A Collection of Riddles

Voices cover art

Voices, The First Book

I have in my collection of books a series of anthologies called “Voices”, put together by some chap called Geoffrey Summerfield in the late 1960s.

The books contained a mix of obscure, anonymous poems as well as lesser-known scribblings by famous writers. Among them are various riddles, some ancient, some modern.

The answers are written in “white text” under each riddle. Highlight the text to read it.


Decapitations by ‘C.C.’

Behead a small animal
and find a river in England

Answer >> (M)ouse <<

Behead a loud call
and find a plaything

Answer >> (W)hoop <<

Behead a stream of water
and find a bird

Answer >> (B)rook <<

Behead a fish
and find an army in flight

Answer >> (T)rout <<

Behead a weapon
and find a fruit

Answer >> (S)pear <<

Behead a month
and find a beautiful form

Answer >> (M)arch <<

Behead a strong wind
and find you are not the first

Answer >> (B)last <<

Behead a country in Europe
and find suffering

Answer >> (S)pain <<


Anglo-Saxon Riddles, translated by Michael Alexander

The wave, over the wave, a weird thing I saw,
through-wrought, and wonderfully ornate:
a wonder on the wave – water become bone.

Answer >> Ice <<

I heard of a wonder, of words moth-eaten;
that is a strange thing, I thought, weird
that a man’s song be swallowed by a worm,
his binded sentences, his bedside stand-by
rustled in the night – and the robber-guest
not one whit the wiser for the words he had mumbled.

Answer >> Bookworm <<

Abandoned unborn by my begetters
I was still dead a few spring days ago:
no beat in the breast, no breath in me.

A kinswoman covered me in the clothes she wore,
no kind but kind indeed. I was coddle and swaddled
as close as I had been a baby of her own,
until, as had been shaped, so shielded, though no kin,
the unguessed guest grew great with life.

She fended for me, fostered me, she fed me up,
till I was of a size to set my bounds
further afield. She had fewer dear
sons and daughters because she did so.

Answer >> Cuckoo <<


Riddles from Symphosius by Richard Wilbur

I have borne more than a body ought to bear,
Three souls I harboured; when I lost a pair,
The third one all but perished then and there.

Answer >> Mother of twins <<

Unequal in degree, alike in size,
We make our flight, ascending toward the skies,
And rise with those who by our help can rise

Answer >> Stairs <<

All teeth from head to foot (yet friend to men),
I rip and tear my green-haired prey; but then
All that I chew I spew right out again.

Answer >> Saw <<

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