Wob's my name if you work it out;
I'm a fair creature fashioned for battle
When I bend and shoot my deadly shaft
from my stomach, I desire only to send
that poison as far away as possible.
When my lord, who devised this torment for me,
releases my limbs, I become longer
and, bent upon slaughter, spit out
that deadly poison I swallowed before.
No man is easily parted from the object
I describe; if he's struck by what flies
from my stomach, he pays for its poison
with his strength - speedy atonement for his life
I'll serve no master when unstrung, only when
I'm cunningly nocked. Now guess my name.
The dank earth, wondrously cold,
First delivered me from her womb.
I know in my mind I wasn't made
From wool, skillfully fashioned with skeins.
Neither warp nor weft wind about me,
no thread thrums for me in the thrashing loom,
nor does a shuttle rattle for me,
nor does the weaver's rod bang and beat me.
Silkworms didn't spin with their strange craft for me,
Those strange creatures that embroider cloth of gold.
Yet men will affirm all over this earth
That I am an excellent garment.
O wise man, weigh your words
Well, and say what this object is.
I heard a noise like an invading army
sweeping across the land, liquid-quick;
conquering everything, quelling resistance.
With it came darkness, dimming the light.
Humans hid in their houses, while outside
Uncountable soldiers smashed into the ground,
but each brought forth life as he died;
when the army had vanished, advancing northward,
the land was green and growing, refreshed.
On earth there's a warrior of curious origin.
He's created, gleaming, by two dumb creatures
for the benefit of men. Foe bears him against foe
to inflict harm. Women often keep him boxed up,
strong as he is. If maidens and men
care for him with due consideration
and feed him frequently, he'll faithfully obey them
and serve them well. Men succor him for the warmth
he offers in return; but this warrior will savage
anyone who permits him to become too proud.
A strange thing hangs by man's hip,
hidden by a garment. It has a hole
in its head. It is stiff and strong
and its firm bearing reaps a reward.
When the retainer hitches his clothing
high above his knee, he wants the head
of that hanging thing to find the old hole
that it, outstretched, has often filled before.
I'm the world's wonder, for I make women happy
goodness to the neighborhood, evil to no one,
though I may perhaps prick the one who picks me.
I stand up in a bed and have a roughish root.
Sometimes a churl's daughter more daring than the rest
lays hold of me, but she learns soon enough,
the curly-haired creature that clamps me so,
of my meeting with her: moist will be her eye!
I'm told a certain something grows
in its pouch, swells and rises up,
lifts its covering. A proud bride grasped
that boneless wonder, worked it well
and then this daughter covered that thing,
no longer so swollen, with clothing.
A young man made for the corner where he knew
she was standing; and under her girdle
he thrust something stiff, worked his will;
they both shook. This fellow quickened:
one moment he was forceful, a first rate servant,
so strenuous that the next he was quite blown by his exertion. Beneath the girdle a thing began to grow that upstanding men often think of tenderly.