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What Has One Eye and 1,200 Heads? An Old English Riddle, That’s What!

Riddles are at the heart of language. The Old English verb raedan lies at the root of “to read” and “to riddle”: To read is to riddle, to riddle is to read. What makes the riddle so special and weird as a form — and so like the crossword — is its ability to be at once highbrow and lowbrow. Riddles represent the whole of Anglo-Saxon life. These short pieces range about as widely as possible in tone and form, from ribald cracks to grammar lessons to ornate religious puzzles by the archbishop of Canterbury. Read more

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