His confusion extends to a seeming failure of memory, or an aporia: "Ne maeg
ic past gehicgan hu ic in oaem becwom" (178; Nor may I fathom how I came to this).
Ac swa swa swidhur adrygde biodh on eordhan swa hi mon maeg
In their Preface (now I am back at the start), David Vander Meulen and Bruce Redford suggest that the epigraph for this collection 'might well be taken (with the change of a single pronoun) from King Alfred's preface to his version of Gregory's Cura Pastoralis: "Her mon maeg
giet gesion hiora swaeth"'.
In King Alfred's famous lament on the decline of English learning, for example, the word alludes to the example left by earlier English scholars: "Her mon maeg
giet gesion hiora swaed, ac we him ne cunnon aefter spyrigean" [Here one can still see their track, but we cannot follow after it].(57) And in the Exeter Book Riddles, the word refers to the tracks left by the pens and ink of the scriptorium: the "swathu swithe blacu" left by the pen and fingers of Riddle 51, or the "swathe" made clear to the reader at the close of the last Riddle, number 95.
n ichta g e hwaem n i ht wundor s e on f y r on f l o de.
(5) Ac wite pu, paet ic pe andette & saecge to sode, paet ic waes on heofonum & daer onfeng, paet ic maeg
sprecan on aelce gepeode.
paes ponne of pyncan deoden Heado-Beardna ond pegna gehwam para leoda ponne he mid faemnan on flett gaed, dryhtbearn Dena, duguda biwenede.
With this meaning in mind, then, the line that follows, "nu maeg
cunnian hwa cene sie" (215, now [the present moment] can test who is brave).
(11) Donne maeg
he cwepan mid pam sealmscope (DOEC: AECHom I, 36 B1.1.38)
Although the sense of the quoted passage is clear enough, the half-line Grendeles maegum (Beowulf, line 2353b) presents a serious problem for the grammatical analysis: At first sight it would seem plausible to interpret maegum as dative plural of maeg
Yet we do not find Bs such as *Nu gethenc, se thegn or *Da gemunde maeg
. There is only one example of this kind of B.
(15) Hu maeg
odde hu dear aenig laewede man him to geteon purh riccetere cristes wican?