Before riddles became strictly children’s games, they held a distinguished position in literature. In Old English poetry, riddles mused on the nature of language and the hidden relationships between disparate ideas. Riddles also mediated the associations between objects, so in Old Norse poetry a sword could became a “wound-hoe.” But rather than being merely ambiguous, riddles offer keen perspectives on the artifacts of daily life and rare insights into the workings of metaphor. Although poetry can be thought of as riddlesome, few contemporary poets have embraced poetry’s shared history with riddle-making. Donald Justice included some riddles in his 1973 collection, Departures, and Craig Raines used the riddle form in his 1979 collection, A Martian Sends a Postcard Home.
(Poetry; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)