Aldhelm Riddle 97: Nox


Date: Thu 14 Apr 2022
Original text:

Florida me genuit nigrantem corpore tellus
Et nil fecundum stereli de viscere promo,
Quamvis Eumenidum narrantes carmine vates
Tartaream partu testentur gignere prolem.
Nulla mihi constat certi substantia partus,
Sed modo quadratum complector caerula mundum.
Est inimica mihi, quae cunctis constat amica,
Saecula dum lustrat, lampas Titania Phoebi;
Diri latrones me semper amare solebant,
Quos gremio tectos nitor defendere fusco.
Vergilium constat caram cecinisse sororem:
"Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit
Monstrum horrendum, ingens, cui quot sunt corpore plumae,
Tot vigiles oculi subter, mirabile dictu,
Tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris;
Nocte volat caeli medio terraeque per umbras."


Blooming earth bore me, black, from her body
And I produce nothing fertile from my sterile insides,
Although the poets, telling of the Eumenides in verse,
Testify that I begot the Tartarean race in birth.
No substance of certain birth belongs to me,
But I presently embrace the four-part world with darkness.
The Titanian lantern of Phoebus, who exists as a friend to all
As it roams the world, is inimical to me;
Cruel thieves, whom I work to protect in my dark bosom,
Always tend to love me.
It is known that Vergil sang this of my dear sister:
"And she walks on land and conceals her head among the crowds,
A horrendous monster, huge, on whose body there are so many feathers,
So many vigilant eyes underneath, miraculous to say,
So many tongues, the same number of mouths sound, and so many ears perked up;
At night she flies through the shadows, in-between heaven and earth."

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This edition is based on Rudolf Ehwald, ed. Aldhelmi Opera Omnia. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi, 15. Berlin, Weidmann, 1919, pages 59-150. Available online here

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