Friday, 4 August 2017

Aldhelm Drops the Motherfucking Mic

He wrote 99 riddles but the last one's long.

(Line breaks added by me for ease of reading.)

"The Maker, whose timeless columns lift the world,
The Lord of lands, with reined-in bolts unhurled
As towers turned in spacious skies, created
My multitudes on lands He generated.

I stay on watch (it never helped to doze),
But still I sleep as eyes abruptly close,
For while God rules the world as He propounds,
I too embrace all things beneath its bounds.

No one's more shy than I, nor fears ghosts more,
Though I stay bolder than a bristly boar.

No trophy-taker causes my defeat
Save God, who rules from His high airy seat.
More fragrant than ambrosial scents, (it's true!)
Emitted by a perfume, I can outdo
The scarlet roses, lilies from the yard
As well as, full of sweetness, whiffs of nard,
Though now I rot in filthy, reeking stool.

While God the Archer deigns, by right I rule
The universe beneath the highest star;
I grasp things, gross and graceful as they are.

Behold! I see God's secrets down through sky,
Yet under land foul Hell attracts my eye;
I lived before time, older than the Earth.

Behold! My mother's womb begets my birth,
More gorgeous than gold amulets that glitter,
More gross than thorns, more vile than low-tide litter.

Behold! I'm wider than the limits of Earth's lands,
Yet can be held within a person's hands;
Colder than gleaming frost and winter, though
In Vulcan's searing blazes I may glow.

No nectar on the plate is quite as sweet,
Nor wild gray wormwood quite as foul to eat.

Like hungry Cyclops, I am never sated,
But stripped of food I'd be no less elated.

More swift then eagles, hawks, or Zephyr's wings,
Gross worms, slugs, slow swamp turtles, and those things -
Black beetles spawned in putrid dung - outpace
Me faster than my talk about this race.

I'm heavier than lead - no counterweight
Of stone upon a scale could compensate - 
Lighter than down that makes pond-spiders sprint,
Tougher than flames that spew from bowels of flint
Or iron, softer than a kidney stew.

There are no ringlets on my head to do
Up my high brow with curls or fringe for show,
Though my style lets my forehead's tresses flow
More than a curling iron's crimp allows.

Look, I grow fatter than the greasy sows
With flesh they fill with beechnuts as they eat
While swineherds celebrate their plumper meat.

I'm drawn and pale; fierce hunger tortures me
While I'm deprived of meals of luxury.

I'm sheer. more clear than Titan's orb, I know;
When clouds shed fleece, I'm brighter than the snow,
Yet darker than a dungeons blackest glooms
And dismal spirits Tartarus subsumes.

I'm made with round, smooth form or, to be clear,
Like globes, stars' orbits or a crystal sphere,
And, on the other hand, I'm stretched and spread
Like Chinese silk for robes or slender thread.

Behold with words of wonder; I embrace
Beyond the worlds six zones that measure space.

No life persists below or over me
But God, whose Word controls totality.

I'm bigger than black whales in gleaming waves
And smaller than thin worms that bore through graves
Or motes that shimmering Apollo's glow.

Through lush field on a hundred feet I go,
Yet never trod ground on a walking trip;
This means my insight outstrips scholarship,
Though I have never learned books' precious signs
Or anything of syllables' designs.

I'm drier than a scorching summer sun,
Bedewed and drenched more than a rivers run,
More salty than an ocean wave that gleams;
I flow more freshly than Earth's crystal streams.

Adorned with countless kinds of colouration
That paint the present worlds configuration,
I'm wan and pale; no colour will remain.

Believers: note my words that seem arcane
(Which skilled speech teachers hardly could explain),
And yet no doubting reader thinks them lame.
I ask the windbag scholars for my name.


From here


  1. Is it the moon?

    I thought it was some kind of plant at first but then halfway through it started sounding pretty celestial.