Words & Stuff

xx: What Has It Got in Its Pocketses? (Reader Comments and Addenda)

(14 July 1998)

Answers to the riddles (I'll put up answers only to those that readers have answered correctly):

Tower for a cold queen;
Death for the donor;
Tickled by a master;
Wealthy is the owner.
Ivory.

Stronger than a mountain,
Slower than a snail;
Blue as a cornflower,
Colder than hail.
A glacier.

A monster, a giant, my size ever grows,
My tale ever stretches, yet only one knows
How fierce is my bite, and how great is my strength,
Which grows and grows with every drink.
The one that got away.
(Dominus guessed the Hudson River; Pierre guessed a tapeworm.)

A story many thousands of years old,
At a single glance it can be told,
Of a queen trapped by her lust for gold,
Unrescued by a knight so bold,
Now a treasure to be bought or sold.
A bee (or termite or ant) in amber. (Thanks to Stacey, Samuel, and Pierre.)

Below your thoughts I am sent [scent] for you;
Above your words I invent [in vent] for you.
Your nose. (Thanks to Stacey and Samuel.)

What is it you break even as you name it?
Silence.

What is it that a contented man desires,
A wealthy man requires,
And a poor man has,
Misers spend, and spendthrifts save,
And all men carry to their grave?
Nothing. (Thanks to Pierre.)

I went on a hunt with a view to kill.
Those that I caught, I kept with me not;
Those I did not are with me still.
Fleas. (Thanks to Dominus and Danny Fahs.)

By the way, my "rock" riddle is a joke/parody (which is why I included the answer), the point being that good riddles do not generally contain the answer explicitly along with half a dozen ultra-specific pointers to the answer. Metaphor and contradiction are part of what make riddles interesting.

Here's another Medieval riddle from Jeepsie:

One is sick, one cold
One is thin, one bold
All around the world we ride
From our vengance none can hide.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>