Middle English Book of Riddles
ArtsForge Main Page
Poetry Showcase
Music Showcase
Art Galleries
Translated by Tobin James Mueller

1) Adam W Voshall
2) Wayne Racher
3) Brian Ziman

They have earned the right to submit their own riddle
(at the bottom of this page).

[Please submit your answers to]

It makes men blind
and lets them see.
It tells the time;
a crystal be.

From thin air comes and to air goes,
'tis a mirror that cannot break.
Home to some, to some a grave,
with salt a tear does make.

It comes through doors yet leaves no tracks.
Can pass the sun without a shadow.
Sifts your grain, stokes your fire,
and chills you to the marrow.

Can fill a house, can fill a room;
cannot catch it in a spoon.
Used to preserve, to say hello,
yet often portends tragedy below.

What has four fingers and a thumb
but neither flesh nor bone?
A digit protectorate
seldom alone.

It runs about the forest yet does not move.
Be warned: Always keep it in sight.
It casts no shadow, makes no sound,
but will lead you to the light.

Has fork and mouth
but cannot eat.
Forever runs
but has no feet.

Here's a riddle you should know:
What, when you take from it,
will always larger grow?

Thirty-two stallions on a rose-red hill.
They dance and stomp,
whistle and chomp.
Now they stand still.
Brush them so they gleam.
Rinse them in a stream.

The first letter a question eternally pending.
The second forms a line never ending.
The third: What I am called, but never me.
The fourth: Upon which a ball percheth for thee.
The fifth: What heaven & hell in common hold.
But, alas, the rub: This riddling grows old.

I bring great power with my little mite.
I open closed doors, but close opened ones tight.
I protect the home of my master discerned
and am protected wisely by him in return.
I guard great treasures, my poking nose to seek,
and keep secret my profile unique.

For ten minutes you could not hold it,
yet it's lighter than a feather.
In the cold it is fog.
In the heat, feels like smog.
But you need it in all weather.

By nature I am solitary,
scarred by spear and wounded by sword.
I reflect the face of my enemy
and protect my liege from the horde.
But my wounds are tended by smithy alone;
no doctor heals my bitten bones.

You wait in shade for me to drop.
Making squirrels away to hop.
As soft as silk, as white as milk,
as bitter as gall, a thick wall,
and green coat covers me all.

The first letter has wings but cannot sing.
The second is to AM as WE is to I.
The third is all others, as I, of course am I.
The fourth letter we drink
(but not a savage, do you think?)
The fifth begins every END.
No brain, all brawn, this sorry friend.

Big enough to hold a pig.
Small enough to be twig.
Rumored to be stronger than the sword.
A real blue blood when hollow bored.

I must fight the waves wipped by the wind
when I dive to earth beneath the sea.
I hold thee fast to harbors of thy choice
yet my own country is unkown to me.
With explorer's zeal I'm pulled from the waves
to, again, be cast and drowned,
and, later, them tame.
You know my nature, now guess my name.

Though not a soldier, I often fight.
Though not a musician, I sing before light.
Though not a clock, I wake people up.
What am I, then, if on mere chicken feed I sup?

If you work it out, Wob's my name;
'tis better to hold me backwards to front,
for frontwards to back may cause ye pain.
My sons and daughters always outward I sling
away from my master as far as can be
so to lay my foe with a sting.
From my hair is my quick song sung;
yet I serve no master when unstrung.

Roly Poly did something rash.
He rolled off a wall and hit with a splash.
And almost as soon as off he rolled,
Roly Poly turned into gold.

Here's a warrior that if let be too proud
may savage ye in a smoky shroud.
Some women and some men too
may fetter him to better their food.
Yet it is he that foe bears against foe
and scorches the land faster than the hoe.
Sometimes to destroy, sometimes to make grow.
Do not let Earth's lips be dry
else this fellow may blind the eye.

Into it you look
yet still look out.
There opposites clash
yet never alone to pout.

If two's company and three's a crowd
and bees live in a hive,
tell me, for crying out loud,
what are four and five?

Two brothers we are,
great burden we bear
by which we a bitterly pressed.
In truth we may say
we are full all the day
but empty we go to our rest.
(And here's one more hint:
spit and put on a glint
when you want to be properly dressed.)

A wee, wee man
in a red, red coat,
staff in hand
and a stone in my throat.
Hanging from a tree
dangling prettily,
I'm a pie in the sky virgin's gloat.

(#24-25 translated in collaboration with riddlemaster Dawn Butkus)

Bonus Riddles:

The following riddle was submitted by a fan who included the notation:
"An interesting stat: 70% of Stanford University students couldn't work it out, however 80% of Kindergarten kids could."
Let's see how you do...

The poor have it.
The rich need it.
What is greater than God?
What is more evil than the devil?
If you eat it you'll die...

Additional Riddles:

The following riddle was submitted by riddlemaster Adam W Voshall:

A harvest sown and reaped on the same day
In an unplowed field,
Which increases without growing,
Remains whole though it is eaten
Within and without,
Is useless and yet
The staple of nations.

The following riddle was submitted by riddlemaster Wayne Racher:

I am a monster, strange and alien.
Neither on land, in the air or in the sea is there a beast
whose limbs can have so many shapes;
no one piece of me conforms with another,
anymore than if one is white, the other is black.
A band of hunters often follows behind me looking for the tracks made by my feet.
I inhabit the darkest places, and if I pass from the shadows
into bright light my soul quickly slips away
with the coming of the day and my tired limbs fall away,
and I lose my being with my life and with my name.

I have guesses for this riddle, but the submitter, Marquis L Everett, never replied if I was right.
What's your best guess?

'Twas in Godshome pronounced, 'twas the Abyss denounced,
And in the presence of Mishakal it shall be trounced.
>'Twas rumored to exist in Valhalla's sweet air,
'Twill be found in an evocationists sensible lair.
The silence bore tightly the sound of its whisper,
And where the sound of water falls are roaring faster.
Through the lies of an ancient curse it was permitted rest,
In the depths of the sea its presence was confessed.
'Twill be found in the Plain of Stones if it were parted,
And on the backs of mutilated trees this silver will be carted.
In the miser's hoard 'tis this treasure heaped with care,
Yet it shall surely be lost on his son - the prodigal heir!
Woe to the wretch who expels it from his sight,
Fore the wrath of the spectre will instill its terrible fright!
Through natures heavens will fall this majestic shower,
Ah... caress it's nuturing breath, - it will soon turn sour.
.... What is it?"