From small beginnings I grow great,
just keep up the heat and wait,
help me become the thing I am,
give me all the heat you can.

Let me transform the gathered dew
and I’ll transform the world for you.
Tend me well from hour to hour
and I’ll reward you with vast power.

Vast clouds of strength, yours to command,
as I grow greater and expand,
can carry you to distant lands
across oceans and desert sands,
propel you to heights or turn on your lights,
but don’t neglect me—I can explode.
Heed my whistle when it blows.


Riddles for Aldhelm


We carry clouds until we die
Though cut for crutches, death means little
Since support is the trade we ply
And on our shoulders sparrows nestle.
We nurture children carefully
Upon our very fingertips,
But the first night that’s summery,
We scatter them from moonlit grips.

We challenge geometric space
And have no need of gravity,
For earth and air and wind we grace.


I’m born in prison and cannot leave,
And yet unbound by space or time.
Though the door’s unbolted I can’t heave
It open till the jailer dies.
I travel with him forced to follow,
Though he’s lost without me here.
Should I die one day he’d also.
To me, his slave, he must adhere.


Post your answer in the comments section below.


Manfred Dietrich is a senior, semi-retired from a business career, living in Hamilton, Canada. He received degrees in English Literature in the 1970s, whereupon he went to England as a Commonwealth Scholar and a Canada Council for the Arts scholar to pursue doctoral research on the poetry of Matthew Arnold.

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4 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie

    I agree with Joseph about steam. I would also agree about trees but would specify a conifer shedding cones (children) in summer. For the third my guess is the human mind. Great fun. Thanks.

  2. J. Simon Harris

    First one is steam, third one is the soul. I couldn’t work out the second one myself, but Mr. Tessitore’s conjecture (trees) seems right to me. I really enjoyed these riddles, by the way!


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