A Very Old Anglo-Saxon Riddle

My neck is white, and head grey,

sides the same. Swift am I in motion,

bear a battle-weapon. On my back hair

bristles, so too on cheeks. Two ears tower

over my eyes. On toes I step

in green grass. Grief is fated for me

if some death-fierce fighter

finds me hidden where I dwell in den,

in lair with my litter, and if I lurk there

with my brood when foe comes

to my doors, death will be their lot.

So I must boldly bear my heirs

from home, save them in flight,

if he chases me in pursuit;

he hunts on his belly. I dare not bide his

fury in my covet, can not think it wise,

but fast with forepaws I must

make a street through steep hill.

With ease I may save my loved ones’ lives

if I might lead my family

on a hidden path through hill’s hole,

my kith and kin; then I will not need

in any way to dread death-dog’s attack.

If the deadly foe through narrow way

seeks out my track, he will not lack

a battle-meeting on the path of war,

when I reach out through hill’s roof

and fiercely strike with battle-spears

the hated foe whom I long fled.


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