Mind, mood, and meteorology in Þrymful Þeow (R.1–3)
in Riddles at work in the early medieval tradition
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Recent scholarship has shown that an Old English riddle’s description may at times relate not only to its solution but also to an unspoken metaphor, lending the riddle an underlying coherence beyond the literal answer. While it has long been agreed that the solution to the first Exeter Book riddle(s) is a meteorological event, a natural phenomenon, here the ‘wind’ is described in terms akin to the workings and movements of the human mind (OE mod or hyge) within and without the body. Therefore, OE mod provides the unspoken metaphor for the opening riddle(s). This chapter contends that the human mind is not detached or divided off from nature in these riddles, but participates in the violent moods of the storm. Like one of Timothy Morton’s hyperobjects, the storm is so massively distributed across time and space that it cannot be grasped, and the power of the wind destabilises dualisms such as human–nonhuman, self–other, internal–external, forcing us to question whether the mod is inside or outside, apart from or a part of, the storm.

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