20 DECEMBER 1963, Page 20

Two Old English Riddles for Christmas

Translated by Kevin Crossley-Holland FIRE On earth there's a warrior of curious origin. He's created, gleaming, by two dumb creatures For the benefit of man. Foe bears him against foe In the fury of battle. Women often fetter him, 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 succour him for the warmth

He offers in return; but this warrior will punish Anyone, cruelly, who permits him to become too proud.