name scans. :)
>(4) Send as many riddles as you like.  If, somehow, this is vastly
>more popular than anticipated, we will take the first 50 riddles we
>(5) We reserve the right to just not use any riddle we don't like for
>any reason whatsoever.
>(6) Got all that?  Good, now write up your riddle(s) and send them to:
>                       yuletide-riddles@usa.net
>Don't forget to include your SCA name (and pronounciation) and make
>sure your "reply-to" address is correct.  AND INCLUDE THE ANSWER TO
>(7) SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17th.  Email your riddle(s)
>by then or we can't use them.  The contest will be on Sat. Dec. 20th
>at the Yuletide in York event.
>We look forward to seeing the wit and craftiness of our fellow
>Scadians from around the Knowne World!  If you have any questions,
>contact Tibicen at <yuletide-riddles@usa.net>.  If you *can* come to
>our event, we would be thrilled to have you -- contact the same
>address to request event information, or see
>   <http://www.mit.edu/~dagoura/yuletide.html> 
>The feast is filling fast, so do so ASAP.  Those many who can't --
>we'll drink to your health!
>Yours in service,
>Lady Tibicen Blackmane
>mka Vanessa Layne
>Carolingia, East
>                      ** Anglo-Saxon Riddles **
>For those who are not familiar with this art, Lady Aurylia has
>provided the following explication of Anglo-Saxon riddles.
>The Anglo-Saxon riddles are very detailed descriptions of common objects or
>animals; they are quite misleading, however, so it can be quite a challenge
>to identify the subject.  They are usually written in the first person, in
>which the subject is either item being described ("I do not breathe while
>living, but only after I am slain; what am I?") or observing the item ("I
>see something that goes up a chimney down, but not down a chimney up; what
>is it?").
>The riddles are written in Anglo-Saxon verse.  Modern English does not
>adapt particularly well to the specifics of meter and sound of Old English
>poetry, but competitors are encouraged to emulate the form.  Unlike modern
>poetry which usually employs rhyme as the primary structural element,
>Anglo-Saxon poetry relies upon alliteration (repetition of initial sounds
>in words) to hold the work together.  Each line is divided into two half
>lines, each of which has two strong syllables; the first strong syllable in
>each half of a line must alliterate.  (More alliteration can be used to
>enrich a particular line for effect, if the poet desires.)  For example:
>        the ringing of weapons       rapped on stout shields
>The strong syllables are RING-, WEAP-, RAPPED, and SHIELDS.  RING- and
>RAPPED both begin with the sound "R".  Hence, the half-lines of each line
>are linked by common sounds.  Connections between lines are not dictated by
>the Anglo-Saxon poetic form.  Most lines in Anglo-Saxon poetry begin with a
>strong syllable.  Modern English has evolved into a more iambic rhythm, so
>the judges will probably award extra artistry points for recreating this
>aspect of the style.  The riddles do vary in length, although none are
>particularly long.  Most run 10-20 lines; some are even shorter, and a very
>small number are longer.
>Here are a few examples of actual Anglo-Saxon riddles in translation (from
>_Anglo-Saxon Poetry_, translated and edited by S. A. J. Bradley, 1995,
>1)  I saw this creature of the weapon-equipped sort, greedy in the
>exuberance of his youth.  As his due, his life-guardian set running four
>springs, white fountains, as his portion.  A man spoke, who said to me:
>'This creature, if he thrives, will break up the downs; if he goes to
>pieces, he will bind the living.'
>2)  I am a wondrous creature: to women a thing of joyful expectancy, to
>close-lying companions serviceable.  I harm no city-dweller excepting my
>slayer alone.  My stem is erect and tall -- I stand up in bed -- and
>whiskery somewhere down below.  Sometimes a countryman's quite comely
>daughter will venture, bumptious girl, to get a grip on me.  She assaults
>my red self and seizes my head and clenches me in a cramped place.  She
>will soon feel the effect of her encounter with me, this curly-locked woman
>who squeezes me.  Her eye will be wet.
>3)  I have heard of a something-or-other, growing in its nook, swelling and
>rising, pushing up its covering.  Upon that boneless thing a cocky-minded
>young woman took a grip with her hands; with her apron a lord's daughter
>covered the tumescent thing.
>And the answers to the riddles are...
>1) A bullock.  From Bradley's notes: "The bullock is suckled by the cow.
>If it lives it will be yoked to the plough.  If it dies and is butchered,
>the hide will be made into thongs."
>2 and 3)  Get your mind out of the gutter!  The answers to these riddles
>are, repectively, an onion and bread rising.  Such use of double entendre
>has been popular in English poetry and song for centuries; it is quite
>Feel free to pass this message on to anyone in the Knowne World you
>think might be interested.  These documents will be on the www at
>-- Tibicen
>   dagoura@mit.edu (and yuletide-riddles@usa.net)

James and/or Nancy Gilly


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