The Variety of Riddles
The variety of riddles may be analyzed in a number of ways.
Charles W. Kennedy, for example, concentrates on
the identity of unmasked riddle subjects.
He says of the riddles:
Kennedy's list of subjects gives us an insight into the scope of riddlic mimesis, but it ignores the literary masks. The record of subjects is real, but the parade of disguises is surreal. The bagpipe is a bird that sings through its foot, the rake scruffs like a dog along walls, the wine-cup sings a seductress's song, and the bookworm is a plundering beast that wolfs down a tribal heritage 25. Baum classifies riddles according to both subject (e.g., "Natural Phenomena," "Birds," "Music," "Weapons") and technique (e.g., "Chiefly Christian," "Runic," "Obscene"),26 but the problem with this is that riddles often cross categories. The horn, for example, is both battle-weapon and musical instrument; the magpie is a runically riddled bird; the sun is a heavenly body portrayed as the thane of Christ; and the sword is a weapon that refers obscenely to its phallic double. Also, since the Old English riddles, unlike their Latin cousins, contain no entitled solutions, the hidden subjects change over the years with editorial judgments and shifting critical perceptions. Since 1943, nearly half of Kennedy's solutions have been challenged by various critics.27