Essay On The Riddle 7

Decent Essays

The riddle 7 of the Exeter book portrays a swan’s life through its movements using verbal variations, antithesis and various other literary devices. the riddle describes a bird’s passage from treading the land to flying high above in the clouds. The opening line focuses on the bird’s garments and its habits. The next few lines emphasise on the creature’s flight as it flies over homes of men. At last, the bird sings out clear and transforms into a travelling spirit. In addition, the riddle, focuses on the swan’s versatility and its relationship with man. Exeter riddles are known to have a similar meter with a rhythmic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.

Riddle 7 opens with ‘My garment is silent (Hrægl mīn swīgað) when I tread …show more content…

The swan has its own habitat and is comfortable enough to interact with the human occupied land. Throughout the riddle there are continuous mentions of the mute swan’s feathers. In lines 6 and 7, the swan’s feathers sing a melody as compared to when they were silent in line 1. According to a certain old myth, it was believed that swans, particularly silent creatures, sing the most beautiful melody just before dying. The use of “traveling spirit” helps solidify the idea of the swan singing the most beautiful melody and soon dying. This aspect of the swan’s life cycle will further be discussed below.

The striking antithesis of “silence” and “sound” in the riddle 7 is one of the most significant features as it draws the reader’s attention of how the mute swan transforms from a cygnet to an adult swan. In fact, from the opening line itself -- Hrægl min swigað, the riddle establishes the contrast between the two. In addition, the riddle utilizes four alliterative verbs swīgað, swōgað, singað, swinsiað which creates a heavy parallelism in midst of the contrast. This adds a rhythmic and alliterative pattern in the riddle, giving it more unity and direction. Furthermore, the rhythmic repetition of the ‘sw’ sound may imitate the sound of the bird’s wings during flight. The ‘sw’ sound can be considered a clue left for the audiences to identify the bird species in the riddle. The

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