Riddleslast updated May 6, 2002
Please let me know if you encounter any problems with the page. Or heck, just to throw random compliments my way (I love those :).
Here is a collection of riddles that I like. When possible, the author of the riddle will be quoted. And please, if you have any riddles that you'd like to see on this page, please let me know! Especially if you have an original riddle; those particularly interest me. I'm working on one now myself. (Disclaimer: I will choose which riddles will end up on my page; after all, it's my page, and I am dictator. :-) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to send comments, suggestions, or riddles!
To Guess the answer to a riddle: There is also a form for guessing riddles at the bottom of the page! Now you can guess the riddles. If an urge to cry, "Eureka!" strikes you, press the button with the light bulb under any riddle, and it will take you to the appropriate form.
|1. I never was, am always to be,
None ever saw me, nor ever will,
And yet I am the confidence of all
Who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.
|2. There is one that has a head without an eye,
And there's one that has an eye without a head.
You may find the answer if you try;
And when all is said,
Half the answer hangs upon a thread.
|3. I am the black child of a white father;
A wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven.
I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me,
and at once on my birth I am dissolved into air.
--Anonymous, ancient Greece.
|'Twas whispered in Heaven, 'twas muttered in hell,
And echo caught faintly the sound as it fell;
On the confines of earth 'twas permitted to rest,
And in the depths of the ocean its presence confes'd;
'Twill be found in the sphere when 'tis riven asunder,
Be seen in the lightning and heard in the thunder;
'Twas allotted to man with his earliest breath,
Attends him at birth and awaits him at death,
Presides o'er his happiness, honor and health,
Is the prop of his house, and the end of his wealth.
In the heaps of the miser 'tis hoarded with care,
But is sure to be lost on his prodigal heir;
It begins every hope, every wish it must bound,
With the husbandman toils, and with monarchs is crowned;
Without it the soldier and seaman may roam,
But woe to the wretch who expels it from home!
In the whispers of conscience its voice will be found,
Nor e'er in the whirlwind of passion be drowned;
'Twill soften the heart; but though deaf be the ear,
It will make him acutely and instantly hear.
Set in shade, let it rest like a delicate flower;
Ah! Breathe on it softly, it dies in an hour.
--Catherine Maria Fanshawe (1765-1834)
(many thanks to Brooke Gardiner of Queensland, Australia, who sent me the full text of this riddle!)
|5. Avec un guide impitoyable,
Je parcours les monts chevelus,
Ou je poursuis un monstre, aux humains redoubtable;
C'est aux jeunes taillis que je chasse le plus,
Et souvent j'y vais faire un carnage effroyable
De ces monstres cruels, sous mes dents, abattus.
(With a ruthless guide,
I wander over hairy mountains,
Where I pursue a monster, dreaded by humans.
It is in the young brushwood that I hunt the most,
And often I inflict a frightful carnage
On those cruel monsters, slaughtered under my teeth.)
|6. There is a bush fit for the nonce
That beareth pricks and precious stones
The fruit in fear some ladies pull.
Tis smooth and round and plump and full...
They put it in, and then they move it,
Which makes it melt, and then they love it.
So what was round, plump, full and hard
Grows lank and thin and dull and marred...
--from The Holme Riddles, 1650-1675
|7. What we caught we threw away;
what we didn't catch, we kept.
--the riddle put to Homer by fishermen of Ios,
said to have caused his death.
|8. My sides are firmly lac'd about,
Yet nothing is within;
You'll think my head is strange indeed,
Being nothing else but skin.
--from The Guess Book, by William Davidson (1781-1858)
|9. My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,
Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.
Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!
But ah! united what reverse we have!
Thy ready wit the word will soon supply,
|10. Between two legs the living flesh ambles,
Between two buttocks the living flesh trembles,
And when it comes to the door,
Its master knocks.
--Les Adevineaux Amoureux (1478)
|11. I saw a restless shepherd travelling back and forth on his paths. He garbs himself in that which goes in the same and in an opposite direction. He goes hither and thither among creatures.
--From the Rig-Vega, a Hindu religious text
|12. The one who made him does not know him. He escapes from the one who has seen him. Enveloped in his mother's womb, he is subject to annihilation, while he has many descendants.
--From the Rig-Vega, a Hindu religious text
|13. The age-old riddle of the Sphinx:
What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?
|14. In Youth exalted high in Air,
Or bathing in the Waters fair;
Nature to form me took Delight,
And clad my Body all in White:
My Person tall, and slender Waste,
On either Side with Fringes grac'd;
Till me that Tyrant Man espy'd,
And drag'd me from my Mother's side:
No Wonder now I look so thin;
The Tyrant strip't me to the Skin:
My Skin he flay'd, my Hair he cropt;
At Head and Foot my Body lopt:
And then, with Heart more hard than Stone,
He pick't my Marrow from the Bone.
To vex me more, he took a Freak,
To slit my Tongue, and made me speak:
But, that which wonderful appears,
I speak to Eyes and not to Ears.
He oft employs me in Disguise,
And makes me tell a Thousand Lyes:
To me he chiefly gives in Trust
To please his Malice, or his Lust.
From me no Secret he can hide;
I see his Vanity and Pride:
And my Delight is to expose
His Follies to his greatest Foes.
All languages I can command,
But, while I thus my Life relate,
|15. Begotten, and Born, and dying with Noise,
The Terror of Women, and Pleasure of Boys,
Like the Fiction of Poets concerning the Wind,
I'm chiefly unruly, when strongest confin'd.
For Silver and Gold I don't trouble my Head,
But all I delight in is Pieces of Lead;
Except when I trade with a Ship or a Town,
Why then I make pieces of Iron go down.
One Property more I would have you remark,
No Lady was ever more fond of a Spark;
The Moment I get one my Soul's all a-fire,
And I roar out my Joy, and in Transport expire.
--Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
|16. We are little airy Creatures,
All of diff'rent Voice and Features,
One of us in Glass is set,
One of us you'll find in Jet,
T'other you may see in Tin,
And the fourth a Box within,
If the fifth you shou'd pursue,
It can never fly from you.
--Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
|17. Never speaking, still awake,
Pleasing most when most I speak,
The Delight of old and young,
Tho' I speak without a Tongue.
Nought but one Thing can confound me,
Many Voices joining round me;
Then I fret, and rave and gabble,
Like the Labourers of Babel.
Now I am a Dog, or Cow,
I can bark, or I can low,
I can bleat, or I can sing,
Like the Warblers of the Spring.
Let the Love-sick Bard complain,
And I mourn the cruel Pain;
Let the happy Swain rejoice,
And I join my helping Voice;
Both are welcome, Grief or Joy,
I with either sport and toy.
Tho' a Lady, I am stout,
Drums and Trumpets bring me out;
Then I clash and roar, and rattle,
Join in all the Din of Battle.
Jove, with all his loudest Thunder,
When I'm vext, can't keep me under;
Yet so tender is my Ear,
That the lowest Voice I fear;
Much I dread the Courtier's Fate,
When his Merit's out of Date,
For I hate a silent Breath,
And a Whisper is my Death.
Jonathan Swift, (1667-1745)
To Guess the Answer to a RiddleEnter the number of the riddle you'd like to guess, and your guess. It's not case-sensitive. If the riddle has two answers, type them in like this, with an "and" between the words: salt and pepper.
To Wimp Out and Ask for the Answer to a RiddleJust enter in the number of the riddle you want the answer to, and the answer shall be given unto you.
This page concocted and maintained by Sherri Johnson (email@example.com)
Illustrator, Enigma Graphics